My First Surname Saturday

As I work on filling out my family tree, I’m finding common and not-so-common surnames, surnames that can be spelled way too many different ways, surnames that are normal words in English and therefore hard to search on, and clues to possible points of origin on the other side of the pond. For my first Surname Saturday post, I’ll look at how common some of my surnames are in the United States.

Just looking back through my great-great-grandparents for the moment, here are the surnames. The rank and number of people are from the 2000 US Census.

Surname Rank Number of People
Bell #67 264,752
Biggs #1448 22,634
Billingsley #2876 11,460
Box #3190 10,320
Cole #116 187,793
Deborah #105,905 156
Draper #1397 23,242
Fields #264 103,242
Harper #226 119,868
McAdams #2877 11,455
McKinnon #2285 14,566
Odom #953 33,717
Parker #51 324,246
Sprouse #4061 8,050
Standley #7040 4,388
Wells #131 170,635
U.S. Bureau of the Census, “Surnames Occurring 100 or More Times,” spreadsheet, United States Census Bureau ( : accessed 9 January 2016).

I didn’t include variants here. For example, the outlier, Deborah, I’ve seen spelled Debora, Deberrah, Deberry, and others. Standley could be Standly, Stanley, Stanly, and more; I’ve seen it spelled two different ways in the same document.

In a future Surname Saturday, I’ll look into national origins. (Hint: they’re mostly from the same places.)


Best to Have Black-Eyed Peas, Just in Case

New Year’s Day is one of the holidays for which my family had a regular tradition. And even though I’ve changed up the entree and other sides over the years, I always have black-eyed peas. I think it started as a southern thing, but now, even here in California, you can usually get the peas fresh, frozen, or dried, and they’re prominently displayed at this time of year.

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