First, as the the spelling of the name.Spelling prior to the 19th century, and even afterwards, was much more of an "art" than an exact "science."There were no birth certificates, driver licenses, social security cards, etc., and how someone spelled there name really was up to them, or whomever happened to be writing the name down.An individual could spell their name however they so chose, and in fact, could change their name if they so chose, and no one was likely to raise any fuss about it.Actually, individual sometimes did change the spelling of their name when there were several individuals in the same area with the same name.For example, if there were five men in a county named William Ratcliffe, one, the eldest of the group would usually be called "William Ratcliffe, Sr."Then the next oldest, whether he was the son of elder William, or a nephew, or sometimes not even kin at all, would be called "William Ratcliffe, Jr."Individuals, and the community, did still need to distinguish all adult males, and often adult females as well, with the same name and since there were no offical post office addresses, or street numbers, or social security numbers, etc., they had to come up with additional means of distinction when there were more than two individuals with the same name, or in some cases, the next eldest individual with the name simply didn't like to be called "junior."So, other means were employed, such as using geographical land marks, like "William Ratcliffe of Wye River," or "William Ratcliffe of Jone's Creek," or some other nickname, such as "William "Redbeard" Ratcliffe."However, in some instances, all that was done was to make a slight change in the spelling and/or pronunciation of the name.For example, one William Ratcliffe might drop the "c" and the "e" and become "William Ratliff."HOWEVER, keep in mind, that spelling was not an exact science and often how a name might be recorded in the offical records could vary because many a clerk spelled the name how he thought it should be spelled.For example, I've seen the name "RATCLIFFE" spelled RATLIFF, RATCLIFF, WRATCLIFF, WRATLIFF, RACKLIFF, WACKLIFF, RATLEFF, RATLEAF, etc.I have one document in which the clerk spelled the name "CURTIS" four different ways in the one document.Also, keep in mind, that many, and perhaps the majority of all the documents which date before 1870 that one finds in courthouses, churhces, archives, etc., are at the very least a "Clerk's" copy of an original document that is "long gone," and furthermore, a large percentage of the records found are actually later clerk's copies of an early clerk's copy, as records, especially those in the bound books, such as land deeds in a courthouse, deteriorate over time and have to be replaced.Also, courthouse fires, floods, etc., can be a reason for a record to be recopied at a later date.For example, in Anson County, North Carolina, the courthouse burned in the 1860's and while some of the records were saved, many were not, and many of those that were saved wereincomplete, and/or charred from the fire and hence most of the "orignial" records that exist for Anson today are copies made after the courthouse fire and actually most of these are now at the North Carolina Archives and the ones viewed at the courthouse in Wadesboro copies made of these. And even some of the records in the archives are copies, of copies, of copies as even without the courthouse fire I know of at least two occassions when the county government ordered the county clerk to recopy certain record books due to the books poor condition.The point is, how a name may be spelled in the records often has nothing to do with how the individual themselves spell their respective name, if they could spell, but how a clerk chose to spell it, and if it a document has been recopied, the spelling may depend upon how good a penmanship a earlier clerk might have had, and how much effort a later clerk was willing to make in trying to "decipher" the earlier clerk's handwriting.
As to the story of the Massachusetts and Southern brothers, there are many variations to the story.Some versions have the "northern" brother being in New York, some versions in New Jersey, etc.And actually, the "tale of two brothers" is quite common to almost every American genealogical lineage.Many are probably based on something factual as often the records show that immigrants did come in family groups, or sometimes maybe separately, but joined back up once in the "New World" and America.
The "Flakes of Snowflake, Arizona" descend from Samuel Flake of Anson County, North Carolina who died in 1802.There are many who believe he is possibly of kin to a Robert Flake of 17th century Virginia.While that would not surprise me, I've not seen any definitive evidence which would prove it to be so.
However, I do believe there is good evidence that Samuel Flake may have come to Anson County from the Granville District of North Carolina, which is near Virginia.There are various records which mention a SAMUEL FLAKE in that area who "disappears" from the records of the region about the same time Samuel Flake of Anson appears in the records of Anson County.I don't have all of the references handy at the moment, but I do recall two of them.There a record of a "warrant" for 350 A land located in Johnston County, NC., for a SAMUEL FLAKE being transfered to a WILLIAM CHURTON dated 18 December 1753 with a reference to the land having been "entered on 9 Jan 1752" and it is written on the back of the record that the warrant was "formerly directed to RICHD CASWELL and not returned.Died Out."
A second record, a patent for a JOHN HUNTER dated 5 May 1755 for 177 A in Orange County (Orange County was formed from Bladen, Granville, and JOHNSTON Counties in 1752 includes a reference to "...land Survey'd for SAMUEL FLAKE."
There are other records in this area as well for the name SAMUEL FLAKE.I've also often seen the name of THOMAS FLAKE written along with SAMUEL FLAKE's name in records, perhaps a brother of Samuel?