Murray/Henry Numbering System for NEFF Genealogy
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Murray/Henry Numbering
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by Don Neff

 

During your research you may have read references to the "C Line Neffs," or something similar based on an alpha-numeric label. These labels were assigned by Rev. John Murray who is one of the most prolific and best known present-day Neff researchers. His labels are based on the "Henry Numbering System" with the addition of an Alphabetic first digit.

 
The alphabetic digit tells us which early Neff individual a family line descends from (a preposition is a horrible thing to end a sentence with). The earliest Neff immigrant to appear in US records (for each Neff family line) is assigned an alphabetic code. This code does _not_ reflect the order in which they came to the USA. It reflects only the order in which they were discovered or researched.

 
For instance, my Neff family line may be one of the earliest to come to the USA, but they are called the "Rk" line. Also, William Neff is certainly one of the very first in the USA (he arrived in the 1600s!), but since he has not yet been greatly researched he has been assigned the higher letter "T."

 
The Murray/Henry Numbering System looks complicated. This is because it gives the entire ancestral line of an individual. For instance, an unknown German Neff appeared in PA about the mid-1700s. We labeled him as "Rk, _?_ Neff." He had at least two sons, Rk1, Heinrich Neff and Rk2, Abraham Neff. The "1" and "2" do not indicate a birth order in this case, but usually they do. Both of these sons named their firstborn sons Henry. These sons are labeled Rk11, Henry Neff and Rk21, Henry Neff. Note how easily this method keeps their records separated in spite of having identical names, similar birth dates and same geographical location. Their labels tell you that their grandfather was "Rk _?_ Neff," and that their fathers were "Rk1" or "Rk2"

 
Rk21, Henry Neff had a son Charles, his second born, who is therefore labeled Rk212. Charles had several children; John Neff being his third born who is labeled Rk2123. My father was John's second child and he is labeled Rk21232. My label is Rk212321 and it shows my line of descent back to "Rk, _?_Neff" in Lancaster, PA. (you can trace it backwards through this above steps.).

 
Most computer genealogy programs try to emulate this numbering system with varying degrees of success or failure. The major problem with them is that everyone starts their own family with "#1" because there is no clearinghouse for these numbers (other than for Neff research as far as I know). We are fortunate to have a Neff genealogy numbering system established by Rev. Murray for our use. It insures that each of our data base numbers correspond exactly to everyone else's data base of Neff genealogy.

 
Having a genealogy ID number for an individual allows us to quickly trace their ancestry. For instance, your own number would reveal your ancestors like this example:

        Z3514
        |||||
        |||||__ Your Number
        ||||
        ||||___ Your Parent
        |||
        |||____ Your Grandparent
        ||
        ||____ Your Grt Grandparent
        |
        |_____ Your Grt Grt Grandparent

 
Whenever known, the birth order of each individual is reflected in their appropriate digit. Firstborn = 1, Second born = 2, etc. In the example above, your grt grandparent was the 3rd child of "Z."

 
Likewise, you were the 4th child of your parent who was the 1st child born to your grandparents.

 
A little known, but valuable Neff Genealogy resource is Rev. John Murray's booklet titled, Neff Families and Their Descendants in the 1700's and early 1800's. His booklet is a product of his years spent in Pa. archives reading wills and other ancient records.  If your line ties in with one of the hundreds of families listed in it, you'll have a century of data available instantly. Please note that this booklet is out of print and no longer available.  But updates on each line are available and several new lines have been added.  John can be contacted at jfmurray@netnitco.net."