Saint Brice & Saint Martin
Saint Brice & Saint Martin


From “North American form of French Bresset, from a pet form of the personal name Brès, a variant of Brice,” in other words ‘Little Brice.’ Maybe from the 5th Century French Bishop of Tours, Saint Brice.

The Bressettes were early settlers in French Canada. The earliest ancestor I have found was Jean Baptiste Brissett (1793-?). Generations of the family moved back and forth between Quebec and New York State.  Most worked in textile mills.

The name has been found variously spelled. In fact, my father-in-law said he had to legally correct his original birth certificate because of a misspelling. I have found the name spelled (or transcribed in indexes) the following ways: Bressette, Bresette, Bresett, Brissette, Brisset, Besset & Briessette


I find several different variations for the meaning of Woodrum. lists it as a variant of English Wooderham, a place named in Old English as ‘the dwelling of the woodman’.

House of names lists it as a variant of Woodruff, from the white-flowered plant whose leaves bear a sweet scent, such that the bearer lived in a place where the plant was common.

Garry Bryant writes “The early history of the Woodram/Woodrom/Woodrum family is clouded at this time. Author Sarah Ann Woodrome Hill, in her book titled The Woodrome Family Tree, published in 1965, tells a family tradition that the family originally lived in the area of Alsace-Lorraine, in France. Supposedly the surname was Waldrum, “wald” meaning forest and “rum” means dark or black. So it would appear that the family lived near the “Black Forest.” The French Waldrum’s left France and went to Wales where the surname was corrupted into Woodrome. But the surname of Woodram/Woodrum also appears in Scotland and England. “

Wandering the woodsAfter looking up “-rum” in both an English & Germany dictionary, I believe I have come up with a better meaning. In the English Dictionary “rum” can mean odd or queer-British slang from Rom, a Gypsy. In the German dictionary, rum- is a shortened form of the prefiix “herum: ” meaning around. I see no evidence that “rum” means dark or black.

I believe that Woodrum most likely means an odd or strange person of the wood or one who roams “around” the wood. Or more simply a Wood Gypsy.


  • John Woodrum (1702-), possibly the son of John Woodrum, an indentured servant from Yorkshire, brought to Virginia in 1697, appears to be our ancestor.
  • John,(Jr?’s) grandson, William Woodrum Jr. (1759-1841) moved to Kentucky sometime in the 1790’s.
  • William Jr.’s son Archibald (1797-1854) moved to Indiana, and then to Illinois.
  • Archibald’s son, James Woodrum (1839-1872), my Great-great grandfather, moved to Greenwood County, Kansas around 1867. He died just after the birth of my Great grandmother Emily Jane Woodrum (1872-1914).



Cornett/ Cornutt/Canute

Cornett crest

Family lore claims that our Cornetts, Cornutts, and Canutes, descend from King Cnut, a Danish Viking prince who won the throne of England in 1016.  Cnut ascended to the Danish throne in 1018 and claimed the crown of Norway and part of Sweden in 1028.  His mother was daughter of the first Polish King.  His only legitimate son was Harthacnut by Emma of Normandy; After his death, Harthacnut’s throne reverted to his half-brother, Emma’s son, Edmund the Confessor.  After the death of Cnut’s heirs and the Norman conquest of England in 1066, his achievements were largely lost to history.  The lack of known living progeny brings the claim of descent from Cnut into question.

Cornett is usually thought to be an occupational name for a hornblower or someone who works with horns, derived from the Latin, Cornu, or Middle English or old French, Corn, meaning horn (or antler).

Cornett, Cornutt, Canute Ancestors:

  • Erin Cornett was born in 1676 in Northumberland, England; he raised sheep.
  • His son, Earl, was born in Southampton, England in 1696; he was a farmer.  Earl had seven sons: John, Roger, George, Francis, Frank, Jesse, and James. John Cornett.   In 1740, the brothers sailed to the Colonies. They worked as indentured servants on an English lord’s farm near Philadelphia, PA.
  • Our line appears to be descended from either John or James, but there are conflicting pedigrees showing different lines of descent and I haven’t puzzled out which is likely to be most accurate.
  • Our Cornetts/Cornutts settled in Elk Creek, Climes Branch, Grayson County Virginia; they were very prolific.
  • Hezekiah Cornutt, my Great, Great-grandfather,  enlisted in Company C, 63rd Infantry 63 Virginia (McMahon’s Regiment.) on 6 May 1863.  He deserted on 1 Jul 1863 at Saltville, VA.  (For more information see Ancestors in the Civil War.) Hezekiah moved his family to Bates County, Missouri, where his son, John was born.  They were supposed to have travelled to Greenwood County, Kansas by covered wagon.

The name has been found variously spelled (or transcribed in indexes): Cornett, Cornutt, Canute, Cornette, Carnett, Carnut, Connett, Comette, Bornett.


Ithaca, New York Oct 1991

The meaning of the name Verbryck (Dutch) is unclear, but is likely to be From ver, far or distant, and beek or beck, brook: The “Far Brook.”

Verbryck ancestors were early settlers in New Amsterdam (New York) in the 1600’s.

  • The earliest known Verbryck was Samuel Gerritson Verbryck (1671-1763).  He apparently adopted the surname Verbryck (in addition to his patronymic “Gerritsen”) as required for legal transactions such as for deeds.
  • His son, Barnardus (1719-1733) adopted this surname as well and moved to New Jersey.  Other sons of Samuel Gerritsen adopted the surname, Garretson.
  • Barnardus’ son & grandson, William (1737-1824) & William Jr. (1786-1860) moved to Mercer County, Kentucky sometime around the turn of the century.
  • William Jr’s son, my Great Great Grandfather, Richard Verbryck (1837-1899), moved to Johnson County, Indiana sometime in the late 1850’s, then to Montgomery County Kansas in the 1870’s.

Being an unusual name, it was variously spelled on many documents or (transcribed in indexes):  Ver Bryck, Verbryke, Verbrick, Verbrack, Verbicke, Vertryck, Perbryck and Verbnycol.

Because of its relatively recent invention, all Verbrycks are likely related and should ultimately be able to trace their tree back to Samuel Gerritson and Barnardus Verbryck.

My mom & I have 7 DNA matches with distant (4th-5th) cousins that share William & William Jr. Verbryck as ancestors. At least four more matches also likely trace their tree back to the founding Verbrycks in New Amsterdam & New Jersey.



clifford_largeClifford is of Old English origin that applies to a number of individuals or places. It simply means “ford by a cliff.”

From the Clifford Association: “The Clifford family in Britain started with the invasion by William the Conqueror when the five FitzPons brothers came across from Normandy. Once described as one of the most interesting families in the ‘history of these islands’ an in depth look at the members of THE CLIFFORDS shows there is good reason for this. Walter de Clifford took his name from the Castle built near Hay on Wye, being built on a Cliff overlooking a ford.”

An extensive history of our Cliffords, the ancestors and many descendents of Charles and Jane Gordon Clifford can be found at “Cliffords from New Jersey to Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, and beyond” by Hugh Fleming Clifford.

  • Our earliest Cliffords in America were George and James Clifford (1701-1782).  They were once thought to be father & son, but are now thought to be brothers.  They were born in Yorkshire England and immigrated during the early 1700’s.  They settled in Hunterdon County, New Jersey.
  • James’ son, Charles Clifford (1730-1816) and his wife Jane Gordon settled in Ligonier Valley, Pennsylvania before the Revolutionary War.  He was captured by Indians in April of 1779 and taken north (See story in “Ancestors during the Revolutionary War.”)
  • Charles’ son Thomas Clifford was married to Catherine Lawson, who immigrated from Donegal, Ireland sometime around 1800.
  • Thomas’ son William Clifford, my Great-Great Grandfather, moved to Montgomery County Kansas, via Indiana, between 1860 and 1875, after selling the property he inherited from his father and paying his siblings the amounts stipulated in his fathers will.


Kelley/Kelly:  O’Kelly– Irish, anglicized form of Gaelic Ó Ceallaigh ‘descendant of Ceallach.’ Ceallach was the chief of Ui Maine or Hy Many in 874 CE.

Different sources offer different meanings for the name Kelly. Some sources give the meaning as warrior, others as ‘bright or white-headed (or haired)’, later it was understood as ‘frequenting churches’ (Irish ceall).

OKelly MapThe O’Kellys were the most powerful clan in Connaught, holding the rank of Princes of Ui Maine. Ui Maine consisted of an area of land which included all the eastern part of County Galway, the southern part of Roscommon, and small portions of Clare and Offaly. They ruled over that territory for seven hundred years from the ninth to the 16th century.

I am not sure when (or if) my family ties into the ancient Kelly pedigree:Ancient Kelly'sAncient Kelly's2

My Great, Great Grandfather, Michael Kelly was aware of his heritage, however:

The Kelly Crest and a sketch in my Great, great grandfather, Michael Britt Kelly's bible.
The Kelly Crest and a sketch in my Great, great grandfather, Michael Britt Kelly’s bible.

The Kelly motto is “Turris fortis mihi deus” or God is my tower of strength.

Michael Kelly immigrated to Iowa in the United States from County Limerick about 1867 with his two daughters, Margaret & Zillah and his son, my great grandfather, Andrew Alfred Kelley. Andrew was 16 years old at the time.

I am not sure why my Great-Grandfather, Andrew, changed the spelling of his name to Kelley. I can only speculate that perhaps it was to further anglicize it due to prejudice against Irish?

Genealogy in Ireland is very difficult because so many records were destroyed. But is doesn’t help that Kelly is the most common Irish name after Murphy. There were a lot of Mary and Margaret Kelly’s!

That is why I can relate to “The Kelly Song:”