Have you ever wondered how many other folks across the U.S. shares your surname? A surname distribution map covering 70 years can be found on the Surname Distribution Maps” Hamrick Software site (NOTE: The charts have been removed from the Hamrick Site. They were very helpful and perhaps they will be added to the site once again sometime in the future). Just type your surname, select “all years”, click and you’ll see an animated map showing the migratory path of people with your surname as they spread across the country.
U.S. State Census Records
Most states have taken at least one statewide census since 1850. You’ll often find information in state census records that isn’t found in a federal census. The state census was taken sometime in the ten year period between federal censuses. A list of state censuses by year is found here. Use them to help you fill in the information about your family and to help find them in their migratory path between the ten year intervals of the U.S. Federal Census.
Scottish Naming Patterns
The Scots had a fairly consistent naming pattern for their children. When I reviewed the families of my own Scots families, I quickly saw that they followed the naming pattern fairly closely too.
The Scottish naming pattern usually looks like this:
- 1st-Paternal Grandfather
- 2nd-Maternal Grandfather
- 1st-Maternal Grandmother
- 2nd-Paternal Grandmother
Additional children were usually named after uncles and aunts, either by blood or marriage. Exceptions to this pattern were often initiated to commemorate a new pastor, etc.
Reading Old English Handwriting
Your modern day doctor may have been born in the 17th century, or at least their handwriting often appears that way.
Reading old English handwriting is usually like reading the written script of your doctor. Below is the 17th century English alphabet taken from old church records with associated alphabet letters to help in your transcription efforts.