Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Smoking Gun

As many of you know I am a genealogist though the past two years I haven't done much due to work on fixer upper house. But I get a few moments here and there and poke around still. The Baker side of my family is holding a reunion this summer and I've been invited to attend. This branch has always fascinated me since it had one of the hardest brick walls I've had to knock down while doing research but eventually I discovered that my third great grandfather Joseph Baker was actually Joseph Chicken and changed his name after the Civil War. All the pieces of my puzzle fit together but I've never had that concrete proof. I needed something to tie the Baker family to the Chicken family in document form.

I recently had a few minutes waiting for paint to dry and decided to do a Google search to see what turned up on Joseph Chicken. After a long while of scrolling through thousands of results for chicken dinners at various churches named after St. Joseph, I finally hit pay dirt after all this time. In some records labeled 'Iowa, County Marriages, 1838-1934', I found a record that was the smoking gun. It was the record of Joseph Chicken/Baker's son Robert and his marriage to Viola. In the details it lists his father as Joseph Chicken and his mother as Fanny Brocton whom with I have many ties to the Baker side of the family. At long last, I can say with 100% certainty, that I have Chicken's in my bloodline. Now if I could only figure out why he changed his name from Chicken to Baker.

6 comments:

Rich said...

It's always possible that he changed his name simply because being called a "chicken" is sort of an insult.

warren said...

Pancake is a somewhat common name around here and it seems so strange to me...much like Chicken I guess...how did that name start and why does anyone still go by it...anyhow, cool find on your part!

Ed said...

Rich - I've certainly entertained that idea for many hours. One of his brothers kept the name of Chicken all his life but two of the other brothers disappear off the face of the earth as soon as they reached adulthood leading me to suspect they too changed their names. I don't think I would want to grow up with the last name of Chicken in this day and age.

Rich said...

I didn't notice it at first, but his mother's married name was Fanny Chicken. Imagine being named after your great-grandmother Fanny?

It might be that when the Chicken family immigrated to the U.S. when their name was anglicized without anyone realizing until later that Chicken was an unusual name.

sage said...

Wonder why he picked "Baker"? Was he one?

Ed said...

Rich - Changing names when immigrating is one of the genealogy fallacies that seems to never die. In truth, very few families changed their names. In my research, I've found not one ancestor who has changed their name upon immigrating but I've found a small dozen or so whose name morphed a bit in the generations after their arrival. I've been able to trace the Chicken family back a couple of generations in north England.

Also, Fanny is a common nickname to females named Frances as is the case here too. Due to its slang usage in modern times, you can probably rest assured it isn't very common today.

Sage - Joseph Chicken Sr. and his father John Chicken were both miners. I'm not sure what John and Joseph mined in England (my guess is coal) but Joseph mined lead in Wisconsin after he immigrated for some time before going into farming and running a grocery store. Joseph Chicken Jr. who changed his last name to Baker, was a farmer in the records I have for him but his death at age 37 cut his life short so who knows what he would have become.