Looking Back: Researching family names

Published 9:14 am Saturday, February 11, 2017


Contributing writer

During my years of doing family research I have always been curious about given names as much as surnames.

Email newsletter signup

I want to know where the unusual names originated and if they were passed down through several generations.

In my Smith family, I have an ancestor named Napolean Bonaparte (1769-1821) and uncles, and cousins named Lorenzo Dow.

I knew where Napolean “Bone” got his name although it was spelled several different ways.

Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821) was a French military leader and emperor.

Lorenzo was a mystery until a few years ago.

I learned Lorenzo Dow was a traveling evangelist and once one of the most famous people in the United States.

Recently, research about two men from the Forkland area were named Marquis De Lafayette was brought to my attention by Monty Bryant, local genealogist.

Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette (1757-1834), referred to as Lafayette, was a French military leader and emperor. He also served as a general in the American Revolution.

Lafayette supported General George Washington during the Revolutionary War and during his travels he made a trip to Kentucky.

He visited in Harrodsburg in 1825 and played billiards with some of the locals in a crowded pool room, according to an account in The Advocate Messenger.

Apparently after that two people in the Forkland community named their children after him.

Gilbert Minor and “Lafe” Morgan were born in the mid-1800s and lived in the Forkland.

Gilbert Minor

Gilbert Marquis de Lafayette Minor was born Nov. 5, 1846, to parents Addison Minor and Nancy Ann Goode of Mercer County.

Gilbert and Sarah J. Johnson, daughter of William Green Johnson and Lucinda Peyton of the Little South community, were married January 30, 1869, in Casey County. She was born Dec. 25, 1850, and died March 30, 1896, in Casey County.

After his wife’s death, Gilbert lived with his son, Joseph Timothy, in Fayette, Jessamine and Woodford counties, Census show.

He died August 20, 1931, at the home of a son, Joseph Timothy, in Versailles at the age of 84. He is buried in the Telford Purdom Cemetery in Forkland, according to an article in the Kentucky Advocate.

His three sons, James P., Joseph Timothy and Arthur D., survived.

The Minor couple had five children, James P., born in 1869; Joseph Timothy, born in 1872; Arthur D., born in 1880; and Lucinda, born July 30, 1877, and died April 6, 1878.

Another unnamed infant was born and died February 7, 1876. Lucinda and the infant also are buried in the Purdom Cemetery.

Lafe Morgan

Marquis de Lafayette “Lafe” Morgan owned Morgan’s Shoe Repair Shop in Lebanon.

Born July 4, 1855, Marion County, he was a son of Samuel S. Morgan and Mary Elizabeth Pipes of Gravel Switch.

Lafe’s father was a Union soldier who was killed in 1865 at the Battle of Chickamauga in North Georgia near the Tennessee line.

Lafe and his wife Martha Armstrong were married September 13, 1883, at the home of her parents, Thomas and Harriet Armstrong in Boyle County.

The couple lived in Casey County before they moved to Lebanon in 1919 and he opened the shoe repair shop. His son-in-law Otis Wayne was an associate at the shop.

Lafe was a member of Hayesville Baptist Church.

He died in October 1930 at the age of 75 at his home on Mock Avenue, Lebanon. He is buried in his family cemetery in Moreland.

Martha died May 1,1946, and is buried beside her husband.

Lafe and Martha’s (Mattie) children listed in 1900 on the Casey County Census are:

Hattie M., 15; William T. (Tom), 13; Fannie M., 7;

Delbert, 3; and Dorothy, 6 months.

Lafe and Martha were listed as living in Lebanon in the 1920 Marion County Census. Delbert H. 23, and Irene Morgan, 20, also were in the household.

Dorothy Irene Morgan was married to Otis Wayne. She was born in 1899 and died in 1996.