The surname Whitney – Name Origin, My Whitney Ancestors, Direct Descendants of Benjamin Whitney.
By Don Taylor
Forebears indicates Whitney is derived from a location, “of Whitey,” a parish in Herefordshire. Ancestry suggests that it probably comes from hwit, meaning “white.” However, Genealogy Bank indicates the name probably refers to the River Wye, which runs through the rea of Whitney in Herefordshire. In any event, they all agree that the surname derives from a location in Herefordshire, England. Herefordshire is in the West Midlands of England, bordering Wales.
The surname Whitney is predominately in the United States, with 83% of the people in the world with the surname living in the US. It is most common in the Falkland Islands, where one in 224 people have the surname.
In the United States, New York, Massachusetts, and Texas have the largest number of Whitney’s, and Maine had the greatest frequency where one in 1,322 people have the surname.
8th Great-grandfather: Benjamin Whitney (___-___)*[i]
* – Individuals marked with “*” have not been independently researched and confirmed by me. The names and dates are tentative and unverified.
Sarah Whitney was born on 11 July 1773 in Dedham, Norfolk County, Massachusetts Colony. I have not yet determined who my immigrant ancestor was nor when he arrived in the Colonies. However, Dedham was settled in 1635; my Whitney ancestors could reach back then.
Direct Whitney Descendants
I have 297 known descendants of Benjamin Whitney, including 27 Barnes, 23 Taft, 21 Roberts, and 17 Ransford. Two hundred eighty-nine of them are direct descendants of Sarah Whitney. I have previously written about four of those descendants.
Probably the most famous Whitney is Eli Whitney, Jr., known for inventing the cotton gin. Daniel Lawrence Whitney, known professionally as Larry the Cable guy, is a well-known comedian. And the little-known Josiah Whitney, the state geologist of California, you may not have heard of; however, Mount Whitney, the tallest mountain in the 48 contiguous United States, was named for him.
Ancestry indicates that the surname “Wolcott” is a Habitational name for someone from Wollcot in Somerset, England. Possibly so named from the Middle English wolle meaning “spring” and cot, meaning “cottage” or “shelter.” Forebears indicate it is derived from a person from Wollscott in Warwickshire.
Approximately 7,775 people worldwide bear the surname Wolcott, and 7,650 of them live in the United States. With the most living in New York, California, and Florida.
I have eight known Wolcott ancestors:
5th Great-grandmother: Mary Wolcott(1767-1857) b. Mass., d. New York
6th Great-grandfather: Samuel Wolcott (1736-1802) – b. & d. Connecticut.[i]
7th Great-grandfather: Samuel Wolcott (1713-1800)
8th Great-grandfather: Samuel Wolcott (1679-1734)
9th Great-grandfather: Samuel Wolcott (1656-1695)
10th Great-grandfather: Henry Wolcott (____-1680)
11th Great-grandfather: Henry Wolcott (____-1655)
12th Great-grandfather: John Wolcott (____-____)
Mary Wolcott was born in Massachusetts and died in New York.
Her father, Samuel Wolcott, was born and died in Connecticut.
I do not have birth locations for the earlier ancestors; however, Henry Wolcott was one of the founders of Windsor, Connecticut, and was identified as one of the original persons identified in the 1662 Charter of Connecticut (the basis of Connecticut being the “Constitution State”).
I have 867 known descendants of John Wolcott; 121 Brown, 94 Wolcott, 31 Parsons, 17 Berg, 16 Hanson, 16 Larson, and 15 Briggs descendants. Six hundred eighty of those descendants are known descendants of Mary Wolcott. I have previously written about 5 of them.
Wikipedia indicates fifteen famous Wolcott’s, including three governors, two senators, a representative, and a signer of the Declaration of Independence, Oliver Wolcott. There are also eight places named “Wolcott” in the US.
My History, My Memories
Saturday Night Genealogy Fun
By Don Taylor
In his blog, Genea Musings, Randy Seaver suggested that people write about their computer history – basically how we “became slaves” to our computers. I figured, because computers are such a big part of my life, it would be good to share my experience.
My first experience with computers was the “computer club” at Osseo High School. Members of the club learned to program in BASIC. We used a teletype with an acoustic coupler using a telephone. If I recall correctly, it ran at 300 bits per second. We did our programming offline and created a perforated tape to send our programs to a mainframe computer. (Again, if I remember correctly and IBM 360.) To send our programs, we would dial up the host and send our perf’ tape info. The computer would then do the work and send back the results of running the program. I was terrible at programming. I remember writing a program to generate the prime numbers from one to 1000. Most of the other kids’ programs took a second or two of computer time to generate the numbers. My program took nearly a minute—very inefficient programming by me. Anyway, I learned enough BASIC to be dangerous.[i]
I didn’t work with computers directly, but I did work with crypto equipment, which was very computer-like. Some of the equipment I used had perforated tape and used the same Baudot code as my high school teletype terminal. While in the service, I took a college course in COBOL[ii] and learned some more computer skills. I also took a college course in “Introduction to Computer Systems.”
After my Navy time, I got a job with TRW[iii] Customer Service Division. With them, I repaired cash machines (Docutel Total Teller 300), window teller machines, and terminal processors. The Total Tellers had small minicomputers associated with them. The computers were Lockheed and CAI mini-computers. To load the program into memory, you had to enter code directly into memory to create a bootstrap program. That program then accepted the actual code from a cassette tape using a standard Radio Shack tape recorder. Occasionally, when repairing equipment, it was necessary to write a simple program that would cause the cash machine to do a simple task, such as to pick up a money packet and deliver it to the money drawer, or pull in a card, read it, and send it back. Simple programs, but they were all done in machine language.
Metropolitan State University
I wrote about my experience at Metropolitan State University in “Schools I’ve Attended.” The bottom line is that I purchased a Commodore 64 and a word processing program to keep up with the rewrites I needed to do for a Non-fiction Writing class I took. That computer was the start of my using personal computers for home use. I’ve always had a home computer since then.
For several years I worked for the Navy at the NAVal Plant Representative Office in Fridley, Minnesota. I worked as an Engineering Technician in the Quality Assurance Division. The office installed a Wang 2200. The system has a program called IDEAS, which was an interface to a compiler that compiled BASIC programs. I requested access and was granted access to write some programs to track waivers, deviations, and engineering change proposals. I then wrote a couple of other applications for the Quality Assurance Engineers’ use. Meanwhile, the computer programmer they hired could not get any programs he was working on to work well. The commanding officer (CO) asked if I would be willing to go TAD[iv] to the Computer Team and work on some things. After a 90 day assignment, the CO asked if I wanted to do another 90 days. I agreed. After six months, the CO asked if I’d go there permanently. I agreed and was made a Computer Specialist. There I led the integration of Wang PCs into dual roles of office automation and terminals to the Wang 2200.
After the NAVPRO, I got a job with the Defense Contract Management Command as a computer specialist. There I worked with several different computer systems, but most importantly, I set up a Novell Netware system using Ethernet. While working for DCMC, I became Netware Certified. DCMC became its own agency (DCMA), and I continued working for them. I became certified in Microsoft Exchange Server and began working as the Exchange “subject matter expert” for the agency.
I continued working for DCMA and was selected to be the Technology Chief for the Eastern District. As Chief, I had Computer Specialists in some 25 states reporting to me for technical direction[v].
After 911, I decided to apply to the FBI. I was selected for a computer specialist position at CJIS Division in Clarksburg, WV. I worked in Requirements for a while. I studied to become a PMP (Project Management Professional). I was then selected to lead the test group where we tested changes to hardware and software to IAFIS (Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System),[vi] NCIC (National Crime Information Center)[vii], and NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Check System)[viii]
After I retired from the government, I used my Program Management Skills and Technical know-how to put together a NOSC (Network Operations and Security Center) for a Triple-I[ix] and SAIC[x] joint project. While there, besides putting my Project Management skills to use as the site leader, I became a CISSP (Certified Information Systems Security Professional).
Today, I use an iMac for my personal use and have for probably ten years or so. I knew Windows NT very well back in the day, but I get confused and frustrated when I need to use Windows 10 (it works very differently from Mac). That said, I and the “Technology Guy” at the Historical Society where I volunteer. I also help out fellow genealogy folks in several genealogy groups I am a member of, particularly if it relates to online systems (Ancestry, Zoom meetings, etc.) or Mac.
I became interested in computers when I was in high school in the 1960s and began working with them as the key component of my employment in the 1980s. I’m not sure I’d agree I’m a “slave to my computer,” but I do use mine 40 to 50 hours a week, so some people (like my wife) might agree that I am a “slave to my computer.”
[i] Good thing BASIC stands for “Beginners’ All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code.” I was definitely a beginner.
[ii] COBOL stands for “COmmon Business-Oriented Language,” and was used for data processing in business, finance, and administrative systems.
[iii] TRW stood for Thompson Ramo Wooldrige. It was qcquired by Northrop Grumman in 2002.
English, Scottish, and Irish: Generally a nickname referring to the color of the hair or complexion, Middle English br(o)un, from Old English brun or Old French brun. As an American family name, it has absorbed numerous surnames from other languages with the same meaning.[i] The name is from an old adjective meaning ‘brown dark red,’ Old English and OHG. [ii]
Although only ranked #202 globally, the surname Brown is ranked #2 in Scotland and Canada, #3 in Australia, and #4 in England and the United States. In the United States, it is surpassed only by Smith, Johnson, and Williams in frequency.[iii]
In the 1840s, the Brown families in the United States were in every state but concentrated in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York.[iv]
Direct Brown Ancestors
4th Great-Grandmother – Mary Brown (___-Bef. Jan 1847) (Married William Price on 16 Jun 1788)[v]
Hardy Brown married Martha Knight probably before 1768. My records have identified 225 direct-line descendants of Hardy and Martha.[vii] However, Mary Brown is the only known Brown surnamed descendant.
Ancestry indicates that Sutherland surname is a Scottish regional name from the Old Norse suðr ‘south’ + land ‘land.’ Sutherland lays south of Scandinavia and the Norse colonies in the Orkney and Shetland Islands. Forebears add that it comes from the province of Moray.
Today, the most significant number of people with the Sutherland surname live in the United States with over 40,000. As you might expect, it has the highest frequency in Scotland, where one in 462 people have the surname.
In the United States, the most significant number of people with the Sutherland surname live in California, with over 4,000 people. The highest frequency for the surname is Wyoming, where one in 3,823 have the surname.
Direct Sutherland Ancestors
I have not had a chance to do in-depth research of my Sutherland ancestors, so all of my estimated ancestors are notional. However, it appears that I have seven known Sutherland ancestors in two separate paths.
3rd Great-Grandmother: Tamise (Possibly Tammy or Fanny) Sutherland (1796-1864)
6th Great-Grandfather: Col. David Sutherland (1711-1794)
7th Great-Grandfather: William Sutherland (1690-1772)
(* Note: William J Sutherland and Hannah Sutherland married. It is unclear what their relationship may have been before their marriage.)
Interestingly enough, Tamise Sutherland, wife of Joel Cruff Taft, is my next planned research subject in my Roberts Research.
1840 – Tamise (Sutherland) Taft is my only known Sutherland ancestor that was living in 1840. She had already married Joel Cruff Taft. They lived in Broome County, New York, at the time. In 1840, 29% of the Sutherlands (or 96 households) in the United States lived in New York; however, none of the Sutherlands appear to have lived in Broome County.
Direct Sutherland Descendants
My records have identified 287 direct descendants of William Sutherland (1715-1768) and 289 for William Sutherland (1690-1772), most of whom are duplicated. These include 27 Barnes, 21 Roberts, 17 Ransford, 15 Taft, and many more surnames. I only have eight descendants of the Sutherlands with the Sutherland surname, indicating I have much more research to do on my Sutherland cousins.
Of course, there are many famous Sutherlands. Donald Sutherland and his son Kiefer are probably the most famous. However, Elizabeth Sutherland, 24th Countess of Sutherland, also comes to mind. Again, I have much more research to do on my Sutherland cousins. I would love to learn that Donald, one of my favorite actors, is related.