StaatsofOhio: What’s in a Domain Name?

When I decided to start learning about website creation and design, the first thing I did was set up my own domain name. The initial site’s purpose was to talk about what my immediate family was doing, post our vacation photos,etc. I tried to register several variations of my name and found them all taken – even the unlikely combination of our surnames, StaatsSzaraz.com. Seriously? I finally  settled on one I liked and was available, staatsofohio.com.

As time went on the site developed and interests changed, and it eventually became the home of my genealogy blog. Last year, I felt I needed to condense all of my professional and personal genealogy activities into one site. Seeing as I could not come up with an abbreviated domain name for “Staats Genealogical Services” that rolled off the tongue and stuck in the mind, I merged that site into this one. Staatsgen was close, but sounded a little too much like something from a Terminator-type movie, where I would be the evil company producing toxic chemicals or nuclear warheads. I figured the name staatsofohio told people who I was and where I was. It would be easy to remember. Looking at the search terms people use to find this blog, I guess I was right, as that term shows up regularly.

But here’s the thing: all but those who know me personally are probably saying this clever domain name wrong. Not only that, but in any post that I use “Staats” in a rhyme scheme, people probably don’t quite get it. And people HATE half-rhymes. After 40+ years of defensively stating, “This is the way we pronounce it,” I am finally willing to admit this simple fact: my branch of the family is “doing it wrong.” We say it “States”. In order to get the (admittedly lame) double-meaning of the domain name, you need to say it “States of Ohio”.  Similarly, when I post a title such as the State of the Staats Estate, you have to say it wrong, too, in order to get the assonance…and don’t even think about referencing that word in your comments!

Where does this mispronunciation originate? It’s hard to say for sure, but all of the descendants of my gg grandfather, Dr. Alexander A. Staats say it this way1. The real reason for this post, is that I would be extremely interested to know if there are any other branches of any of the various Staats families2 that pronounce it the way we do.

I’ve seen it written “States” as far back as early 1700s Delaware, but of course, that’s not really evidence of pronunciation. On my research trips to Delaware, where a few Staats still live, they pronounce it more along the lines of the its original Dutch origin3, as in “Stotts or “Stauts”. All of the West Virginia branch that I’ve run into pronounce it “Stats”. I’ve never come across anyone outside my family that says it the way we do. If there are any descendants of Elijah Staats (the Elijah who died in Monroe County, OH in 1844)4 , I’d love to know if this mispronunciation goes back a few more generations.

So there you have it – the correct incorrect pronunciation of my name and this site. I just wanted to clear up the record, and make it easier for you to see just exactly how bad some of my wordplay really is. And if you happen to be a Staats, do any of your Staats families ”do it wrong”?

  1. except for one, who finally gave in and now pronounces it “”Stats” []
  2. the inter-relatedness is a subject of much debate, but large groups existed in Delaware, Albany, Bucks County (PA), and New Jersey. []
  3. of course “Staats” means States…isn’t this all so confusing? []
  4. Washington, Ohio, Deed Books, 40: 302, Elijah Staats Heirs to Benoni Staats, 29 May 1848; Washington County Recorder’s Office, Marietta.  This deed includes a dower release from Elijah’s widow Margaret, in which she states Elijah’s date of death as 27 Sep 1844. Forget the other dates you find on the internet, please. []
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One Response to StaatsofOhio: What’s in a Domain Name?

  1. avatar Patti says:

    Good to know. I’ll try to pronounce it correctly when I meet you in July. I know someone here with that last name, and she does NOT pronounce it as you do. Problem is if I’ve mentally “heard” the name one way, it’s hard to break the habit.