Saturday, January 21, 2012

Research Tip : One-Name Surname Studies, Part 2 - Calling All Wildey's!

In part one we briefly discussed some of the reasons for conducting a "one-name surname study" with suggestions for a plan of action.  A few weeks ago, we received word from long-time genealogist, Jack A. Wildey, that he is doing just such a study:

Thomas Wildey, Founder of the Order of the Oddfellows  
"I started a project two years ago...trying to account for all the Wildeys in all the federal census records from 1790 through 1930. Taking each Wildey and assembling family charts of each "head of the family" - and then trying to connect them all together. Like taking a thousand individual familly trees and making one giant oak out of them...  I'm also trying to figure out who was living between 1690 and 1790, where all the early Wildeys moved to. I'm actually making progress, I am even starting to see who all those unknown Wildeys in Michigan belong to, in terms of different branches. I'm done waiting for people to write me to tell me who all these Wildeys belong to, I'm figuring it out on my own.  I've been looking at census records on and off for the past two years, I think I can teach a class on how to interpret census records and how to take all those errors (by the census takers and by in stride, in order to keep one's sanity.  You can really get used to the different handwritings back then, staring at those census records day after day.  I'm also recording where each family lived from census to census, you can see the migratory patterns of entire families, slowly moving from NY state - through the Midwest, through the far west, to California.  Someday I'll send you a giant chart of all this...might be of some use to Wildeys in Michigan.

The fun part is, I'm tracking all at the same time, Wildey, Wilday, Wilde, Wiley, Wilay, Wilder, Wildes, Willdee, Wildee, Willee, Willy, Wildy, Wildie, Wily, Weldy, Wieley, Weley, Wyly, Wyley, Wylye, Widlley, Wilaa, and about a dozen other spellings.  So there are families out there that someday they will discover that they are not just Wilder, but they used to be Wilde, and if they look further, they will discover that they also used to be Wiley, and even before that the family spelling was Wildey!  I'm tracking from the 1600s forward, the view looks better from back here, I can't even imagine what family members are up against when they start from present day and work backwards.  We are an English family, and all the family members are named Thomas, Richard, John, James, George, Charles, Benjamin, Samuel, Joshuah, Obediah, Peter, Stephen, Edward, Isaac, Isaiah, Jacob, Caleb, etc, the same names generation after generation, decade after decade, over and over, never ending.  It gets really confusing to bring up 100 John Wildeys/Wileys and try to figure out who they all belong to..."

The Local History department had an early hand in assisting Jack with his project, supplying extensive information regarding the Wildey family of the Paw Paw area, Van Buren County.  In 2002, he put together The Wildey Family : a compilation of manuscripts on the First Five Generations of Family Members Living in Flushing, Long Island and Westchester County, New York - Beginning With Richard Wildey (Born 1635, Died 1690).  Jack donated a copy of this to our library.  In 1997, he published Wildeys : a colonial family, also found in the Local History Collection.

Although the focus of his work seems to be primarily on census right now, I wouldn't be the least bit surprised that he will, or has, expanded his search to other sources.  Anyone with questions regarding Jack's project may contact him directly.

If you enjoy working puzzles and solving mysteries, consider starting your own one-name study, and see if you can figure out how all of the pieces fit together.  Future generations (and some present) will thank you.

The images used in this blog post were quick located using Google Images.

                        Nameless Picture of the Day
unknown Civil War soldier, Niles
Photographer - J. W. Tinsley, Chicago
Can you identify the soldier from Niles, Michigan in this daguerreotype?  Please contact us if you any information and we will publish it in a future blog.  Please include the photo's catalog number with your e-mail.