Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Founding families love only each other

That is, of course, an exaggeration. In the beginning, when starting new communities and new lives, they had only each other to intermarry with, and if the next generations stay local enough, everybody has some kind of connection to each other.

As a lifelong Long Islander with several connections to the Long Island founding families, I've always noticed it locally - when I read a name in the newspaper, when I look at the street names in my town and the towns around me. But it's not a local phenomenon.

For lack of any other genealogical avenues to currently explore, I've been focusing on a branch of my family, the Spragues, who ended up in Canada, concentrated mostly in southern Ontario, though spreading to Manitoba and British Columbia (and Minnesota, Washington, and California from there, as well). Anyway, up Canada's way, they seem to have become one of the founding families of many of the early communities there and in tracing those lines, the same names keep reappearing - Morden, Roblin, Wrightmeyer, German. They're all part of the same big happy Ontario family.

On Long Island, you had Raynors marrying Smiths marrying Carmans marrying Seamans marrying Pearsalls in all sorts of wacky permutations till you get to the fun part when it becomes quite obvious that someone has a connection to several founding families because every single one of their names is a founding family name. If you randomly pick just two or three of those names to link together in any order, I can guarantee you'd find there was at least one person (but probably more) with that name.

You had local celebrity Raynor Rock Smith, whose mother's last name was Raynor and who spawned about 4 generations of namesakes. You had Bedell Raynor, Jed Rocksmith Raynor, Judson Fowler Raynor, Carman Pearsall Smith, George Duryea Smith, Irving Seaman Smith, James Sprague Smith, Julian Denton Smith, Lila Carman Denton, Bergen Benjamin Carman, Hiram Bedell Pearsall, Richard Smith Bedell, etc. The list is probably endless, but these are just a few examples from the branches of my own Long Island family tree.

In genealogy searches, if you have a feel for some of the names associated with the early settlement of an area, then you'll know that if you find someone with one or two or three of those names, you've found someone who is probably connected to multiple early families.

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