Surname Reversion??

While working on the Emmet Co., Michigan death records, things started to fall into a pattern.  Most records groups are that way and you develope an understanding to some extent of how things were handled within a record grouping. 

In these recrds from the late 1860s and early 1870s, we see a lot of Native-sounding names and several European ones, both English and French.  Some people have last names, but their parents don’t, which is to be expected of people born around 1800 or even in the 1700s in upper Michigan. 

In most cases, the surnames of the children match at least the surname of the father, but there are a few rather confounding exceptions.

These are of note because the parents have European surnames, but the children, who are the ones who died, did not. 

For example, Rosine Osawmankekk, an Indian, died at the age of 1 year of unknown causes.  Her parents were William Flinn and Margaret Flinn.  How did we go from Flinn to Osawmankekk?  Even if the native people were somewhat confused, the people in the resigtrar’s office know how surnames worked.  Apparently so did Rosine’s parents as they both has European first names and carried the same last name.  Was Osawmankekk a nickname that somehow was mistaken for a surname?  We’ll never know.

This goes to show that sometimes the old saying about “one step forward and two steps back” comes into play in the most unusual of circumstances.

About Roberta Estes

Scientist, author, genetic genealogist. Documenting Native Heritage through contemporaneous records and DNA.
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