Steele or Steel? As evidenced by these original documents, sometime around the turn of the 19th to 20th century an ‘e’ was added to the end of our family name. The original spelling without the ‘e’ is the English spelling of the name. The spelling including the final ‘e’ was generally recognized as the Irish spelling, though we now identify it as the American version also. My grandfather, John William (Jack) Steele, Jr. was unsure of the exact reason for the addition but speculated on several possibilities. One reason he postulated was that the modified spelling avoided confusion regarding the material from which our saddle trees are produced. A steel saddle tree would be impractical for fastening leather and heavier than wood to boot. We honestly continue to this day to have the occasional rider express surprise that our saddle trees aren’t made of metal. Another speculation was the modified spelling was implemented to set us apart from the English and establish an American identity. I don’t think this is likely as our family is proud of our English roots and have never tried to distance ourselves from them. The most likely reason posited by Jack Steele is that his mother simply thought the additional ‘e’ made the name look more sophisticated, an assertion on which we make no judgement. We’ll leave that to those to whom such things matter. The present generations will continue the present spelling so no further explanation will be necessary.
1343 SADDLE TREE ROAD • ASHLAND CITY, TN 37015 • Office: 615-792-7171 • Fax: 615-792-0015 www.SteeleEquifit.com • email: info@SteeleEquifit..com
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