Genealogists, family historians and researchers need a surname to begin. Without that, you really are searching in the the dark for the proverbial needle in a haystack. When a surname is extremely common, it is almost as though there were no surname at all.
The 1790 census, the first federal census, reveals nine surnames, Smith, Brown, Davis, Jones, Johnson, Clark, Williams, Miller and Wilson, consituted 4 percent of the population
In 1990, the top nine surnames were Smith, Johnson, Williams, Jones, Brown, Davis, Miller, Wilson and Moore.
In 2000 and 2010, the top nine surnames were Smith, Johnson, Williams, Brown, Jones, Miller, Davis, Garcia, and Rodriguez.
For two hundred years not much changed as far as the most common surnames, howver in the last twenty years, two Hispanic surnames have entered the lists, Garcia and Rodriguez.
|Name||Number Of Occurences|
Brown is the only one of the top surnames in the United States Federal Population Census that I research much. One of Balthaser Henritze's daughters married Conrad Braun in Reading more than two centuries ago. Braun from the German part of Reading which evolved into Brown after less than half a century. So there has been a lot of distinguishing one Brown family from another in Reading for about 175 years. I really don't like it when that branch of the family leaves Reading or even Berks Co., as it is so hard to connect one David Brown to another. Solomon Deem Brown and his wife Minnie Elenora (Goldman) Brown left Reading for Pittsburgh and took their son, David G. Brown. If I had to guess, I would hypothsize his middle name at Goldman, but I don't know, and it could just as easily be George. Finding David Brown in Pittsburgh has been pretty futile, but David G. Brown in Brentwood looks good.
The list of the top one hundred surnames in 1990 included four colors and seven presidents. Only one surname in my direct line, KING, have I researched with any focus. I also have an Anderson line way back. The other twenty two I have followed in the bunch are collateral lines; Miller, Harris, Johnson, Davis, White, Clark, Lewis, Hall, Wright, Green, Baker, Jackson, Reed, Collins, Evans, Gray, Ross, Patterson, Jenkins, Foster, Simmons, and Alexander.
When you search names like these, it is just as likely that the families will not be connected. In fact it is probably more likely that the families won’t be connected. It is a different way of looking at the research especially when you are used to looking at the evidence expecting connections. It’s good to switch gears every once in while, it changes the way you look at problems.