Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Gristy vs Grasty... Name Changing Genealogy

I’m fortunate (or not?) to have a number of odd/rare surnames in my pedigree – Yore, Krumholz, Risdon, Silloway, Mapson, Kincheloe, Fancher, Gristy, and my own last name of Weerts – to name just a few – 

As I profiled in Feb of 2013, my 3x Great-Grandmother was Helen Gristy O'Bryan  – and Gristy is one of the lines I have very little on – You may have noticed the title – ‘Gristy vs Grasty’ – well it seems I only have 3 generations who used  the name of Gristy – prior to that it was Grasty – at least for a generation… as I don’t really go back any further at this point.
The Grasty Genealogy by: Dolores "Dee" Merritt

Park of my dilemma is that I have to get back to the early 1800s before I even run into my Gristy line – and we all know there aren’t tons of records for this era – especially in rural Kentucky – where my people settled shortly after 1771! Prior to the Kentucky jaunt, they were residents of St. Mary’s County, Maryland – part of a large Catholic settlement, I believe… But, I digress….

I’ve already touched on my 3x Great-Grandmother – Helen Gristy O’Bryan --- her parents were James A. Gristy & Ann “Nancy” Hill [of the Thomas & Rebecca (Miles) Hill line]…. James was born in 1771, in St. Mary’s County, the oldest child of Clement Gristy & Mary Riney, who later relocated to Nelson County, Kentucky.  

James & Nancy were married on 12 Feb 1806 in Nelson County…  [that marriage record is listed in the Kentucky marriage index. ]   

They later moved to Scotland County, Missouri… though the 1840 census lists James & family in Macon County, since Scotland County was formed from Macon County, it’s very likely that they were living in what was to become Scotland County. James & Nancy do not seem to show up in the 1850 census… so either they had died by then… or I just haven’t been able to locate them…..  They had a large family, whose descendants have been pretty well documented… going back a generation is where it gets sketchy for me –

Clement Gristy appears to have been born in 1753, and was the son of Benjamin Grasty & Ann [another unknown female ancestor] – In his will dated 1774, Benjamin Grasty clearly uses the name Grasty – though his two sons [Clement & Richard] use Gristy. The reasoning behind the little name change is beyond me – also beyond me is Benjamin Grasty – who had a will dated 30 Dec 1774 and proved in Feb 1775 – according to said will there were 2 sons and 5 daughters. If both sons used Gristy instead of Grasty, it would appear that no one with the Grasty surname today could descend from Benjamin…. Though I am only speculating….

Years ago when I first wanted to tackle this line – I was able to find Grasty researcher Dolores “Dee” Merritt – who wrote and published the book ‘Grasty Family in America” – Dee did an amazing amount of research, pre-1980, long before the internet and instant messaging that genealogists today can’t imagine living without. The early info in this book is invaluable as is the breakdown of the Grasty name and the different branches… I’m not sure if the book is still available to purchase anymore, but I do have one and am happy to check it for any researcher out there.

Hopefully, one day, when I've finished my other genie projects [80 years from now] I can start working on gathering info and documentation on my 3 Gristy lines – descendants of Benjamin, Clement, and James A. – in fact, as I write this, I’m becoming excited at the thought of this project – but unfortunately, my genie archive is in a state of chaos and upheaval [I’ll spare you a lengthy diatribe]

Well, now that I’ve gone on and on – I’ve got to ask – Do you have any Gristy’s (Grasty’s) in your family tree? If so, we should compare notes.. or in my case, blank spots.


  1. I have the same problem with my Hore/Hoar/O'Hora family. I've even found a record that uses one spelling in part of the document and another towards the end. Good luck Nicholas!

    1. Thanks, Ellie! I wish you the same with your O'Hora, et al bunch

  2. I feel for you with this unusual surname issue! Someday, I'll get around to researching my Aktabowski line. Sometimes, I think it is a blessing to have such an unusual surname. Sometimes, when I consider all the spelling permutations, I don't even agree with myself.

    Nicholas, thanks for stopping by my blog and following. I decided to take a peek to see who this new follower is, and your Friends Connect file led me back to this blog. I've been seeing your blog title mentioned lately, but didn't know it was you. Glad to "meet" you, fellow blogger. Best wishes on your continued research. I'm glad to have found your blog!

  3. I live in St.Marys Co. Md. & thought I would send this link for you to check out.