Saturday, February 23, 2013

Surname Saturday - Happy

Some of the more recent Happy generations.
Last week I wrote a post about Marcella Reed who married in to my Happy family line. Queen Bee, of The Bees Knees Daily, asked if I knew the origin of the surname: Happy. It was a good question and one that I quickly realized I didn't have an answer for.

Based on a biography of my third great-grandfather, Elijah Happy, I know that the family lived in Kentucky in the early 1800s and moved to Missouri sometime in the 1840s/1850s. Elijah's parents were James Happy and Catherine Vaughn. James was born April 25, 1804 and Catherine was born August 20, 1809, both in Fayette County, Kentucky.

And that is the end of the wealth of information I have on the Happy line. There are a myriad of trees on the Internet that trace this family back to Germany, but not a single one (that I have found) lists any references for this information. I have searched through the Kentucky Historical Society, Kentucky Secretary of State, posted messages on the genealogy boards and surfed various and a sundry sites for Fayette County, Kentucky, all to no avail. Once the family moves to Missouri they are easy to trace but I can't seem to get any further back. Any suggestions are welcome! It's funny, I never realized this was a brick wall until Queen Bee reminded me!


Wendy said...

According to a website explaining family names, Happy derives from the Old English word "aepse" meaning "aspen." Supposedly this line lived near aspen trees in Anglo-Saxon England. Related names include Epps, Abbs, and more.

Does this sound reasonable or just convincing enough to get people to buy the family crest for sale at the website?

Queen Bee said...

Thanks for following up and attempting to answer my question about the Happy surname. I did a little research of my own and wanted to share it with you. The Happy surname is an Americanized form of German, Dutch or northern French Happe. has a great tool entitled "What's in a name" that helps you learn about the history of your surnames:

Here's the link for the Happy name:

Hope this helps...maybe you can search further using the Happe spelling. Keep us posted on what you discover.

Heather Kuhn Roelker said...

Thanks, Wendy! That is very plausible. The Oxford Dictionary of American Family Names says this: "Americanized form of German, Dutch, or northern French Happe." I've also read that it could be a variation of the German Hobbe. So many options...and right now I can't even get past Kentucky!

Heather Kuhn Roelker said...

Queen Bee, we were on the same page! Before I noticed your comment I went to the Oxford dictionary myself. I had forgotten that option on Ancestry. I'll definitely check it out and see where it takes me. Thanks!

Wendy said...

The German "Hobbe" makes sense to me. My daughter has a friend whose last name is "Hoppe" (pronounced Hoppy), and I know from my own German lines that the b and p sounds flipped around, most notably in the morph of Ebert to Eppard.