Reusing the names of deceased children …. what?

16 Jul

I found a pretty cool ebook called Genealogies of the families and descendants of the early settlers of Watertown, Massachusetts. The book details exactly what the title says. Utilizing this book, I was able to go all the way back to the first Stearns family members who emigrated with the Winthrop fleet in 1630.

So, having already started some flawed work on the family tree, I started a new one utilizing only information found in this book. As I was going along, I found multiple branches that don’t necessarily reach to me, but decided to help others on by putting the information in for all to use. I had no idea how much of an undertaking that would be.

Between job hunting (post layoff) and generally organizing my home (post education), I’ve been imputing the information I’m finding in this book a little at a time.  I’m about halfway through … I think

Anyway, as I’ve been working through all the descendants and their children and their children’s children, I’ve noticed the high mortality of infants – so sad. It made me rethink the old phrase, “you’ll catch your death,” a warning to people go out in the cold without a jacket. I’ve also noted that some deceased infants had their names, including middle names, reused for later children (from the same parents). I imagine that mothers in the 1600, 1700, and 1800s were heartbroken each time they lost a child. But why reuse the name of the earlier deceased child? That is a question for historians to answer. This amateur genealogist doesn’t have a clue.

Stearns family coat of arms

Stearns Coat of Arms

1 Comment

Posted by on July 16, 2011 in random musings, research


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One response to “Reusing the names of deceased children …. what?

  1. Candy Lindlaw-Hudson

    July 16, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    Mary – I have noticed the practice of reusing the names of deceased loved ones in my research. It seems to honor the dead and to hold remembrance of them. Common with loss of infants. I was researching the high mortality rate of women and children out in St. Louis during the 1800s and the push west. Almost all of the deaths of children – newborns up to 4 or 5 – were from malnutrition. Women – many under 35 – died of overwork and malnutrition. The most common cause of death for men was alcoholism and its side effects. Being early settlers in this country was hard work. Unsanitary conditions and hunger killed many infants and adults.

    Thanks for posting!


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