Wednesday, September 24, 2008

What's in a Name??!

If you know me in real life, you know that I always have a project. Almost like a temporary hobby. It will stick around for a few weeks, and then I move on to something else. Every time, I either become bored with it or I find something new. It's like I'm OCD, but also ADD at the same time. Now, I don't know if that means there's something wrong with me, but it's definitely not out of the question.

Some of my former projects include: cake decorating, scrapbooking, learning anything and everything about NYC, home decorating, learning about the trucking industry, foreign languages...I could go on and on, but I won't bore you. I will be the first to admit that many of my projects are on the boring/geeky side. And my friends enjoy some projects more than others -- the cake decorating one was especially popular.

My current project? Genealogy. My training as a librarian comes in very handy for this. And I have learned that you can never really finish genealogy, because there's always another relative to look up. Which is probably why this is the 2nd or 3rd time I have tackled this project. This time around, I am even helping coworkers and friends look for their families online. It is super fun!!! (And yes, if you want me to see what I can dig up for you, just email me!)

It is also a genetically inherited interest, I believe. My dad, WLF, was also bitten by the "genie" bug. He actually researched both sides of his family, all the way back to our first immigrant ancestors to America. Which is pretty amazing, considering my first ancestor came over on the Mayflower. That's a lot of work! I remember when I was a kid, WLF and his sister went up to New York state to do research. Even as a kid, I thought it was so cool and wanted to go with them.

Eventually, WLF had the family trees written out and framed. They now hang in the basement at The Czarina's house. Every time I go to visit her, I stare at them. I wonder what these long-dead ancestors were like. Do I have their nose? Their sense of humor? If I could ever talk to them, what would I want to ask them? What amazing events had they witnessed? What would they think about the world today? (I guess even as an adult, I still have a kid's imagination and inquisitiveness!)

The Czarina, on the other hand, doesn't have much interest in all of this genealogy stuff. Maybe that's because her family just arrived in the United States in the mid-to-late 1800s. Her family tree is just so short and so simple -- 3 generations on each side, mostly Irish, with a generous glob of German thrown in. She pretty much already knows everything. Her father's side -- the Irish side-- is the part of my family I'm most interested in. We are pretty sure they fled the Potato Famine of the 1850s, but we've never been positive. Most of my time working on this "genie" stuff has been spent looking up info on Irish-American immigrants, or, as I like to call them, "my people". LOL. I'm even now trying to learn more about the history of Ireland so I can understand "my people" a little better. After all, I am genetically more Irish than anything else. (My dad was a total mutt!)

Although I do know a lot about both sides of my family, it's still fun for me to look things up. I like to see if I can find any undiscovered bits of information lurking out there in the old census records and other resources. What I have found is that it must be really easy to avoid the census takers, because there are entire branches of my family that are not even listed. I can't even find one of my grandfathers! This makes researching even more challenging and fun for me. I am determined to find stuff! So that's what I've been into lately.

What I want to share with you are some of the really weird, out-of-style, old-fashioned names in my family. Here is a list, drawn from both sides of my family:

Prudence (can you tell I have some Puritanical roots? LOL)
Euphemia (my whole family agrees this sounds more like a disease than a name!)
Gertrude (this name is VERY popular on my dad's side, for some reason)
Sylvester (UGH! horrible name!)

No offense to anyone with those names. I just think they are...unusual. I actually like some of them -- Arabella and Cordelia and Elijah are all fine by me. It's just interesting to see how names fall in/out of fashion. Sometimes WAY out. LOL

Of course, in my family we have a lot of perfectly normal, common names, too. Lots of Thomases, Josephs, Benjamins, Sarahs, Catherines, Marys, Pauls, Henrys, Jessies, Jameses and Marthas.

But it's no fun to talk about normal names! Let's talk about the weird ones! Do you have any unusual or old-fashioned names in your family? Share with me! I love learning about this stuff.


Meghan (The Declaration of MY Independence) said...

How cool that you can find all of this stuff! If you get bored, feel free to check mine out!

And I know your going to get on me about this, but I really like the name Sylvester! But then again, I'm a total weirdo.

Jonathan Zero said...

Here you go:


That is all I can remember right now

Hannita said...

Ana Hannah Moon (Ana and Hannah rhyme with Donna) - no joke...if I remember correctly, she's on the Swedish side of things.

kimmykins13 said...

Lessie Belle
Eut (short for Elizabeth)
Gladys Greta
Sydney Stewart
Clifford Edson
James Colon (who would name their kid after an organ? - My great grandmother that's who - eww)
Ralph (eww)
Southern families like to double up on the names!

Virginia Belle said...

meghan -- yeah, remember when we talked about this before? you have a super-cool family history, full of outlaws and gangsters!!! i bet, on the census, it says under occupation: "inmate" or "questionable". LOL. and you can't like sylvester, because that's the name of my stalker!!! sylvester cleveland. that's his name. and he is CREEPY CREEPY CREEPY

jonathan -- your family is very Southern, isn't it? Southerners have some of the most unusual and unique names out there, IMHO. i like garland, especially. very cool. thanks for sharing with me!

hannita -- oh my goodness! rhyming names. there's one in my family too. poor woman married into my family. now her first and last names rhyme. but she's kind of eccentric, so it works for her. LOL

this is so cool!!! it makes me want to start collecting unusual names!

cmk said...

Other than the truly Finnish names in my family, I think the most unusual one that I can think of is Eugenia. My favorite Finnish name--which I so badly wanted to name my daughter--is Aili. We called Eugenia 'Jean' and Aili 'Alice.'

My daughter is into the whole genealogy thing big-time and is trying to do both my family AND my husband's. Her biggest problem is not being able to read the Finnish language. I am a second-generation American, so there isn't a whole lot of info here in the US.

Phantom Hater said...

You know, considering there were only like 100 people on the Mayflower, it's amazing how many people they spawned who are descendants of them. I guess the Pilgrims didn't have much else to do but make babies. Of course, making them with your sister isn't really my idea of a good time. ;)

My family has pretty generic names. Nary an Ebenezer or a Shateeqwa in the bunch.

Jonathan Zero said...

yep, one side is from Southern Virginia and the other, Southern North Carolina.

Alison said...

Hey! We have a Mildred too! Maybe we're related. :) Any family from Rochester, NY?

Debbie said...

There are some strange names in my family too:

Ephraim (like your family!)
Anna Belle
Tilitha Elizabeth Bell
(I swear they the last 3 are sisters, lol)

There are many more.

If you want me to look up your granfather on, I am subscribed to about everything availabe as long as it's in this country.

I couldn't find my maternal grandfathers information for about 4 years, finally got a breakthrough and have found so many records since! Just gotta stick to it!