In trying to locate my cousins, I have spoke to several Pelkeys in California.I have been told several stories on the name change.They are as follows:
1)The original name was Pelletier & was changed by the census takers when the family first came to America (my lineage comes from France by way of Canada) due to the fact that the census takers simply could not spell it.I have discerned many names have been "Americanized" this way.
2)That we changed the name ourselves to be more "American".
3)That there was a Pelletier who was the world bare knuckle boxing champion.During the title bout he killed his opponent.He was arrested for murder, but later released as it was determined that the death occurred as an accident.I was told that the name was changed to avoid that stigma.
My Father had told me as a child that our original name was Pelletier & it meant "furrier"
I hope this helps.Feel free to e-mail me @ firstname.lastname@example.org