I asked him to tell me and my readers more about the project. The following was his response:
As a Ralston, I cannot tell you how many times in my life I have been asked, “Are you kin to the Ralston in Ralston-Purina?” We’ve all heard of it: Checkerboard logo, Rice Chex cereal, Chex mix for parties, Purina Dog Chow, Animal chow for just about any animal you can name.
The fact is, there never was a person named "Ralston" associated with the Purina Feed company. It was a marketing ploy, to piggyback on the Ralstonism movement that was popular near the beginning of the twentieth century.
But the net effect has been that everyone in America knows how to spell and pronounce the surname “Ralston". Or to put it better, we North Americans have all been brainwashed to this mindset.
There are over a dozen legitimate ways to spell the surname. There are probably at least 6 distinct ways to pronounce the variations in spelling. But the marketing efforts of the Ralston-Purina Company, TV ads, and the rest, have homogenized the spelling and pronunciation of the Surname Ralston, in North America.
That is not necessarily a bad thing. It makes it easier for strangers to understand how to spell and pronounce the name.
But other spellings and pronunciations are accepted elsewhere in the English-speaking world. So, Americans and Canadians should be aware that "RAWL-ston" is not the only way to pronounce it. That is just the way it has been pronounced in advertising for the last century.
So, in this limited context, the word R-A-L-S-T-O-N is an acronym for the following: Regime, Activity, Light, Strength, Temperation, Oxygen, and Nature.
So, although there was no “Ralston” in Ralston-Purina, there are many Ralstons in the world, most just regular folks, but some notable or famous ones. Are they all kin – or are they of different lineages? These families may spell their names differently; for example, Roulston, Raulston, Rolston, etc. The Ralston Project at FamilyTreeDNA.com wants to find out how/if these Ralstons are connected and where they originated. If you are a male Ralston (or variant of the name) you can help us with this effort and help yourself learn more about your origins. We are specifically looking for Ralston men who are:
- Irish Rollestons with clear English descent
- English Rollestons
- Scottish Ralstons with ancestors from Beith, Kilwinning, Glasgow and surrounds.
- Irish Roulstons/Rolstons/Ralstons, etc., or descendants of such.
- Any Ralston who wishes to learn more about the origin of their paternal lineage.
For more information visit Ralston Project at FamilyTreeDNA.com or The Ralston Project.