Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Name Game

No, not the name game as in . . . banana-fanana and all that jazz, but rather the name game as in the passing down of family names.

This is important when dancing with the ancestors. Why? Well, I'm glad you thought that question and I was able to read your mind.

Very often, there is a naming pattern, or rather a usage of common names that are passed down through the generations. Quite often, these names can provide important information.

Case in point: the Smith branch of my family tree.

My 3 x Paternal Great Grandfather was John Smith. He married Nancy - I wrote about her in a previous post. From what I've been able to find, they had at least five children, if not more, as follows: John B. Smith (my 2 x Paternal Great Grandfather), Elizabeth Smith, Moses Riley Martin Smith, Jesse Smith, and another male child who, in 1840 was between 20 and 30 years old.

As I've been digging and digging, I discovered the following . . .

John B. Smith named a daughter Nancy, a son John, and another son David Burdine.

Elizabeth named a daughter Nancy, a daughter Riley, and a son John.

Moses Riley Martin named a son John, a son Jesse, a son Riley, and a daughter Nancy.

Jesse named a son John B. and a daughter Nancy.

Have you figured out the naming pattern yet? The most common names used are Nancy and John, the names of John B., Elizabeth, Moses, and Jesse's parents. The second pattern is the name Riley which both Elizabeth and Moses used. The third pattern is the B/Burdine name.

My best guess is that the "B" in John B. Smith (2 x great grandpa) stands for Burdine. My second best guess, since Jesse named one of his sons John B., is that this is a family name passed down through the generations, which makes me suspect that my 3 x great grandpappy is actually John B. Smith.

Which brings me to my third best guess . . . that his mother was a Burdine. Okay, no proof on that end, but it gives me a jumping off point for further research, as does the name Riley.

My thought is that Nancy, wife of John, and mother of John B., Elizabeth, Moses Riley, Jesse, and at least one more male child, is most likely Riley, which gives me a further jumping off point for additional research.

So, when dancing with the ancestors pay attention to naming patterns because those patterns can provide jumping off points for further research. And, don't forget the siblings, because if I hadn't taken the time to research the siblings, I wouldn't have discovered this naming pattern, and gotten some jumpstarts for further research.


1 comment:

  1. Moses Riley M. Smith from Glasgow married missouri Irish woman Mary Martin. Moses riley was second cousin to Capt. John Smith.