Surname Saturday – Swayze

Darling Line
By Don Taylor

Photo of Don Taylor with cat Nasi.Name Origin

Swayze is a variant of the English name Swasey. The meaning of the name is unknown; however, the Dictionary of American Family Names suggests it possibly is “an Anglicized form of Dutch Swijse(n), variant of Wijs ‘wise’.”

Geographical

Today, the greatest number of people with the Swayze surname live in the United States—Texas in particular. The greatest frequency of the Swayze surname occurs in Canada with one in 51,568 people in Canada having the surname. [i]

Back in 1880, the greatest number of people with the Surname Swayze lived, by far, in New Jersey. Stepping back to 1840, the greatest concentration of Swayze’s were also in New Jersey. At that time, 58% of the Swayze’s in the United States lived in New Jersey. [ii]

Earliest Ancestors

Flag of the United Kingdom
Immigrant Ancestor

My earliest known Swayze ancestor is my wife’s 9th great grandfather, John Swayze. He was born before 1600 in England. His son, John Swayze (1619-1706) is my wife’s Swayze immigrant. John (Jr.) was born in England, however, arrived in the Colonies before 1649 when he married Catherine Kinge, in Salem, Mass. John left Massachusetts and located in Suffolk County, New York. His son, Samuel, Grandson, Mathias, and great-grandson, Amos were all born in New York. Amos’s son, Amos (1767-1839) was the last of the New York Swayze’s in my wife’s line. Amos’s son David was born in New Jersey and is a patriot. He “Volunteered when 14 years old under Capt. Abraham McKinney and Lt. Beavers. He marched to Newark then to New York.”

David, the patriot, moved west, to Ohio. David’s son, David was born in New Jersey, moved to Ohio, then located further west and north to Kalamazoo, Michigan, where he died. All of David Swayze’s (1798-1850) children were born in Ohio. However, he located from Ohio to Michigan in June 1840, right after the census was taken.  His daughter Elizabeth Swayze, my wife’s second great-grandmother, is the last of the Swayze line of my wife’s. She married Rufus Holton Darling in 1848.

Eight Known Direct Swayze Ancestors

  • #25[iii] – Elizabeth Jane Swayze (c. 1818—1896)
  • #50 – David Swayze (1796-1850
  • #100 – David Swayze (1762-1838)
  • #200 – Amos Swayze (1739-1813)
  • #400 – Mathias Swayze (1699-1728)
  • #800 – Samuel Swayze (1653-1736)
  • #1600 – John Swayze (1619-1692) – Immigrant
  • #3200 – John Swayze (bef. 1600)–1686.

Famous Relatives.

Photo of Patrick Swayze
Photo by Alan Light [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Patrick Wayne Swayze is my wife’s 9th Cousin. Patrick Swayze was an actor known for Dirty Dancing and Ghost.

Apparently, John Cameron Swayze was related to Patrick Wayne Swayze, so that would make him a cousin to my wife as well. John Cameron Swayze was a news commentator during the 1950s. He may be best known as the spokesman for Timex where he used the tagline, “It takes a licking and keeps on ticking.”

Records

My records currently have 355 direct-line descendants of John Swayze identified, which is nearly 13% of my Howell-Darling Research.


ENDNOTES

[i] Forebears.io – Swayze Surname Meaning & Statistics – See: http://forebears.io/surnames/swayze
[ii] Amazon.Com – Swayze Family History – See: https://www.ancestry.com/name-origin?surname=Swayze
[iii] Ahnentafel Numbering system – See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ahnentafel

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

Evans – Surname Saturday

Origin of Name

Sometimes you just don’t know what you don’t know. If I were to guess, I would have guessed that “Evans” was a patronymic name.  That is to say, it was derived from a personal name such as “son of Evan.” And I’d be right. What I wouldn’t have known is that it is a Welsh name.

Geographical

Today, the Evans name is the fifth most common name in Wales with one in 77 people having the surname.[i]  Here in the United States, one in 47 people have the surname; worldwide there are about 795,000 people with the surname.[ii]

My Earliest Ancestors

Map showing 1840 Distribution of the Evans Surname
1840 Distribution of the Evans surname in the US. Source: Ancestry.Com

My earliest known Evans ancestor is my 2nd great-grandmother, Malinda Evans. Malinda was born about 1828 in Ohio. According to Ancestry.Com, the 1840 Census reported there were 440 families in Ohio with the Evans surname. I haven’t had a chance to investigate Malinda’s life in depth yet, but she is number 4 on my Roberts-Barnes research list.

Malinda Evans (1828-c.1905) married Nimrod Lister (1824-?) in 1859.[iii] They had eight children, including my great-grandmother, Maranda (1867-1932).

Direct Evans Ancestors

  1. Hugh Eugene Roberts (1926-1997)
  2. Essie Pansy Barnes(1903-1982)
  3.  Marada Mae Lister(1867-1932)
  4. Malinda Evens (c. 1828-c. 1905 ±4)

Known relatives.

My records have identified 94 direct-line descendants of Malinda.

I have two other Evans’ in my family tree; both of them are non-related spouses of other ancestors and have no common ancestor to Malinda.

ENDNOTES


[i] Internet: Forebears – Evans Name Distribution 2014 — http://forebears.io/surnames/evans#meaning

[ii] Ibid.

[iii] Wolfe, Thomas J., History of Sullivan County, Indiana, A, Files (Personal), Pages 234-236. A history of Sullivan County, Indiana, closing of the first century’s history of the county, and showing the growth of its people, institutions, industries and wealth. New York: The Lewis Pub. Co.