15 September 2013

Is It Jasper Newton or Newton Jasper?

I never gave "Jasper Newton" much thought until a few years ago while helping a trip participant at the Allen County Public Library. She asked me a question about her relative whose first name was Jasper and whose middle name was Newton.
Indiana county map--showing bordering Newton and Jasper Counties.

After I helped her, I remembered that my children also had a relative with those names: Jasper Newton Lake. The relative was actually a cousin who I had not had time to research and I had assumed that his name had come from the "other" side of the family as there were no Jaspers or Newtons in the Lake family which was the actually the family I was researching. When time allowed, I would get around to researching him.

I thought it odd that my fellow researcher had a relative with the same somewhat unusual first and middle name combination and so I began to research Jasper Newton, assuming he would be some historical figure.

It turns out Jasper Newton was not one man but two--men who were supposedly involved in Revolutionary War era rescue in the Carolinas. Their rescue attempt was memorialized in a painting by John Blake White and recorded for written history by Parson Mason Locke Weems.

It was not only people who were named Jasper Newton or Newton Jasper--towns and counties were as well.

  • Illinois and Iowa have Jasper Counties with Newton as the county seat.
  • In Georgia, Indiana, Missouri, and Texas Jasper and Newton Counties share a border. 
  • Jasper is the county seat of Newton County, Arkansas.
There are probably other geographic connections as well but these make the connection rather clear.

Probably the most famous Jasper Newton is Jasper Newton Daniels, also known as Jack Daniels.

Maybe those names that suddenly appear in your family are not names of relatives at all, but instead are historical characters. Do a little searching on those names and make certain there was not someone famous with that name before assuming your family has a closer connection to the name than was actually the case.
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