Family History Through the Alphabet – L is for Lost Records, Lapham, Leishman, and Lightcap

L is for Lost Records:

A tragic fact to uncover while researching your ancestry is that an important record has been lost. Everyone researching their ancestry in the United States has discovered that the majority of the 1890 U.S. Census was destroyed in a fire in 1921, leaving a census gap between 1880 and 1900. In my attempts to research the ancestries of several branches of my family in the nations of their origins, I have run into similar situations. In Ireland, the nation of origins for my Kernan branch, many records, particularly in historic Ulster Province, were lost. The 1813 Irish Census no longer exists, and most of the 1821 through 1851 Irish Census records were lost in the 1922 fire at the Public Record Office during the Battle of Dublin in the Irish Civil War. In Hungary, the nation of origins for my Sebok branch, many records were lost during various wars, particularly World War II. Although many have been preserved for specific locations in Hungary, in many cases original census records have been completely or partially lost.

L is for Lapham:

Margaret (Lapham) Kernan

L is also for Lapham, the surname of my paternal grandmother, Margaret Ann (Lapham) Kernan (1936-2004), and thus one of the four “cardinal branches” discussed on this site/blog. According to name studies, the surname has two possible meanings. The first states that the surname is Welsh in origins, being composed of two Welsh words, “lapis,” meaning “stone,” and “ham,” meaning “home.” It is speculated that this means “hearthstone,” the central heating and cooking source in pre-industrial homes. Other accounts have speculated that it means “cornerstone,” indicating either occupation (masonry or home building) or personal quality (e.g., “pillar of the community”) of its original bearers. Whether any of these interpretations are true is unclear. The second possible meaning for the surname states that it may be a variant of Lopham, a habitational name from a place in Norfolk, being composed of the Old English personal name “Loppa” and the word “ham,” possibly meaning “homestead.”

L is for Leishman:

Anna Margaret (Leishman) Lapham

L is also for Leishman, a surname belonging to a related branch of my Lapham branch, and the surname of my 2nd great grandmother, Anna Margaret (Leishman) Lapham (1875-1951). According to name studies, the surname is Scottish in origins, and means “servant of Leish,” with Leish being a variation of the personal name Gillies. Thus, the name is interpreted to be an occupational name, indicating that the earliest bearers were servants to someone named Leish or Gillies, with the exact details being lost in history. Some accounts of the surname also point out that Gillies derives from the Gaelic “Gille-Iosa,” which means “son of the servant of Jesus.” If this fact has any bearing on the surname, it may indicate that the occupation may have had a religious nature.

L is for Lightcap:

L is also for Lightcap, a surname belonging to a related branch of my Hamilton branch, and the surname of my 2nd great grandmother, Jennie M. (Lightcap) Heldman (1872-1905). This surname in my line was originally spelled Leitgeb, Americanized to Lightcap after about 1734 when this branch of my family left Germany and arrived in the United States. According to name studies, the surname derives from the Middle High German word litgebe. Litgebe consists of two words, “lit,” meaning “punch” (a kind of spiced wine), and “gebe,” meaning “giver” or “pourer.” Thus, the surname is interpreted to be an occupational name for someone who owned or worked in a tavern.

Click here to learn more about Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge (Clicking this link will take you to another site.)

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4 thoughts on “Family History Through the Alphabet – L is for Lost Records, Lapham, Leishman, and Lightcap

    1. Thanks. 🙂 It is a real shame, and unfortunately I don’t have anyone on the fragments that survived the fire.

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