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The Weekly Genealogist Survey: 1776 Ancestors

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Betlock Lynn

Lynn Betlock
Editor

Last week’s survey asked whether you are a member of NEHGS. The results are:

85%, Yes, I am a member of NEHGS.
15%, No, I am not a member of NEHGS.

This week's survey asks if any of your ancestors were living in the thirteen American colonies on July 4, 1776. Take the survey now!


The Daily Genealogist Name Origin: Zeruiah/Zerviah

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Julie Helen Otto

Julie Helen Otto
Staff Genealogist

ZERUIAH / ZERVIAH: (Zeruiah is the original name but in earlier centuries U and V — if not pronounced alike — were often written with the same letter, thus ZERVIAH [zer-VYE-ah or zer-VEE-ah] is also seen.) A ZERUAH was the mother of King Jeroboam I, but the American colonial name seems to be derived from an earlier woman, King David’s sister ZERUIAH, mother of Joab, Abishai, and Asahel. Jeroboam’s mother’s name is derived from the Hebrew for “having a skin disease” (which, one would think, might limit its popularity), while David’s sister’s name means “YHWH [God] has let flow” (Carol Meyers, Toni Craven and Ross S. Kraemer, eds., Women and Scripture: A Dictionary of Named and Unnamed Women in the Hebrew Bible, the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books, and the New Testament (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 2000), p. 168).

Zerviah Gould, born 15 April 1780, recorded in Cumberland, R.I., was the eighth child of Jabez Gould and Esther Sweetland who were married in Attleboro, 2 September 1766. Zerviah was likely named for her mother's sister, Zerviah Sweetland. Jabez, who was of Wrentham, Mass., at the time of the Revolution, removed to Hallowell, Maine, in 1787, and later settled in Belgrade, Maine. “Sophia" Gould married (intention) 26 April 1808, Fayette, Maine, Aaron Bachelder. In the 1850 census for Fayette, Sophia Bacheller is listed as age 69, born Massachusetts. A wider context of circumstantial evidence points to her being one and the same as Zerviah.

SOPHIA can be pronounced with either long or short “I,” depending on the time and the person, so one can see how the name Zerviah might have evolved into Sophia. “Sophia” [Greek for ‘wisdom’ and very popular from the middle/late eighteenth century] may have struck an individual Zerviah’s ear and seemed more fashionable than her own (phonetically somewhat similar) Biblical name. Context (how time, place, wider cultural, social and/or religious currents, and individual quirks combine) is everything with names. Ultimately, it hinges on that most mysterious factor, individual personal taste of long ago.


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