One story states that there were four O'Phares brothers who travelled to the United States during the Irish potato famine. During the voyage, the brothers discovered that each intended to marry an American woman and have a large family; so to avoid confusion, the brothers decided to each spell their names differently upon arrival in the states. When they did arrive in America, they each filled out the immigration papers with a different name. The oldest brother kept O'Phares, and the three younger brothers chose Phares, Ferris, and Feris.
Another story states that the name change was not to avoid confusion of families upon arrival in the states but to disassociate themselves from the Catholic church. In this story, the brothers were not fleeing the Irish potato famine but religious persecution after leaving the Catholic church.
What do you think? Have you found any information to back either story? Or perhaps you have another story entirely! Comment below.