Saturday, August 15, 2009

Surname Saturday

Patrick Henry
"Give me liberty, or give me death!"

I've been married to the most wonderful man in the world since 1998. He does have a rather unique name, however.

Johnnie Henry.

Yes, Johnnie is his real name, and not a nickname. However, it has caused a bit of consternation now and again.

Like, once he was pulled over for a traffic violation [speeding], and the trooper asked him to sign his "John Henry" on the ticket. Johnnie proceeded to sign "John Henry" to the document.

"Very funny, son" the trooper remarked, until he saw Johnnie's drivers license.

Or the time we made an appointment with a minister to perform our wedding. We went into Virginia, obtained our marriage license, and I called a local minister to perform the ceremony. We set the date, and he asked for our names: Cynthia Beane and Johnnie Henry. "Is this some kind of joke?", he asked. I assured him I was most serious! And he proceeded to set the appointment. On the day of our wedding, we showed up with most of my family at our side, and one close friend, for the private ceremony. We waited and waited. No minister showed! Finally we called him at home and he rushed to the church. "I guess I forgot to write it down in my date book!", he exclaimed. "What were your names again?" When I reminded him of our names he told on himself, "Oh! You weren't joking were you!"

When we began researching my husband's genealogy about nine years ago, we were fairly stymied and started with nothing more than his father's name. [Johnnie's mother and father were divorced when he was 2 years of age, and he never saw his father again.] It took a bit of work, but we finally located his father's whereabouts. We were a bit late, however. Johnnie's father, Joe, had passed away in 1993. We later found his father's parents, William having died in 1965 and Emma in 1985.

It didn't take us long to locate William in early census records, and work our way back from there. We soon located other researchers and were able to take the Henry name back quite a way. Having grown up in the historic areas of Jamestown and Williamsburg, Virginia, I had wondered if there was a tie to Patrick Henry, the famous statesman who gave the "Give me liberty or give me death!", speech.

After a bit of work, just a couple of years ago, we discovered that there is indeed a tie.

Johnnie's 6th-great-grandfather was William Henry [1709-1769], and Patrick Henry's father was John [1704-1773]. The two were brothers. Which means that their father, Alexander [b.1674, Scotland] is the common ancestor. So, Johnnie's 7th great-grandfather, and Patrick Henry's grandfather, were one and the same individual.

It appears that William's line went through South Carolina and into Virginia. From here they migrated into what is now West Virginia [Monongahela County]. And from there they migrated further west into Kentucky [Johnnie's great-great-grandfather, John]. And here the family pretty much remained.

Since I grew up fairly living in the lap of history, and especially Patrick Henry memorabilia, I was so excited to find this link! No other Patriot shows more dedication to the building of this great country than does that of Patrick Henry. Others were just as influential, but none more so.

What a history worth knowing!

1 comment:

Rosie Cotton said...

Hi there! (smile)
Very nice blog! Full of very interesting well wrtten posts. Its been fun reading. I have been gathering a list of blog's that relate to Virginia and West Virginia. I would love to add your blog to mine at . Feel free to add mine to yours. I am mainly searching the Ball Family of Logan and Boone WV. Check out my family tree, in the top left hand column under "Labels". I have traced my ancestors back to Joseph Ball Sr. b. ab. 1783 Franklin County Virginia d. 22 Nov. 1860 Boone County WV. No one has yet been able to find his daddy was.
I look forward to seeing more of your great posts in the future. Tammy Renee
PS I dont see a "Follow Me" button to your blog anywhere. :(