Fun With Surnames!
This evening I spent some time on the site World Names Profiler. Type in a surname (the more obscure the better) and it will show you where in the world the surname is most concentrated. This sort of thing wouldn't work for a lot of my surnames like Wood, Webb or Allen, but I have a few names in my tree that are sufficiently obscure enough to work. I typed in Lapiccirella and Daccia and not surprisingly the highest (okay, only) concentration of the names were in Puglia, Italy and Foggia specifically. No surprises there for me but it was interesting to see just how localized those names are. Next I looked up my Wellons (originally the Welsh Llewellyn) surname and was surprised to see that it was a bit more common than I had originally thought. It is a largely Southern name in the US and the site confirmed this. The family and name, I believe, originated in Virginia. My branch went to Kentucky around 1800 then Illinois in 1850 then Iowa to Colorado to California and the Northwest (Oregon and Washington). Other branches stayed in the south and went "deeper" in the region with a large concentration in the Carolinas and the site showed this. I was surprised the name didn't register more in Iowa, Colorado or the Northwest though. The last surname I tried (Croad) is the litmus test I generally use for genealogy sites (if that name gets any hits on the site, I know its a keeper). My Croads went to Michigan from Wales around 1892:
Not surprisingly, there was a high concentration there. My family settled in Montcalm and Mecosta counties specifically and lived in Lakeview and Millbrook. The name was also highly concentrated in New Zealand (a bit of a surprise, although I know a branch did go there) as well as it's native England.
If you've never heard of the site before, I recommend checking it out. I doubt it will break down any brick walls for you but it is a fun and interesting way to kill an hour. There are other types of searches available on the site too. Ethnic searches and regional searches (I looked up Lakeview, Michigan but Croad wasn't in the top surnames) are other options.