1995, President Clinton visited Cassidy's
Pub in Dublin.
Co. Fermanagh, post office.
-- O'Cassidy -- O'Caiside is an ancient Irish
name. In America, in addition to Cassidy,
one will find
these variations are common in the American South,
and increasing in the Midwest. In the late
1700's and early 1800's, Cassidys and Cassitys landed
in Virginia and moved west into Indian territory,
playing leading roles in the formation of the states
of Tennessee, Kentucky and Alabama. Post famine,
another wave of Cassidys came to America, with many
settling in the industrial centers of the North,
along with smaller towns in the Northeast.
Photo of the Center View Grocery, known
as Cassidy's Grocery, in Mocksville, North
Carolina. At the time, James "Red"
Cassidy, who is seen pumping the gas,
owned the store. The
grocery remains in Cassidy hands, and
has a widespread reputation for great
milkshakes and warm hospitality. The
grandson of Red Cassidy, Brent Cassidy,
has contributed a travelogue of a visit
to County Fermanagh which you can read
by clicking here.
How and why did such variations of Cassidy
of develop in America? The
following discussion occurred on the Cassidy-L Roots
Web email exchange in July 1999:
Why so many Cassidy variations? (1) Immigration
officials who weren't wonderful spellers; and (2)
Spelling the name as they heard the people pronounce
it. Caiside in Irish is CAW-SHI-DUH.
My name is Nancy Cassada Nelson, and thereby hangs
a tale. A few years ago when I was getting
divorced & planning to resume my maiden name,
my daughter, knowing how caught up I was in the
family history, suggested that instead of just becoming
"Nancy Ruth Nelson" again, I should take
this opportunity to rename myself. Her reasoning
was that "two last names are classier than
two first names."
Casada was my grandmother's maiden name, and the
photos, letters and Bible pages that my mother had
treasured formed the beginning of my family search.
The first "new" relatives that I located,
back in those pre-Internet days, were from the Casada
branch. My daughter suggested that I use the
Michiganers' "Cassada" with 2 SS's, thinking
it would help folks to pronounce it better.
That doesn't seem to work, but it does attract interest,
and at the office of the doctor, dentist, any one
at all with multiple Nancy Nelsons, I do stand out.
But I sometimes regret that I didn't retain our
"classic" spelling of Casada.
that my great grandfather signed his name that way
and it appears that his father and grandfather did
so as well. My East Tennessee grandmother
spelled her name Casada and pronounced it "Cassidy."
Family who went to Iowa in 1840's apparently
retained pronunciation; spelling there is now Casaday
or variations thereof. Folks who went to Michigan
in early 1900's spell it Cassada and say "Cass
Only one generation removed from the East Tennessee
folks, they are real surprised to learn the "correct"
pronunciation. You read all kinds of dramatic
and involved stories about "why Uncle Jim changed
the spelling" -- I think that even those who
could read and write in the 19th century didn't
think the spelling was that important. And,
of course, just because it is spelled a certain
way by a census taker in 1870, doesn't mean anyone
else ever spelled it that way.
Here's something I've read & it seems to hold
up: when you find deeds, wills, etc in the courthouse,
what you are finding is a copy of the original made
by a clerk. The clerk also copies the signatures
at the bottom. That's why you find that little
drawing that says "seal", the original
had the seal. The name within the document
may be spelled however this clerk, or the one who
wrote the original deed, thinks it should be spelled.
The signature or signatures should have been copied
exactly as they appeared on the original and are
thus the way your ancestor spelled his name.
That day, at least.
Different Cassidy spellings are because the original
name is Gaelic and English "translations"
of that vary. Pronunciation also varies slightly.
Think of how differently the same word can be pronounced
in parts of the U.S. And the further back
you go, the more unreliable spelling is.
Ever see how many ways Will Shakespeare signed his
own name? People just weren't as hung up on a "correct"
way. Then you get people who can't read and
write (and many of the early immigrants could not),
telling their name to some county clerk who barely
could, and he wrote what it sounded like to him.
Along the way at some point, a spelling "stuck"
to a particular branch of the family and they all
started (mostly) using the same spelling.
But often within the family you will find a record
in another spelling, or Uncle Harry who decided
to spell it with an "e" or an "a"
or a "t" or whatever. The point
is, don't discount a record solely because the name
is spelled differently than you spell it today.
This is also a great analysis. An example of an
Irish name this happens to is Bradley, which was
my grandmother's name. When you're in Ireland, they
pronounce it "Brolly" and no matter how
many times you say "Bradley" they come
back at you with "Brolly." So then
you see the name spelled "Brolly" and
it's the same name.
Cassada in June 2000:
was born in Danville, Virginia in 1968, have lived
in Virginia all my life. I am currently living
in Roanoke Virginia. My father died when I
was 6 months old, and my grandfather shortly thereafter.
So, any information of my history has always been
hard to come by. My family had always been
tobacco farmers until a few years back. No
records were ever kept due to most deliveries being
done by midwives rather than at a hospital.
All my life I have been curious of my family history.
I am the only remaining Cassada in my family.
For years I have dealt with the public mispronouncing
my name. I'm told the correct way is Cas-uh-duh.
Even though I am fair skinned with red hair, I still
never new much because the spelling of my name is
very difficult to find in genealogy searches.
I was shocked to find the web site about the Cassidy
history and my last name included as possible descendants.
Thank you so much for your efforts. At least
now I can say without a doubt that I am from an
Gentry Cassity in May 2002:
your lead paragraph about the variations of the
name Cassidy, you mention Cassity as being early
settlers in Tennessee and Kentucky. The "ty's"
also came to Alabama before Alabama became a state.
There are many records of James, Charles,
Hugh, John Cassity in the area that became Clarke
County, Alabama. In addition, I came across
a Peter Cassity in the area.
men came into the Indian Territory with passes on
more than one occasion, which meant that they traveled
back into Georgia or some other State. I have
not found records of their leaving the territory.
Permission to leave was probably not required,
but some of them did have more than one pass to
come into the territory. It has interested
me as to why they went down to the area that later
became Clarke County, Alabama.
area is quite a distance into the state. Maybe
they were deep into Georgia and just came across
into the area and not down as I had supposed. They
have stayed in the Clarke County, Alabama area until
this day. Of course, some moved to Mississippi and
beyond and into Mobile, Alabama, as did my father-in-law.
This is my husband's family and I would really
like to fill in some blanks. They have retained
the spelling for the most part, although I see Casity
and Casety in some of the legal documents.
Cassada in February 2003:
family comes from Halifax and surrounding counties,
in Virginia, USA. We spell the name Cassada and
pronounce it CASS-uh-duh. Our family tradition says
that our earliest ancestor in America came from
Ireland, but I have often wondered how that could
be, as there doesn't seem to be a name by that spelling
in Ireland. Information I recently found on the
Cassidy Clan website helps me to understand some
records that others in my family gathered from county
courthouses decades ago.
tithe (tax) records of Lunenburg County show that
in 1748 one J. Stuart, owner of a settlement (farm)
in what is now Charlotte County, paid tithes for
a Wm. Casedy, a male over the age of 16 living on
the Stuart farm. In 1749 in the same area James
Stuart paid tithes for Wm. Cassady. In 1750, again
in the same area, William Cassaday is listed as
a principal tithe payer, with no males over 16 living
on his farm.
would assume that William was an illiterate tenant
on the Stuart farm, and may have bought that farm
or a part of it by 1750. Since he could not spell
his name, the tithe-taker spelled it the way he
thought he heard William or J. Stuart pronounce
it, with the result that the same tithe-taker spelled
the same man's name three different ways in successive
years. Marriage records from the same county list
a Casady in 1787, a Casaday in 1806, and a Cassida
in 1825, making at least seven spellings of the
name of what was probably the same family!
suspect that when the first member of the family
learned to read and write, he took the spelling
from whatever official record happened to be handy,
and it has been "set in concrete" ever
since.I recall my uncle telling me that when he
was a child (in the 1930's or early 40's), he pronounced
the name of Cassada as "Cassidy" until
a relative pointed out to him that it was not spelled
that way, and should be pronounced "CASS-uh-duh".
I'm sure my uncle did not dream up that pronunciation
of his name, he must have learned it from his parents
and other family members. Unlike our early Irish
ancestors, modern Americans generally believe that
every word (especially a name) has one "correct"
spelling and pronunciation that never changes. It
is easy to understand how a family member just a
couple of generations back could have assumed that
the way we spell our name today must be the way
it has always been spelled, and that the pronunciation
must match the spelling.
the insights gained by reviewing the Cassidy Clan
website, all this begins to make sense, and I now
understand that we are a branch of the Irish Cassidy
clan. I wish that earlier generations of my family
could have had access to the Cassidy Clan website
years ago when they were researching our family
history. It is a terrific resource for information
that goes beyond our small section of Virginia,
and has answered a lot of questions about who we
are and where we came from. Thank you, to everyone
who has contributed to this wonderful resource.
Continue the discussion: If
you care to add to this discussion, for example
with a description of the history of your Cassidy
variation and how it has developed in America, please
send an email message to Stephen
Cassidy for posting here.
profiles of prominent Cassidys, see Cassidys
Surname Ó Caiside provides an explanation
on the origin of Cassidy surname by
a leading professor on the Irish language.