Name Changes Should Be Considered

January 8th, 1995


Many of our ancestors or relatives who remain unfindable could have been among the minority of Americans who moved away from their family and, for whatever reasons, changed their names. How one finds this out is another story. A good example of this is in the November/December 1994, “The Genealogical Helper”. The example was of one Frank Jackson born in Kentucky in 1849 who moved to Montana, became Frank Turner, and on to Idaho. Only by the chance meeting of a former neighbor was his secret discovered and then the families kept in touch, but he remained Frank Turner. I have heard of people dropping their surname and using their middle name, of recent immigrants changing the spelling or having a whole new surname substituted due to a misunderstanding or a need to simplify. Name changes are something those researchers with a “brick wall” should consider as a viable possibility.


The marriages and deaths for 1871-1872 from “The Southern Argus”, a Selma, Alabama, newspaper, has been indexed and published on microfiche. The originals are at the Alabama Archives. The index is surname-only, and is separated between black and white notices. It covers many counties, some a good bit away. I found a notice about my Eufaula relatives. Anyone with Alabama interests should check this and the rest of the series as it is completed. $8 postpaid from Michael Kelsey, 905 Duval, Temple, Texas 76501.


Its been some time since many of us have heard anything on the subject of “Pocahontas’ Descendants”. The current reprint is an update and expansion of an 1887 work by Wyndham Robertson, “Pocahontas and Her Descendants”. This volume with new information, is by Stuart E. Brown, Jr., and others. This new version is from a typed revision, and all descendants come from the only child, Thomas Rolfe, born around 1615, of her 1614 marriage to John Rolfe. She married at Jamestown, Virginia, the British colony founded in 1607 by Captain John Smith. While Pocahontas is best known for saving the life of Captain Smith, she did not marry him. Pocahontas died in 1617 while visiting England. Many prominent Americans descend from her: Edith Bolling Wilson, wife of President Woodrow Wilson; some of the descendants of Thomas Jefferson, including Hollins Randolph (1872-1938) of Atlanta; some descendants of President John Tyler; and Gay Bolling Shepperson of Atlanta. The book must be studied to be understood: it has three sections, each with its own index and a rather complicated numbering system. But if you have ever wondered who descends from Pocahontas, this is the source. The book is $50 plus $3 postage from the Genealogical Publishing Co., 1001 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21202.


The Georgia Division, United Daughters of the Confederacy has reprinted “Alexander H. Stephens: The Sage of Liberty Hall” by Lucian Lamar Knight, state historian and first state archivist. Originally published in 1918, the book contains much information long out-of-print from people who knew Stephens, the Vice President of the Confederacy and Georgia governor. His house, Liberty Hall, is open as a State Historic Site, at Crawfordville. The book is $12, c/o Ga. Div., UDC, 1604 Executive Park Lane NE, Atlanta, Ga. 30329.
Update: Address still valid in 2011.