Skip to main content

What's in a name?

Long time, no write!  

As the year draws to a close, I have been thinking a lot about the discoveries I have made during the course of the year and the brick walls I have been able to poke some holes in.  

Work and real life have gotten in the way and I haven't been able to write very much over this year, but I have been making some progress in my research.  

I was spending some of my research time today thinking about where I need and want to go from here.  Is 2017 the year of my do-over?  I have been reading about different ways of recording and organizing my information. I learned a lot reading and rereading Kerry Scott's book How to Use Evernote for Genealogy. It is revolutionizing my organizing!  

I have been reviewing notes and research, sorting through filled notebooks in the hope of creating a  game plan for next year and I was pleased and surprised by the amount of surnames I now consider mine. I counted 45!  

45 names! I want to learn the origin of these last names, I want to know where these people came from and how they got here.  I started out knowing some of these names, and I have learned some over the course of my 12 years of genealogy research.  This year was full of big discoveries for new names on both sides of my family.

Schuler, Rose, Mackey, Clark and Roe were familiar for most of my life.

For a while now, I have believed that my Schulers were not German, but were from Alsace.  Through my Schuler research, I learned I am also connected to Blicks Kock and, Ofshceiner. As well as Clarks and Cassidys.   

My Roses, I always thought were Welsh or British, although they have been here for so long, they are more American than anything else.  But I recent discovery of an ancestor names Roos, has me considering the fact they may be Dutch. Researching Roses, has led me to learn about Morgans, Halls, Cronks.

Mackey is the name that led me to so many other names. Storm, Quick, Palmentier, Tietsoort, and the confounding Gardner/Gardiners.   These names are all from my paternal line and solidify for me that I am at the very least a 12th generation New Yorker.  There are many other names here in the F.A.N. club.  I have barely begun to scratch the surface.  A book that helped me get a grasp on early New York, or should I say New Amsterdam, is Russell Shorto's Island at the Center of the World.  If you have interest in American or New York History or genealogy, this book is a must read.   

Mackeys led me to begin to research the Bells, Cornelisons and Browns.  And I have already decided this branch will become a much bigger focus for me in 2017.    

When I started my family tree back in 2004 my original goal to find out more about my mother's family, specifically, the Jones of Orange County, NY.  I was sure that if I had a Revolutionary War ancestor, it would be in this line.  They are still fascinating and more than a bit illusive, this is a brick wall that I am breaking down bit, by bit, and a little too slowly for me.  
The biggest and best surprise for me is the progress I was able to make on my maternal side.  Roe, I have been told was Finnish, even though it sounds like anything but.  Poyhonnen, the surname with 1,000 spellings (only a mild exaggeration) is in deed Finnish and some of those folks may have even lived in Russia, before migrating to America.  I have learned my Poyhonnens are also connected to Puustinens, Pitkanens and Miettinens.  More names to explore.  

When I started my research I was confident I knew all the surnames I needed to and that my family was concentrated in a pocket of Orange and Rockland Counties.  I am continually amazed that over the course of the last 10 years I have discovered family in at least 20 of the 62 counties of New York State, as far south as Louisiana and as far west as Montana and several states in between. I have barely begun to confirm my connections to home lands like Finland, Russia, France, Germany, England and Ireland. 

 Thinking about it makes me want to check my passport is up to date and go exploring.    Another goal for my 2017 research!  


  1. Thanks Sue.

    I never realised how intricate a family tree could be. i forwarded this entry to some genealogy folks of mine. i have researched the Smith clan. my dad's grandfather is from Roscommon. his mother is from Monahan. my late grandfather a Dwyer is said to originate from gypsies and highwaymen in southern ireland, mainly Carlow. a priest stated this at a wedding. it wasn't a warm reception.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Looking Forward, Looking Back

I can hardly believe that it's time for yet another year end review of my family history research.  Where does the time go? 
My biggest challenges continue to be time and distance.  I struggle to find a balance between doing all I want to do with my research and maintaining this woefully neglected blog with work and my other real life obligations.  I also continue to work around the fact that for now, I am miles away from the areas I want to research and can't run out to the local history room of the New City Library with a question, take a leisurely stroll through the cemetery or drive by an old family home.  I continue to learn how to be a different kind of researcher.  
    I spent time this year learning about my Schuler family and how they made it from France to New Orleans to New York. I obtained death certificates and made other connections using newspapers (English and French!) and probate records.  My great-great grandfather Harry's sister, Leona is the only Schuler…

Olga Poyhonnen

Olga Poyhonen is my maternal great grandmother and one of my family's most recent immigrants.  Olga traveled to New York from Nilisa, Finland to live with her older sister after the death of her father.  She traveled alone, in steerage, and came to work as a seamstress with her sister, Minna.  

 I am still learning about Olga and her sister.  I will have a lot more to say about her and how I came to have this picture of her and her young son soon.  

I didn't want this day to end without posting about Olga.  It was on this date, May 11, 1893 that Olga first disembarked in the great city of New York and began her life in America.  She was 14 years old.

Elizabeth Cassidy Schuler

One of my lofty genealogy goals for this year is, after years of neglect, to spend time focused on my paternal lines.  It was my mother's family that first piqued my curiosity in genealogy and so for years, they captured most of my attention.  

Elizabeth Cassidy Schuler is my two times great grandmother.  That is reasonably close, I should know something, or at least more than I do about her.  I find her to be mysterious and intriguing and I am determined to learn more.  

The earliest documentation I can find for Elizabeth Cassidy is the 1855 New York State Census.  She is 5 years old, referred to as Betsy Ann, the daughter of George and Mary Cassidy.  She is their second child of eight and the oldest girl. 

From 1855 to 1870, the Cassidy's live in Ward 14 in lower Manhattan, spanning 15 years they move from Election District 1, to 3, to 4 where I have discovered they lived at 130 Prince Street.  An interesting neighborhood now, for sure.  I wonder what it was like in 1870?  And …