By Charlene Shields
Notes from the White County Historical Society as they appear in "The Carmi Times."
Copyright ©2001 by "The Carmi Times" Permission to reprint granted to Cindy Birk Conley and the ILGenWeb by Tammy Knox, editor, "The Carmi Times."
Sometimes when I read birth announcements I groan at some of the names
which are given to these new babies and with which they will be saddled
the rest of their days. As a genealogist, however, I suppose I should be
used to unusual names.
Recently I was reading about the BIDWELL family in America, and I was
struck at the number of unusual given names. I copied from just a few
pages: Able, Adonijah, Alpheus, Amzi, Azro, Cepter, Claravina, Coleta,
CoronA, Deva, Dilla, Elbridge, Elsaby, Eusabia, Ezara, Fibera, General,
Hillsborough, Irl, Jehiel, Lason, Locia, Mehitable, Merinda, Napoleon,
Nevada, Nila, Norvil, Ozias, Patience, Perhannah, Phenias, Price,
Render, Salmon, Selina, Thankful, Thedolph, Titus, Tryphena, Veva,
Viana, Worth, Zacheris and Zebulon. (As I type these names, the
spell-checker on my computer is going crazy.)
Later, I was reading microfilm of some old local newspapers, and I
decided Bidwells didn't have a monopoly on unusual names. Here are a few
from our newspaper pre-1900: Affir, America, Arabula, Bazzil, Clemus,
Dayton, Decalb, Gelina, Hemper, Hieronimus, Hilas, Juda, Keziah, Lamzia,
Lelander, Leonidas, Leopal, Monzelle, Narcissus, Nerine, Obedia, Orion,
Prudence, Ulria, Weed and Zenas.
BIDWELL is a familiar name in early White County history. Other library
volunteers have worked on this line and could give information on these
people. I believe Daniel Bidwell may have been the first one to come to
White County. He was born in 1784 in New York and died sometime between
1833 and 1838 in White County. He married Nancy Wolf in 1815 in
Muhlenberg or Logan County, Kentucky. The White County Bidwells married
into the Hughes and Sullivan families, among others, and there are many
descendants in White County today.
In the 1980s, Joan Bidwell of Iowa assembled her findings on the
Bidwells in America. She says the earliest Bidwell to come to America
was Richard Bidwell, known as Goodman Bidwell in some records. He was
born in 1587 and died in 1647. The name of his wife is unknown. They set
sail from Plymouth, England, along with 138 others, on the ship "Mary
and John" in 1630. They landed in South Boston.
The area was a wilderness, and life was hard. They had little food and
lived on clams and fish. The Indians came with baskets of corn.
The group did not like the area, which was dominated by aristocratic
clergymen and officials. The Bidwells and others had come to America to
escape such religious domination. In 1635, about 60 people left the
settlement and headed for Connecticut. Freezing weather and famine
caused the death of many. However, the Bidwell history continues in the
records of Hartford, Conn. until some of them started west.
The Mary Smith Fay Genealogy Library is open Tuesdays through Saturdays
from 10 to 2.
Address letters to Genealogy, White County Historical Society, PO Box
121, Carmi, IL 62821.
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The Coordinator for the White County, Illinois ILGenWeb page is Cindy Birk Conley
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