Ask Maggie

Maggie McGill-Zimny is FFFAA’s on-staff volunteer Genealogist. She regularly contributes an “Ask Maggie” column to our “Bulletin” newsletter which is always full of insight and curious facts about our Frisbie ancestors. You can “Ask Maggie”— she is your resource for Frisbie-Frisbee family data.

Our Beginnings

What is the FFFAA and how did it start?

The Frisbie-Frisbee Family Association of America was started by Olin Eli Frisbee #5954 of Comstock, NY.  Around 1910, when Olin was a boy, the president of Wells College in Aurora, NY, Edward Selah Frisbee, had visited Olin’s home seeking data for a book he was writing, the 1926 “Frisbie-Frisbee Genealogy.” Olin was inspired to bring his own family records up-to-date and embarked on a life long mission to collect elusive Frisbie family data.  

Olin led a very interesting life. As a boy he played the Cornet and his father a French Horn, and their family performed in Minstrel Shows. After Olin married Carrie, he operated a restaurant, worked as a motorman-conductor on a trolley, spent two years on a farm raising fruit and vegetables, worked as an electrician for the New Kenmore Hotel in Albany, organized Boy Scout Troop 39, and worked as Chief Electrician at Great Meadow State Prison in Comstock, NY. Olin and Carrie had sons LaVerne and Elwood, and daughter Ethlyn.

Olin’s mission to collect Frisbie family data would eventually bring him in contact with Frisbie-Frisbee-Frisbys all across the country. In 1950, Olin created the Frisbie-Frisbee Family Association of America (FFFAA) to join together the people he had connected with through his search. Olin’s 20-year quest for Frisbies and their links would culminate in the publication of his book the 1964 “Frisbee-Frisbie-Frisby Family Genealogy.” As the book went to the printer Olin was diagnosed with a terminal illness. Through the efforts of his son Elwood the printing was rushed, and Olin was able to hold a copy of the published book in his hands before he died.

For over 69 years, the not-for-profit organization Frisbie-Frisbee Family Association of America (FFFAA) has gathered names, stories and histories on thousands of Frisbies. This gathered family-connection data, plus reunions, scholarship and our “Bulletin” newsletter, is shared with our FFFAA members. 

(For more on Olin Eli Frisbee download BULLETIN Vol.1 No.1, 1951 or see p.352 in “Edward Frisbie and His Descendants,” Vol. II)

Are we related to the Whamo® Frisbee® toy?

Yes, actually we are. From 1880 to 1958 the William Russell Frisbie’s “Frisbie Pie Company” of Bridgeport, CT delivered their fruit pies to Yale and other Ivy League college campuses all over New Haven. The students, who found that the inverted pie tins had an airfoil shape that could be thrown in a controlled manor, turned tossing Frisbie pie tins into a game called “Frisbie-ing.” (It’s noted that in addition the holes in the bottom of the pie tin created a pleasing “hum.”)

In 1946 inventor Frederick Morrison designed a flying disc toy that he named the “Pluto Platter.” Science fiction stories were very popular at the time, and his toy design looked like an alien spaceship.

In Southern California Rich Knerr and A.K. “Spud” Melin, newly graduated from University of Southern California, started the company Whamo® which produced the Hula-Hoop, Slip ‘N Slide, Super Ball and the Water Wiggle. In 1955 they purchased Morrison’s Pluto Platter. On a sales trip to the East Coast Knerr finding that flying discs and “Frisbee-ing” was already well know, Whamo® changed the name of their toy to “Frisbee” (changing the spelling from Frisbie to avoid copyright enfringement). For many years the Frisbie Pie Company did not receive any acknowledgement for the inspiration, and never received any renumeration. Since the 1950s over two hundred million “Frisbees” have been sold to all corners of the globe, and have spawned international World Class sports crazes. Frisbie pie tins have become highly collectible, and one is in the Smithsonian Institution collection in Washington D.C. as part of the “Flight for Fun” exhibit.

My name is spelled Frisby. Am I a Frisbie too?

There are many ways to spell our name.

Family names didn’t exist up to the 1200’s. A man was given a baptismal name, like James, and for centuries this sufficed. However, as population increased there might be several men of the same name in a community and it became necessary to devise a means of telling them apart. One way to identify an individual was to add their father’s name, as in “James the son of John.” In time these were shortened to James-John’s son, and eventually they became James Johnson. Another means was to name a man by his trade, as James the Potter or James the Miller, and in due course these became James Potter and James Miller. A third way of designating a person was to call him by the name of the village he came from, thus, James who came from Frisby was called James of Frisby. By the end of the 1300’s the “of” (the Norman-French version used “de”) had generally been dropped and he became simply James Frisby. Richard Frisby of the parish of St. James Clerkenwell in London and later of Virginia Colony, (who we think was Edward Frisbie of Branford’s father) is found in his home parish records under Fresby, Frisby, Frisbye, Frysby and Frysbye. In the Minutes of the Council and General Court of Virginia he appears under ffrishby, ffrishbie and Frisbie (a small double “f” being an archaic way of writing a capital “F”). An entry in the Virginia census of 1624 for a “Richard Piersby” probably relates to “Richard Frisby”—a perfect example of the errors often made when written records are transcribed for printing

In the days when the American colonies were being settled very few people could write, and relied on scribes to create correspondence and documents. Scribes from the 1200s through the 1700s wrote names on official documents spelled as they sounded, thus up to seventeen different English spelling variations on the name Frisbie have been recorded, including ffrisbe, ffrisbie, ffrissbe, ffrishby, ffrrissbe, Frisbey, Friseby, Frysseby, Fresbe, Frisbe, Frisbee, Frisbie, Frisby and Phrisbey.  Researchers struggle to translate written records of the time, as the language style is virtually foreign and the script often barely illegible. Plus, many spellings have been further distorted by errors in transcribing the written records to the printed page. Edward Frisbie of Branford appears as “Edward ffrisbye” in his will. This was transcribed as Edward Frisbye in the Frisbie Genealogy of 1926 and many of his descendants have assumed that is was the correct way to spell his name. However, it was only the scribe’s version, for Edward could not write.

We are fortunate that currently there are only five ways used to spell the name in America, for in Revolutionary War records one man alone is found under eight different spellings.

In England the most common spelling is Frisby. Of the nearly 6,000 descendants of Edward Frisbie of Branford, CT 75% use the spelling Frisbie, 22% use the spelling Frisbee, and 3% use Frisby and others.

No matter how your family name is spelled you are part of the Frisbie-Frisbee family.

(For more on the origin of the Frisbie name see pgs.857-861 in “Edward Frisbie and His Descendants,” Vol. I)

Our Past & Story

As our on-staff genealogist, Maggie answers your most common Frisbie-Frisbee questions and, with along with access to the FFFAA’s database of over 24,000 entries, she can help you discover your Frisbie-Frisbee family roots, too!

How far back can the FFFAA trace the Frisbies in America?

Many researchers over the years have traced family trees all over the country back to Edward Frisbie of Branford. Edward is the founding head of all members of the FFFAA.

Edward Frisbie first appears in records in 1644 as part of a Puritan expedition that colonized the wilderness land that became Branford, Connecticut. Although we are not certain of Edward’s parentage or origins, research indicates that he may have been the son of Richard and Margaret Frisbie (Frisby) of Clerkenwell, London, England. In February of 1620 Richard and Margaret and their infant Mary had joined an expediton to the Virgina settlements at Jamestown, North America as indentured labor to the Virginia Campany of London. Richard would have agreed to labor for seven years in exchange for passage, tools, food, clothing and a house. After the financially-distressed Virginia Company’s bankruptcy in 1624, Richard and family (daughter Mary had died and son Edward was born) returned to London. Richard and Margaret had nine more children, most who died very young during the devastating Plague outbreaks. Historians surmise that in 1634 Richard, Margaret, 14-year old Edward and infant daughter Jane set sail again for the New World and that all of the family perished at sea, except possibly Edward. Although researchers have not found a definitive link from Richard and Margaret to our FFFAA family line we do tenatively claim them as the immigrant connection to our American Frisbies. 

(See our Frisbie-Frisbee History section for more on the history of Richard Frisbie (Frisby) and Edward Frisbie)

(For more on Edward see pgs. 1-23, and 857-886 in “Edward of Branford and his Descendants” Vol. I)

Are there any books on the history and genealogy of the Frisbie family?

Around 1910 Edward Selah Frisbee, president of Wells College, Aurora, NY published the 1926 “Frisbie-Frisbee Genealogy.” Then in 1964, the founder of the FFFAA, Olin Eli Frisbee, published the 1964 “Frisbee-Frisbie-Frisby Family Genealogy,” covering the first eight generations of Frisbies in America. Olin’s book was then used as the basis for Nora G. Frisbie’s 1984 “Edward of Branford and his Descendants” Vols. I-III.

(See our Genealogy Resources section for more on these books)

What do the numbers and letters next to a name in the “Edward Frisbie of Branford” books mean?

When you are looking up an individual there are numbers to the left and a group to the right. The numbers on the left are from Edward Selah Frisbee’s book the 1926 “Frisbie-Frisbee Genealogy.” When he was setting up his book he entered every person numerically, starting with Edward as #1 and ending with Ruth Valentine Williams as #6008. The group of numbers and letters to the right of a name says many things about that person and their family.

  • The number in parentheses—is what generation they are from Edward Frisbie from Branford.
  • The number following—is birth order within their family
  • The number following the hyphen—is the fathers identifiers number
  • The capitalized letter following—identify which of the sons of Edward of Branford your person is descended from. J for John, B for Benoni, Jn for Jonathan, C for Caleb, H for Hannah, E for Ebenezer.

(Click here for information on purchasing “Edward of Branford and his Descendants” Vols. I-III)

What is does “3rd Cousin,” “Cousin Once Removed” and Double Cousin” mean?

Most of us have a good understanding of basic relationships such as “aunt/uncle” “grandmother/grandfather” but what about terms like “second cousin” and “first cousin, once removed”? We don’t tend to speak about our more distant relationships in such exact terms, generally “cousin” is good enough when you are introducing one person to another. Sometimes, especially when working on your family history, it’s handy to know how to describe your family relationships more exactly. The key to understanding the English cousin system is that “first,” “second,” “third,” and so on indicates how many generations back you have to go beyond your parents to get to a common ancestor with your cousins.

  • Cousin: “first” cousin has a same grandparent as you. In other words, they are a child of your aunt and uncle.
  • 2nd Cousin: has the same great-grandparent as you, but not the same grandparent.
  • 3rd Cousin: has the same great-great grandparent as you.
  • 4th Cousin: has the same great-great-great grandparent (3rd Great Grand Parent) as you.
  • 5th Cousin: has the same great-great-great-great-grandparent (4th Great Grand Parent), and so on.

Once Removed: When cousins descend from common ancestors by a different number of generations they are called “removed.”

Once removed means there is a difference of one generation. Your mother’s first cousin would be your first cousin, once removed. She is one generation younger than your grandparents and you are two generations younger than your grandparents.

Twice-removed: Twice removed means that there is a two-generation difference. Your grandmother’s first cousin would be your first cousin, twice removed because you are separated by two generations.

What is a Double Cousin?

Just to complicate matters, there are also many cases of double cousins. This situation usually occurs when two or more siblings from one family marry two or more siblings from another family. The resulting children, grandchildren, etc.  are double cousins, because they share all four grandparents (or great-grandparents) in common.

So, as you look at your records don’t be too hard on yourself when you become confused. Even those of us who like to do genealogy get a little flustered with who’s who in all those records.

Relationship Chart

Are there any preserved historical Frisbie Houses?

Amazingly, there are many historic houses that now house historical societies and museums, including the Stevens-Frisbie House in Cromwell, CT (built 1853); the Judge Gideon Frisbee House & Museum in Delhi, NY (built 1797) the Augustus Frisbie House in Salisbury, NY (built 1805) home of the Salisbury Historical Society, and the Historic Frisbie Mansion in Redding, CA. There are also privately owned Frisbie historic homes; in Branford, CT the Hearthstone House (built c1730), the Edward Frisbie/Captain Joseph Homestead (built 1769), the Levi Frisbie House “Stony Creek” (built 1819), in Ipswich, CT the Reverend Levi Frisbie House (built 1788), in Benicia, CA the Frisbie-Walsh House (built c1850), and the Susan Ellen Frisby Wissler house in Dayton, WY (she was one of the first female mayors in the U.S.). In Southington, CT the Samuel Frisbie House (built 1863) is currently a doctors office, and the J.A. Frisbie Dry Goods Store building from before 1880 is at 44 Main St. in Pennington, NJ.

(For more on the Hearthstone House and the Judge Gideon Frisbee House & Museum see our “Frisbie-Frisbee History” section)

Hearthstone House

I have great memorabilia that I would like to share with the FFFAA, who do I contact?

We would love to hear about your Frisbie ancestor collections.

Please contact us at dfrisbie@wctatel.net for more information.

Tim Frisbie Collection

 

I am trying to find my ancestors, can the FFFAA help me?

Certainly! We are glad to help. The FFFAA has a database of over 24,000 entries that are available to members through our Genealogist.

Who was Nora Frisbie?

Nora Grace Frisbie #3799 had been interested in family history for many years when she learned of the FFFAA in 1960. Thus began a relationship that lasted throughout her life. With the death of Olin Frisbee in 1964, Nora became president of the FFFAA, a position she held until 1978. She served as the editor of the “Bulletin” newsletter for many years and the official FFFAA historian and genealogist from 1983 until her death in 2002.

Olin Eli Frisbee had printed his “Frisbee-Frisbie-Frisby Family Genealogy” in 1964. Nora took the data from Olin’s book and merged it with new data that had accumulated, and created “Edward of Branford and his Descendants” Vol. 1, which she published in 1984. It covered the history of the FFFAA and the first eight generations of Frisbies in America. In 1987 Nora followed with Vol. II on later generations, and in 1988 published Vol. III on the female lines.

Nora corresponded with a host of people and traveled widely, including places in England where the earliest Frisbie ancestors are thought to have originated. She searched repositories in many states and hired researchers to search where she couldn’t travel. She gathered family data from anyone who would share what they knew of their branch. Nora manually type the “Edward of Branford” books, and indexed the “Bulletin” newsletters and other documents, an extremely complex and time-consuming process—all without the technology available today. Her phenomenal memory earned her a reputation of being able to place individuals into context. She collected extensive correspondence, photographs, scrapbooks, unfinished manuscripts, and published and unpublished materials by and about the Frisbies. In 2001, Nora donated most of her materials to the FFFAA, who found a home for them at the Connecticut State Library in Hartford, CT. These materials are cataloged as the “Frisbie-Frisbee Family Association Collection” in “Record Group 74” and are available through the library upon request.

How do I go about locating information about my ancestors who were adopted?

I would start by contacting the local or state Historical Centers/Societies. Maybe contact the orphanage or adoption agency where the adoption took place (some files may be open to gather information, other files could still be closed). I spoke with ancestry.com, they sent me to this website https://support.ancestry.com/s/article/Tips-for-finding-adoption-or-orphanage-records-1460088590779-2542 which provides several hyperlinks to help in the search. They did say the one key to the success is to have the birth certificate, which will be a source of a lot of great information, with location/time/year/hospital and the Courthouse to possibility find the adoption file. Ancestry.com DNA testing could be the best, as you may find matches to other members.

Does the FFFAA have Reunions?

Until 2002 the Frisbie-Frisbee Association had a Reunion annually. They were a one-day affair which included a business meeting and dinner. Since 2006 our reunions are every two years and run for three days. They are hosted by a member, with sightseeing and events for the attendees to participate in. The Reunions have been spread across the country, but the majority have taken place in Connecticut and New York, the cradle of the Frisbies. They have all had history, genealogy, and camaraderie in common whenever they took place. Reunions have taken place in Branford, Cromwell, and Hartford, Connecticut; Delhi, NY (a favorite reunion location, where two descendants of Edward established their families.); Albany, NY; Rochester, MN; Philadelphia, PA; Mt. Morris, IL; Green Bay, WI; Joppa, MS; Claremont, CA; Evanston, IL; Geneva-on-the-lake, OH and Topeka, KS. 

Frisbie Reunion 2012

Where are FFFAA members located?

All across the U.S. (including Hawaii and Alaska), and in Canada, Mexico, the Middle East, and Europe.

FFFAA Member Map

“A Genealogist is a storyteller—of the past. As your FFFAA genealogist, I am passionate about doing research. Although finding the answers and seeking out the clues can be hard, finding the story is quite the adventure. I’ve been doing genealogy for years and it’s a hobby I’ve come to cherish. It’s kind of like a treasure hunt, you never know what you will find!” 

– Maggie

More questions? 

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I join the FFFAA?

Easy to join! We welcome you to our group!

What does my membership cover?

Your FFFAA membership brings you the latest in Frisbie-Frisbee genealogy discoveries, our lengthy database, family stories, scholarships, reunions, our “Bulletin” newsletter and much more!

Can I help the FFFAA?

We welcome your participation in the FFFAA, there are many ways you can contribute! Members help retrieve documentation from history centers, libraries, and historical Associations in various parts of the country. Members are also encouraged to contribute articles to the “Bulletin” newsletter.

How do members share their family tree with FFFAA?

Members fill in a Genealogical Family form with as much of their family members’ information that they can gather and submit it to our Genealogist Maggie.

How can I apply for an FFFAA college scholarship?

We award a “Josephine Frisbie” Scholarship yearly. It is available to college-registered children and grandchildren of FFFAA members.

If I’m not a member of the FFFAA, can I still purchase the “Edward of Branford and his Descendants” books?

Certainly. We would like to offer our three volumes of Nora Frisbie’s Genealogies to you. We also would love to have you join our organization!