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What’s Your Name?

So yesterday I posted a bit about the Lard/Laird branch of my family tree and coincidentally today the Genealogy Tip of the Day was about last names.  How fixed are they?  Turns out not very.

In certain regions of Europe last names changed from one generation to another or were tied to the property on which an ancestor lived…

Learn about your ancestor’s country of origin and determine what the common practices were in that region…

Even before I started researching my family tree I’d heard names sometimes changed from the old country to the new world. Different languages, different accents, unknown spellings all played a part in the names new Americans acquired upon arrival. The name Vito Corleone is recognized as the main character in the Godfather. However, in the Godfather II it’s a young Vito Andolini who arrives at Ellis Island from Corleone, Sicily. As the boy is registered to enter the United States there are language difficulties and Vito is given the last name Corleone, which is actually the name of his home town.

However, It also seems to have happened to our names as we moved from state to territory to new frontier areas as we settled the country. My research into my great-grandmother Bessie Jane Belew Rose turns up relatives and ancestors named Belue, Beleu, Ballew and even Ballou, as in Cat Ballou. Remember that movie with Lee Marvin playing the drunkest gunfighter in the west? Cat—as in Catherine—Ballou hires him to protect the family ranch and then avenge her father’s death. It was a comedy by the way, made in 1965. But back to our story… The name is pronounced “blue” like the color, and that’s how it’s spelled in some families along with a very French version of Ballieux, or something like that.

Turns out I have a branch of Blues, like the color, on a different part of my tree. And a great great grandmother, Catherine Blue—I wonder if she was called Cat. These Blues came from Scotland by way of Nova Scotia and as far as I can tell the name was always spelled Blue. This is the same family that begat Ronald Reagan and makes the former president one of our distant cousins on my Dad’s side.

Speaking of French—back to the Ballieux spelling—Phillippe Du Trieux arrived in New Amsterdam in 1624 with the first immigrants on the ship the New Netherland to settle on Manhattan Island. In a few generations Philippe, became Phillip, and du Trieux became Truax. One of the du Trieux boys married Sarah la Roux, They named a son Larue, and his last name became Truex, with an “e” and then later the name settled on the spelling of Truax, with an “a”. About the same time someone named VanderVinck arrived in the area and over a couple of generations his name evolved to become Wink, as in Sansom Wink, my great great grandfather.

Other family names that have evolved over the years are Beavins, Bevins or Bivens, and maybe before that it was originally ap Evans, which means “of Evan”, as in “son of Evan” in Ireland and Wales.

Then there were different spellings, Talmadge became Talmage, as in America’s first spies. Stillwell, was spelled Stilwell sometimes. In looking for information about my great great grandmother Nancy Qualls, I can’t overlook Quarles and Quails.

Some of my family names have seemed fixed through the years: Rose, Miller, McKay, Scott… although Scott was written Schott in a marriage record once, Rose can turn up as Ross in some families; Miller can be Millar; McKay might be McKee… It’s good to keep these things in mind when looking for specific documents that don’t seem to exist.

How about your family names?  What differences have turned up in your research?

Jan

Here’s how I’m related to some of these people.

Me > Dad > Kathryn McKay, she was called “Kat” > Olive Wink > Sansom Wink > Jacob Adam Wink > Adam Wink > Jacob Wink, Esq. b. 1733, Bedford, PA > Sebastian Wink b. 1705 in Rotterdam, Zuid-Holland, Netherlands, immigrated and returned to die in France > Isaac VanDerVinck

Me > Dad > Kathryn McKay > Olive Wink > Sansom Wink > Jacob Adam Wink > Adam Wink > Jacob Wink, Esq. who married Elizabeth Truax > Larue Jacob Truex > Phillip Truex > Jacob Du Trieux > Philippe Du Trieux > Philippe DuTrieux, b. 1586, Roubaix, Nord, Nord-Pas-de-Calais, France, arrived New Amsterdam, 1624.

Me > Dad > Kathryn McKay > Donald Graham McKay > Robert McKay who married Catherine Blue > Donald Daniel Blue (great great grandfather of Ronald Reagan) > Donald Neil Blue b. 1799 in Kilcalmonell, County, Argylshire Highlands of Scotland

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Posted by on July 1, 2014 in McKay, Miller, Rose, Scott

 

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Revolutionary Grandpas and Uncles

I’m hooked on Turn, the AMC show about America’s first spy ring. Sunday’s episode 5, Epiphany, takes place at Christmas in 1776 when Washington crossed the Delaware to avoid a confrontation with the Redcoats and set up the Battle of Trenton.

I’d come across Trenton and Monmouth County, New Jersey during my research so I set out to find out who might have been there during the revolution. It was an easy search.

My family has several immigrant ancestors who were part of the original settlers of New Amsterdam in 1624. My 8th great-grandfather Phillipe du Trieux, his wife and son, were part of that settlement. In 1645 his youngest son, Jacob du Trieux my 7th great-grandfather was born in New Amsterdam. His son Phillip—6x great grandfather—was born in Monmouth County, NJ in 1676. It was during this generation the name changed from the French spelling Du Trieux to Truex or Truax. The family would be in New Jersey until the Revolutionary War.

Larue Jacob Truex—5x great grandfather—was born there in 1705. He died in 1774 two years before the colonies declared independence. It would be his sons that participated in the Revolutionary War and were likely involved in the Battle of Trenton.

His sons included

  • 1) Benjamin, 1731–1801. His grave marker indicates he was Private in the Pennsylvania Bedford County Militia during the Revolutionary War.
  • 2) Samuel, 1740–1801, PFC Rush’s Co PA Militia, Revolutionary War
  • 3) Jacob, 1745–1807
  • 4) Obedia, 1745–1787
  • 5) John, 1749–1807
  • 6) Phillip, 1752–1822, a Revolutionary War Soldier
  • 7) Stillwell, 1752–1822, a Revolutionary War Soldier
  • 8) Joseph, 1758–1839, 4x great-grandfather

Joseph Truex, his youngest son, is my 4x great-grandfather. He was 18 years old in 1776. There were also two daughters, Elizabeth, 1733–1810; and Catherine 1746–1804.

NOTE: After I wrote this I decided to look for the grave sites of some of these Revolutionary soldiers. On Find-A-Grave Joseph, son of Larue, is said to be born in 1741 and to have died during the Revolutionary War in 1777. I’ll investigate more.

Elizabeth Truex married Jacob Wink and they are also my 5th great grandparents. Jacob, 1833–1806 was likely in the militia. Their oldest son, Jacob, 1756–1820, was 20 years old in 1776 and was probably also a participant either in the militia or the Continental Army. After two daughters their next son, Adam Wink, my 4x great-grandfather, was born in 1764 so he was only 12 years old at the start of the war and too young to fight.

NOTE:  According to information on Find-A-Grave Elizabeth was daughter of Samuel Truex and Sarah Stilwell. But that can’t be right because, according to that same entry, Samuel was born in 1743 ten years after Elizabeth was born in 1733.

Both lines descend to my grandmother Kathryn McKay Miller Hamilton, and then to my dad.

I have other revolutionary relatives in North Carolina and South Carolina, but I’ll save those stories for another day.

Any questions?

Jan

 
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Posted by on May 6, 2014 in McKay

 

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The Palatines

If you saw Tim McGraw on the recent episode of Who Do You Think You Are? you heard about Tim’s German heritage and the Palatines who arrived in New York in 1710. Turns out part of my family arrived with the same group of immigrants.

Merckel is the name of my Palatine relatives.

Sansom Wink, born in 1819 in Fulton County, Pennsylvania, is the connection that got me there. He’s my 2nd great-grandfather on my dad’s side.

Sansom Wink

Sansom Wink, Whiteside County, Illinois

His mother, Sarah Markle, was born in 1799, also in Pennsylvania.

I followed Sarah’s family backwards through several spellings of the name (Markle, Mearkle, Mercley, Mericle, … you get the idea) and came to the family of Heinrich Felix Merckel born 1643, probably in Sachsen, Germany. Heinrich Merckel, and his son Johann Friedrich with his wife and kids arrived in New York in 1710.

When I put it like that, it seems rather routine, but like many crossings of the era, this was extremely difficult and deadly for about 20 percent of the immigrants. Over 3,000 individuals left England on ten ships (I think) and only 2,400 arrived alive. Many wives were widowed on the journey, and still more kids were orphans upon arrival.

There is much more to this story, but unfortunately my hard drive crashed in December, taking with it much of the research I’d collected. (arrrrghh!) I know the information is still online out in the wide world of web resources, but I’ve googled all over the place and haven’t come across it the past couple of days. I will track it down and tell the story with more of the tragic details as soon as I find it.

As to the area they ended up in, it was purchased from the Indians by the Governor of New York in 1677. A sawmill on a stream the Indians called The Little Sawyer marked the northern boundary of the purchase. The payment was a blanket, a piece of cloth, a shirt, a loaf of bread, and some coarse fiber.

Map - Palatine Settlements

Palatine Emigrant 1709ers

Early settlers were joined by the 300 Palatine families in 1710. The lands set aside for them became known as West Camp in the Town of Saugerties, and Germantown, on the east side of the river. In case you may have family from the same area, a list of the families appears on a commemorative plaque beside the church in West Camp, Ulster County, New York. You can find my Merckels in the list of families at the West Camp.

Prior to 1712, controlling traffic at river landings and the roads leading from the river provided the primary business opportunities for settlers. As the 1710 arrivals cleared land for new homes and businesses, sawmills became big business to process the freshly harvested timber.

Here’s one place you can go for more information about the Palatines. And here is another.

By the way, if anyone has the definitive family tree for the Merckel family from Germany until 1800 I would love to hear from you. Mine is a total wreck.

I found German children (at least in my family tree) were given repetitive names. For instance, the boys will have the first name of Johann, then a middle name that is his own, so you’ll see several Johann sons in the same family. As to the girls, I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a collection of Anna Marias in one place. It’s very confusing. And when you add the evolution of the spelling from the German—Friederich/Johann—to a more Americanized—Fredrick/John—it’s even more confusing.

Since this is before the first census in 1790, I don’t have that as a reference. However I have found what appears to be good information in some church records and some early histories.

I also found a collection of Merckels who were in the Revolution: John, Jacob, Phillip, Nicholas, Harnes, Henrich, Dewalt, and Peter Merckel. But I haven’t yet sorted out who might belong to my branch of the tree.

If anyone has something to add to this part of my family story, I’m all ears. I’d love to hear from you.

 
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Posted by on February 14, 2011 in McKay

 

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