Dear Emma, What should I call your oldest son? Love, Amberly


A family record typed by Hope Estelle Maffit Duval.  Older data came from her mother Emma Esther Jerrain Maffit.  There are multiple copies of this record that all list Chesterfield Jerrain Maffit with these dates.


Dear Grandma Emma,

Thank you for leaving family records that your daughter Estelle, my great-grandmother, typed up.  They are so helpful!

But here’s the deal – your second child and first son?  You gave him two, sort of three, different names.  I don’t know what I should call him.

In all of the family records Estelle typed up, she listed him as Chesterfield Jerrain Maffit.  But there are no birth or death records for a Chesterfield Jerrain Maffit.  There is a birth record for an Orin Maffit and a death record for an Orrin Seth Maffit.  But guess what?  The dates on those records don’t match the dates you list for Chesterfield.  Not exactly.

Your daughter typed up a birthdate of 5 January 1905, and a death date of 21 March 1905, for Chesterfield.  (For a while, I was extra confused because a family member had mistyped from Estelle’s record and gave a death date for Chesterfield of 20 January 1905.)1  Orin’s birth date was 5 January 19062 and his death date was 23 March 19063.  Those dates are so similar that I really struggled with whether or not Chesterfield and Orrin were the same child.  I actually have both children in my tree because I did not want to leave out any of your precious children – and what if you really had two sons born on the same day a year apart who died one year and two days apart?

But just a few weeks ago, I found my first record for Chesterfield.  I was soooo excited!  The record is Chesterfield’s baptism record4.  It reads this way:

“350   Name: Chesterfield Seth Maffit    Parents: Seth and Emma    When Born: January 1st ” [ditto marks for 1906]    When Baptised: ” [ditto marks for Mch] 23rd ” [ditto marks for 190-, the last digit in the year is cut off, the index indicates 1906]”

This is the first record that ties the two boys together.  It brings the dates for Orrin with the name of Chesterfield, just with the middle name of Seth instead of Jerrain.  I think Orrin and Chesterfield are the same boy.  Am I right?

In the 1910 census5, you are listed as the mother of four with two living.  If you really had both Orrin and Chesterfield, those numbers should be five with two living.  You wouldn’t forget a baby that you buried, would you?

So, did you name your first son Orin, baptize him as Chesterfield Seth, then list his name as Orrin Seth on his death record, and then decide to call him Chesterfield Jerrain in your family record?  Or is there something else going on?  Did you name him Orin, decide to go with Chesterfield and then after he died, your brother-in-law William, who was a doctor and the informant for your son’s death (and birth), listed his name as Orrin Seth on the death record without consulting you?

The baptism record also brings up other questions for me.  The baptism record for Chesterfield lists his date of baptism as 23 March 1906.  He was the only child baptized that day, a Friday.  That is the very day that Orrin Seth died of acute fermental diarrhea.  Did you know that he was going to die?  Was this an emergency baptism?  What must that day have been like for you?  A cloth diaper disaster, the impending death of your second child, your second child to die… how did you get through that day?

Grandma Emma, I want to represent your story, and family, accurately.  I think I can merge Orrin Seth and Chesterfield Jerrain.  But am I right?

With Much Love,

Amberly, your 2nd great-granddaughter



Dear Readers,

Please feel free to share your thoughts on this one.  Merging those two boys will be mighty difficult for me.  I would hate to erase someone’s existence from my tree.  But on the other hand… it seems like they are the same person.  What do you think?


Amberly, the girl over here trying to sort everything out correctly



Happy Monday, wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could figure out a way to send letters to the past through some special time-traveling-bank-style-pneumatic-tube?  And then get answers to our questions from that same magical tube?  I would sooooo get in line to do that!  😉





  1. Chesterfield Jerrain Maffit has an entry in the Family Tree on FamilySearch.  It shows my username as having submitted the data but my I am fairly certain that my sister did that.  I may have been the one to link him to his parents early on and that may be why my username shows there.  You can view him here:  https://www.familysearch.org/tree/person/details/MV9B-FTM 
  2. “Illinois, Cook County Birth Certificates, 1878-1922,” index, FamilySearch.org (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/NQRD-DLP : accessed 07 May 2014), Orin Maffit, 05 Jan 1906; citing Chicago, Cook, Illinois, reference 10380, Cook County Courthouse, Chicago; FHL microfilm 1,288,111 (film accessed 06 May 2014 at BYU). 
  3. “Illinois, Cook County Deaths, 1878-1922,” index, FamilySearch.org (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/N7WT-332 : accessed 07 May 2014), Orrin Seth Maffit, 23 Mar 1906; citing 2896 Archer Ave, Chicago, Cook, Illinois, Cemetery, cn, Cook County Courthouse, Chicago; FHL microfilm 1,239,737 (film accessed 06 May 2014 at BYU). 
  4. Presbyterian Historical Society; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; “U.S., Presbyterian Church Records, 1701-1907″; Book Title: Session/Register 1887-1923; Accession Number: Vault BX 9211 .I30608 I42, image for Chesterfield Seth Maffit, baptism 23 March 1906, image 170 of 228, line 350; accessed through “U.S., Presbyterian Church Records, 1701-1970,” database and images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 25 January 2016). 
  5. 1910 U.S. census, Cook County, Illinois, Chicago Ward 5, population schedule, enumeration district (ED) 286, page 3B (handwritten), dwelling 39, family 54, lines 93-96, Seth Moffit household, digital image, Ancestry.com, (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 11 May 2018); citing FHL microfilm 1,374,257, original source data NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 244. 

33 thoughts on “Dear Emma, What should I call your oldest son? Love, Amberly”

  1. So historically, Jewish people would give a dying or ver I’ll person, another name to confuse the Angel of death and help save the child. My great grandfather was Solomon, but when he was ill he was given another Hebrew name Abraham. All his legal documents say Solomon. But in the family he was known as Abraham. My brother was named for him and given both Hebrew names. Not saying the same thing here. But a desperate mother might try anything. I think you can combine these two records. Have a great day.

    1. Oh, that is very interesting. I wonder if that was what happened? Thank you for sharing, Ellen. I do know that this branch of my tree has a portion of Jewish ancestry that I haven’t been able to identify yet. My Grandma shows 6% European Jewish ancestry and the only spot it can come from (I think…) is in this branch. Emma’s father is the likely source so maybe you are onto something with this insight you offered. Thank you!

  2. What a mess! I also think they are the same child, but I don’t think you can be 100% sure. Does either name repeat in the family? Chesterfield is an awfully long name so perhaps they always intended to call him Orin? My daughter named her son Nathaniel but announced right away that he would be called Nate (though his full legal name is still Nathaniel). But those virtually identical birthdates and the census numbers sure make it likely they were the same child. Are there cemetery records for either name?

    1. Yes, a mess for sure. No repeats for either name going forward or back that I have found. I haven’t found cemetery records for either child, only family notes about which cemetery they are buried in and one newspaper article from when Orrin was buried but he isn’t listed by name in the article, just his parents are along with the cemetery.

      I also agree that it’s not possible to be 100% sure. I’m considering just writing up a note explaining that they are likely the same child with my reasoning and then attaching it to both Orrin and Chesterfield and leaving them both in my tree. I think. This one really eats at me, which causes me to wonder is there still something there to be found? Something I’m not yet seeing? Sigh. I want to get it RIGHT. 😉

        1. I tried. It’s a very small cemetery. I didn’t get anywhere. But a woman who works for the county historical society pulled a few other records for me. I wonder if I should try again…? Sometimes it just takes a different person in the office to get a different outcome. I better try again, thanks for the nudge! 😉

          1. You never know—worth another try. Is it close by? Can you wander through it or maybe someone who lives nearby can?

            1. Not close, it’s in Illinois. But I do have a friend who lives a few cities away. I wonder if she ever heads that direction? But at least I should call again.

  3. Fun Facts about the name Chesterfield

    How Popular is the name Chesterfield?
    Chesterfield is the 52,965th most popular name of all time. As a last name Chesterfield was the 45,253rd most popular name in 2010.
    How many people with the first name Chesterfield have been born in the United States?
    From 1880 to 2016, the Social Security Administration has recorded 34 babies born with the first name Chesterfield in the United States.
    What year were 5 or more babies first named Chesterfield?
    The name was first given to 5 or more babies in the year 1916 when it was given as a first name to 5 new born babies.
    What year had the most people named Chesterfield born?
    The highest recorded use of the first name Chesterfield was in 1927 with a total of 8 babies.

    Emma named all her children very unique names…she was way ahead of her time in this regard. Her niece named Willow, very different. I am going to look at this further. Clue is somewhere in the names and family relationships. The brother – in -law?

  4. I believe with the birth, baptism, and death records as well as the number of children born and living on the 1910 census you can merge the two. I would include a note explaining the merge (which is the normal procedure on the Family Tree although many do not bother). But how do you plan on handling the name of the child if you merge the two?

    1. Exactly! It seems like Emma preferred Chesterfield since that is what all of her children believed his name was. But it doesn’t match the bulk of the records. So if I merge him, likely someone will just come along and create another version. I’m leaning toward leaving them both and writing a detailed note. When I first wrote this post, I was really leaning toward merging, but now I think I have talked myself out of it. 😉 I still think they are most likely the same child, but I worry I’ll just make a new problem at some point in the future.

      1. I understand what you mean about someone coming along. I have flagged most of my ancestors in the Family Tree. People keep adding children without comparing or reading notes. I have stopped trying to correct errors.

        1. I get that! I have reduced my efforts to a few “pet project” relatives that took TONS of time to sort out. Those ones, I keep correcting. The others… it depends on my mood. 😉

  5. There are only 4 Maffits listed on Find A Grave, none of them with the given names of either child. That would lead me to think that: 1) no one has made a memorial for them 2) the cemetery they are buried in hasn’t been completely entered in Find A Grave 3) there are no headstones for either child. Having recently found what happened to the child of one of my spouse’s ex’s great grandparents (after wondering for a good five years or more), it brought some resolution. That child was a twin, physically disabled after being “scared” by a run away horse, suffered smallpox and died at age 9, buried in a cemetery near me (which I have not been able to visit or find further information on so far – better weather is coming so I might be able to locate the grave and see if there is a headstone). Also, the child had several variant spellings of her name which made getting things figured out and properly attached a bit of work. Also the spouse’s ex was adopted by her paternal grandparents and her given name was changed by them at the adoption, I usually will put something like that in brackets [ ] after the present given name and attach a note about the name change. I suspect you have one child with several names and that there might have been some confusion when the information was typed up. I think I would leave them separate and note that due to lack of proof there is doubt about whether they are the same child or two different children. I’ve got a couple of those in various lines because the information just isn’t there or I haven’t found it yet. I would rather opt for leaving those things separate and making sure there is a note explaning my thinking on the action. I like things to be right too, sometimes that just isn’t possible and leaving the available information for someone later who might find the truth of the matter is more reasonable.

    1. I agree with you. Information may come to light at a later date so I would leave things alone for now. That said, I insisted that a sister of mine on Family Search be eliminated. A distant cousin dreamed her up when he read our Mother’s obituary. He gave my sister the same name with a different spelling. My sister & I are still living so one would think it an easy fix, but I had to throw a fit.

      1. I have gotten fed up with all the changes other people make to those individuals I have added at Family Search. I don’t have the time to keep repairing the mistakes that are added and it would help if there was a way to lock each entry until it could be verified by either soruces or communication with whoever wants to make the changes. I honestly don’t have the time or interest to keep messing with it so have just left it alone and hopefully someone will take it up futurely. One would think that adding living persons without their permission would be a no-brainer. I had to do something similar for a cousin.

        1. I get it. Some users are causing all sorts of problems. I was just talking to another genealogist and we think it would be awesome if merging was not allowed for beginners. We talked about how some specific people just get merged over and over again and it would be fantastic if there were a way to submit a proposal for certain people to be “locked” – maybe not every detail, but no merging, no changing their name, dates or places, only keep the ability to add sources, photos, documents, or other information. Then if a researcher feels there is a mistake and a change is needed, there should be some sort of proposal process to have a “locked” person amended. I wouldn’t even mind if the process was long and slow. There are just certain people that are constantly being messed up!

          1. I just last night found another mess in the FamilySearch tree. I had all the sources attached, notes where needed and three people were merged which messed everything up and sources added that were for other people with similar names. I just left it all. I could spend months getting the fouled up stuff gone, but it wouldn’t stay gone. I even had a distant cousin adding memorials to Find A Grave with incorrect information and then requesting that the memorials I had with correct information be removed and they even added photos of people who were incorrectly identified. I may not be a certified genealogist but I’ve been at it for over 45 years and I try my best to have correct information, admit when I’ve made mistakes and corrected them. It is evidently one of the frustrations we have to deal with.

            1. Oh no!! On all of that!

              I totally get the desire to just ignore some messes. I have definitely done that at times. When someone is particularly important to me, OR hard to sort out, I have started writing a very detailed note about my changes and why I made them that I keep in my ancestry tree and attached to the person in FS. I update the note in both places if there is new info. That has seemed to reduce those specific people being messed with, but it’s tons of work. Sigh.

              I’m sorry about your FindAGrave cousin. Not fun! Yes, I guess it’s part of it. 😉

      2. I think I’ve decided to leave them separate and add a really detailed note.

        Oh boy! Those are such a pain! I’ve dealt with several lately. Some distant cousin was creating all sorts of people in the tree and marking them as deceased but they are very alive. I was able to get it corrected right away each time. But she kept doing it so I finally sent her a message and told her to please be more careful! She stopped. At least in the part of the tree we share. 😉

    2. That is where I am leaning also. When I wrote my post I was really considering merging, but now, I just can’t. Your suggestion is exactly my plan – leave them separate and leave a very detailed explanation on both children. I do still lean toward them being the same child, but it’s not certain. Thank you for the input! <3

  6. Yep; certain,y a bit of a muddle. I think this is one of those things that will remain unknown unless something new comes to light.

    1. That’s where I’m at now too. I really was considering merging them when I wrote this post, but I’ve talked myself out of it. It was a good exercise though. And maybe this post will be helpful for a cousin down the road. 😉

  7. I think you should send out an email to all the family contacts that are in the binder I sent you and see if anyone has any insight into these children? It is worth a shot and would open the door for you with them.

    1. Great suggestion, Heather! Although, I did ask Peggy five years ago and she called all of the contributing cousins and none of them had heard of Orrin. But I do need to reach out anyway. 🙂

  8. I agree with you. Information may come to light at a later date so I would leave things alone for now. That said, I insisted that a sister of mine on Family Search be eliminated. A distant cousin dreamed her up when he read our Mother’s obituary. He gave my sister the same name with a different spelling. My sister & I are still living so one would think it an easy fix, but I had to throw a fit.

Leave a Reply