Sincere thanks is extended to you, Danielle for the informative and interesting web site, and extending the opportunity to me to respond to the article that concerns and cites me personally. These are complex issues, and due to space restraints I will be able to touch only the high spots, but I will gladly share a copyrighted excerpt from my book that deals with these specific issues in much greater detail to anyone wanting to study it for themselves, if they e-mail me firstname.lastname@example.org
I wish to make plain from the start that there is nothing personal in my disagreement with Judy Orcutt Holy on any issue presented here, and I both respect and like her, and know her to be a good person from the personal exchanges we have had. She is an asset to the Orcutt family, and due recognition for the considerable hard work and effort she has undertaken. Her views and help have been useful to me in no small measure as I have continually attempted to prove what has formerly been written about the Orcutts, and why, and what actual records and various circumstances indicate about Orcutt origins. I appreciate this opportunity to address what she has written in this particular instance, as some of it is misleading about what I personally know and believe, perhaps due to no fault of Judy's , but perhaps my failure to communicate as well as I might have, and I sincerely appreciate the chance to set the record straight.
I agree with Judy Orcutt Holy wholeheartedly that �It has never been firmly documented that the William Orcutt who came to Massachusetts by 1664 is a descendant of the Scottish family/clan, Urquhart ...�, and in fact I would go a little further by pointing out that there is actually NO documentation, "firm", or otherwise, that proves such having been the case.
I would sincerely like to be able to take credit for having �developed an alternate background which points to an English Warwickshire family named Awcotte...� in regards to the early origins of the Orcutt family, but unfortunately for me Mr. Jarvis Bonesteel Edson beat me to it by 100 years!
Edsons in England and America and Genealogy of the Edsons,
by Jarvis Bonesteel Edson Of the City of New York, The Knickerbocker Press
27 west 23rd street New York, New York, 1903.
� The Orcutt family, as the Edson, had long been seated in Warwickshire. The surname appears to be an etymological modification of the French compound, Orcote, which in England became corrupted into Alcott, Orcutt, Aucott, and Howcote.�
Mr Edson�s isn�t the only reference that proceeds me that points to English origins for Orcutts;
DICTIONARY OF AMERICAN FAMILY NAMES
ELSDON C. SMITH
HARPER & BROTHERS PUBLISHERS 1956
� Orcutt (Eng.) Dweller in a hillside, or riverbank, cottage.�
Mr. Silas Orcutt, born June 26, 1795, Butternuts, Otsego County, New York, son of Rev. War Vet, Benajah Orcutt , a great grandson of William Orcutt. An 18th century born Orcutt with whom a scant three generations of Orcutts lay between himself and William Orcutt, the immigrant ancestor, (and who proceeds me by well over 150 years), when asked his ethnic background reported himself to be of English origin. I would suppose he knew if he were English or not. Silas� father, Benajah Orcutt, was born ca 1758, son of Joseph Orcutt Jr, (born 1717), and we can rightly expect Silas surely had good firsthand knowledge in respect to the Orcutt�s ancestral origins, and with only three generations between himself and the immigrant William we should certainly consider Silas a highly reliable witness.
Federal Census of 1871 (Ontario Index)
ORCUTT , SILAS 75 UNITED STATES PRINCE EDWARD Athol
Birthplace: United States
District: Prince Edward ( 059 )
Sub-district: Athol ( G )
Microfilm reel: C-9990
Reference: RG31 - Statistics Canada
I believe, in light of these references, and other information, some of it circumstantial, and some of it �firm�, well documented facts, that the Orcutts are of English origin, and this goes well beyond being merely �interesting circumstantial evidence..� It's not what I am saying, or any theory that I am advancing, but these recorded sources that stand on their own merit in regards to Orcutt ancestry. I would also like to point out that verifiable marriage, christening, and burial records aren�t circumstantial evidence, but real, viable, primary documentation, and such is the stuff that genealogical dreams are not only made of, but are realized through.
Judy Orcutt Holy and I exchanged some really good information and ideas about Orcutt ancestry several years ago, but perhaps due to faulty communication she has apparently misunderstood several key issues that she uses to try to prove her theory that a wide-spread, common knowledge of a connection between the Orcutts and Urquharts has been a tradition throughout the Orcutt family from the immigrant ancestor, but somehow has been missed out on by descendants of Joseph Orcutt, my own ancestor. The fact I stated was that the �tradition�, if you will, that Orcutts were of English origins concerns my immediate family, persons I have personal knowledge of, and that is my direct line, and that being back to perhaps the time of the Rev. War. I know what my folks believed, and my grandparents, and they based their belief on what the had learned from their folks on back. Silas Orcutt, mentioned above, was a Joseph Orcutt descendant of my particular line and his answer when asked by the census taker as to his ethnic origins is totally consistent with what my particular Orcutts have always said. There are hundreds of �lines� of Orcutts descended from Joseph Orcutt, and to establish what any of them have personally believed, or perpetuated in regards to any legend would have to come from them. That said, I have extensively researched Joseph Orcutt�s descendants, and over the years that put me in touch with many of those folks, and while some had heard about the Urquhart/Orcutt legend, it has remained to date that what I have found is that information came to them by something they read, or were told by some one that had read it, ect., and as of yet I have never found one instance of the legend being �handed down�, or proved to be any older than early last century. This is not only limited to the line of Joseph, but is true also for many Orcutts from other "lines" I have corresponded with about this issue. If there is �emphatically� based knowledge, please, let�s see the proof of it, and supply the names of the people that the emphatic information has been passed along by, and I will personally make a sincere effort to help ascertain how well the information can be relied upon. As it now stands, I am forced to rely on the documents that I have been able to procure that can provide proof of what various Orcutts in the center of Orcutt family history have had to say at various times about William Orcutt's early origins. Note, again, this is not JTO's �personal theory� , but is simply what I am relating that respected Orcutt historians in the not so distant past wrote. If there is any good reason to doubt they knew what they were talking about, or likely they wouldn't have been in contact with persons having known about the "legend", if it indeed existed in any broad scope, such as Judy's theory suggest, I sincerely would like to learn what those reasons might be.
The sheer volume of information Mr. Frank Bates presents in this address in it's entirety wholly attest to the fact that extensive efforts had long been undertaken at that time, 1904, as to researching and documenting the Orcutts.
Boston Evening Transcript
September 19, 1904
Some Orcutt Homesteads
An Address Delivered before the Orcutt Family Association at the reunion held in South Weymouth, Mass., Sept. 17, 1904
By Frank A. Bates
President of the Association
� Of our mutual progenitor, William (1) Orcutt, the early part of his life is yet a mystery. That he came to this town, (Weymouth), it�s immediate vicinity is sufficiently proved. That was about 1664, for on Jan. of that year he married Mary Lane of Hingham....Without other evidence than the business he did, we should naturally suppose that he was more than fifty years old when he died in 1693.�
Thus we have Mr. Bates word, and we can trust that word is good in light of the in-depth information he had compiled about the Orcutts at that time, that he, nor anyone he knew of, had any information at all in regards to William Orcutt�s origins, or life prior to having married Mary Lane. If Judy's theory that the legend has been both long standing, and wide spread, why did the President of the Orcutt Family Association 1904, not even 100 years ago, not mention it?
Fred W. Ingalsbe, Secretary of the Orcutt Family Association for many years and an aggressive Orcutt genealogist states point blank at least several times prior to 1935 he has no clue as to William Orcutt�s early origins.
Orcutt Family Association , April 24, 1932
�There was an Olcott among the earliest settlers in Hartford County Conn. In 1790 four Olcott families were recorded ( residing) New York, Benijah Olcott, John Olcott, Oliver Olcott, , and William Olcott and doubtless the two latter had lived in Columbia County on their way north from Hartford, County, Conn. William Orcutt was (apparently ?) the oldest of the four, perhaps the father of the other three. This William Olcott was no doubt a grandson of William (2) Orcutt, and the name Olcott as (commonly ?) was used. William (2) Orcutt being the first son of William (1) Orcutt and having been of Bridgewater, Plymouth, County, Mass., where he married Jane(3) Washburn, John (2) Washburn, John (1) Washburn and of his ( missing word) we have (names?) sons and daughters and some of them having no doubt (retained?) at Hartford, County, Conn. and later into Columbia, County, New York. Of the father , William (1) Orcutt settled early at Hingham, married Jan. 21, 1664 , Mary (2) Lane , Andrew(1) Lane , Was in Scituate 1667 which place the children were all born, except William (2) Orcutt born at perhaps Weymouth, and also Bridgewater, but the youngest Susannah at Bridgewater, Perhaps was first at Weymouth but earlier than that the great (passing ? passage) of time and nothing about him has come down to this time and is not known (further ?) of him anything before his marriage at Hingham, Jan. 24, 1663-4.�
To avoid any possible confusion, Benajah, John, Oliver, and William �Olcutt� named here have in fact been proven to have been Orcutts, just as Mr. Ingalsbe states. Look at what he has to say in another newsletter;
Orcutt Family Association 1935
"William Orcutt (whence he came we have no trace) married Mary Lane of Hingham Jan. 24, 1664, daughter of Andrew and Triphany. When he died his widow was Martha Whether this is a twist of names or an evidence that he married again, I am uncertain. Benjamin was the ninth child born 1679. I have just returned from Plymouth, where I have been looking up old Orcutt deeds, and I have some good materials. We are rapidly collecting data for an "Orcutt Genealogy" and will be thankful if anyone having any data on the family will send it to the Transcript. The reunion of the Orcutt Family Association will be held this summer, and all new material will be made public at that time, in the various addresses."
These statements, "whence he came we have no trace", and, � Perhaps was first at Weymouth but earlier than that the great (passing ? passage) of time and nothing about him has come down to this time and is not known further of him anything before his marriage at Hingham, Jan. 24, 1664.�, are easily understood. Mr. Ingalsbe didn�t know where William Orcutt had came from, had no trace of a clue as to where it might have been, and he states plainly that �nothing has come down to this time...�
To fully appreciate the significance that the clearly admitted lack of any known, or suspected information about William�s origins that is presented here entails one should also study more of Mr. Ingalsbe�s newsletters, at which point it quickly becomes glaringly plain there is no chance he would have known about any legend but failed to mention it, if he had any inkling of such. As he had been in personal contact with a multitude of Orcutts, and Orcutt genealogist on a constant basis for many years previous to these references having been written it is extremely hard to reconcile Judy�s theory that the legend was widespread common knowledge to what we can find actually being said by these key Orcutt historians of the past. It should also be pointed out that the legend, as was passed on by Mr. Ingalsbe when he became aware of it, and his obvious embellishment of it, is rife with �facts� that can easily be shown to be totally non factual, in some cases in fact impossible, thus the legend as he passed it along looses any veracity it might ever have contained, if it had existed previously. I would be glad to furnish anyone interested with both a transcript of the "legend", as well as an assement that documents the many glaring "mistakes", and unfactual information it contains that make it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to put any relience in the "facts" related in it.
The fact that James Keith would have had any insider information about the Orcutts is another of Judy�s theories which is not supported by any documentation. It relies first on the assumption that it was James Keith that personally made the marriage record. As samples of his handwriing are available and could easily be compared with the marriage record by someone with expertise in that area, that probably should be the first step in advancing this theory. Whether or not James Keith can be, or is proven to have made the record, this theory he had insider information in regards to early Orcutt origins would still rely on the assumption that his mother-in-law was an Orcutt, which can be shown to be incorrect, or at the very least, improbable. The marriage record for Samuel Edson and Susannah Bickley exist, and is not a figment of my imagination, and anyone wishing to ascertain this fact for themselves can easily do what I, and the Edson Family Association, have done...ante up the cash and obtain a copy of the marriage record. In that record Susannah Bickley and Samuel Edson are named to have been �of Whittaker�, which is Whitacre, which is a parish that borders Fillongley in Warwickshire, and Fillongley, as we all know, is well documented to have been the birthplace of Samuel Edson. Whitacre has been identified as the place in England that Thomas Snell, also an early settler of Bridgewater, Mass., and the nephew of Samuel Edson, is known to have originated from prior to settlement in America. The next element of Judy�s theory relating to William Orcutt and James Keith is that as she revealed to me in 2000;
�My imagination of the scenario is that, possibly right around September of 1698, Rev. James and William 2 may have talked about Scottish backgrounds or the Rev. had some fresh reason to think of it, so he purposely decided to use that name in writing this marriage record ...."
I�m going to cheat a little here, as I address this issue in my book, in the interrogative section;
OUR ORCUTT FAMILY
Copyright June 2000, Joel Thomas Orcutt
�Doesn�t the marriage record for William Orcutt/Urrohart to Hannah Smith at least indicate that the person that recorded the marriage knew William Orcutt Jr. quite well, probably was acquainted with him and the Orcutts, and likely knew their family background, thus probably wanted to use the opportunity of the marriage to memorialize the fact that the Orcutts were Urquharts?
There is no proof whatever to indicate such was the case. It might be better to ask, than answer, in regards to this theory; Any such person having such an intense interest in �memorializing� Orcutt family history might well have been expected to have done so in some other, more lucid manner. How would that person have been able to know, or why would they assume that anyone finding that record years later would be able to connect it to the Orcutts in any way? This would appear to have been an extremely bizarre, not to mention uncertain way to memorialize an entire family's heritige! As William, and other members of the Orcutt family were never recorded as Urquhart, or a variant there-of in any other record, what is the true significance as to this one time? Why did this person himself incorrectly spell Urquhart, if that was the name he was trying to spell? William�s sister, Mary Orcutt�s marriage the proceeding year, and the births of his brother John Orcutt�s children in the years before and after this marriage, were all recorded as Orcut, or Orcutt. The logical explanation in view of all the facts would better seem to indicate that perhaps a new clerk during this particular time that had little, or no prior knowledge of the Orcutt family, and simply recorded the marriage as they imagined the name might be spelled. To imagine, or read any more into any genealogical value presented by the variant spelling on the marriage record stretches the bounds of common logic, and of course falls into the realm of speculation, or imagination.
About Susannah Bickley, aka Orcutt, as Judy writes, �3 generations of Edson family researchers call her Susannah Orcutt, including one (1856) whose source came from her grandson. �, The source of some of the information for this book by Judge Elijah Hayward in 1853 did include mention of a book compiled by Josiah Edson, grandson of Susannah Bickley Edson, but it isn�t stated anywhere in that book that the use of the surname �Orcutt� was referenced from that earlier work of Josiah�s, which went missing, and as no copy is known to have been made, it is seems useless to speculate about what it may, or may not have revealed. Judge Hayward doesn't state how, or why he was attributing the surname Orcutt to Susannah, but the most likely source would have been Nahum Mitchell's History of Bridgewater. To point to a work that is missing as a source document presents an impossibility of any chance for verification. To attribute a reference to Susannah having been surnamed Orcutt from Judge Hayward's book as having been learned by him from Josiah Edson's book, which he doesn't say, is a far stretch, and of course more speculation. How does JOH, or anyone else know exactly what Josiah Edson's book said about Susannah? Mr Gene Edson, President of the Edson Family Association revealed to me an e-mail, (I�ll supply a copy to anyone interested), in 2001 in which he states that the consensus among the Edsons , and of his own understanding, is the use of the surname "Orcutt" by Judge Mitchell in The History Of Bridgewater is the first reference known as to Susannah as having been surnamed "Orcutt".
It�s also interesting to note that Judy's theory that the Edson genealogical works can be considered wholly and strictly correct in their every aspect due the intimate nature of the information having been passed along personally within the Edson family itself, thus an excellent, definitive source about Susannah, (especially as to her surname having been carried forward from a supposed personal knowledge as recorded by her own grandson). But what does this say in turn to the fact that this work, and the other Edson genealogical works utterly fail to mention in even one instance Susannah was Scottish in ancestry? If this Urquhart/Orcutt connection was in fact wide-spread, common knowledge among the Orcutt community as Judy's other theory allows, how did this, given the well known intimate relationship maintained between the Orcutts and the Edsons for the centuries afterwards, and insider information having come straight down from her own grandson as Judy believes, result in the Orcutts having that knowledge, but not the Edsons? If Judy's theory that the surname Orcutt was passed along by Josiah Edson from that missing book and was intimately repeated in three generations of Edson genealogy there-after, proves anything at all for the reasons she gives it also proves way too much in regards to her theory of the Urquhart/Orcutt common knowledge issue. If the premise is that the Edson genealogies are to be considered to be a totally infallible source, and as such we can be assured Susannah's surname was Orcutt because these genalogies state that, then we should just as easily be fully ready to accept Jarvis B. Edson's determination about the Orcutts, " The Orcutt family, as the Edson, had long been seated in Warwickshire. The surname appears to be an etymological modification of the French compound, Orcote, which in England became corrupted into Alcott, Orcutt, Aucott, and Howcote.� If this is not correct, then I would respectfully ask Judy how she is able to discern between what is factual in these genealogical works, and what is not?
Addressing the last paragraph, Joseph Orcutt certainly did remove from Ma. to Ct.....along with several of the sons of his brothers. Applying the same logic, (because they moved to Ct.), I would suppose we must then believe Joseph's nephews having moved there also might "signal" that they also broke from "family traditions"?
I have followed genealogy in regards to the Orcutts for many years, and Joseph�s line in particular, but this is the first time I have ever heard a theory advanced, or a question, or statement made insinuating Joseph Orcutt, or any of his descendants might have experienced a �breach�... �from family traditions� , and in fact quite the opposite can easily be shown to be the truth of the matter. Joseph�s descendants lived in the same areas aside, or near other Orcutt "lines" , such as Stafford, Ct., Berkshire, Hampden, and Hampshire, and other places in Ma., many places in Vermont, and New Hampshire, and especially Washington County, and numerous other places in New York, and many other points west. But perhaps most damaging to her theory on this issue is the fact that some of Joseph�s descendants remained in Bridgewater, and many other places in and near Massachusetts and throughout New England.......and can still be found living there today. I see no logical reason, or know of no information that hints at, or points to any reason to suspect Joseph Orcutt and his descendants ever broke from "family traditions", or that there was ever a "breach" between them and other member of the Orcutt family, and if Judy, or anyone else has any information that proves, or even indicates such was true, I sincerely request seeing it. Otherwise, I can't see any wisdom on the part of anyone in speculating that such might have been the case.
Different people no doubt have different ideas, and standards, as to what constitutes �proof�, and not surprisingly most people feel their own personal theories and ideas are the ones with the most merit. But any of us at any time should be prepared to offer real, documented and verifiable proof for what we are theorizing, and especially if we are publishing and presenting such information as "fact". In this respect I have to agree with Judy Orcutt Holy in what she wrote July 1, 2002, in a message on the Orcutt board at Genealogy.com;
�Maybe it's not surprising that historians and genealogists haven't referred to oral tradition in formal published materials, since there's no way others can verify it. (I'm grateful for those who are careful to use only verifiable sources.�
I emphatically agree with Judy on this critical and important point, but in doing so also humbly point out that the �legend� theory, and the insider knowledge assumptions/theory she advances about Susannah Orcutt/James Keith/William Orcutt Jr., as well as many other points made in this article are of course unverifiable.
I wish to again convey my sincere respect and appreciation for both Danielle and Judy�s efforts, and believe much can be gained by respectfully listening to and examining what others think, and have found. I believe an open minded approach is always requisite to success where genealogy is concerned, and my goal remains the same, finding and documenting the early origins of the Orcutt family, no matter where that leads, and I continue to welcome hearing from anyone that is interested in discussing these fascinating issues.