About Me

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Just to tell you a little about myself, my name is Vickie and I was born and raised in Kentucky. The majority of my ancestors have been in Kentucky since the 1790’s. I have always loved history, a good mystery and puzzles and that is what Family History Research is all about. As a child we would take day trips on Saturdays and head down some dirt road looking for old cemeteries. A lot of the time we weren't looking for anyone in particular, we just like to read the epitaphs. We would have a picnic lunch packed and have lunch at whatever cemetery we were at. If the weather was bad my Dad and I would go to a courthouse and dig through old records in musty old basements looking for our ancestors. So as you can see I have had an interest in Family History for quite some time.

Monday, November 1, 2021

 The McMahan Dilemma

I am probably going to get into trouble for even daring to change a line that people have followed for many years now, including myself, therein lies the dilemma!!!

On my Dad’s, Mom’s side of the family we have a line that goes back to McMahan’s.  For the longest time I thought our James McMahan (1714-1799, wife, Susannah Hildebrandt) was a son of John McMahan and Margaret Murray of Ireland and then North Carolina.  When you look at different trees on Ancestry, FamilySearch, MyHeritage, etc.  everyone else pretty much thinks the same thing as well.  I have not actively worked on this line.  It was mainly work that my Dad did many years ago while talking to old timers, who knew some of these folks.  Since I had so many other lines that didn’t go back as far as my McMahan line did, I had kind of left it to the side.

Well, I decided it was time to start working on this line and see if I could figure out who the parents of John McMahan and Margaret Murray were.  This John & Margaret were both supposed to have been born in Ireland as was their son James, before coming to America.  What I have found so far is that there were indeed two different John McMahan’s, one in Pennsylvania, and one in North Carolina, that people have intermingled.

Another thing that makes it difficult at times is the spelling of the surname.  I have found it spelled as McMahon, McMahen, McMechen, McMakin, etc. and sometimes they even leave off the Mc or make it Mac.  Even in the same document there may be more than one spelling of the name.

My John McMahan (ca. 1690-1776) left a will in Rowan County, North Carolina which was written 31 July 1776, no wife listed, and I haven't found the probate for it yet.  He named these children: James, Samuel, Jane/Jean, Katherine, Agnes & Mary.  Witnesses were William Miller & James Hayes.  The will was not administered in Rowan County, because the executors, David Kennedy & Samuel Emet living in Pennsylvania, so it was delivered to William Anderson.  I believe that William Anderson was John’s son-in-law, husband to his daughter, Agnes McMahan.  I am working on trying to figure out where in Pennsylvania, David Kennedy & Samuel Emet lived and hopefully it is the same place John was before coming to North Carolina.

The other John McMahan (ca. 1710-1767) left a will written 18 May 1767 in Leek Township, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania which was probated in October of 1767, also in Cumberland County.  This John had a wife named Margaret whose maiden name was probably Murray.  Their children were: James, Rachel, Sarah, Elizabeth, Agnes, John, Margaret, Benjamin who was under age 21 & Mary.  Executors: John Erwin & son, John McMahan; Witnesses: John Erwin & William Wilson.

As you can see both John’s had sons named James and daughters named Agnes.  The way their wills were written it looks like both James’ were probably the oldest sons.  I think this is how so many people confused the two men.  According to family stories both James’ were also born in Ireland before coming to America.  However, my James died in 1799 in North Carolina and the other James died in 1823 in Pennsylvania.

My John McMahan’s children and their spouses were as follows: James (1714-1799) who married Susannah Hildebrandt (1718-1802); Samuel (ca. 1716-????) I have yet to find a spouse for; Jane/Jean (ca. 1725-after 1788) who married James Pursley (ca. 1721-1788); Katherine (ca. 1727-????) who married Edward Larrimore (ca. 1722-????); Agnes (ca. 1729-????) who married William Anderson (ca. 1723-????) and Mary (ca. 1733-1789) who married James Morrison (ca. 1724-1779).  All of my John’s children were supposed to have been born in Ireland before coming to America.

The other John McMahan’s children and their spouses were as follows: James (1740-1823) who married Mary Murray (1739-1818), Rachel, Sarah, Elizabeth, Agnes, John (1750-1802) who married Jane Murray (1762-1807), Margaret, Benjamin (1754-1829) who married Sarah McClees & Mary.  All of this John’s children were supposed to have been born in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania except for the oldest son James, who was supposed to have been born in Ireland.

They may possibly be related to each other, but at this time I can not say so with any certainty.  I am going to continue to work on these two families until I can figure out who their parents were and where in Ireland they came from, as well as when they came to America if possible.

Anyone with more information on either NC John or PA John and their families please let me know.

The following are the wills for both John McMahan's.  The first one is for my John McMahan in 1776 in Rowan County, North Carolina.  The second one is for the other John McMahan in 1767 in Chester County, Pennsylvania.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

I have been working on some Mortenson records for my husbands side of the family, making sure things are updated and corrected as needed in preparation for our upcoming reunion in June 2022.  In the process of doing this I found that Anders Jonas Erickson was actually born Anders Johan Jonsson.  Anders was the father of Anna Sophia Erickson Mortenson, mother of our Joseph Mortenson.  Anna Sophia's surname at birth and until she came to America was Andersdotter.  I wrote up a paper on the names and when things started changing incase anyone is interested.  I attached it to the memoires section on FamilySearch for Anders. Feel free to print it off for your own records if you would like and if you have any questions please let me know.

What’s in a Name?

First, before I start telling you about the ancestor from Sweden that changed his name after coming to America, I will tell you a little about the naming system in Sweden at that time.  Patronymics (from the Greek pater, meaning "father" and onoma, for "name") is the process of designating a surname based upon the given name of the father, thereby consistently changing the family surname from one generation to the next.  Until the turn of the 20th century, family surnames were not in common use in Sweden.  Instead, most Swedes followed a patronymic naming system, practiced by about 90 to 95% of the population.  In Sweden, -son or -dotter was usually added to the father's given name for gender distinction.  For example, Johan Andersson would be the son of Anders (Anders’ son) and Anna Svensdotter the daughter of Sven (Svens’ dotter).  Swedish son's names are traditionally spelled with a double s—the first s is the possessive s (Nils' as in Nils' son) while the second is the s in "son."  Technically, names that already ended in s such as Nils or Anders should have three s's under this system, but that practice wasn't often followed.  It is not uncommon to find Swedish emigrants dropping the extra s for practical reasons, to better assimilate into their new country.  

Swedish patronymic "son" names always end in "son," and never "sen."  In Denmark the regular patronymic is "sen."  Sweden passed the Names Adoption Act in December 1901, requiring all citizens to stay with one surname - surnames that would pass down intact instead of changing every generation.  Some families kept the name they currently had, while others adopted nature or military names.  Nature and military names are another subject all together, which I won’t get into at this time.  So, remember don’t just assume that Erick Johansson is your guy without doing a lot of searching first.  There could be hundreds of Erick Johansson that aren’t even related to each other, even in the same areas as yours were living.

Now, on to tell you about my husband, Roy Thompson’s 2nd great-grandfather, Anders Jonas Erickson.

What got me looking for a different surname in the first place was the fact that I could not find a birth/christening record for Anna Sophia or for any of her siblings.  The extracted records for Sweden are pretty good, but I was coming up empty.  Then I ran across a birth record, with first names that matched as well as dates and places, but the surnames were different.  I had also started seeing some family stories that stated that after arriving in Utah there were so many Jonson/Johnson/Johanson surnames, that he decided to change his surname to Erickson, after his father whose name was Jonas Erickson. 

I kept digging and the following is what I found.  Anders Jonas Erickson was actually born, Anders Johan Jonsson, but sometime after coming to America in 1863 and by the 1870 census, he started going by the surname of Erickson as did all of his living children.  Sometimes the records in America also have him listed with the given name of Andrew instead of Anders.  By the way, if they had stayed in Sweden all of his children would have had the last name of Andersson for the boys and Anderssdotter for the girls.

The following are the different records I have found so far showing his original surname, before coming to America and the surname he went by after his arrival in Utah.

CHURCH RECORDS: https://www.arkivdigital.net/ image 10 page 15 for birth & christening of Anders daughter, Anna Sophia who was born 13 December 1849 and was christened 14 December 1849 = Transcription first in Swedish then in English: Föräld(rar) Inhysesmannen Anders Joh(an) Jonsson och hustru Margaretha Henriksdotter från Ullevi, Ö(stra) Södergårds egor (ägor).  Faddrar. Bruk(are) Joh(an) Peter Eriksson med hustru, Drängen Carl Peter Jonsson från Vistena och pigan Stina Maja Månsdotter på stället.  

Parent’s lodger Anders Johan Jonsson and wife, Margaretha Henriksdotter from Ullevi at East Södergård´s (south farm) land.  Witnesses: Farmer/tenant Johan Peter Eriksson and wife, farmhand Carl Peter Jonsson from Vistena and farm maid Stina Maja Månsdotter same place (as the parents).

For your information Ullevi is located in the region of Östergötland & is located some 108 miles southwest of Stockholm and Vistena is just northwest of Ullevi.

Anders first wife, Margaretha Henriksdotter, had a daughter, Brita Johanna, and a son, Carl Johan, that both died young.  Margaretha’s daughter, Anna Sophia, who is Roy’s ancestor was the only child of Margaretha’s to live to adulthood.  Margaretha died shortly after giving birth to her son, Carl Johan.  Almost two years after Margaretha’s death, Anders married Anna Greta Andersdotter and had five more children and Anna Greta became the mother that Anna Sophia needed.

CHURCH RECORDS: Sweden, Indexed Birth Records, 1859-1947, located on Ancestry.com for the birth of his daughter, Hulda Mariana, born 18 April 1862 in Högby, Ostergotland, Sweden he is listed as Anders Johan Jonsson and his wife as Anna Greta Andersdotter.

CHURCH RECORDS: Sweden, Emigrants Registered in Church Books, 1783-1991 (Found on Ancestry.com and everyone is listed with their full birth dates and place as well, but I have just listed Anders’s date and place here.)

Anders Johan Jonsson, Male, Birth Date: 16 Nov 1821, Birth Place: Östergötland, Järstad Departure Date: 10 Apr 1863, Departure Place: Östergötland, Högby Arrival Place: Nordamerika (North America), Occupation or Relation: Torpare (small tenant farmer), Marital Status: Married, Notes: Travels with family. Original Page 24

Household members (The Jonsson surname was added to Anders’ children as they were living the country.):

Anna Greta Andersdotter (wife)

Carl Johan E Andersson Jonsson (son)

Anna Sophia Andersdotter Jonsson (daughter)

Nanny Amalia Andersdotter Jonsson (daughter)

Hulda Mariana Andersdotter Jonsson (daughter)

Maja Cajsa Månsdotter (She is the mother of Anna Greta, Anders’s second wife)

CHURCH RECORDS: Perpetual Emigrating Fund, Financial Accounts 1849-1886, Ledger C, page 781. (His name is shown as "Anders J. Johanson" on the PEF ledger.)

CHURCH RECORDS: LDS Mormon Immigration Index CD

JOHANSON, Anders       1822, Age: 41, Origin: Sweden, Occ: Farmer, Norrkoping (SMR p. 172)

JOHANSON, Anna          1822, Age: 41, Origin: Sweden, Occ: Wife

JOHANSON, Fritz            1849, Age: 14, Origin: Sweden (I am not sure who this boy is, we have no records for a Fritz Johanson, so I wonder if he was possibly a nephew or something.)

JOHANSON, Anne Sofie 1850, Age: 13, Origin: Sweden

JOHANSON, Nanny        1855, Age: 8, Origin: Sweden

JOHANSON, Carl             1859, Age: 4, Origin: Sweden

JOHANSON, Hulda         1863; Age: Infant, Origin: Sweden

ANDERSON, Maria         1794, Age: 69, Origin: Scandinavian Occ: Widow (She is the mother of Anna Greta, Anders’s second wife.)

Hulda and Maria both died somewhere in Nebraska along the trail on their way to Utah in July of 1863.

So, as you can see, Anders was going by the surname Jonsson in Sweden, his children were going by the surname, Anderson and Andersdotter, then on the immigration records the name was changed to Johanson.  Depending on how strong his accent was, I can see someone hearing all of these different sounds, Jonson, Johnson, Johanson, etc.  By 1870 he is using the surname Erickson until his death in 1903.

On the 1870 census in Spring City, Sanpete County, Utah he is listed as Andrew Ericson

On the 1880 census in Spring City, Sanpete County, Utah he is listed as Andrew J. Ericson.

On the 1900 census in Spring City, Sanpete County, Utah he is listed as Andrew Eserkson.

Anders was the father of three children with his first wife and five children with his second wife.  Only one child, Anna Sophia, lived to adulthood out of the first three and three lived to adulthood from the second set of children.  Anna Sophia and her family moved to Arizona, and she is buried with her husband, James Mortenson, in the Whitewater Cemetery in Elfrida, Cochise County, Arizona.  Nannie Amelia and her family stayed in Sanpete County, Utah until around 1900 when they moved up to Alberta, Canada where they died and some of their descendants still live to this day.  Carl Johan Emil and his family stayed in the Spring City area and are buried there.  Hulda Celestia (She was born in Utah and was named for her sister that had died on the plains.) and her family went to Arizona for a short time living in Alpine close to her half-sister, Anna Sophia.  They then went back to Spring City, but also lived in Utah County around American Fork.  Hulda died in Portland, Oregon but was brought back to American Fork for burial.

I am also going to be working on figuring out who Margaretha’s father really was.  Since I have been in the family he has been listed as Fredrik Hagar and Margaretha is sealed to him as well.  However, Fredrik Hagar supposedly died in 1809 in prison in France which was about 15 years before Margaretha was ever born.  Margaretha’s mother’s name has always been given as Inga Greta Persdotter and there was a woman by that name who was married to a Fredrik Hagar in 1804 and they had at least one son, named Johan Peter Fredriksson who was born in 1806.  What is the actual story, stay tune and hopefully I can find out?

Witten and researched by Vickie Beard Thompson in 2021.  Anders Jonas Erickson was the 2nd great-grandfather of Roy Edwin Thompson, husband of Vickie.  Any questions or comments feel free to email Vickie at DreamingofKentucky@gmail.com