Rosetta’s Madden Family. Facts vs. Family Lore

Rosetta Johnson, third wife of Daniel Rhoads, and our matriarch named her mother as Elizabeth Maydine from France on her brother’s death certificate.  Why?  Well, we will never really know what she thought or understood, but here is a short study of her Madden family. UPDATE 10/4/2021: During a re-review of records I noticed that Daniel was the informant on Rosetta’s death certification and he named James Johnson and Elizabeth “Madden” as her parents. All that searching and the answer was always right in front of me!

Mrs. D.J. Rhodes (Rosetta) reporting Elizabeth Maydine as the mother for John Spillman Johnson, Rosetta’s brother.

Elizabeth’s maiden name was actually, Madden.  Madden and Madine (an alternate spelling for Maydine) appear to trace back to Irish origins. reports this to be the coat of ams for the modern Madden family. They write that O’Madain means “son of the hound” and dates the surname to 1000AD. No source provided.

There are not enough Madine’s or Maydine’s in Ancestry records to create an “origins” page, but according to the Surname Database ( and Emerald Ancestors ( it originates from Northern Ireland.  If we are to believe the Surname Database research (uncited research), the name is an anglicized form of Gaelic O’Madaidhin, which includes modern spellings of Madine, Madden, Madagane, or Maddigan. 

Emerald Ancestors, which cited Griffith’s Valuation as a source (government indexing between 1848 and 1864), does not have enough information to identify an origin in Ireland.  As I have reported in Elizabeth’s and Joel’s (her father) articles, Griffith’s Valuation occurs after our Madden’s arrive in the United States.

As for the spelling “Madden,” Ancestry cites the Dictionary of American Family Names (Oxford University Press) to connect it to the same origins as Surname Databases “Madine.”  Most of the Madden’s in 1840 (the earliest tabulates) lived in New York, Pennsylvania, and Ohio, with slightly fewer found in Virginia (West Virginia).  Our Maddens did leave Maryland for Ohio by 1840, so no surprise there.

Ok, so the Madden surname is Irish…where did France come into play? Let’s face it; if any family were in Ireland early enough, there’s bound to be English or French connections too, right?  But why would Rosetta think her mother was French?  Her grandparents died before she was born.  The only one to have told her anything was her mother, Elizabeth, who most likely knew she was not born in France.  Perhaps by the age of 68, Rosetta simply didn’t remember what her mother had told her.  Maybe, Elizabeth knew little of her family history, as her own parents died while she was relatively young. UPDATE 10/4/21: New evidence has been presented to suggest Elizabeth died soon after her husband around 1865. This means Rosetta was about 14 or 15 when she lost her mother. Still old enough to have learned family history from her, but perhaps what she had been told had become muddled in her memory.

The truth is, Elizabeth was born in Ohio, Rosetta’s grandmother, Sarah Wood, was born in Virginia, and…sneak peak, Rosetta’s 2xgreat-grandfather was born in…ENGLAND!!! Ahahahaha!!!  Oops, sorry.

It’s Rosetta’s 2xgreat-grandmother, Rachel, who is suspected to be of the Ramey family, who were of French Huguenot origins.  Huguenot’s were Protestant reformists called “Strangers” in early American records, a title comparable to Quakers being called “Friends.”  They fled France in the 17th century after the repeal of the Edict of Nantes and migrated around several European countries as well as the Colonies (Virginia and the Carolinas).

Everyone researching the Woods line accepts Ramey to be Rachel’s surname, but I have yet to find hard evidence of it.  Not even J.F. Vallentine (mentioned in Sarah’s post), who did some very in-depth and well-documented research of the Woods family, could confirm Rachel’s maiden name.

I doubt that Rosetta would have known Rachel was French. I honestly doubt Rosetta even knew who her 2xgreat-grandmother ever was. By the time Rosetta was born the French connection had most likely become family lore. My final “perhaps” is, maybe Elizabeth told Rosetta she was of French descent and Rosetta misunderstood the meaning.

We’ll probably never know.