We appreciate your taking the time to visit and hope it proves productive.
The purpose of this Web site is to provide a place for genealogists & family historians to contribute and keep up with research into families with this surname in the United States & elsewhere. Like most genealogical research, the site is a work in progress. More is to be added, as our knowledge builds.
If you have visited before, you will find newly-developed information, particularly on the French & German pages. The site has also received technical and design upgrades.
Contributions are welcomed. See the "Contacts & More" page for the webmaster's information and other resources. We thank those who have contributed to making these pages possible.
Problems in researching this surname
More than one
family: Research into colonial Americans
with this surname indicates that there were at least three places of origin, Great Britain, France, & Germany. Though they shared a surname, they may not have been
related except in the most distant sense. This page was last updated on
30 Jun 2008.
Spelling Variations: Such a simple name, so many spellings. The surname has many spelling variations. The presence or absence of the final "s" may, or may not, be significant. The genealogist is advised to focus on the sound of the name, rather than the letters written to approximate the sound, particularly for the Germanic & French lines.
All of the following variants have been found in one related family in
Cael, Cail, Cailes, Cailles, Cails, Cale, Cales,
Kail, Kailes, Kails, Kale, Kales, Kayles.
A different spelling does not necessarily indicate absence of family relationship,
nor a different person.
Listen for: One syllable which
- Begins with a "K: sound, either "C" or "K"
- Next has a long "a", as in "ale" -- can be spelled several ways
- Next has an "L" sound
- May or may not end in an "s".
The reasons for the spelling variations include:
- Prevalence of illiteracy: Only a few of the best-educated could read and write until the
mid-19th Century. Many of our ancestors had their names written by others and would not
have had a preferred spelling of their names.
- Idiosyncratic spelling:
Spelling was not always considered an exact science; often it
was more like a creative art form. Different writers would interpret the same sound into
- Language Differences: Any language contains some sounds which are not found in another language and may use different letters to produce similar sounds. It seemed particularly difficult for English speakers to interpret Germanic or French spellings.
Examples have been found of the same individual having his or her name spelled in various ways, even within the same document.