Inferential Genealogy Study Group in 2nd Life–Names

After taking a quick glance of about 200 photos from yesterday, I am almost confused.

It’s all about names, right?

This project started when I watched the PBS series Gettysburg. I heard the name Ridgely Howard. In my research in my own family both of these names are surnames. As I started the research Ridgely was his middle name.

No problem, been there, done that. I go by my middle name. Simple reason, I am a “III” (3rd), and there were three generations living on a small family farm. My grandfather went by his middle name, the Surname of a Grandfather, my Dad by his first name, and I was called the same way my grandfather was. This worked and still works, although my Dad has passed away. To clear the confusion about who you were talking to. Grandfather, Father, on me.

So, we now have David Ridgely Howard. (there’s a twist, a common first name for a Surname). “My” Howards were in Virginia, soon there after into Maryland. So, Howard, to me, as a Surname is OK. Got that.

Looking at Census Records, for the Howards, McHenry as a Middle name was appearing, and a First Name. Good thing I didn’t jump to any conclusions here. Could that Census Record have recorded McHenry, like Ridgely as the first name?

The biggest problem at this point is the names of member of the Households. For example, McHenry Howard and James McHenry Howard households had similar members of the household, living in close proximity of each other. At this point, it’s pretty clear that they are not the same family (yet).

The cemetery visits may have also separated the families (house holds) as well. Two different cemeteries, different parts of town. BUT, it may be a common Church. Working on that.

So, I looked at my pictures from the 3rd cemetery and I run into the same issue. My brain had told me that I had taken pictures of Howard headstones and McHenry headstones. Both of which were true and I clearly remembers one of the Howard children as Julianna Howard. So I took a bunch of pictures of the plot (10 – 15 stones).

Her stone was Julianna Howard McHenry, whose father was James Howard McHenry. The dates for Julianna were not right.

I have been putting off looking at the history of Fort McHenry, also in Baltimore.

A couple of years ago, while visiting my brother-in-law in a Veterans Hospital in Baltimore, we went to a historic cemetery that was next to where I had parked the car. In my search for the 1st cemetery, where “Betty Lou” was giving me a fit, you know “recalculating”, I saw an old cemetery, then realized it was the same one we had visited a couple of years earlier.

My car has a bumper sticker “I stop at cemeteries”, so I did. Went in where Edgar Allen Poe is buried, but so is James McHenry, of Fort McHenry fame.

So how does James McHenry Howard, James Howard McHenry, McHenry Howard related to David Ridgely Howard?

What did I learn from this: Where did THAT Name come from? Naming patterns ….


6 Responses to Inferential Genealogy Study Group in 2nd Life–Names

  1. Sharon Ellis says:

    Hi Russ,

    Just wanted to thank you so much for sharing all your adventures and frustrations with us, as you work on the the Howard family. I, too, heard David Ridgely Howard’s name when watching “Gettysburg” on PBS several months ago and began googling the name, hoping I could find links to my Sarah R. Howard. I stumbled on this site soon after you wrote it and have been thrilled to get to ride along on your journey of discovery. It’s all so interesting; and I feel that I’m right there with you, as you write about walking through the cemeteries and puzzling over the names. Love the bumper sticker! 🙂

    I suspect that Sarah is related to the Maryland Howard family and have wondered if her middle name could be Ridgely. When I was taken to the cemetery where she is buried beside her husband, I found the name “Sally” on her tombstone. It was very surprising, as I hadn’t thought of a nickname; and I just assumed that the formal names were always put there so that their histories were recorded for future generations. In one way, I was saddened that her full maiden name wasn’t recorded there; yet, it gave her more personality to think of her as having been called “Sally” from the time she was little, into her adult life. I would have had no other way of learning that little bit of her history, had her family not recorded it on her tombstone. I do think that future generations have more difficulty locating their ancestors without their true full names on their tombstones. As a researcher, I would hope that all our families’ tombstones would be well preserved with their full names and dates accurately inscribed. I guess the best that we can hope for is that through luck and hard work, we can find the answers to our questions.

    Several times, I’ve located ancestors under their nicknames, where I’d been unable to find them under common first names. Naming patterns are fascinating and extremely helpful and valuable tools to identification; and I’m always thankful that our ancestors honored their families by using family surnames and by handing down the same names for generations.

    In fact, I was just able to solve a mystery in another line, where various people have recorded an ancestress under two different maiden names, with question marks. When I researched the family of the maiden name I now believe to be correct, I found that the father, Edward, had married a Tabitha and that they had named one of their daughters Tabitha Ann. In looking at the names of my ancestress Elizabeth’s children and grandchildren, she named her oldest son Edward, and the daughter who had been named Elizabeth named one of her daughters Tabitha. I hope that further research into the names of both families will confirm my findings.

    Do you have your full Howard/Ridgely/Worthington family lines posted somewhere where we could look for clues and similar names in our Howard families? An eighty-something land grant researcher (expert) in the part of Kentucky around Louisville and Lexington told me that a John Howard from Virginia had many thousands of acres in that area. His plantation was built on the road between Lexington and Georgetown and there is a family cemetery there. (I think one of his sons or grandsons was later governor of Illinois.) I’ve wondered about links between the Virginia Howards and the Maryland Howards and wish that you could write about the two families and their connections and history and post the family lines.

    Thanks for all your hard work and for sharing the process. I think you’re on the right track.

    Warm regards,
    Sharon Ellis

    • Sharon,

      Thank you for posting your comment. It’s been a fun journey.

      Here is one Worthington website:

      Not sure it covers the Howard’s very well. There are a could of links at the bottom of the page as well.

      This journey, about David Ridgely Howard, is not yet “my line”, but I surely have Howards in my family. My 6th Great Grand-Father married a Sarah Howard. I have 66 Howards in my file dating back to 1609. Was Howard her Married Name? Do you have any other information on her?

      Thanks again for your comment.


  2. Sharon Ellis says:


    My Sarah R. Howard was born around 1794 in Scott County, Kentucky, which is where Georgetown, Ky is located, outside of Lexington. She married Lyman Merriman and moved with him to central Illinois, where they are buried.

    Because the Scott Co. courthouse burned twice in the 1800s, there are not many records. When I’ve googled “Howard” + Scott County KY”, the only Howard I’ve found is John Howard, John B. Howard, and John Bazel Howard.

    John was listed as John B. Howard and John Bazel Howard on two early Scott Co Ky censuses. I think it was 1800 and 1820. He witnessed a will of a MD native (who was part of the Catholic immigration into that part of Ky) around 1808 or 1810 as “John Howard”, if I remember correctly.

    I didn’t know if “Bazel” was a misspelling of Basil, or if it was a family name associated with the Howard family that was given to him as his middle name. Are you familiar with any Bazel family members who may have married into either the MD or VA Howard families? I’ve found people in MD with the Bazel surname and probably need to research the Bazel family to see if I find any intermarriage with the Howards.

    My assumptions, which could be wrong, are that John Bazel Howard immigrated to Ky with part of the 65 or so Catholic families from MD who agreed to settle in Kentucky. Part settled in Nelson Co Ky below Louisville, and part of the group who didn’t like Nelson Co settled instead in Scott Co, outside of Lexington.

    I assume that Sarah R Howard was John Bazel Howard’s daughter. I have no record of him moving to central Illinois, when Sarah “Sally” left Scott Co. with her husband and his family. in the early 1830s. I did once find a John B. Howard in Butler Co., Ky, (I think around 1840 or so). Butler Co is 150 mi. southwest of Scott Co. I didn’t see an age for that John B Howard.

    I’m hoping this will ring a bell, or that you will eventually stumble across something in all your Howard research that might provide a clue or two. Would love to see your Howard ancestors and their dates/locations listed, sometime.

    Sharon Ellis

    • Sharon,

      I will keep my eyes open. Bazel is not a surname I have run across.

      From my research, most of the Howard’s were Quaker or Episcopalian (or Anglican). I try to keep an eye on religious indications, because it helps be “know where to look”.

      Hopefully, some one will post a blog post here.

      I may create a Query for Sarah R Howard, if that’s OK with you. May draw more attention.

      Thank you,


  3. Sharon Ellis says:

    Thanks Russ,

    It sounds good.

    Warm regards,

    PS I’ve found some info on the early Ridgely families. Do you have much on them?

    • Sharon,

      I have some limited Ridgely Information but keep running into them. In fact, was in a cemetery yesterday, in Baltimore, Maryland, and there were a number of Ridgely’s there.

      If you have some information, please drop me an email.

      Thank you,


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