Thursday, February 21, 2013

Get Out of Town you Smiths and Raynors

I recently was searching for articles about my Raynor relatives using the website, Old Fulton NY Post Cards. The site is the largest online data base of old newspapers centering on New York State. If you have ancestors who ever lived in New York, it is a site worth checking out.

I came across this small blurb about the residents of Freeport published in the morning edition of the December 12, 1880 Brooklyn Daily Eagle.
Predominent Names
The names Smith and Raynor predominate in the village of Freeport. Of the 198 members of the Methodist church, 55 are Smiths and 53 are Raynors. In the Sunday School there are 43 Smiths and 37 Raynors. More than two-thirds of the firemen bear those names. In the public school there are 26 Raynors and 22 Smiths. In the Presbyterian church, with a membership of 175, there are 25 Smiths and 16 Raynors. In the Presbyterian Sunday School there are 32 Smiths and 16 Raynors in a membership of 174. In fact the possessors of these two names are equal to a little more than half of the whole population.
Can you say inbred? No seriously I hear a Jeff Foxworthy-like You-might-be-a-Freeporter joke brewing in my head. It is no wonder to me that Freeport was once called Raynortown and that the nearby town of Bellmore was once referred to as Smithville. 

This actually makes researching in this community very difficult. It is a challenge to distinguish my particular Jacob Raynor from the multiple contemporaries he had of the same name. Were all the Jacob Raynors cousins? I am sure they were of some degree but sorting out this Jacob from that Jacob and tracking who their poppas were can be  - -  well, it has been frustrating to say the least.

Some people have commented to me that it must be so much easier for me to do my research since I live so close to where my family has lived for the last near 400 years. Um, not really. And yes, I also know that it can be tricky to track your family when they moved around a lot but seriously, Smiths and Raynors, you people needed to go see America! It's a beautiful country.

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