The Washerwoman’s Genes

February 28, 2006

R: Some Questions

Filed under: Clothesline — by WWG @ 2:07 pm

The R first appears in 1856, for the middle name of Cornelius’ and Jeannette’s youngest child William. My dad was a William R., and I’ve been guessing that the R has come down through the generations. The first William R. (b. 1856) was my dad’s great uncle, and he had a son also William R. (b. 1881). I remember my dad telling me when I was small that the R was for Rudolph . . . as in Reindeer.

But I’ve been wondering about the R. Many middle names in this branch of the family seem to evoke the last names of more prominent citizens. Cornelius’ H I believe stands for Huyck, an old Dutch surname from the Kingston area, but one with no relation to our family line. C & J’s children included William Clark and Benjamin Winfield. Winfield, true, is the maiden name of Cornelius’ mother Elizabeth. There is a Clinton that repeats as a first or middle name in the family of another C & J son, Clinton as in Dewitt. Was this a family that needed a dose of respectability, of the mainstream?

And Rogers? There was Robert Rogers, who systematized frontier fighting tactics and used them in the French and Indian Wars. He is a villain in Joseph Bruchac’s The Winter People, about the crushing of the Abenaki tribe in the St. Lawrence region in 1759. He wrote “Rogers’ Ranging Rules,” and has been heralded as the father of the Special Forces. There is a Rogers Street in Kingston, I think.

I believe my dad said his middle name was Rogers, but that made no sense to me. There was Roy Rogers, after all, my favorite cowboy, and there was my dad. So I heard it as Roger. Now I discover that William R., Jr., listed his middle name as Rogers on his draft registration. But there’s no military strain in the family; I haven’t yet found anyone who served until WW II. And why would C & J bestow the name of a famous Indian fighter . . . unless to counter some other implications?

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1 Comment »

  1. I’m honored to be your first link! I’m glad you enjoy the site. Take care.

    Comment by robola — March 2, 2006 @ 10:39 pm |Reply


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