[The resemblance is uncanny, though, no?]
Recently, my brother uncovered some actual evidence that might shed some light. He contacted the Archives and Record Center for the Catholic Arch Dioceses of Pittsburgh and unearthed some baptism records. The records belong to four of the first-generation Gishbaughers to be born in America. Michael Gishbaugher, their father (my Great grandfather’s grandfather), emigrated from Germany around 1857. The interesting thing was that the spelling was different for each record. The evolution looks like this:
We don’t see the current spelling until it appears in the death record for their mother, Clara Gishbaugher.
From what we know of Michael, he had been living as a farmer in the Kingdom of Baden in Germany when he moved at the age of 24. The occupation is likely an indication that he was illiterate, thus the records relied on spelling liberties from pronunciations that were delivered in a thick German accent.
Now, from the vantage point of actually being in Germany, my goal is to solve the mystery of our last name once and for all. What was the original spelling? Are there more of us still walking around? Is the bloodline not going extinct after all?