The original spelling of the German name Bär (meaning a beast) is now standardized as "Baer" in Germany and Switzerland. The spelling has been translated in America at least 38 offical different ways. In one instance, in the early 1800's, the same man's name was spelled 5 different ways on a land title in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania. The most common spelling was Bear. After the civil war some of the families, hanged the spelling of their surnames to Bair.
Needless to say, the surname led to many nick-names e.g.--Teddy, Smokey, Yogi.