A Buck By Any Other Name


A Buck by any other name might be Hogan, Logan or Williams.  I think we have a case of surname schizophrenia.  We have four surnames involving 3 people.

Do you sometimes wonder why you or one of your relatives matches a whole group of people by a different surname, and none by the surname you expected them to match?

This 1888 Indian Census page for the Seneca on the Allegany Reservation in New York just might give you a clue as to why you’re not matching whom you think you should be matching..

Not matching who you expect to match is sometimes called a Nonpaternal Event (NPE) or I prefer the term undocumented adoption.  But this case doesn’t seem to be undocumented at all…it’s well documented….it’s just that we can’t understand it.

So let’s say this is your family and the husband, I presume is Augustus Buck.  So far, that looks normal.  But this is where normal ends.

Your name is Acsah.  If you’re married to Augustus Buck, your name would be Acsah Buck.  This is how all of the other families are recorded, so you would be too.  Except you have this little note that says either (Logan was) or Hogan was).  Is that a maiden name?  No one else’s maiden or other names are listed.  Is Acsah maybe not the wife of Augustus and the mother of Alfred noted below?  If that is the case, then why are they listed as Buck now?

And Alfred has his own set of problems.  He is noted as Alfred Buck, age 2. One would assume the child of Acsah and Augustus Buck, judging from the rest of the entries.  But Alfred had this note that says (was Williams.)  What does that mean?  It’s certainly not his maiden name.

Does that mean that Alfred isn’t a Buck at all?  Is Alfred even the son of Acsah?  Is Alfred really a Williams.  Was Acsah married to a Williams before Augustus?  That would seem to be pushing it given that she is only 18 and Alfred was born when she was 16.  Did she have time to be married earlier?

So, if Alfred’s descendants were to DNA test, would they match a Buck, a Williams, a Hogan or a Logan?  Or maybe none of the above if Acsah had Alfred before she married Augustus by someone not listed on the “was” list.  Maternal naming was a very common Native American occurrence and what is today considered to be illegitimacy was not viewed through the lens of colonial or Victorian America.

And just think, if you are Alfred’s great-grandson and you took the Yline DNA paternal line test, expecting to match a Buck, and you were instead matching a Williams, Hogan or Logan, and if you never saw this census page, you would have no clue as to potentially why.  Of course, if you aren’t matching a Buck or a Logan, Hogan or Williams, then all bets are off.  But at least, there is a clue here that something is not like the rest of the families recorded in the census.  It’s something to work with.

Of course, this makes me wonder how many more census entries warrant notes and of course never received them.  And of course, a legend to interpret the note would be nice too:)



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4 thoughts on “A Buck By Any Other Name

  1. I’ve been looking for something like this for my mother’s great-grandfather, Marion DENNIS, who is of Native American lines and matches only men with the surname FREEMAN, for years! I think I’ve finally given up!

  2. This would be very straightforward in current time periods.

    Based on past experience I would start by assuming that Acsah’s maiden name was Logan(Hogan) and that she had Alfred by a man named Williams (married or maybe not married). Granted she was only 16 but my grandfather had 3 sisters, one of whom married at 13 (lived happily to old age with only one husband). In many cases starting out with such an assumption quickly allows validation or correction.

    But in the colonial days it could just as easily have been the case that Alfred was an orphan taken in by a young lady who found a willing sponsor who needed someone to keep house and cook for him.

    Figuring out situations like this is what keeps me excited about delving into family history. When my uncle first started digging into family history he was warned anonymously that he should stop before he found out something that he shouldn’t know about (I’m still hoping to find that little tidbit, what ever it is).


  3. Hello, In tracking my family, I came across an genetic anomoly. In the pages of my dna report, I ran across a name that was in a differnt surname report. I happen to have been tracking both of the family surnames, and knew that both families lived near each other and were involved in an Indian massacre. The kid in question lost all of his family but was adopted into my family. I wrote to the administrator of the surname project and explained but all the responce from the adminitator was negative to say the least, but that is why, that guy is in the worng family surmane project. Just a lil checking and this guys mystery could have been confirmed, but now the mystery still remains.

  4. Huh, wish I found this for my ancestor Susannah Clingerman 🙂 Luckily an mtdna test helped corroborate some circumstantial evidence and I now know she was born Susannah BUCK (mainly why this particular entry caught my eye).

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