Branches 8 & 9


Virginia Latta Curulla writes: Alex Latta has been kind enough to send me a letter that Wm. M. Latta (of Nashville) sent to him 2 May 1979. I am transcribing it below.

There appear to be many suppositions in this letter (without documentation), but also some apparent leads that we could follow up. W.M. Latta appears to have believed that branches 8 and 9 were the same. It would be very interesting to see that family Bible that he mentions, and if he has any other documentation.

Can anyone identify the Alexander Latta, the younger, who died in Charleston, S.C. April 12, 1792?

P. O. Box 110427 Nashville Tenn 37211 Wed. May 2, 1979

Dear Mr. Latta:

Your kind letter of Jan. 20, 1979 has been rec'd and appreciated although I have been rather slow in answering, this due to being so busy with my work at the shop.

I suppose you and your wife are getting ready for your trip to England, Scotland & Ireland by the end of this month. We plan on making such a trip someday if old "Father Time" doesn't overtake me before we get around to it.

As for the Latta family history, I may not have told you this but a William Latta of Scotland, known to some of his descendants in both Scotland & northern Ireland as "Auld William," fought with Richard I (The Lion Hearted) King of England in the third Crusade to the Holy Lands and was granted a Baronial Coat of arms by Richard in 1191 A.D. He was from Scotland. There was another coat of arms awarded the Latta family in France (or Gaul) about 800 A.D. I have a copy of the first one but not the earlier one. I am told that there was also a Baron Latta in Austria at one time.

I did not correspond with the Robert H. Latta, Lawyer & Publisher of Denver, Colo, but have read most of the data he collected in over fifty years. It is all in the rare book and manuscript section of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. He died in 1937 (sic). There was a W. H. Lata of Pullman, Wash., who was a mail carrier by profession who did considerable research into the Latta family over a period of some fifty years. His records are also stored in the rate book & manuscript section of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. Then there is a Frank F. Latta of Santa Cruz, Calif., who as spent over forty years collecting information on the Latta's. I have corresponded with the latter two. Wm. H. of Pullman is deceased but Frank F. is still living. He is about 87 yrs. old. We all agree that the Latta name is very, very ancient - probably originating in Messopotamia (sic) about 3500 B.C. r about 5,500 yrs. ago. The name in old Arbic means lid or cover. The Latta's were potters in these days and made the "lids or covers" to the large pottery urns used to store the grain in those days. The lids had to be made to very exact specifications and had to fit like a glove to seal the grain for storage. Some of these urns have been unearthed in the ancient city of Ur, where the British Archaeological Society and the Univ. of Pennsylvania have been excavating for many years "proving the Bible" as it were.

It is my theory that the Latta's originated in the Vicinity of Ur as the name "ATTA" was found listed as a family name there. This I found in a book Excavations at Ur by Sir Thomas Wooley, a Britisher. I believe these people followed the tide of civilization westward and on into Gaul where the "L" was added as Le Atta or "the Atta" in French. We do know with a reasonable degree of accuracy that there were Latta's in Austria, Spain, France, England, Scotland, and Ireland. Evidently they went to England with William the Conqueror in 1066. They were Normans then. For many generations our branches lived in the highlands of Scotland, possibly around old Cumnock not very far from Edinburgh.

There were three Latta brothers - John, William & Andrew - who were made K.B.E.,' (Knights of the British Empire) during World War I for building ships to transport the British troops. I corresponded with Sir Andrew Gibson Latta, who lived in Edinburgh and he told me the Latta's had lived for many centuries in Scotland and that his ancestors came from Old Cumnock.

I have corresponded with Latta's in Ayr, Ayrshire Scotland, but none know much about their forebears (sic).

My branch came to America about 1738 and settled in S.E. Pennsylvania first and later went into the N. & S. Carolina region about 1750, later generations coming to Maury Co., Tenn in 1817.

I am about seven generations removed from the St. Johnston, Co. Donegal area of N. Ireland. It is my belief that we are descended from the old William of the 3rd Crusade 1191 A.D. In a letter from a Thomas Latta, cousin of Mrs. Geo. Irvin of Londonderry, he mentioned an old saying amoung (sic) the Latta's handed down through the generations -- about "Auld William lies a sleeping in the saud" (Or old William lies sleeping in the sod.) This cannot mean anything but reference to William of the Crusades, who fought with Richard I. He is reputed to have saved Richard's life when several Turks stormed the tent where Richard was quartered. This is why Richard made him a Baron in Scotland. This Crest or "Baronial Coat of Arms" is recorded in Robson's "the British Herald" and confirmed in Fairbairn's book of crests. The same basic coat of arms is found, with some variations in some Editions of Burke's Peerage, showing the lines of a Baronet. It was granted to one William Latta "who has shown great ability in any kind of construction." Wm was supposed to have been a bridge builder, both stationary and pontoon for Richard's troops to use during the third Crusade.

It is a very beautiful (Baronial as opposed to a Knight) coat of Arms. The Crest is an Oak tree. Most Latta's have never seen it! The motto in Latin reads "Dum Vivo Vireo" or "while L live, I flourish."

About 1620 when the Protestant religion came into being and after the long Irish Was, the then king of England forced several families to go to Northern Ireland to occupy the country. It is my belief that our Latta's were among these. I found a John Latta as being in a church register at Taughboyne, St. Johnston, Co. Donegal in 1688. He was Presbyterian same as my family for several generations at least since 1620 where they were organized in Scotland.

I have a record of an Alexander Latta, the younger, who died in Charleston, S.C. Apr. 12, 1792. He was formerly of St. Johnston, Co. Donegal -- left property to brother William Latta (a Sgt in Revol. War) and sisters Sarah & Mary Latta -- will dated 10 Apr. 1792, probated & proved 2 Aug. 1792. There was an Alexander Latta listed in my old Bible. So Alex. was a good old Latta name, no doubt.

According to Robert H. Latta of Denver (now deceased) Latta's lived near the following places in Co. Donegal, N. Ireland: -- Donegal in s.w. part of county on Donegal Bay; St. Johnston in east central part of county about ten miles s.w. of Londonderry and Kelly or Kellebegs, which is ni the southwestern part about 15 miles due west of Donegal on McSwyne's Bay. My earliest ancestor a James M. Latta was married twice. We do not know who his first wife was but he was married the second time about 1730 to a Mary or Margaret Allison from Lac or Leck, Co. Donegal. By his second wife he had one son James who became the noted Presbyterian minister Rev. James Latta D.D. (1732-1801). By his first wife he had Samuel, William & John. I am descended from this John 1727-1795 buried at Waxhaw Presbyterian Churchyard -- 8 miles n.w. of Lancaster, S.C. He was my g.g.g.g.grandfather. He was born in Co. Donegal 1726 or 1727. He died at age 68 in 1795. He was a wagon maker by trade.

If you care to check into any of this while you are in Britain, I would be happy to hear from you when you get back.

As you can see the Latta's have a long, long history. There was a Robert Latta who was a professor at Edinburgh Univ. He wrote a book with a Mr. McBeth - The elements of Logic by Latta & Mac or McBeth. There was a General Latta referred to in Johnston's history of Civil Co., Md., page 287-289 who was a first cousin to Rev. James Latta D.D. (1732-1801). I could go on and on about the Latta's but am afraid you might find it boring.

Recently a Mr. John W. Latta of 4805 N. Seventh St., Arlington, Va 22203 and a Mr. Danny W. Latta have started publishing a Latta Family Newsletter. It was started last spring 1978 and is published quarterly. The subscription fee is $5.00 per annum and eventually this will amount to something as they are digging in the old records at the Library of Congress, old Bibles, etc. and publishing it. If you are interested write John W. Latta above- he is the editor and Danny is the ass't.

I have met Danny but not John W. We are all trying at this late date to save what we can of the Latta family history here in America and in Ireland, Scotland, England where ever we can find them. They are a rather scarce breed now. I am the only male descendant who had 2 boys for over 200 yrs. My line almost ran out didn't it?

Well I must close it is midnight.

Luck to you and may you have a nice safe trip abroad. Let me know if you find something interesting.

Sincerely, (signed) William Malcolm Latta (7-16-1908 to ?)