(Continued - part one was posted about a month ago.)
I know of a Celtic /Irish American author who has been defamed by one biographer by adding a second L...
If you are researching a "difficult to pronounce or spell" surname, first, use on online translator that has speech capability or talk to someone of the ethnic heritage (that may mean contacting a Native American tribe or special ethnic research group), and get the SOUND of the name. Write down what it sounds like to you. Ask other people to write down what they think they are hearing.
Use SOUNDEX to bring up names that sound like that. (Be aware that Soundex (s) aren't perfect. One is considered to be Germanized.) Try to imagine what it might be to a German speaker who is a census taker.
Become sensitized through the use of SOUNDEX or database opportunities to bring up names that are close in spelling. Though so many names are common, in particular names based on professions, that it doesn't imply descendants are from one massive family. However, you may find that the name has changed through time as people you're related to moved from country to country.
When it comes to snobbery, I've heard many people criticized for have a van, von, or other prefix indicating land ownership, if not also nobility, before their surname. Some families dropped this when they accepted the democratic ideals of the United States of America, but if your family was using it in the Old Country, then that's your name! Remember that wealth and elite status then isn't what it is now. They could have had inherited land but be broke.)
(part three coming!)