Are You Part of the Oldest Families of America?

The first generation of Europeans to setting in New World are known as the Second Sons. They were often aristocrats who moved from England during the civil war (1642-1660), and created their own oligarchy in the colony of Virginia. One famous name you may recognize is the Washington family. But here are some of the other Second Son names, the oldest english names in America.


Traced back to Captain Thomas Graves, the Graves are one of the oldest families in America. Although Captain Thomas Graves name can be found without its ending S, his name is the first Graves recorded in North America. He migrated over because he had stock in the Virginia Company of London, and settled in Jamestown.


Samuel Jordon came over to Jamestown in 1610 and started a large plantation affectionately named, Jordon’s Journey. The plantation was almost 400 acres, and he manned it with his family from his first marriage to Frances Baker, who he married in England. They had a few children together, but Baker died in 1608 before traveling to the new world. Jordan remarried, though the verdict is unclear about whom his new wife, Cicely, was.

Prater/ Prather

Thomas Prater, who is the sire of nearly all of American Prater/Pather families, was only 18 when he came to Jamestown. He was born a gentlemen, his family good friends with King James, but chose to go to America to start himself. Since he was only 18, he worked for and lived with his relative, John Powell, for 5 years. This surname was also spelled Praytor, Prayter, Prayther, Pratter, Prader, Preater, Praeter, Praetor, but all of these families can thank one guy for being one of the oldest families in America: Thomas.


John Woodson, a successful surgeon in the British Army, came to Jamestown with his wife. There is no surviving record of where they lived, but people estimate it was about 30 miles outside of Jamestown, which was the site of a raid led by Chief Opechancano, the son of Powhatan. It’s thought that John Woodson and his family were killed in the raid, though legends of his wife’s bravery still survive. Sarah Woodson is considered a strong woman of the frontier.

If you share a last name with any of these European families, the Second Sons, you may be part of the oldest families in America.


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