Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Celebrate Your Name Part 2: Family Names

I was looking through my tree today, trying to pick out the most common ancestral names and/or naming patterns (I'm not however including the HUNDREDS of Johns and Marys in my tree). Names that carry for at least three generations and are within the last two hundred years were what I was looking for and are below. Here are some of the most common names in my family tree:

Mae/May: This started with Ida Mae/May (Shinn) Snedigar, the daughter of John R. Shinn and Maria Doyle (my ggg-grandparents). Ida Mae was born in 1867 in San Joaquin Co., California, a few months before her father's death from malaria. Next is Flora Mae (Shinn) Bancroft who always went by Mae. Flora's daughter, Elizabeth also had the Mae moniker as a middle name.

Everett: My gg-grandfather was Lauren Everett Healey, b. in 1873 in Newark, California to Comfort and Mary Gertrude (Mott) Healey (it was originally Haley but Comfort changed the name for whatever reason). Lauren's grandson (my grandfather) also got the Everett moniker as was born Everett Heman Shinn in 1925. My grandfather in turn passed on the Everett name to his son who in turn passed it on to his son who a few years ago passed it on to his son. That makes four generations with the Everett name, not including Lauren (who I skipped because his daughter was the one who had my grandfather and she obviously wasn't named Everett). Lauren himself also had a son named Lauren Everett Jr. That's a lot of Everetts! There is apparently also a famous artist named Everett Shinn, though my branch of the family (as far as I know) is not connected with him.

Kathryn: Was the name of my Danish gg-grandmother, Kathryn (Nielsen) Healey. She was probably named Katherine, but everyone in the family insists that it was spelled KATHRYN (which I think is a pretty modern spelling). In any case, Kathryn has two descendants (one of whom is VERY close to me) named after her, which I won't go into because they are living.

Heman: This is one of the odder names in my tree. I've done digging and it is a biblical name, though I can't remember the meaning. It is almost ALWAYS mispelled as Herman or Hiram or some other bizzare way (I found this out curtesy of many frustrated hours sifting through census records). I also remember when we ordered my grandfather's headstone, the maker kept calling us because he just couldn't believe that we didn't mean Herman. Heman Doyle was the above Maria (Doyle) Shinn's father. When Maria (pronounced Ma-RYE-ah by the way) had her first, she named him Heman Doyle Shinn. Heman's (known as H. D.) grandson, my grandfather was also given this name (Everett Heman Shinn). Interestingly enough, while the Heman name died out with my grandfather, the Doyle name has fairly recently been resurrected as a family name.

Gottlieb: Okay, so I cheated, this one was only the name of my great-grandfather, Gideon Gottlieb Berger, and his son, my great-uncle. I love the name though because it just sounds so German and it also has a sweet meaning. It means "God's love" which is fitting considering my great-grandfather was a Methodist minister.

Joseph: this (along with John) are the two most common names on my paternal side of the family. Joseph Allen was born in Scotland around 1824 and came to Pennsylvania in the 1840s. He married an Irish immigrant, Elizabeth Clemens and they eventually settled in Trumbull Co., Ohio. Joseph and Elizabeth's grandson (my great-grandfather) was also a Joseph. This Joseph was born Joseph James Allen in 1891 in Wyman or Edmore, Montcalm Co., Michigan. Joseph was in WWI and (I'm told) received a certificate or commendation from the President due to his service during the war. He was badly gased during the war and eventually had to give up his farm in Blanchard, Michigan. He was wheelchair bound and in and out of VA hospitals in Jackson, Michigan before he died (at an a rather early age) in the 1940s. The Joseph name has passed on from him to current generations.

Grant: Okay, so this was only the name of my gg-grandfather, John Grant Allen but I just had to include it. I spent years trying to figure out what the elusive middle initial G. stood for in his name and once I found his birth certificate it all fell into place. John was born a mere two months (or two weeks depending on the source) after Ulysses S. Grant (another Ohioan) became the 18th President of the United States. What is even more interesting is that John was a first generation American, the son of immigrants. I wonder if his moniker was to celebrate the first time John's father got to vote as an American or perhaps it epitomized a dream of John's family to become American citizens or perhaps is was just meant to signify John's parent's love for their new homeland or the great American hero of the Union, US Grant. In any case, it is fun to speculate.

Now that I've compiled this, I think I'll keep a copy handy to send to any expectant cousins. Perhaps if they give their children family names, it will be the needed spark to get these new generations interested in their family tree- one can always hope, right?

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