Most of my family tree branches go back several hundred years. The oldest person recorded so far is my 17th great-grandfather Roger de Carruthers, 1st Laird of Holmains, born in 1345 in Holmains, Dumfrieshire, Scotland. The Carruthers line extends all the way down to my great-grandmother Mary Alma Carothers and then joins up with the Penroses.

The Dudymott lineage, on the other hand, is another story. My mother-in-law Betty is a Dudymott. Betty’s father Warren and her grandfather David are documented, as is her great-grandfather, James Dudymott, born in Pennsylvania in 1812. At that point, the Dudymott name turns into what genealogists call a dead end.

Here’s what we have so far:


The branches of Dudymott women all expand for several more generations but James is, as previously noted, a dead end. What this most likely means is that the surname changed and we haven’t uncovered it or the reasons why yet. There are some clues, however. There are some indications that James was born in Washington County, Pennsylvania. There is also some thought that he had a French-Canadian background. In any event, the next steps will be to zero in on the history of the area for further clues and more localized sources.

Surname spelling changes were not uncommon in those days, and, in fact, the Carruthers family began the evolution into Carothers throughout the 18th century, completing the transition around the end of the century. There are various reasons for this occurring, and it can be the case that a significant historical event, such as the American Revolution and the events leading up to it, gave rise to such change. To that end, it should be noted that Matilda Carothers was born in Washington County, Pennsylvania at the height of the 1790s Whiskey Rebellion, the first significant opposition to the new American nation, as many of her cousins and siblings were in the areas surrounding Pittsburgh and Washington County. The site of the 1790s Whiskey Rebellion? Washington County, Pennsylvania and the areas surrounding Pittsburgh.

Stay tuned …