Surname Study – Vinson – Halifax County, NC – Part 2

Surname Saturday
Howell/Vinson
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.During Part 1 of this study, I followed the Vinson family through the 1880 and 1870 Census records. In doing so, I established four Vinson family units in Halifax County during the 1880 Census.

1870-1880 Family Units

Looking at the 1870 and 1880 Censuses together I previously identified the following families:

Widow Elizabeth Vinson (b. 1815-1817)

  • Littleburg Vinson (b. 1857-1858) Married J. D. Unknown (b. 1858-1859)
    • Unnamed Vinson girl (b. 1879 – d. April 1880)
  • William G. Vinson (b. 1858-1959)

J. Robert Vinson (b. 1847-1848) – Wife, L. N. Vinson (b. 1853-1854)

  • R. Vinson, (b. 1871-1872)
  • Fannie Vinson, (b. 1872-1873)
  • H. Vinson, (b. 1873-1874)
  • Emmett Vinson, (b. 1876-1877)

Robert Vinson (b. 1824-1825) – Wife, Martha, (b. 1828-1829)

  • John H. Vinson (b. 1850-1851)
  • Thomas L, (b. 1853-1854)
  • Albert L. Age 14 (b. 1855-1856)
  • Laura E “Lizzie” Vinson (b. 1865-1866)

Littlebury Geo Vinson (b. 1815-1816)

1860 Census

The 1860 Census again shows the names of individuals in a household; however, it does not provide relationships.  The following individuals were identified, the relationships are either guessed by me or come from subsequent Census records:

Littleberry Vinson

Halifax County, North Carolina.

There were three Vinson families during the 1860 Census.  The Elizabeth Vinson of the 1870 Census is with Littleberry Vinson during the 1860 Census. This seemed extremely strange to me.  Upon further investigation, it appears that the Littlebury and Elizabeth Vinson were enumerated on two separate pages during the 1870 Census and were not noted as such.  That suggests that Littlebury of the 1870 Census was still with his wife and children and Elizabeth was not widowed until after 1860. With that in mind I have consolidated the Littleberry (b. 1815-1816) entries.  The 1860 Census adds two more children to the Littleberry and Elizabeth Vinson family.

A second connection is also apparent from the 1860 Census.  Robert Vinson, age 12 appears to be the same person as J. Robert Vinson of the 1870 Census.

Littleberry Vinson      44        Connected
+ Elizabeth Vinson        44

  •             Laura Vinson             14        New
  •             Robert Vinson             12        Connected
  •             Littleberry Vinson      2
  •             William Vinson          11/12

Robert Vinson


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The Robert Vinson Family adds Turner Vinson as a youth.  It appears that Turner may have died before 1870. Another interesting entry for the family is that a Susan Wilson is living with them. Her age is 22 and she is a seamstress.  Her relationship is unknown. She might be old enough to be a sister of Robert. Hopefully, the 1850 Census will shed light on her place in the family. The Robert Vinson family unit is:

Robert Vinson (b. 1824-1825)
+ Martha, (b. 1828-1829)

  • John H. Vinson     (b. 1850-1851)
  • Thomas L,             (b. 1853-1854)
  • Albert L. Vinson   (b. 1855-1856)
  • Turner Vinson   (b. 1858-1859) – New
  • Laura E “Lizzie” Vinson (b. 1865-1866)

John Vinson

This family group is the really important group for my research. John Vinson is my wife’s 2nd great-grandfather. None of the individuals in this 1860 Census appear in the 1870 or 1880 Census records for the Vinson surname in Halifax County, North Carolina.  The 1860 Census indicates the following:

John Vinson                43
+ Ellenior Vinson          35

  • Virginia Vinson          14
  • Elizabeth Vinson       13
  • Susan Vinson             12
  • James Vinson             8
  • Benja Vinson              5
  • Barkhead Vinson       2

Elizabeth Vinson       75

This family unit appears to be a husband, wife, six children, and John’s mother. The question is where are they in the 1870 and 1880 Censuses?

The family unit is “Vincent” in the 1870 Census. The 1870 Census shows the head of the household is Leanora living with five children,

  • Elizabeth, Age 23
  • James W., Age 17
  • Benjamin I, Age 14
  • Joseph B., Age 12
  • Ellen B., Age 9.

With that in mind, the new John Vinson/Vincent family consists of

John Vinson              (b. 1816-1817)
+ Ellenior/Lenora [Vinson]  (b. 1824-1825)

  •             Virginia Vinson       (b. 1845-1846)
  •             Elizabeth Vinson     (b. 1846-1847)
  •             Susan Vinson           (b. 1847-1848)
  •             James W. Vinson     (b. 1851-1852)
  •             Benjamin I. Vinson (b. 1854-1855)
  •             Joseph Barkhead Vinson   (b. 1857-1858)
  •            Ellen B. Vinson        (B. 1860-1861) (from 1870 Census

(It is also likely that John is the son of Elizabeth [Vinson]. I will pencil that in for now.)

Elizabeth Vinson     (b. 1784-1785)

Conclusion

I was able to reduce the Vinson Family lines in Halifax County from four to three in the 1860 Census.  My wife’s Elizabeth/John/Susan Vinson line (bolded below), A Robert Vinson line. Robert is the correct age to potentially be a brother to John. Thirdly, a Littleberry Vinson line which is also potentially a brother to John.  Next time, I’ll roll the 1850 Census into the study.

Vinson Families in Halifax County 1860 thru 1880.

Elizabeth Vinson     (b. 1784-1785)

  • John Vinson              (b. 1816-1817)
    + Ellenior/Lenora [Vinson]  (b. 1824-1825)

    • Virginia Vinson          (b. 1845-1846)
    • Elizabeth Vinson       (b. 1846-1847)
    • Susan Vinson           (b. 1847-1848)
    • James W. Vinson        (b. 1851-1852)
    • Benjamin I. Vinson    (b. 1854-1855)
    • Joseph Barkhead Vinson       (b. 1857-1858)
    • Ellen B. Vinson           (B. 1860-1861)

 

  •  Robert Vinson (b. 1824-1825)
    +Martha, [Vinson] (b. 1828-1829)

    • John H. Vinson           (b. 1850-1851)
    • Thomas L Vinson       (b. 1853-1854)
    • Albert L. Vinson         (b. 1855-1856)
    • Turner Vinson           (b. 1858-1859)
    • Laura E “Lizzie” Vinson (b. 1865-1866)

 

  • Littleberry Vinson      (b. 1815-1816)
    + Elizabeth [Vinson]   (b. 1815-1816)
  • Laura Vinson (b. 1845-1846)
  • J. Robert Vinson (b. 1847-1848)
    + L. N. Vinson (b. 1853-1854)

    • C.R. Vinson, (b. 1871-1872)
    • Fannie Vinson, (b. 1872-1873)
    • B. H. Vinson, (b. 1873-1874)
    • Emmett Vinson, (b. 1876-1877)
  • Littleberry Vinson (b. 1857-1858)
  • William Vinson (b. 1859)


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Surname Study – Vinson – Halifax County, NC – Part 1

Surname Saturday
Howell/Vinson
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.Researching families in pre-Civil War North Carolina is often difficult.  Many records were “lost” and many families used the same first names in families often. I have found one way to make sense of the family lines is to do a surname study in a particular location. Often, many of the people with the same surname in the same area are related. By doing a surname study, I can sometimes determine the relationships between individuals with the same surname.  I like to begin with the 1880 census as it provides relationships to begin with. Census records before that don’t provide the relationship so you must guess about the relationships.

Using Ancestry.Com, I started with a search of the 1880 Census, all people with the surname Vinson, in Halifax, County, North Carolina. I downloaded the images for all the findings, but for the purposes of this study, I’m only interested in Name, Age, and Relationships. After I am able to connect any of these individuals to my Howell/Vinson line, I’ll integrate the documents I found into my sources.

1880 Census

Halifax County, North Carolina.

I found three families and three individuals with the Vinson surname during the 1880 Census in Halifax County[i].  They were:

  1. L. Vinson, Age 22, with his wife J.D. Vinson, Age 21. They had an unnamed child in 1879 that died at age 9 months (April 1880). (See the 1880 mortality schedule for details.)
  2. Robert Vinson, Age 32 and his wife L. N. Vinson, Age 26 and their four children
    1. R. Vinson, Age 8
    2. Fannie Vinson, Age 7
    3. H. Vinson, Age 6
    4. Emmett Vinson, Age 3
  3. Martha Vinson, Age 51, a widow and her two children,
    1. Albert Vinson, Age 24
    2. Lizzie Vinson, Age 14
  4. Elizabeth Vinson, Age 63
  5. G. Vinson, Age 20
  6. Geo Vinson, Age 64

1870 Census

I would expect to find all individuals over the age of 10 in the 1870 Census. A search of the 1870 Census found four white family groups.

The indexed version of the census indicates a very unusual household consisting of a black woman, Elizabeth Vinson, age 34, with two white children living with her. The two children are Littleburg Vinson, age 12 and William G Vinson, age11. The two children are clearly #1, L. Vinson and number 5, W. G. Vinson from the 1880 Census. Upon a much closer look at the image, it appears to me, that the indexer mistook the age and the race for Elizabeth. I read the image as race white (same as Littleberg and William, and an age of 54. That would fit the 1880 Census record for Elizabeth Vinson.



Next is J. Robert Vinson, aged 22. This is clearly number 2, J. Robert Vinson, in the 1880 Census.


Robert Vinson, Age 45, wife Martha, Age 41. With apparently four children.

  • John H. age 19
  • Thomas L, Age 16
  • Albert L. Age 14
  • Laura E, Age 4.

This is clearly the Martha Vinson family of 1880 before she became widowed.


Littlebury Vinson, Age 54 is obviously L. Geo Vinson in the 1880 Census.

Family Units

Looking at the 1870 and 1880 Censuses together I see the following family Units.

Widow Elizabeth Vinson (b. 1815-1817) & Children:

  • Littleburg Vinson (b. 1857-1858) Married J. D. _____ (b. 1858-1859)
  • Unnamed Vinson (b. 1879 – d. April 1880)
  • William G. Vinson (b. 1858-1959)

J Robert Vinson (b. 1847-1848) – Wife, L. N. Vinson (b. 1853-1854) & Children:

  • R. Vinson, (b. 1871-1872)
  • Fannie Vinson, (b. 1872-1873)
  • H. Vinson, (b. 1873-1874)
  • Emmett Vinson, (b. 1876-1877)

Robert Vinson (b. 1824-1825) – Wife, Martha, (b. 1828-1829) & Children:

  • John H. Vinson (b. 1850-1851)
  • Thomas L, (b. 1853-1854)
  • Albert L. Age 14 (b. 1855-1856)
  • Laura E “Lizzie” Vinson (b. 1865-1866)

Littlebury Geo Vinson (b. 1815-1816)


ENDNotes:

[i] Note: I only considered white families.

Surname Saturday – Roberts

Roberts
Surname Saturday

Name Origin

Roberts and Robertson are patronymic names that come from the first name Robert. The name has Old German origins coming from ‘hroth’ and ‘berht’ which mean “fame” and “bright,” similar to how our word “illustrious” is used today. [i] Had I known 50 years ago that my biological father was a “Roberts,” I probably would have adopted the illustrious surname for myself. But instead, I adopted “Taylor” as my surname, which is a story in itself.

I was pretty sure I was a Roberts long before I could prove it. After, I learned that I was most likely “a Roberts,” I purchased a Roberts tartan at a Scottish Fair. I don’t know if my Roberts’ are Scottish, as I still need to track down the origins of my Roberts line, but I like the tartan.

Geographical

Today, Roberts has its highest frequency of use in Wales where one in 124 people have the surname. However, by far the greatest number of people with the Roberts surname live in the United States where over 50% of the people in the world with the surname currently live. Among the States, the greatest number of “Roberts” live in the great state of Texas. Worldwide, Roberts is the 658th most common name; approximately 793,774 people bear the surname.[ii]

My Roberts Ancestors

My earliest known Roberts ancestor is my 4th great-grandfather, Edward Roberts. I haven’t tracked down where Edward was born, yet, but his son, Elias, was born in South Carolina and died in Tennessee. Elias was born in 1767, so this Roberts line goes back to at least colonial times.

Elias Roberts married Rebecca Brashears; they had nine children including John Calvin Roberts.

John Calvin Roberts was born in the Southwest Territory (Tennessee); he married Elizabeth Blackwell and they had fifteen children, including Asa Ellis Roberts.

Asa, who was born in Tennessee, had sixteen children with two wives including a son, Hugh Ellis Roberts, with his second wife.

Hugh, who was born in Illinois, had four children including my paternal grandfather, Bert Allen Roberts.

My known relatives.

I have five half-siblings, all of whom have the Roberts surname.

My records have 272 direct descendants of Edward Roberts identified, so far.

Do you think you are a related Roberts? Test with FTDNA and see.


Endnotes

————- DISCLAIMER ————-

Surname Saturday – Taft

Roberts/Barnes/Taft Line
by Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.I was surprised to learn that I know of more ancestors with the surname of Taft in my Roberts Line than any other surname, including Roberts. Only my Mannin(g) and Wolcott ancestors, which are on my Brown line, are more numerous.

Name Origin

Taft is an English name coming from a variant of Old and Middle English word “toft,” meaning a yard enclosing a residence[i], a curtilage, or homestead. It was also applied to a low hillock where a homestead used to be.[ii]

Geographical

Nearly 12,000 of the 13,500 Tafts in the world live in the United States. The highest concentration of Tafts is on the Island of Jersey, a dependency of the United Kingdom in the English Channel (close to France). Today, there are over 1,000 Tafts in both New York and California. There are only 59 people with the Taft surname here in Maine. I wonder if their ancestors came to Maine as mine went to New York in the 1700s. I’ll have to look at that sometime.

My Ancestors

Photo of President William Henry Taft
“Cousin Bill” (William Henry Taft) – Photo courtesy Library of Congress

Taft is a very famous name in American history. Probably the most famous Taft is my 5th cousin, four times removed, William Howard Taft, the 27th President of the United States and the 10th Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. He is the only person to have held both offices. You don’t find cousins any more illustrious than “Cousin Bill.”

I haven’t researched Robert, Benjamin, or Stephen Taft enough to understand their immigration. Certainly, they came from Europe and probably England during the Great Migration of the mid-1600s. Silas Taft, my 5th great-grandfather was born in Massachusetts colony in 1744 and died in New York in 1812.

The 1840 Census indicated that there were no Taft families in Indiana, however my 3rd great-grandfather, Joel Cruff Taft died there in 1849. I know he had lived in New York, during the 1820s, before he went to Indiana. Twenty-five percent of the Tafts in the United States lived in New York in 1840 and over 1/3 of the Tafts resided in Massachusetts. So, it appears that my Tafts followed a typical migration west – Massachusetts to upstate New York, west to Indiana with some going further west again.

My Great Taft Ancestors

  • 1st Great-grandfather: Joel Clinton Barnes (1857-1921)
  • 2nd Great-grandmother: Mercy Eliza Taft (1822-1884)
  • 3rd Great-grandfather: Joel Cruff Taft (1800-1849)
  • 4th Great-grandfather: Asa Taft (1774-1839)
  • 5th Great-grandfather: Silas Taft (1744-1812)
  • 6th Great-grandfather: Stephen Taft (1710-1803)
  • 7th Great-grandfather: Benjamin Taft
  • 8th Great-grandfather: Robert Taft

My known Taft relatives.

My records have 259 known, direct-line descendants of Robert Taft identified over fourteen generations, which is about 9% of my known Roberts/Brown Tree. Mercy Taft, who married Nelson Barnes in 1839, had nine siblings who I haven’t had a chance to research yet.



Sources

[i] Internet: Forbears – Taft Surname Meaning & Statistics – http://forebears.io/surnames/taft accessed 14 Feb 2018

[ii] Internet: Ancestry – Taft Family History – Taft Name Meaning – https://www.ancestry.com/name-origin?surname=Taft accessed 14 Feb 2018

Howell – Surname Saturday

By Don Taylor

Origin

According to the Ancestry.Com, there are two main sources for the Howell surname. The first one is Welsh, coming from the Welsh personal name “Hywel” meaning ‘eminent.’ The second one is that Howell is an English habitational name coming from an Old English ‘hugol’ meaning ‘mound’ or ‘hillock.’ In particular, it has come to be a habitational name from Howell, Linconshire.[i]

Forebears indicates that it probably derives from an old Welsh word, hoew meaning ‘alert’ or ‘sprightly.’[ii]  The most famous historical bearer of this name was a 10th century Welsh prince, Howell Da.

I have not been successful in determining an immigrant ancestor in the Howell line to confirm the likely origin of this line, however, family oral history indicated they are of Welsh descent.

Geographical

The United States has the most incidents of the Howell surname. There are over 123,000 incidences of the surname in the United States, and only 172,000 worldwide or to say it another way, about 72% of the individuals named Howell live in the United States. The highest frequency of Howell’s in any country is Jamaica, with 1 in 989 having the Howell surname.

The 1920 Census indicates that the greatest number of Howells lived in New York. Likewise the largest number Howells lived in New York during the 1880 and 1840 censuses.[iii]

Howell Ancestors

Peter M. Howell

My wife’s Howell ancestors were in Virginia in the late 1700s. In the mid-1800s they located to North Carolina and in the mid-1900s her branch moved to Maine.

My wife’s earliest known Howell ancestor is probably James Howell. I’m not confident that he was Peter M Howell’s father, but he was in the right place at the right time and died about 1817 when Peter M Howell’s father died. If correct, James Howell would be my wife’s third great-grandfather.

Peter M. Howell is my wife’s 2nd great-grandfather.  He was born in Buckingham County, Virginia.  He married in Cumberland County, Virginia, and died in North Carolina. He was an itinerate preacher. He published a book, The Life and Travels of Peter Howell, in the 1840s that chronicled his life. The book had an illustration of Peter Howell, which is the earliest image that I have of any ancestor.

Peter Fletcher Howell

Peter Fletcher Howell is my wife’s great-grandfather. He was born in Buckingham County, Virginia, but lived most of his life in Halifax County, North Carolina. He was a civil war veteran (CSA). He fought at “The Crater” and many other battles.

James Dallis Howell was my wife’s grandfather. He was born in Halifax County, North Carolina. He too was a preacher and lived most of his life in North Carolina, although he died in Maryland.

My wife’s father, Clarence Fletcher “Pete” Howell, was also born and raised in North Carolina. He attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and became an engineer. He located to Washington, DC in 1939 and lived there until the 1950s. In the 1960s he moved to Maine where he started several businesses that continue to this day. Pete passed in 1999.

DNA

James Dallas Howell

In hopes of a breakthrough in the Howell ancestor research, Jerome Howell has taken a Y-DNA test. His nearest Y-DNA matches are surnamed “Howle,” but no link between the families has been discovered. It appears that the common ancestor between them is more than five generations ago and, apparently, before a Howell/Howle surname split. The Howle line ancestors were in South Carolina in the 1780s while the Howell line ancestors were in Virginia at that time.

Known relatives.

My records have 138 direct-line descendants of James Howell identified over eight generations. This is about 5% of my Howell-Darling research.


Endnotes

[i] Ancestry.Com – Howell Family History – Source: Dictionary of American Family Names ©2013, Oxford University Press. See: https://www.ancestry.com/name-origin?surname=Howell

[ii] Forebears – Howell surname and meaning – Source: Surnames of the United Kingdom (1912) by Henry Harrison – See: http://forebears.io/surnames/howell

[iii] Ancestry.Com – Howell Family History – Source: Dictionary of American Family Names ©2013, Oxford University Press. See: https://www.ancestry.com/name-origin?surname=Howell