Thursday, September 6, 2012

Did George Jarvis Have a Middle Name? No.

George Jarvis (1823-1913), Mormon pioneer and original settler of St. George, Utah, did not have a middle name.

I will explain a possible reason he is sometimes shown with a middle name, and then I will list all the proofs that he did not, indeed, have a middle name.


George and Ann Prior Jarvis named their first son George Frederick Jarvis. George Frederick was born in London in 1847 and he accompanied his parents to America. George Frederick Jarvis and his two wives were influential figures in early St. George history.

George Frederick Jarvis participated in Utah's Black Hawk Indian War. Many years later, the federal government granted pensions to the men who fought in the Indian Wars. George received a pension and it was later paid to his widow Eleanor. Due to some government error, George's name was listed in at least one record as "George Franklin Jarvis."

"Veterans with Federal Service Buried in Utah, Territorial to 1966," index and images, FamilySearch ( accessed September 7, 2012), George Franklin Jarvis, 01 Jan 1919.

Did someone confuse this entry for George Jarvis (1823-1913)? This record is not about our common ancestor; it is for his son, George Frederick Jarvis. This is the only record I have ever seen with the name "George Franklin Jarvis."


Here are the records showing that George Jarvis was never known by the name George Franklin Jarvis. I start with his marriage record since I have never seen an official birth or christening record.

1. Marriage record of George Jarvis, Bachelor, and Ann Prior, Spinster. October 19, 1846.

2. George Jarvis married fourth quarter 1846, St. Saviour Southwark, London, Vol. 4, Page 527. Other people on the same page are shown with middle names. George is shown with no middle name. FreeBMD. England & Wales, FreeBMD Marriage Index: 1837-1915 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2006.

3. The church record of his emigration shows his name as George Jarvis. Mormon Migration.

4. The record from the Boston port of entry shows his name as George Jarvis. Boston Passenger and Crew Lists, 1820-1943.

5. The Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel previously showed his name as "George Franklin Jarvis," but that was because that's how he was shown in Family Search. None of the records associated with the overland crossing shows his name as anything but "George Jarvis." Due to that fact, the database has been changed to show his name as "George Jarvis." As I have said before, the database is an amazing resource, almost without peer in the genealogical world.

6. Every time George shows up in a census he is listed as "George Jarvis."

1851 England Census. George Jarvis, head, married, 28, mariner.

1880 United States Census. Jarvis, George, white, male, 57, farm laborer.

1910 United States Census. Jarvis, George, head, male, white, 87. To date, no one has been able to find George Jarvis in any census but these three.

7. He calls himself George Jarvis in his personal histories. He is quite formal in his writing and would undoubtedly refer to himself using his middle name if he had one. ("The Journal of Ann Prior Jarvis, 1884-1899 Book C," n.p.)

8. He is listed as George Jarvis in a list of the Thomas and Elizabeth Billings Jarvis children in Ann Prior Jarvis's diary. ("The Journal of Ann Prior Jarvis, 1884-1899 Book C," 254 12.)

9. He is called George Jarvis in his patriarchal blessings on April 15, 1870 (Patriarch William G. Perkins), October 30, 1892 (Patriarch Joseph Mecham), and September 23, 1894 (Patriarch William Fawcett). I will not reproduce those here, but they are found in Ann Jarvis's diary. ("The Journal of Ann Prior Jarvis, 1884-1899 Book C," 159, 195, 197.)

10. He is called George Jarvis in the formal correspondence regarding the sealing of Charles DeFriez to the Jarvis family. A number of the other men mentioned in the correspondence are listed with middle names. ("The Journal of Ann Prior Jarvis, 1884-1899 Book C," 190.)

This is the first of the three documents reproduced in Ann's diary.

11. His wife Ann Prior Jarvis calls him George Jarvis in her personal histories. ("The Journal of Ann Prior Jarvis, 1884-1899 Book C," document 207.)

12. He is called George Jarvis in histories of St. George, Utah. See, for example, "St. George Tabernacle and Temple: The Builders" by Church historian Leonard Arrington.
...George Jarvis, the British sailor who erected the scaffolding..
13. He is called George Jarvis in Wilford Woodruff's Temple records. George Jarvis and his sons George Frederick Jarvis and Brigham Jarvis all helped with Woodruff's Founding Fathers and Eminent Men temple work project. George Jarvis did the temple work for Edward George Earl Lytton Bulwer (yes, the "it was a dark and stormy night" author) and Thomas Chalmers; George Frederick did the temple work for David Garrick; and Brigham did the temple work for Frederick von Schiller. Brian Stuy, "Wilford Woodruff's Vision of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence," Journal of Mormon History, Vol. 26, No. 1, 85-86.

14. He is called George Jarvis in newspaper articles during his lifetime.

The Union (St. George), April 16, 1896, 1.

"A Dixie Patriarch: Seventy-two Descendants Celebrated George Jarvis' Birthday," Salt Lake Herald, April 4, 1898, 7.

"Birth at St. George," Salt Lake Herald, December 25, 1898, 18.

15. A copy of his citizenship certificate shows his name as George Jarvis.

16. When George Jarvis died, Dr. Frank J. Woodbury filled out his death certificate with information provided by George Frederick Jarvis. In the space for "Full Name," Dr. Woodbury wrote "George Jarvis."

17. His obituary lists his name as George Jarvis.

18. His gravestone lists his name as George Jarvis.

George and Ann Jarvis grave marker from the St. George City Cemetery, St. George, Utah. Picture from FindAGrave, courtesy of "TB."

19. About 40 years after his death, George's granddaughter Margaret Jarvis Overson wrote a book about her Jarvis and DeFriez family lines. She called the book George Jarvis and Joseph George DeFriez Genealogy and used the name "George Jarvis" throughout. She listed one grandfather, Joseph George DeFriez, with a middle name and her other grandfather, George Jarvis, without. Her research and family connections were extensive enough that if her grandfather had a middle name, she would have known it and used it.

20. George Jarvis does not show up in any contemporary vital or legal or church records with a middle name.

21. As late as 1949, the family organization called him George Jarvis with no middle name.

"Jarvis Reunion," Washington County News, June 15, 1922, 1.

"Jarvis Family Reunion," Salt Lake Telegram, March 28, 1949, 26.


If anyone can provide a single contemporary record (a record made during his lifetime) that shows his name as "George Franklin," I will reconsider my conclusion. Otherwise, I will conclude that the middle name "Franklin" is due entirely to a genealogical error and the spreading nature of such errors in online family trees.


  1. See also this note from Wilford Woodruff's diary about a service George Jarvis performed for him:

    “Br George Jarvis watched with me..”

  2. ...and President Woodruff often mentioned people in his diary by their full name including initials. For example, from the first day ordinances were done in the St. George Temple: "John L Smith Baptized the next 83 person making 224 Baptized on this day. John D T. Mcallister Confirmed 44 A H Raleigh 15 H. W. Bigler 124 Erastus Snow 20." (Erastus Snow also did not have a middle name, although he is sometimes later erroneously shown with one.)