Tag Archives: England

What Brought You Here?

My great-great grandfather, Jeremiah Holloway.

Our ancestors arrived here from all points of the globe, looking for a better life and opportunity. Sometimes our forefathers were successful in that regard, and sometimes they were not. If an individual arrived at one of America’s ports seriously ill, or was deemed a “likely public charge,” (meaning that they were unlikely to find work and were going to be a burden on the government), that person was refused entrance to the United States and sent back to their native land, at the expense of the shipping line that brought them here. This happened frequently as more and more people began arriving to the United States. Thousands of people were sent back home within days of their arrival. How devastating it must have been for those immigrants who had saved money for the voyage here, only to be turned back, with no hope of entering the country.

For those that were able to make their new home in America, life was not always easy. People worked very hard for very little and some immigrants must have wondered if they made the right decision coming here. For most though, they were able to provide a solid foundation upon which their children and grandchildren would build success.

Myra Adderley Holloway

My great-great grandmother Holloway was a dressmaker in England during Queen Victoria’s reign. She married my great-great grandfather, who was a mill-man, or a sheet mill worker. Myra, my great-great grandmother, thought it absurd that stores were told to close for the Queen’s birthday. She told Jeremiah (my great-great grandfather), that she was moving somewhere that wouldn’t require her to close up shop for the queen’s birthday. So, they packed all their things and left Mother England for America. They arrived in New York Harbor with their two infants in the early days of October 1867. Once they arrived, they didn’t stay in one place for long. The growing family moved all over northeastern Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky and West Virginia, following the rolling mills, where Jeremiah was employed. Eventually, they settled in Piqua, Ohio, 30 miles north of Dayton. The couple had seven children and they both were well-known and well-respected citizens of Piqua.

Every family has a story. What’s yours?


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What’s in a name?

Do you know the meaning and the origin of your last name? Your last name is a history in and of itself. There are essentially three types of surnames: geographical/place of origin, occupational, and descriptive.

For example, my maiden name is “Holloway.” It’s a name of Old English origin that literally means “dweller by a sunken road.” In early England, when two adjacent properties would each mark their boundary with a ditch, over time the two adjoining ditches gradually merged to become a sunken lane, which later become a thoroughfare, or, “hollow way.” Other examples of geographical surnames are “Norman,” “Hill,” Moore,” “York,” and “Ford.”

If your name is “Baker/Becker,” “Cooper”, “Taylor/Tailor,” or “Smith,” you already have a good idea about what your earliest ancestors did for a living!

Descriptive names are just that, a description of a physical or personality trait. “Armstrong,” “Smart,”  “Brown, and “Short,” are types of descriptive surnames.

Surnames were not always used. Prior to the 10th century, first names were sufficient for identifying someone. As the population grew, a new means of identification became necessary. Therefore, if you were William, son of Robert, you become known as William Robertson. Or, if you were Arthur, son of John, you were known as Arthur Johnson. As John was a popular name in medieval England, this accounts for the large number of people with the name “Johnson.”

For additional reading on the subject, please visit our friends at Brooklyn Ancestry at this link:

Do you know what your name means? Share it with me, I’d love to learn about it.


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