I know the latest Book of Me, Written by You prompt is out but that one is going to take some time. I want to give it quite a bit of thought before I dive into that one!
SURNAME SATURDAY: WITHERELL
(My great-grandpa was part of the motorcycle club in Saginaw, Michigan. I love this picture of him!)
The WITHERELL name is what got me into genealogy. And it’s what frustrates me. Growing up, the only Witherell’s I met were relatives and they were far and few between. My grandpa was the only boy in his family. His dad (above) was one of three boys. Sadly one died young and the other I never knew. We were a small family!
I had an inkling that the Witherell name wasn’t as unique as I thought while growing up. I went to high school with another Witherell (not related!); there was the Witherell street that the now Comerica Stadium is on; then there was the grave that really got me going: Mary Witherell Hay Owen. I found her when I searching for a Witherell plot in a local cemetery. My grandmother’s name was Mary Witherell which immediately piqued my interest. After some research, I found she was named for a family friend (her family was one of the lumber barons of Saginaw)- one of the same Witherells that the street was named after. Neither of those Witherell’s from Detroit are part of my line as far as I have found so far.
Here’s the rundown starting with my great-grandpa:
Glenn WITHERELL born and died in Saginaw MI 1908-1994
Gard Cyrus WITHERELL born and died in Saginaw MI 1882-1952
Gard WITHERELL born in Flint, died in Saginaw MI 1857-1915 – also went by the name of Chas
David WITHERELL born in Richmond, NY and died in Flint, MI 1813-1863
John WITHERELL – now him I’m not sure on. David Witherell I can confirm through documents. His wife was Martha WOLCOTT and there is a published book on her family’s genealogy(1). That book says that David’s parents are John and Judith (BULLARD) Witherell. Another source on the history of Gaines, New York also states that a Judith Bullard married a John Witherell(2).
However, that’s all I can find! I can find items for David: his first wife’s death certificate, his second marriage in a register, even death certificates of his children. But I can’t find things for a John or Judith Witherell. Now Witherell has gone through many spelling changes over the years. A lot of the later documents are WITHERAL, WITHERALL, WETHERALL, etc. Even with that, I’m at a loss. My next step is to contact the county and see if I can find records from there. I would prefer to actually GO to New York though and just haven’t had the chance as of yet.
This is also where I realized that Witherell is quite popular. Especially with a name like John in front of it. A general search on ancestry or familysearch reveals MANY John Witherell’s!
If anyone out there knows of this line, I could always use a hint!
1) Rudd, Alice Bohmer. Wolcott Genealogy: The Family of Henry Wolcott, one of the first settlers of Windsor, Connecticut. Washington: Guild Pub. Co., 1950.
2) Thomas, Arad. Pioneer History of Orleans County, New York: containing some account of the civil divisions of western New York. 1871. Reprint, Bowie, Maryland : Heritage Books Inc, 1998.