This is the surname of my maternal line. It's not a very common name, but it's not extremely rare. You might have heard of the name, but more than likely, you haven't. And most folks don't know how to pronounce it. I've hear "Al-be-uh" a lot.
The Albea family has proven hard to trace. I know for a fact that my Great-Great Grandfather was William Anderson Albea who was born on 15 April 1872 in Lincoln County, GA1. He married Nina Sprouse in 1895 and their children were: Sara Everlena, Johnny, Melvin Anderson, Charles Vernon, Martha Louise, Henry Paul, and Coleman Albea. William died on 3 Aug 1936 in Greenwood (City), South Carolina1. His obituary references his siblings as Nellie Love Albea Ivey, Elbert Albea and Edward Albea2.
His parents have eluded me. According to his death certificate, they were Thomas Albea and Sarah Porley/Corley. I cannot find this couple in any census. However, based on census records, I believe that this line might descend from Tilman Albea and Julia Ann. In 1880, there are "Willie Albea" and "Eddie Albea" living with Tilman and Julia Ann as grandsons. In the next district over, there is a Thomas Albea listed as a widower.
Since I've hit a brick wall, I decided to research the name itself. My great-aunts had told me that they had been told that the name was spanish. I googled "Albea translation" and discovered that Albea is a form of the verb albear, which means to whiten or to turn white. So, albea means he/she whitens. This supports the idea that Albea may be a spanish surname.
Next, I headed over to publicprofiler.com to see how the name is distributed today. Once again, the results seem to prove the theory that this is a spanish surname.
From here, I'm going to try and research William Albea's siblings and see if I can find more information on their parentage through them.
1. “Standard Certificate of Death for Wm. A. Albea,” File No. 12612, State of SC Bureau of Vital Statistics State Board of Health, http://www.flickr.com/photos/genealogyphotos/360049200/.
2. “Obituary for William A. Albea,” The Greenville News, Greenville, Greenville, SC, 4 Aug 1936, pg 11.