Volume 8, Number 9, Fall 1984
There is a growing trend to reduce each of us to a computer number on our drivers license, bank accounts, credit cards, social security...and now we have the nine digit zip code. It may be quite difficult for a future genealogist to locate a kinsman, say a hundred years from now. That is, in case some one should want to! I much prefer to be known by my name.
My retirement hobby has been to index all the material I have collected in the past fifty years, and put it in order by families. Working with the Foster-Layton records of Taney County, Missouri area, I have found these first names for males: Braxton, Clayton, Conway, Cuthbert, Cornallus, Fidelia, Halloday, Junius, Leonidas, Lucinus, Licurgus, Lydon, Powhaten, Quintas, Resser, Thaddeus, Tyrus, Viverette, Warrenton and Weitcher.
The following were first names bestowed upon females: Annel, Belva, Berna, Edmonia, Engide, Lynnie, Portia, Pardella, Texanne and Zenda.
Biblical names were used quite frequently, Mary, Ruth, Naomi, Sarah, Moses, David, Aaron and John.
There were those named for places where the families had been, or were trying to reach, Virginia, Louisiana, Kansas, Texas and Missouri!
A few carried a first and middle name as follows: Warrenton Dudley, Rufus Richard, Laura Marshall, Randolph Byrd, William Beauregard and Robert Maxwell.
The floral influence came along with Lily, Magnolia, Pansy, Violet and Fern. The condensed version followed with Lee, Kay, Len, Kirk, Mark, Keith and then the Penny and Wendy generation.
One baby girl in Virginia was christened Sophia Grant Matilda Blackwell Mitchell! Had this name been reduced to the initials, the S.G.M.B.M. Foster would have filled the space allowed by computers when applying for a number of any sort!
I can see how finding new names might be quite a problem. One of my ancestors had thirty-four children! It took five wives to produce all of them. Here is a man I could excuse had he called them one, two, three, and so on. .Not even a Junior among them!
Not knowing the exact circumstances which caused these people to migrate from one section of the country to another, I follow the thinking of most genealogists in that it was in search for land, a better life. They were from all walks of life, rich and poor, politicians and preachers.
I can dream of the reverence of the couple that pored over their Bible by the flickering light from their fireplace, hunting a name for their child. Or the couple who spent their first year living in a cave, whose child was delivered in the light from a sweet-gum ball which floated in a saucer of coon-grease!
There were those that honored their loved ones, or the leaders they had followed in the wars, with respect and adulation, by naming their children for them. The scholarly gentleman and his teacher-wife, who selected Latin names from the classics, a dreamer perhaps, looking for freedom of thought, or just eager to share learning with those in this new country.
Half the children the doctor delivered were named for him, his own carried names sounding like elixirs. .Imagine the thrill of the mother who received the letter from the absent father in California gold fields, "name the girl babe, Sacramento Belle, after the most beautiful ship Ive ever seen.
One will not be able to dream much over a computer print-out. One number out of sequence could put you in another world.
I pray that the time will never come when the data could read: Canister 20, Test Tube 346, or Clone File 87-71101.
Id rather be Avis Hawkins, 71011-5137.
Copyright Ó White River Valley Historical Quarterly
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