Family Tombstones and Documents

The Beginnings

Websters in England

Coming to America

Websters in western NY

They settle in Addison

Into the 21st Century


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One of the toughest challenges that is associated with any genealogical research is in the area of names, both forenames and surnames, and associating them with the proper persons. We have already seen how the family name of 'Webster' has changed and evolved. I have witnessed these changes in my own life.

As an example, I am related to the Houghtalings, a large family that resides all over New York's Southern Tier. Today you can find the family name spelled 'Houghtailing', 'Houghtaling', or 'Hotaling', and pronounced 'Hufftāling', 'Hōtāling', and 'Hōtaling', depending on the branch of the family. My relatives in the family have always spelled it 'Houghtaling, but, when speaking to one another, dropped the 'ing' and referred to themselves as 'Houghtals' (pronounced 'Hufftails').

One other example that comes to mind is the family name of one of my childhood friends. His grandfather emigrated from Ireland and, because he did not want the stigma associated with Irish immigrants that was held in America at that time, dropped the apostrophe from his name and became Ostrom in place of O'Strom.

Given names have also evolved, quite casually it seems, to reflect personel preference, common pronunciation and/or usage, misconceptions, and even usage of 'nicknames', as can be seen in some of the following examples. It is only in the latter part of the twentieth century, with the onset of database usage and rigid government ID requirements, has this has become much harder to do.

It is also important to note that the use of old census records can become confusing because names are not always recorded or spelled accurately, from decade to decade, and middle names are almost never recorded.

My great-grandfather was named Lewis Mortimer Webster but used his middle name instead of his given name most of his life. Because of this, his marriage license records him as Mortimer L. Webster. It is also interesting to note that it also records my great-grandmother's father's name as Scott Sullivan although his given name was Winfield and his middle name was Scott.

When I was young, it wasn't uncommon for Americans to use the names Louis and Lewis interchangebly and to also pronounce them the same ('lu:is/); my parents and my grandparents did it. Therefore my great-grandfather's obituary records him as Louis, but as you can see from his tombstone, my great-grandmother had him buried as L. Mortimer Webster.


  Louis Mortimer Webster died at 
his home in Park street, Shortsville, 
last week Wednesday, following a 
brief illness with pneumonia. He was 
aged 49 years.
  Mr. Webster was a native of Ad-
dison, where he was born on 
July 17, 1887, a son of Judson and 
Effie Kent Webster. He removed to 
Victor about 28 years ago and on 
October 3, 1923, became a resident 
of Shortsville, where he had since 
continuously made his home. During 
his stay here he had been employed 
in various capacities in the Lehigh 
Valley Railroad yards at Manches-
ter. He was married on October 28, 
1908, to Miss Ida Mae Sullivan of 
Victor, the ceremony having been 
performed in that village by the late 
Rev. Loren M. Stiles, pastor of the 
Methodist church. He was a mem-
ber of the Maintenance of Equipment 
Employees' Association of the Lehigh 
Valley Railroad and also of Wesley-
an Methodist church.
  He is survived by his wife; one 
son, George J.; two daughters, Miss-
es Helen E. and Betty A.; and three 
grandchildren, Eugene M., Shirley 
M., and Joyce A., all of Shortsville; 
his father, Judson Webster of Addi-
son; two sisters and two brothers, 
J. Henry Webster of Sabinsville, Pa., 
Robert J. Webster of Addison, Mrs. 
Anna Houghtaling of Potter Brook, Pa., 
and Mrs. Kate Lunger of Osce-
ola, Pa.; also several nieces, nephews 
and cousins.
  Funeral services were held from 
his late home at 2:00 o'clock Sunday 
afternoon, conducted by the Rev. L. 
L. Swarthout, pastor of Manchester 
Baptist church, assisted by Rev. E. 
L. Kinner, pastor of Shortsville and 
Manchester Methodist churches. The 
remains were taken to Victor for in-
terment in Boughton Hill cemetery. 
  The bearers were Robert Leonard, 
Henry Kinsey, Fred Smith, Fred Mc-
Gillary, Russell McGuire and Merton 

Another example concerns my grandfather, George Judson Webster.

Until the day he died, my father, a very stubborn man, insisted that my grandfather's name was George Mortimer and even named my brother George Mortimer, because of that belief. He had my grandfather recorded as George M. in his obituary (it is also interesting to note that his youngest daughter is recorded in the same document as Dorothy when in fact her name is Dolores).

In my research I find him recorded as George J. in his father's obituary and as George J. on his marriage license. This agrees with what I have learned in conversations with his daughter, his uncle, his sister, and his mother. I think I'll stay with George Judson Webster.

Webster, George M.

George M Webster of 47 Names Rd., 
Oct 18, 1964. He is survived by his 
wife, Mrs. Concetta M. Webster; three 
daughters, Mrs. Earle (Shirley) June, 
Mrs. Joel M. (Joyce) Graffley of West 
Henrietta, Mrs. Dorothy M. Torpey; 
two sons, Eugene M. Webster and Louis 
M. Webster of USAF, Calif.; fourteen 
grandchildren; his mother, Mrs. Ida 
M. Webster of Canandaigua; two sisters, 
Mrs. Ralph Whittaker of Shortsville, 
Mrs. Willis Penner of Canandaigua; 
several nieces and nephews.
  Friends may call at Holla-Leary 
Funeral Home, 1256 Mt. Hope Ave., 2-5, 
7-9 p.m., where services will be held 
Wednesday afternoon at 2 o'clock. In-
terment; Mt. Hope Cemetery. Friends 
wishing may contribute to the Monroe 
County Cancer Society and Leukemia 
Association in his memory.
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