Surname Saturday: West

by Tonia Kendrick on June 26, 2010 in Family Stories

West genealogyWest is another of the family lines for which I only have three generations of information.  I’ve only known about the Wests for a couple of years.

Lizzie West (1886-1973), my great-grandmother, was the second wife of Francis Taylor Kendrick.  As far as I know, she lived in Murray County, Georgia all her life.  She and France were married in 1917 and had four children together.  For more information on Lizzie’s life, read “Lizzie West Kendrick Timeline.”

Lizzie’s father was William West.  I have a wide divergence of birthdates for William – anywhere from 1830 to 1846 – but he is consistently reported as having been born in South Carolina.  He lived in Polk County, Tennessee from at least 1850 to about 1875, when he and his wife, Leaty Caroline Lankford, moved their family across the state line to Murray County, Georgia.  William was a private in the 3rd Tennessee Infantry during the Civil War and was captured at Vicksburg.  He died on May 4, 1928 and is buried at Mt. Sumach Cemetery in Cisco, Georgia.

William’s father was Robert West, born about 1795 in South Carolina and died sometime after 1880, probably in Polk County, Tennessee.  So far, the only residences I have for Robert are in Polk County, where he appears on the census in 1850, 1860, 1870, and 1880.  He was married to Mariah Cook, also from South Carolina, born about 1810 and who apparently died before 1860.  I believe he had eight children with Mariah, then married a woman named Malinda about 1865, with whom he had one more child.

West Surname Fun Facts

West is a medieval English or Germanic surname, generally referring to people who lived to the west of a main settlement or who came from the west.  In 1990, there were 198,960 Wests in the United States, making West the 108th most common surname.  The 1880 census enumerated 46,185 Wests, with heavy concentrations in the mid-Atlantic states and the midwest.  The 1840 census enumerated 2,840 West households; there were 79 in South Carolina and 168 in Tennessee.  My Robert, along with William, is surely in one of those.   The Confederate Army claimed 1,214 West soldiers, compared to 2,172 in the Union Army.

More about the Wests

Research To-Dos

  • Break the 1840 census barrier for both William and Robert.
  • Order SS-5 for Lizzie.
  • Get a photo of Lizzie’s headstone.
  • Try to locate William and Leaty’s marriage license ( may not be possible, due to burned courthouse).
  • Find death information for Robert.

If you have any additional information (or corrections) on this line of Wests, comments are most appreciated!

This post is part of an ongoing series focusing on specific surnames. To see all posts in the series, click here.

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