Tuesday, November 10, 2009

SNGF -- REALLY late: Surname Distribution

I'm really late this week with Saturday Night Genealogy Fun, but it is getting toward the end of the term, and I have lots of reading to do (including the entirety of Boccacio's Decameron, which was considered terribly salacious in ages past, but is mild compared to what we see on television these days!) and papers to write and other stuff going on.

So here it is: This week, according to Randy Seaver of Genea-Musings, we are to look at the geographic distribution of one of our surnames.

1) Find out the geographical distribution of your surname - in the world, in your state or province, in your county or parish. I suggest that you use the Public Profiler site at http://www.publicprofiler.org/worldnames/, which seems to work quickly and easily. However, you cannot capture the image as a photo file - you have to capture the screen shot, save it and edit it.

2) Tell us about your surname distribution in a blog post of your own (with a screen shot if possible), in comments to this post, or in comments on a social networking site like Facebook and Twitter.

Searching on my paternal surname/maiden name of Packard at the website recommended by Randy in his instructions, reproduced above, I found that the worldwide distribution shows the surname mainly in Europe and North America, with a smattering in India, Australia, and a bit more densely in New Zealand. Europe shows the surname distributed thus:

What stuns me is that the name shows up in Spain and a tiny bit in Italy. What is even more surprising to me is that in Spain, the surname is present in Andalucia, which is where I was in the month of May a couple years ago, when I went to Seville to research at the General Archive of the Indies. If I'd known that, I would have grabbed the phone book and done some looking. It would have been big fun to have met my primos españoles (Spanish cousins).

Another stunning thing about the map is Great Britain, where my 8x great-grandfather was born. The concentration of the surname is shown as being very low in England except for the teal spot on the Channel coast. That is East Anglia, part of which is the county of Suffolk, where my ancestor Samuel Packard was born. He emigrated to Massachusetts in 1638, to join other separatists (which we call Puritans) who could no longer stand the Church of England. (And here's another irony -- I was raised in the Episcopal Church, a member of the Anglican -- that is, Church of England -- Communion.)

The next map has a lot to say about where the Packards are most heavily concentrated now:

On the world map, the most dense concentration of the Packard surname is in the United States. There are some also in Canada -- where my father's line spent three generations, in between being residents of Massachusetts and ending up in Illinois. In the U.S., we Packards are in every state except North Dakota. My own line went from Massachusetts to New Hampshire to Vermont, which was my 4x great-grandfather Richards Packard (yes, there is an "s" on his first name, which is from the maiden name of his mother, Mercy Richards) in an ever-northward quest for land after the American Revolution, in which he fought in two different Massachusetts regiments. This search for land ended him up in Canada. Not every American who went to Canada after the Revolution was a Tory -- many of them went because in Canada they were giving land away and they didn't much care who they were giving it to!

After a couple or three generations in Canada, my great-great grandfather and a fistful of his siblings came back to the U.S., some by way of Massachusetts, some (including my ggf) by way of New York (Chautauqua County), and some directly to end up all of them in Bloomington, Illinois. From there, my great-grandfather Oscar Packard, who was a real estate developer, went to California in the early 20th century, a great time to have been in real estate in California!

Me, I live in Florida, and here's where the surname occurs in the Sunshine State (which, with the remnants of Ida meandering around, is not experiencing much sunshine this week!)

There are some in the panhandle, and the rest distributed from northeast Florida, where I live, down the peninsula. See Jacksonville up in the upper right? See the county which is completely white -- completely devoid of the surname -- just below Jacksonville (which comprises nearly all of Duval County)? That blank county is Clay County, where I live. I don't count in this because my surname for the past 38 years has been Rhodes! By the way, the surname Rhodes is shown to be present in Clay County in moderate density -- including one reprobate listed just below us in the telephone book, who apparently did not pay his bills and for whom we were getting collection calls for a while. I had to resort to recommending that the caller employ a straight-edge when looking up numbers in the phone book!

I have to say I was unaware that there were any Packards in Bradford County, which is the little triangle just to the west of Clay County, but apparently there are. None of these Packards are close relations to me. But I suppose I should at least try to get in touch with them and see if any of them are interested in genealogy and share some ancestors with me.

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