Archiver > EKYORIGINS > 2002-10 > 1035744585

From: Joe Greene <>
Subject: [EKYORIGINS] Elam Surname Origin and Heritage
Date: Sun, 27 Oct 2002 12:49:45 -0600

"FYI" Copy to the Group: Elam Surname Origins and Heritage (Oriented to
the Elams of Eastern Kentucky).

If any one has any information to add to the Elam name origin - it would
be most welcome.

Note: I first sent the note below to a young student who was studying
her family tree as a part of a school project. It is a pretty good
summary of Elam heritage. Of course the full history is much more
detailed. I'll send the long story when I finish it one of these

Written by Joe Greene (Elam / Manning of Morgan Co. KY on my mother's
side - Green / Anderson / Gose of Magoffin Co. on my father's side).

Elam Origins and Heritage

Dear Sarajane - I just saw your September 2001 post on Ancestry.com. It
may be too late to help you with your school project - but I can give
you some information on the origins of the Elams and the surname Elam.
My grandmother and grandfather were Elams from Eastern Kentucky and I
have done much research on the family. Below is some information that I
typed up for some other Elam family members.


Keep in mind that prior to about 1000 A.D. (give or take a couple
hundred years or so) common people of what is now England, Scotland,
Ireland and Wales and all of Europe - did not use surnames. Everyone
was just John, Susan, Mary or James or whatever. But a growing
population and greatly increased travel within a broader region caused
people to have to identify themselves more exactly - too many Johns,
Susans and the like - real confusing. So surnames (family names)
developed from "place names", trade names and names after the father and
adoptions of names from a few other sources.

The name Elam (as in the Elamites) is clearly stated in the Bible. But,
no one in these modern times really believes that there is any
connection to the Scott/English surname Elam. The Elamites of the
Bible, to my knowledge, were not related to the Jews. The land of Elam
was an area that would make parts of what is now modern day Iran and
Iraq. The Elamites had several long wars with the Persians (the
Iranians of today). But still no connection to the current surname Elam
can be established - it is just not plausible.

The Elams came to America from England (originating very possibly from
the area in and around Kent) and very possibly Scotland - (Edinburgh) at
an earlier date - then later through England over time -- then later to
the Virginia Colony in America.

The formation of the name Elam is supposed to have gone like this: It
is a "place name" - named in reference to a family that lived under the
Elms in a small village (or hamlet as it would have been called). Over
many years, starting up to a 1000 years ago, the name would have been by
contracted by everyday usage into Elham or something close (as in Elm
and Hamlet) - referring to a family village under the Elm trees.

This all seems quite plausible and parallels the development of many
English / Scottish / Irish surnames.

The first recorded Elam arriving in the Virginia English Colonies (that
I can find) - arrived in the mid 1630's in Henrico Co. (Virginia
Colony). He was Robert Elam - sometimes referred to as Robert "The
Immigrant". His daughter Ann Elam married a man (probably a distant
cousin) named Gilbert Elam. This started the most significant line
(numbers wise) of the Elams in America. Over the next hundred years or
more, Elam rom Virginia migrated to Eastern Kentucky. There were 3-4
clans of these Virginia Elams originally settling mostly in and around
Morgan County. I am of the opinion most Elams of today in America are
related to the Robert/Ann/Gilbert line in one way or another.

There were other origins of Elam lines in America - some arriving as
late as the mid 1850's. Some Elams may have arrived in America in the
New England Colonies - I just have not found any record of that
happening. To my knowledge none of the other Elam lines outside of the
one started by Robert produced any where near the numbers of decedents
as came from Robert Elam via his daughter Ann and her husband Gilbert

There is much more - but this is what I have time for right now.

Good Luck on your project.

Cordially - Joe Greene

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