Saturday, May 4, 2013

Family Tree "Oopses"

Greetings and Happy Cinco de Mayo tomorrow!
Sarah Dawson
Benight's Headstone

My Bennight line currently ends with William (1795) and Sarah Bennight (1804), both born in South Carolina. Other than their children’s names, that is all we know about them. A few years ago my brother found a marriage record for William D. Bennight and Sarah Jane Dawson, married November 11, 1866, and we were so excited!

In my "on-again-off-again way," I started researching this family more to see what else I could discover. It didn’t take long to notice that if this was the marriage record for our William and Sarah, a few things weren’t lining up quite right. For example, they would have been 71 and 62 years old when they got married. Hmm, this was going to require some more digging. 

The funny thing is, when I started looking for records on, I noticed several family trees had listed this as the correct marriage record for these two, despite their advanced ages. It kept nagging at me and I was getting a very unsettled feeling about it, so I finally decided to focus all of my attention on figuring this out. Luckily for me, it didn’t take too long to get the story straight once I started looking at the census records, death records, Civil War records, and Find A Grave records - - - this wasn’t the marriage record for our great-great grandparents. **frowny face**

William Danford Benight (1842) first married Sarah Jane Dawson’s sister, Nancy Millie Dawson, who died soon thereafter in 1866 (no children). He then married Sarah Jane Dawson that same year, and they had five children (see below). Sarah died in 1890. His third wife was Mary H. Grinlin, and they had twins, Bessie and Jesse, in 1893. I found a few generations of William Danford Benight’s ancestors, as well, and so far there is no connection to my family.

But, on the bright side, I have another section of the puzzle put together correctly, and I don’t have that nagging feeling anymore. Since I still think all of the Benights/Bennights in the US are related, I expect to someday figure out how this piece fits into my own family tree.

Happy Searching, Loraine


  1. Benight with one 'n' looks so weird. They're probably the weird side of the family.=)

  2. Actually, I've seen Bennight/Benight spelled both ways for the same person, even in the same paragraph on these old records. It seems like people didn't obsess over correct spelling so much 150 years ago. (I agree, though, it's hard to get used to seeing it spelled "wrong")

  3. This is my tree. & yes we are the bat-crap crazy side :P William was my great-great-grandfather. His third wife was the mother of his daughter-in-law Elizabeth Lucinda Gimlin Benight Chandler. (This can get confusing here... He was a widow & father to Wesley Grant Benight, & Mary was a widow & mother to "Lizzie" & they hooked up & had the twins Bessie & Jessie.
    William was born in Vigo County Indiana. From what I have researched in the Benight history is that there were two brothers, one family spelled the name with one "N" & the other with 2 "N"'s actually this is how I keep them strait. I'm glad your side chose to spell it wrong, lol! Here is where you run into another problem though- "my" William was William Danford Benight. In his civil war records his name is spelled William B Benight & ALSO William B Bennight-- the b was supposed to be a D, the military wrote it down wrong- Anyhoo- much info about this side.

    1. Hey! Great to hear from you, Cindee70. And thanks for the info about the Gimlins, I didn't know that. I saw a note on Find A Grave about that middle initial B versus D. Things like that can drive me crazy when I'm trying to figure out who's who. And what about Bennights showing up on records as Bennetts? I'll keep my less-common name, thank you! It makes the research easier.

  4. No problem Loraine, I have been working on my family tree for about 13 years & it can get confusing at times. The Bennights and the Benights are related. There is a free google book about the names & spellings all being related to the Bennett name. Google "Benight Bennett" in google books, should bring it up. Family legend is the name originally was Benoit, & family origins were southern France, to England, to America... Americanized name was Bennett, Benet, Bennet, & Benight. Also our side has always pronounced the name as "BUH night". I'm always searching for new info.

  5. I've heard those stories about the variations of the name, too. Fascinating, huh? So you pronounce it BUH-night? That means it doesn't rhyme for my blog title. If you live in the south, I can certainly imagine that BUH-night is the way to say it. I've heard people from the south pronounce my name LO-raine. If you would like to view my family tree on Ancestry, shoot me your email address and 'll send an invitation.

  6. I remember my Gpa Denferd Benight (his name was supposed to be Danford named after William Danford Benight but they wrote it down in the birth records, etc so they ended up calling him Denford) saying that his family always pronounced it BUH-night. Gpa Benight's father, (Wesley) paid a man to run for land in the Ok land run, a claim was staked & Wes & family moved from Illinois to OK by covered wagon. I'm sure they had a blast with 8 kids yelling "are we there yet?!" GPA Benight was the youngest #9 & he wasn't born until 1910 in OK. There are a bevy of Benight's in OK. Mainly in Eastern Ok, around Tulsa area.