Saturday, May 10, 2014

How Did You Get Your Name?

In a Facebook post, Footnote Maven (geneablogger extraordinaire) recently told the story of how her daughter, Heather, was named. It spurred a great set of comments about names. It got me thinking about the decisions parents make about naming their children. I thought I would share some stories from my family. 
Augustus Mellen Carter  

My great-grandfather was Edward Mellen Carter. His father was Augustus Mellen Carter and his grandfather was Elias Mellen Carter. Elias Mellen Carter's grandmother was Mehitable Mellen. That is how the surname entered the lineage as a middle name. Edward Mellen Carter did not give the middle name to any of his sons. I always though "Mellen" was an odd name until I found out its origin. My grandfather, Thomas Richard Carter and his brother, Edward Augustus Carter, both went by their middle names. Their sister, Rebecca Williamson Carter was named for their grandmother, Rebecca Williamson, our most recent immigrant ancestor. Stanley Capen Carter got his middle name from his mothers maiden name. The youngest child, Paul Albert Carter has no obvious connections to any other family names. 
Back: Bruce & Rebecca Williamson (Carter) Bailey, Paul Carter, Frances Arabella Carter, Medora (Baker) Carter, and Fern Lyndell (Cotton) Carter. Front: Gus Carter holding Ann (Carter) Grove, Fannie (Capen) Carter holding Teddy Carter, Dick Carter holding Timmy & Tommy Carter. 
My grandmother, Fern Lyndell Cotton, went by her middle name too. She always said her mother had a flower garden because of her sisters, Ada Lillie, and Nina Mae (she always called her Nina Mayflower). Fern Lyndell (Cotton) Carter had four sons. She used to say that she wanted four boys - Tommy, Timmy, Johnny, and Jimmy. However, after the Tommy (my dad) and Timmy, she named her younger sons, David and Stephen. 
Thomas Richard "Dick"  & Fern Lyndell (Cotton) Carter
Russell "Joe" Yates & Linona "Peggy" (Yates) Blake
My other grandmother, Linona Alice (Yates) Blake came from a large family and their names always confused me. Why was my Uncle Joe's name really Russell? My mom told me that a family member (I think an uncle) gave them all nicknames and some of them stuck so - Georgie became Becky, Lawrence became Rat, Linona became Peggy, Viva became Pilly, Russell became Joe, Carroll became Tom, Laura became Sis, and Bryce became Bud. In adulthood Lawrence, Viva, Laura, and Bryce reclaimed their birth names but I knew my great uncles as "Uncle Joe" and "Uncle Tom" and my grandmother was "Peggy" to most people. My grandmother named her three daughters, Myrna, Kaye, and Loretta for actresses - Myrna Loy, Kaye Francis, and Loretta Young. 
Myrna, Kaye, Loretta in back and Linona Alice "Peggy" seated. 
My middle name is Lyn for my grandmothers' names, Lyndell and Linona. My four sons all have middle names for family members. The oldest is Cameron Stephen for his father, Cameron and my favorite uncle, Stephen. Next is Joshua Thomas for his grandfather, Thomas Robert and great-grandfather, Thomas Richard. Next is Benjamin John for my only male cousin, John Richard Carter, and my ex-husband's closest brother, John Albert Holmes. The youngest is Nicholas Carter for my maiden name. Nicholas is because when we were discussing name, Ben was six and loved the idea of a brother named Nick because his favorite shows were on Nickelodeon. Ben said he was calling the baby "Nick" whether it was a boy or a girl! When Nick was born at 8:20 pm, his brothers thought he was perfect - Nick at Nite. 
My sons (mid-90s) & grandparents

What's the story behind your family names? 

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