Friday, September 13, 2013

What is in a Name?

Those middle or first names of family members that appear out of the blue could be from relatives you do not yet know about, famous people, locations, or someone's maiden name.

And it is always possible your ancestor simply pulled the name out of thin air.

Used with permission © Michael John Neill, “Genealogy Tip of the Day,”, 7 Aug 2013.

The 3 Merles

                      When I read this tip it resonated with me!  I share a middle name with my mother, who was named for her maternal aunt and godmother.  All three of us have October birthdays.   My children have their own unique first names, but their middle names are after family members.  My sister used the same naming convention with her children – unique first name, family middle name.
                In doing family history research, it is apparent that there were naming conventions in many of my “branches.”  One direct line has 5 generations of Henrys, along with a plethora of Samuels, Benjamins and Williams!   We also have three women in three generations named Merle in our family tree.  Merle Davies was my great-grandmother Mamie’s younger sister.  (Mamie’s full name was Mary Elizabeth Davies Kell.)  Mamie named her daughter Merle Elizabeth.  Merle Elizabeth then named her daughter Merle Jean.  The middle name Jean came from her younger sister, Sarah Jean.
                Recently my mother revealed how her daughters got their names in her Living Story.  It seems in high school my parents discovered that the middle letters of their first names were the same. When Mom found out she was pregnant, they assumed the baby would be a boy and he would be Aaron.  Surprise!  I turned out to be a girl, so they stayed with the middle letters and named me Caron. (The nurse in labor and delivery warned her that I would hate her for the unusual spelling, but I like it!)  During my mother’s second pregnancy, they once again anticipated a boy, who would be called Donald, after my father’s cousin.  Turns out it was a girl, my sister Donna, still named for her godfather Uncle Don!   When my mother was pregnant a third time, the baby was referred to as Amos by all of us.  When the baby was a girl, she was called Amy with her middle name for her godmother.
                My paternal grandmother gave her first born son family names as middle names.  My father was the second son.  She named him Aaron Leon.  Those names appear NOWHERE in our family tree.   She is no longer available to ask the origin of that name so I can only speculate.  She was a church-going lady and so perhaps Aaron was a Biblical reference.  No idea where Leon came from.  Asked my mom, she doesn't know either.  Another family mystery!

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