You say Potato…I say Potahto…

A Note to My Readers:  So much for soundex.   I mean, let’s face it, it can only go so far and sometimes too far giving you a plethora of odd results.  My fifth great grandfather is Samuel Weyburn.   Sam finally settled on spelling his surname as Weyburn after generations of Wiborn(e) and Wyborn(e) ancestors.  And I learned to use variations of the name working through the research.  Soundex was pretty responsive to the whims of spelling and so the search results were decent enough.  Just decent.  Like most genealogists, I am a greedy goose and I want more than a decent amount.  I decided to forgo the crutch of technology and use my own brain and begin to change my research strategy.

What did I know about Samuel Weyburn besides his name?

Samuel Fletcher Weyburn’s genealogical publication “Weyburn-Wyborn genealogy: a history and pedigree of Thomas Weyburn of Boston and Scituate, Massachusetts, and Samuel Weyburn of Pennsylvania with Notes on the Origin of the Family in England and Several Branches in Kent County in Particular”, copyrighted in 1911, provides the researcher with a glimpse into what he found as he went through old documents.  Mentions of our common ancestor with spellings of Samuel Waburn and Weaburn settled me back into the job of using different spelling options as I poured through archival material myself.  A tip of the hat to S. Fletcher Weyburn’s  hundred year old research and using the variations he documented, I dug deep into Pennsylvania Archives and found the muster rolls of the Eighth Battalion of Cumberland Pennsylvania and Samuel serving under Captain Robert Samuels.

Of course, the surname variation is something we all expect to see in our research.  It occurred to me as I read through the old archives that first name variations can trip you up as well.   Even a simple name like Samuel.   I found Sam, of course, but then Sam’l popped up from time to time and it occurred to me that I had to broaden my thinking and be prepared to find my ancestor as S., Sam, Samuel, Sam’l, Wiborn, Waborn, Waburn, Weaburn, Wyborn, Wayburn, Wyburn and even Wibron…a transcription error that I almost missed.

As a primary research parameter, Samuel Weyburn, was obviously not a good option.    Going to the biography that I had assembled, I decided to use life events, dates and places as the primary parameter and to use his surname variation as a second qualifier.   He was from Connecticut and he migrated to Pennsylvania where he served in the militia and participated in the Pennemite War.  His wife was Jane The_falls_of_Taughannock fight with a bear_Page_2 cropBratton from Juniata, Pennsylvania.  In the late 1780’s they migrated to the head of Cayuga Lake with their seven children including my 4th great grandmother, Elizabeth Weyburn (Ingersoll) and where Samuel and his oldest son, Samuel had built a log cabin at the base of Taughannock Falls.   Where he fought a bear.

A New York State Historical Marker sits at the trail entrance commemorating when Samuel Weyburn rescued Abner Tremain during a blizzard.   And there is the 1790 Federal Census…the very first one, that has Samuel Wayburn and his family living in what was then geopolitically Chemung, Montgomery County, New York.    In 1794 New York State land records show that Samuel Weyburn bought 150 acres from Abner Kidder in Ovid in what is now Seneca County.   His probated will records are archived in Waterloo, Seneca County, New York where he is Samuel Weyburn.  As is the simple inscription on his monument in Lakeview Cemetery in Interlaken, New York.

Samuel Weyburn  Died March 29, 1825 at 78 years, 9 months & 29 days.Samuel Jane and Oliver Weyburn monuments Interlaken NY

Reading and researching old history books about Pennsylvania and the Connecticut Yankees that settled the Susquehanna Valley,  I found Samuel with Weyburn spelled in a number of ways and serving with Captain Samuels and the activities of the Paxton Boys. “A History of Wilkes-Barre, from its First Beginnings to the Present Time, Including Chapters of Newly Found Early History of Wyoming Valley, volume II” compiled by Oscar Jewell Harvey in 1909 lists Samuel Weyburn “or Wibron or Wybrant” as one of the eighty-nine Susquehanna settlers who were ‘inmates’ of Fort Durkee.

Of course, no Boolean online tricks there.  I was back to the days of S. Fletcher Weyburn, my second cousin 3 times removed.   Back to turning pages and comprehensively reading books and footnotes and bibliographies which lead to more books.   I even own a few now.   Hard copies.   Early editions.  A bit of an expensive indulgence, but then I don’t like foie gras and champagne so I am good with that.  Besides…I gained an enormous understanding of the Scots-Irish that came from Norwich, Connecticut and claimed the Susquehanna Purchase in Pennsylvania and the colonial tug of war between the Yankees and William Penn’s Quakers.    They were a particular thorn in the side of Ben Franklin, but as England along with their native American allies and the colonials began to clash, the two groups found their common interest and joined forces.

And amidst the militia men I find Sam Weaburn and his brother-in-law, Edward Bratton.   I close my eyes and say “Weyburn” and imagine that Captain Samuels was spelling Private Samuel Weyburn…Weaburn.  And in each case, it is the ‘soundex’ of an individual way back in 1781 that gets me there.   And so it goes with enumerators and clerks, authors and any one who could put pen to paper…or keyboard to cyberspace.  And now we have to worry about voice recognition.

Author’s Note:   I will be back in central New York this summer haunting libraries, historical societies, and pioneer cemeteries.  As always, I will take some time to enjoy Cayuga Lake and surrounds…where I was born and where Samuel Weyburn settled over 150 year ago.   The journey back to his Pennsylvania and Connecticut days up until now has been by the written word and  I plan for a field trip armed with the combined work of S. Fletcher Weyburn and a number of old history books, a handful of documents and the sure knowledge that I will be challenged with creative spellings.  But then that is the fun of it, isn’t it.   The ‘aha’ moment.

Deborah Martin-Plugh

Author, Historian and Genealogical Researcher

(c) Copyright 2013.  All Rights Reserved


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