Thursday, August 13, 2009

My Mary & Martha Drama

Grand-Aunt Mary

A couple of weeks ago, I introduced you to my Grand-Aunt Mary on my dad's side.  This was the Mary who married Harry, who owned a dairy.  [Sorry, couldn't resist...]  I also mentioned she wasn't my only Mary in my family tree.  [...not by a long shot]  Name rhymes aside though, what we name our children is very personal, and so it's logical to think that it was the same way for our ancestors.  Furthermore, these naming practices lead to patterns, which are helpful for researching our family trees.

Mary & Martha Drama
Today I'd like to introduce you to another Mary and her sister Martha [or who I believe is her sister].  [I kid you not ~ a Mary and a Martha.]  Since I only want to point out the naming patterns, I'm going to give you a quick synopsis of each of the involved families and their supposed relationships with each other.  Not all the information is proven; I'm still in the process of researching.  However, there have been many obstacles in my research and in reviewing the information [repeatedly], I came across some convincing naming patterns, of which my Mary and Martha are involved.  Let me just state first what my theory is.  Mary's and Martha's maiden name is Casteel.  That's a fact, and I think that they are "missing" daughters of a Henry and Mary Casteel of Wayne County, Tennessee, but I'm lacking proof.  With that being said let me introduce you to the cast of my "Mary & Martha Drama."

The Cast and Some of Their Past ~ Not To Mention the Setting
1. Remember my Paw Paw [my grandmother on my dad's side]?  Her 1st Great Grandparents [which are my 3rd great-grandparents] were Nelson & Mary Ann "Polly" (Casteel) Martin.  Nelson was b. abt 1819 in NC, and Mary was born in abt 1820 in Davidson Co., TN.  They married in 1841 in Wayne Co., TN.  They moved to Johnson Co., IL between 1841 & 1850, and were living there in District 2 in the 1850 census.  [Side note: This is the line that I'm named after with my middle name, Martin.]

2. Daniel & Mary "Polly" (?) Kerley [another Mary] were both born in NC, Daniel b.abt 1790.  Relationship to my Nelson & Mary: supposedly Daniel raised my Nelson.  In the 1840 census Daniel & Mary are living in Wayne Co., TN, and in the 1850 census, Daniel & Mary are living in Dist.2, Johnson Co., IL.  Guess who's living with them ~ my Nelson & Mary with 4 of their children.  They probably moved together between 1841-1850 from Wayne Co., TN to Johnson Co., IL.  Also, Daniel and Mary had a biological son name Osburne who was b.abt 1812 in NC.

3. Woodson & Martha (Casteel) West ~ Woodson was b.abt 1809 in NC & Martha was b.abt 1815 in Davidson Co., TN.  They were married in Williamson Co., TN.  Relationship to my Nelson & Mary: I believe Martha is a sister to my Mary.  Woodson was supposedly raised by Daniel & Mary Kerley, like my Nelson.  In the 1840 census Woodson & Martha are living next door in Wayne Co., TN. to Osburne Kerley, who is Daniel & Mary's son.  Woodson & Mary's first 6 children were born in Tennessee.  In the 1850 census Woodson & Mary are living in District 2, Johnson Co., IL near the rest of this "cast".  Obviously, they, too, probably moved from Wayne Co., TN to Johnson Co., IL with everyone else.

4. Osburne & Mary (?) Kerley [sigh, another Mary] were both born abt 1811/1812 in NC.  In 1840, they were next door neighbors to Woodson & Mary (Casteel) West in Wayne Co., TN.  Osburne was the son of Daniel and Mary Kerley, and was suppposedly raised with my Nelson Martin and Woodson West.  In 1850, they were living in Dist. 2, Johnson Co., IL next door to his parents and my Nelson and Mary.

5. Henry & Mary "Polly" Casteel [Good grief on these Mary's, right?]  The only Casteel heads of households in the 1840 census for Wayne Co., TN are Henry and his son Andrew.  Andrew is on the same census page as Osburne Kerley and Woodson West.  Henry is also living nearby.  Now, Henry is believed to be born in Greene Co., TN, and based on common migrational routes of the time period, for Henry to go from Greene Co., TN to Wayne Co., TN, he probably would've traveled through the Cumberland Gap into Kentucky, then back down into Tennessee into what is now known as Nashville, Davidson Co., TN.  Then south, possibly through Williamson Co., to Wayne Co., TN.

Confused?  Don't worry.  I was just trying to establish their relationships with each other based on some proven information and some supposed clues.  There are more than just naming patterns here, but basically you have several families that knew each other and all but Henry & Mary Casteel moved from Wayne Co., TN to Johnson Co., IL.  Now, let's take a look at the names of these families.

Henry & Mary "Polly" (?) Casteel's children: Andrew, Preston Henry, William Riley, John James, Edward, and Lucinda.  [This is the family that I think my Mary & Martha belong to.  By the way, their birth dates fit into this family, too.]  Below are these children's families.  In bold are the ones that seem to repeat.

Andrew Casteel's children: Mary Ann Margaret, Sarah Jane, Lydia C., James Anderson, Louis C., Nancy Adeline, William Henry, John E., and Franklin

Henry Casteel's children: John Henry, Martha Ann, Lydia Jane, and Mary E.

William Riley Casteel's children: Narcisa Tebetha, Joseph F., Minerva Elizabeth, Nancy C., John Henry P., Eliza J., Martha A., William Lafayette, Sarah Malissa, and Susan Jane.

John James Casteel's children: James A.,
Mary "Polly" Ann, Martha Jane, Sarah R., and Elizabeth

MARTIN [my family]
Nelson &
Mary "Polly" Ann (Casteel) Martin: Joel H. [my 2nd great-grandfather], William Green, Andrew Taylor, Genoria Ann, Martha Jane, James Henry, Mary E., Nelson Alexander, Rosencious, and John Franklin. [The Nelson's here aren't a part of the Casteel name pattern, but a part of the Martin one.]

& Martha (Casteel) West:
Henry, James A., Osburne H, Mary, Martha, William, Amanda E., Narcissie Catherine, Fannie, and Emily.

Osburne & Mary (?) Kerley: Noble A., Daniel McQuillen, Woodson B., Elizabeth, and Nancy E.

[The Woodson and Osburne patterns, as well as the Nelson Martin one, strengthen the theory of the relationships between these families.  They aren't a part of the Casteel name pattern.]

Please tell me you see the naming patterns/repetitions here, too.  They don't follow a particular pattern, but they do repeat.  Mary and Martha both named children after themselves as well as each other.  In the families of the known children of Henry & Mary Casteel, in the listing above either a Mary and/or a Martha and/or Mary's middle name [Ann] were used.  Plus,  the names of the sons of Henry and Mary Casteel appear in Mary's and Martha's childrens' names.  Also, everyone seems to use the name Henry.  When I put these patterns/repetitions into the migrational and relational context [that I provided when I introduced this cast], I felt so much more motivated to pursue my theory of Mary and Martha being sisters and daughters of Henry Casteel and motivated to prove it.  My point in all this, I guess, is that looking for and finding naming patterns/repetitions can help find your family.  Now, I know that some people cringe when looking at so many of the same names in the generations of a family, and it can be discouraging.  Some people view it even as a curse.  I prefer to look at it as a blessing, though.  Albeit, one that I curse now and again!

Modern Naming Patterns
Remember my Grand-Aunt Mary that I mentioned before?  You know, the Mary who married a Harry, the owner of a dairy?  Well, I, too, am a grand-aunt.  [I love that title!]  My grand-niece is part of a naming pattern, too: my mom, her first-born daughter, and her first-born daughter, and my grand-niece [who is also first-born]  all have the middle name Marie. So as far as I'm concerned, everyone can keep honoring other family members by naming their children after them, even [and it pains me to say this] the Mary's. [As if you needed my permission...]  By the way, need I point out that Marie is a form of Mary?  Sheesh!  What is it with these Mary's?


  1. I hear you on the Mary/Marie names. My grandmother always told us her name was Vonda Marie. My sister, my cousin all have the middle name Marie after her.... Well at the end of her life she struggled with dementia some and my mom and sister were talking to her and said something about her name. She said my name is not Marie it is Mary. Later we found a Bible with her birth record in it that said Vonda Marye. So that has everyone confused if the family pronounced it Mary or Marie. Who knows now. She always went by Marie I think she like that better than Mary.

    I'm glad your keeping all your Mary, Martha's and Maries straight.


  2. I've got some drama of my own but it's with the Kerley's and their naming their children James, John, and Henry over and over and over again.
    My Kerley's were in Wayne Co., TN in 1850 (and I'm sure they're related to the Daniel you have above, but how?). I found your blog by looking up Osburn Kerley, as I'm doing my best to look for who his parents were to try to separate one branch of Kerley's from another. My particular branch went to Randolph Co., Arkansas, but I looked at the 1840 Wayne Co., TN with Daniel Kerley and the surnames of others on the page are surnames of my James Willis Kerley's sons future inlaws (Staggs, Eads, and so forth). We genealogy folks must always look at those census pages and keep looking for connections! :-)
    If you manage to figure out the Daniel Kerley and Casteel connections, please let me know. I think Daniel Kerley could be a brother to my James Willis Kerley (as James W.'s father's name is, you guessed it, Daniel Kerley).
    Take care, Dece Starks Gherardini


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