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As each leaf of the tree, from painters and farmers to Confederate Infantrymen, draws me further up into the branches, they tell me a story that draws me inexorably in, taking conflicting facts of history and shaping them into a compelling narrative. ~ Michael D. Ketchum

Ketchum Etymology

Ketchum genealogies give various accounts of the origin of the name “Ketchum,” which is English. While they vary, they all agree that of the four typical origins of names (patronymic, occupational, nickname, and place name), “Ketcham” was derived from a place name. The ending -ham is a typical English village name, and “Ketcham” is most likely derived from the borough Chatham in Kent. Perhaps not coincidentally, 60% of the Puritan immigrants to Massachusetts were from the “Eastern Association” — Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Huntingdonshire, Lincolnshire, plus parts of Bedfordshire and Kent.

The name “Ketcham” is most commonly spelled “Ketch_m”, with the vowels “a”, “e”, or “u”. The soundex is K325. You may “back-form” the varieties of spellings found from the soundex. In the 17th and even until the 19th century spellings beginning with “C” are not uncommon. It is variously spelled as: Ketcham, Cacham, Catcham, Catchman, Cecham, Cetchman, Chattham, Kecham, and Ketham.

As an example of the range of early spelling, the following were found in colonial New York: Ketcham, Ketchem, Ketchum, Kitcham, Cetchim, Catchum, Catchem, Catcham, Ketchman, Kecham, Kicham, Kitsham, Kacham. From Edmund B. O’Callaghan, Lists of Inhabitants of Colonial New York (Baltimore, Md.: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1979).

Additionally, the Ketchum surname is thought by some to have originally been an occupational name for a cook, deriving from the Old English word, “cycen”.

The Ketchum Boys

Though not directly related, Edward (Black Jack) and Samuel W. Ketchum were members of a gang of outlaws that terrorized Arizona, New Mexico, and West Texas in the 1890s. Sam was born on January 4, 1854, in Caldwell County, and Tom was born in San Saba County on October 31, 1863. They were the sons of Green Berry and Temperance Katherine (Wydic) Ketchum and grew up in San Saba, Texas. Their father had been coroner of Christian County, Illinois, before coming to Texas, where he may have been a doctor. His sons were ranch boys of little education. Sam married Louisa J. Greenlee in San Saba on February 4, 1874, according to family records; Tom never married. Tom left Texas about 1890, possibly because of a murder or a train robbery, and went to work for cow outfits in the Pecos Valley of New Mexico. By 1894 Sam had joined him, and the brothers began a career of crime, including killing a merchant near Carrizo, robbing post offices, and holding up stages, trains, and a railroad station. In 1897 they spent a good deal of time across the line in Mexico but stopped two trains in Arizona. On September 3, 1897, they held up the Colorado Southern passenger train near Folsom. In 1898 apparently there was some disagreement in the ranks, and Black Jack was not present when Sam and others again held up the Colorado Southern near Folsom on July 11, 1899. A posse caught up with them; Sam was wounded and captured and died two weeks later in the penitentiary at Santa Fe. Two peace officers and another of the robbers were killed in the battle. Not knowing of the outcome of Sam’s last attempt, Black Jack determined to make one more raid and tried, singlehanded, to hold up the Colorado Southern, again near Folsom, on August 16, 1899. Wounded by the conductor, he was picked up beside the tracks next day. On October 5, 1900, he was sentenced to hang. The sentence was carried out at Clayton on April 26, 1901. The Ketchum gang was blamed for a good many crimes that they may not have committed. Apparently they had connections with a larger organization of outlaws. It is also possible that many of the crimes attributed to Black Jack Ketchum were committed by Will “Black Jack” Christian and his brother, and that Tom Ketchum inherited the name and reputation after Christian was killed; however, the facts of Tom Ketchum’s career indicate that his notoriety outdistanced that of Christian.

C. L. Sonnichsen and Berry Spradley, “KETCHUM BOYS,” Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed October 02, 2012. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

The Hopewell

One of the more notable Ketchum researchers was Mary E. Ketcham, who wrote her KETCHAM GENEALOGY, circa 1981 and provided many ‘stepping stones’ for future researchers. Mary E. Ketcham stated: “The Arabella, Ambrose, Jewel and Talbot left the Isle of Wight on Mondeay, March 29, 1630. The remainder of the fleet consisted of the Mayflower, William & Francis, Charles, Hopewell, Whale and the Success…. In a letter to his [Governor Winthrop’s] wife, dated March 28, 1630, is the following: “…in all eleven ships about 700 persons, passengers and 240 cows and 60 horses. In an entry to the Journal dated Saturday, July 30, 1630, it was stated that the Hopewell and William & Francis arrived at Salem. It has been established that Edward Ketcham was on board the Hopewell.

The Lone Star Church

The Lone Star Church, a Missionary Baptist Church three miles south of Poplar Bluff, Missouri, was organized August 19, 1906, in the Live Oak Schoolhouse by Rev. J.T. Savelle, pastor of the First Baptist Church (q.v.). The present site was deeded by Byrd Duncan a banker of Poplar Bluff and the house was erected in 1910. The name of the church, given by Mrs. Cora Ketchum, who with her husband David H. Ketchum, was a leader in getting the church organized, was suggested to her because her father, M.C. McGuire, who had lived for many years in Texas, the “Lone Star State,” was more desirous, as he grew older, of returning to that state. (Source: Pottenger, Cora Ann. “Place Names Of Five Southern Border Counties Of Missouri.” M.A. thesis., University of Missouri-Columbia, 1945.

Bishop History

The American progenitor to the Bishop line was Rev. John Bishop, the second pastor of the original church at Stamford, CT. In 1644. Rev. Denton and 17 families left Stamford for Hempstead, Long Island. He was quickly replaced by Rev. John Bishop, of Taunton, Massachusetts, who would serve as the spiritual leader of the community until 1694. In 1692, following the conclusion of the witch hysteria, Rev. John Bishop made it clear that he wanted relief. He had served since 1644 and was old and infirm. Thus, the call went out to Rev. John Davenport, grandson of Rev. John of New Haven. Stamford’s congregation had grown over Bishop’s tenure.

Bishop is an occupational English and German name, popular throughout Europe with over 100 variations including German Bischof, Russian Yepiskop, and Spanish Obispo. Originally non-religious, it derived from ancient Greek “episcopes”, meaning overseer. After early Christianity, it described someone who worked for a bishop, performed as a bishop in a medieval traveling play, or had been a “boy bishop” on St. Nicholas Day, December 6. The Bishop motto “pro deo et ecclesia” means “for God and the Church”. English Bishop family history dates back to their family seat (feudal home) in Worcestershire. In America, Bishop genealogy began in Maryland and Massachusetts in the 1630s.

The Ketchum Hand Grenade

The Ketchum Hand Grenade was a grenade used in the American Civil War. It was patented on August 20, 1861 by William F. Ketchum , and was partially adopted in the Union Army. The grenades have the appearance of a cast-iron ball, or a skinny dart, having fins of cardboard to stabilize the flight. They assured landing on the nose, which was backed by a percussion cap that set off the main powder charge in the body. The grenades were largely inefficient because they had to land on their nose to detonate. In one incident Confederates caught them in blankets and hurled them back at the attackers. Lt. Howard C. Wright, described a scene from the Confederate side of the assault:
The enemy had come this time prepared with hand grenades to throw into our works from the outside. When these novel missiles commenced falling among the Arkansas troops they did not know what to make of them, and the first few which they caught not having burst, they threw them back upon the enemy in the ditch. This time many of them exploded and their character was at once revealed to our men. Always equal to any emergency, they quickly devised a scheme . . . Spreading blankets behind the parapet, the grenades fell harmlessly into them, whereupon our boys would pick them up and hurling them with much greater force down the moat they would almost invariably explode.

The Ketchum Surname

The Ketchum surname is both interesting and heavily researched, possibly because of their early arrival from England in the Massachusetts Bay Colony, circa 1629. In these early times, the Ketchum family lived in Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York. Many descendants can still be found in these northeastern states today. We have a few facts and a great many rumors concerning the heritage of our progenitor, EDWARD KETCHAM, who is first seen in the Bay colonies in 1635. It is through the efforts of Seversmith and Coddington that we are able to determine the Edward Kecham (sic) who married 1619 at the Great St. Andrews parish in Cambridge, England is the Edward Ketcham who wrote his Will in 1655 at Stratford, CT (New Haven Colony) based on the children named therein and on the baptisms of those found in England. The baptism of Ann Ketham was found in a volume of the British Archeological Assoc. and on another line she is called the d/o Edward and Mary Cetham, baptised in St. Michael Parish, Cambridge. (Coddington) “Ann obviously the Hannah of Edward’s Will – The Puritan spelling of Ann.” EDWARD KETCHAM, pioneer founder of his family in America, was born in England. He came to the New World prior to 1635, at which time the General Court of Massachusetts Bay Colony made him a ‘freeman.’ He finally settled in Stratford, Connecticut, where he spent the latter part of his life. During his residence in the Connecticut colony he acquired property valued at the time of his death, at £90 11s. 6d. He died before June 17, 1655, when his will was proved.

Attention should be drawn to the fact, however, that although Edward Ketcham lived in Cambridge at least from 1619 to 1628, he was almost certainly not born in that town or in the county of Cambridge. . . . It seems certain, therefore, that Edward Ketcham was a sojourner at Cambridge, that he was born and raised in some other part of England, came to Cambridge at some time prior to his marriage in 1619, and moved elsewhere in England after the baptism of his last recorded child in Cambridge in 1628. . . . Brief pedigrees of Edward Ketcham and his family are in Donald Lines Jacobus, History & Genealogy of the Families of Old Fairfield, Connecticut, vol. 1 (1930), p. 359, and in Mary Lovering Holman and Winifred Lovering Holman, Ancestry of Colonel John Harrington Stevens & his wife Frances Helen Miller, compiled for Helen Pendleton (Winston) Pillsbury (1949), p. 511, and in both these works an abstract of the much defaced [acidity from spilled ink] will of Edward Ketcham is given. . . . Dr. Herbert F. Seversmith, who descends three times from Edward Ketcham, expects to devote a section of his great work, Colonial Families of Long Island, New York & Connecticut, Being the Ancestry & Kindred of Herbert Furman Seversmith, to the Ketcham family.

The origin of the name KETCHAM (from a newsclipping that quoted from Glouchester Archaelogy Society of England): Here, we learn the name Ketcham probably descends from the Biblical Tribe “Kittim” who were island settlers. One group of which seems to have settled a certain place in the present county of Kent, on the isle of England. (Bible-Genesis) “Kittim, s/o Javan, begotten by Japheth, s/o Noah.”

The oldest reference of any possible origin of the Ketcham family is found in the Archaeologia Cantiana, by Scott, Vol. 46, p. 12 where the names Caetham and Chatham are used synonymously in a document assigned to about the year 975. . . . Another document, proven, as dated 1090-3 (Vol. 24, p.4) refers to the place as ‘de Ceteham.’ . . . The Latin original gives the place-name as Cetham” (when Rome ruled), which the Archaeological Society tranlates as Chatham.” (ed: If you know your phonics, you should be able to see that Kittim and Cetham/Caetham are one and the same name. (Remember, “h” is a silent letter and a big vowel switch occurred between 1400-1600.) . . . The foregoing records seem thoroughly convincing. The family evidently originated in the ancient Kentish village known by variant spellings of Caetham, Catham, Cetham, Ceteham, & Chatham. . . . Chatham (“Ch” equals “K”), an offshoot that went its own way. Later, the “C” of the other variants gradually gave way to the “K.”


“Heroes are often the most ordinary of men.” This quote, by Henry David Thoreau eloquently epitomizes my grandfather and so many like him that left the familiar behind as ordinary men and women, and sacrificed greatly, sometimes everything on foreign soil to become uncommon heroes. From Utah Beach, to Cherbourg, through hedgerows and mud, through French cities like Laval, La Haye du Puits, Mantes-Gassicourt, and Luneville, the 79th Infantry Division and my grandfather cut a wide swath through France. These are his letters as he fought across France.


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“The only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn, like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes “Awww!

Jack Kerouac
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