Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Moving 2

In my last post I described the travels of my McDaniel line from Maryland to Virginia and eventually on to Missouri. In this post I outline the migration of another line, the Keith families, who also moved west from Maryland. The two lines converged with the marriage of my grandparents in 1895 in Oklahoma.

The Keith family in North America originate from George Keith, who we label as George 1 as there were several direct line ancestors of that name and he was the first one in North America. He was my 8th great-grandfather. We believe George was born in Scotland although we have not confirmed the information. He arrived in Maryland around 1666 as part of a major migration of British people who established colonies in that region. His wife, Dorothy, is reputed to have been an indentured servant to Captain Luke Gardiner, a prominent citizen of the new settlement. After serving several years as a servant, Dorothy was apparently granted land in the area where she and George 1 raised a family. He died about 1737 in Charles County, Maryland. No further information has been found for Dorothy.
Map showing the major events and residence locations of members of the Keith family along with the route taken during moves to new locations
Their son, George 2, was born in 1667. He married another Maryland resident, Anne (surname unknown) and they had at least three children, all born in Maryland. George died in 1705 and his will was probated in Maryland, naming three children. Anne may have remarried.

George 3 was born in 1695 in Charles County. He married a Maryland woman named Elizabeth, (again her surname is not known) about 1715. Their five children all were born in Maryland. A George Keith is shown on land records to have sold property, in Charles County in 1755 which may have been George 3.

George Keith 4 was the first of the family to migrate westward. He married Monica Pidgeon in Prince George’s Parish, Frederick County, Maryland in 1751. They had ten children between 1754 and 1774, all born in Maryland. Land records show he sold Charles County property, probably in anticipation of their move to Kentucky. Monica apparently died in Bourbon County, Kentucky that same year which dates their move.

It is very likely that they took the Great Wagon Road and then the Wilderness Road to Kentucky. Some family researchers suggest they travelled to Fort Duchesne (Pittsburgh) and then down the Ohio River to Kentucky, however, the connecting road from Maryland, The National or Cumberland Road was only started in 1811 and did not become a major route for settlers until much later. The Wilderness Road led directly into Bourbon County and was open for wagon traffic y 1790.

Some of George and Monica’s children, including my 4th great-grandfather, Richard Keith, with his wife, Sarah (Mason) and five of their children, followed their parents to Kentucky around 1796. Richard and Sarah were married in Prince George’s Parish, Frederick County, Maryland in 1784. Four of their children were born in Maryland between 1786 and 1791; five children were born after they arrived in Kentucky, between1796 and 1809; another daughter was possibly born in Maryland in 1794. The birth dates fix their move to the middle of the 1790s. Richard and Sarah both died in Missouri, after they had moved again to be with some of their children there, making them the family with the greatest geographic range during their lifetime.

Samuel Adkins Keith, my 3rd great-grandfather was born in Maryland in 1786 to Richard and Sarah. He married Isabel Parks in Kentucky in 1811. They had four children there, moving to Indiana about 1820, where seven more children were born. Both Samuel and Isabel died in Indiana and are buried, with many other family members in the Keith Cemetery in Marion Township, Jennings County, Indiana.

Although my 2nd great-grandfather, James Blare Keith, lived, worked and died in Indiana, a few of his siblings took up the wanderlust and moved west again, to Illinois, Missouri and Kansas.

For this line, the Wilderness Road was once again a major route for migration and the spread of branches of my family across the United States

Wayne Shepheard is a volunteer with the Online Parish Clerk program in England, handling four parishes in Devon, England. He has published a number of articles about various aspects of genealogy and is a past Editor of Chinook, the quarterly journal of the Alberta Family Histories Society. Wayne also provides genealogical consulting services through his business, Family History Facilitated

Tuesday, 14 July 2015


We are getting ready to move soon, downsizing again, after our children have been long gone and priorities in life or health challenges change. We are not going very far, just across town, but it is still a major project: to pack things we need or want to keep; sell or toss the stuff we no longer use. The latter, of course does not include the many items of memorabilia and boxes of personal documents and family records of all types that no self-respecting genealogist could ever part with. It’s going to be another challenge to find a place for all of it.

Anyway, it reminded me again of how many of my ancestors also picked up and left their old lives to begin new adventures, often with young families and with destinations thousands of miles from their homes and relatives. Many of my posts about family members over the past two years have mentioned or been centred on moving activities and/or new homes – sometimes just across a parish in England, many across the ocean to Canada and the United States.

Once in North America, many did not stop in one location for long but continued the search for that perfect piece of land or opportunity. Or, if the primary migrants stayed near where they landed, their children and grandchildren did not.

I have several family lines who, over a few generations, migrated to and then across the United States. Just writing the names of the places they lived in does not really show the distances and hardships they must have endured during those moves. Reviewing maps that show the trails they followed, in the time periods in which they migrated, greatly illustrates where and how they might have travelled.

One route family members followed west from the eastern seaboard of the US, in the decades long before there were railroads, involved the Wilderness Trail or Road. It was the principal route settlers took through the Cumberland Gap in the southern Appalachian Mountains to reach Kentucky and, on further branches, elsewhere to Ohio and Indiana. Some families stopped along the way in western Virginia where they established farms and raised children. For others the Cumberland Gap was just a gateway to lands opening up in the interior. The Wilderness Road began itself as a branch off the Great Wagon Road, traversing from Philadelphia south to the Carolinas, near Big Lick, Virginia, later to become Roanoke.
Map showing the location of the major routes taken from New England to other colonies and to western regions opening up during the late 18th and early 19th centuries (map has been used in numerous websites, this version downloaded 11 July 2015 from The Lowrys family website)
Among the early pioneers opening up the trail west from Virginia, was Daniel Boone who in 1775, with a party of men working for the Transylvania Company, cut a trail through the dense forest to facilitate the movement of settlers to the company’s licensed lands in Kentucky. The trail, usable only by men on foot or horseback at first, was widened to permit wagon traffic by the end of the century and became known as the Wilderness Road. The route served as the primary path of migration until a new road opened in the north, running from Maryland to Illinois – the National or Cumberland Road.
Drawing of travel on the Wilderness Road, source Library of Congress (downloaded 12 July 2015 from Wikimedia Commons)
Members of my maternal grandmother’s family migrated from Maryland to Washington County in western Virginia. William and Elizabeth (Gentle) McDaniel, my 2nd great-grandparents, were married in Maryland in 1801. We have not yet traced their European origins or when the first family member landed in Maryland or the New England colonies. The surname suggests they arrived from Scotland. I believe both William and Elizabeth were born in Maryland as well, although confirming records have not yet been found. They had their first child in that state in 1803. Their other eleven children were all born in Washington County, Virginia between 1806 and 1831, including my Great-Grandfather Asa, in 1827. They would have travelled both the Great Wagon Road to Big Lick and then on the Wilderness Road to a new farm near Abingdon, about 350 miles of rough going.

Asa married Margaret DeBusk in Washington County in 1851. For several years they farmed with Asa’s parents in that area. In 1860, he loaded his family and belongings on to a covered wagon and moved west to Lee County, a distance of about 85 miles but still a difficult trek. It was there my Grandmother Martha (Mattie) was born in 1875. Many of Asa’s children moved west, settling in Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma. In 1894, Asa, along with daughters Mattie and Sarah, left Virginia for Missouri, probably following the old Wilderness Road, now much improved, through Lexington and Louisville.
Map showing the major events and residence locations of members of the McDaniel family along with the route taken during moves to new locations.
Other family lines also travelled the Great Wagon and Wilderness Roads on their way to new homes in the west. I’ll recount their journeys in subsequent posts here.

Wayne Shepheard is a volunteer with the Online Parish Clerk program in England, handling four parishes in Devon, England. He has published a number of articles about various aspects of genealogy and is a past Editor of Chinook, the quarterly journal of the Alberta Family Histories Society. Wayne also provides genealogical consulting services through his business, Family History Facilitated

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Naming Patterns for Children

Recently statistics relating to many aspects of Canadian life were published, in advance of Canada Day – this year the country’s 148th birthday. They were broken down by province and included such diverse categories as: average salaries, notable top trending Google searches, number of accidental deaths, litres of beer consumed per capita, home prices and total number of Kraft Dinner boxes sold. The sources were equally varied: Statistics Canada, Google (of course), major retailer groups, real estate association and provincial vital statistics.

One that caught my eye, as it might many genealogists, was top baby names. Anyone who has transcribed parish and census records from centuries past is aware of certain trends in the naming of children. The top two names in Canada for 2014, as shown on the website, Today’s Parent, with data from all provincial vital statistics departments, were Liam, for boys, and Olivia, for girls. In the United States, according to the website, babycentre, it was Jackson and Sophia, with Liam and Olivia both in the top three. It may seem unusual that such old-fashioned names were at the top of the list but there is historical precedent.

In centuries past, at least in the primarily English-speaking countries, there was always a propensity to name children after their ancestors. Most family historians are familiar with the English and Scottish Naming Patterns, with the first children named after grandparents and subsequent children named after parents, aunts and uncles. The conventions are both helpful, in the search for ancestors, and maddening, as so many cousins in one village might have the same name.

Traditions still exist in the naming of children with at least one name being given in remembrance of past generations. I share a first name with many past relatives, including my father. My brother was named for both of his grandfathers. There has been a John and/or a James Shepheard in almost every past generation I have found in our family back to the early 1600s. During the mid-18th century in England, middle names began to come into common use, as described in a May 2014 post on The Pharos Blog. Some were in recognition of their mother’s surname; some were used to differentiate those cousins living in the same area; some recognized friends or influential people in the community.

In more recent times, parents have attempted to give more names to their children from outside the family, as if to identify and emphasize them as being unique, but still many names come from within the family. My oldest grandson was to be named William Alexander until his mother realized that was the full name of her grandfather. His name was then established as Ian Alexander which combined names of both his father and paternal grandfather. Alec’s brother was given the name of Malcom Macgregor, the first name from that same paternal grandfather. His second name, from Scottish origins, means “Son of Shepherd”, which seemed appropriate.

My granddaughter received the name of Calista which in Greek means “most beautiful”. My son thought that was apt. Her second name is James because my daughter-in-law likes girls with traditionally “male” names. While they both sought out unique names for Calista’s brother, they ended up with Ethan as a first name. His mother says it “was chosen under duress in the hospital so that I could fill out the birth record.” She loved the name Ethan but still hated that is was so popular – third on the list of boys’ names in 2006. He also got the name Charles as a second name. While perhaps not intentional, it happens to be the name of his 2nd and 4th great-grandfathers as well as many cousins throughout our family tree. It was also given to him as his second name so that no one would be tempted to call him “Chuck”.

Anyway, when looking through the lists of popular names, one cannot help but be struck by the fact that many of the most popular names in recent years were also common in past generations. The pattern has been dubbed the 100-Year Rule. Names associated with grandparents’ and great-grandparents’ generations regain their popularity. It may not be conscious thing on behalf of parents although I suspect that people who have fond recollections of their grandparents may retain such memories in the names of their children. Thus, as great-grandparents pass away, they may be remembered in the names of their great-grandchildren.

While children’s names may not be associated with very closely-connected ancestors, as they were hundreds of years ago, many still manage to have a link to their family’s past in their names. That trend has certainly continued in my family through my children.

Wayne Shepheard is a volunteer with the Online Parish Clerk program in England, handling four parishes in Devon, England. He has published a number of articles about various aspects of genealogy and is a past Editor of Chinook, the quarterly journal of the Alberta Family Histories Society. Wayne also provides genealogical consulting services through his business, Family History Facilitated