52 Ancestors Week 3: Unusual Name

+30 votes

imageReady for Week 3 of the 52 Ancestors challenge?

You're encouraged to share a profile of an ancestor or relative who matches the week's theme. This week's sharing prompt:


From Amy Johnson Crow:

Having the maiden name of "Johnson," I'm thankful for family members with unusual names. Fortunately for me, my third-great-grandfather John Johnson (yes, really) chose unusual names for most of his sons: Eber, Enoch, Ezra, and Jeremiah. (There's also John, Jr. because why not?! I'm glad I descend from Eber, which is so much easier to look for.) What unusual names do you have in your family tree? 

Share below!

Participants who share every week can earn badges. Click here for more about the challenge and how to participate.

in The Tree House by Eowyn Walker G2G Astronaut (1.7m points)
edited by Eowyn Walker

I didn't get a participation thingy for this .. and I've posted each of the first 3 weeks.  sad  (I was going to try to do all 52, but no guarantees.)

Melanie, I would think that telling those in charge of 52 Ancestors that you did not receive one might be helpful. It has happened to me in other areas before. they get really busy sometimes and they may not have seen it.
I think if you click on the underlined 52 ancestors challenge at the top of this page it may take you back to the main page...I kept having to scroll through a bit though
My mother's side in particular has some unusual names.  Her maiden name is Paynton.  I think at one point Ancestry told me that there are only nine households with that name in the U.S., and Google likes to change it to "Payton." Other names on her side of the family include Neebling or Nielbling, Underlehner or Underlohmar (no matter which spelling I use, it's still -1 on Wikitree), and Latapie.  My father's side doesn't seem so unusual.  The more I add to my tree, the more I see how small the community was with people marrying second cousins on a regular basis, which you might have to do if your town is that small and you're not venturing out.
that is pretty cool...seems unusual names might be helpful in locating ancestors, or even modern relatives...
I have always been fascinated by names in my lineage.  One in particular that I like is Snowden Griffin Meriwether, my 2nd Great-Grandfather from Edgefield County, South Carolina.  He was a physician and served in the Confederate army.  He and his wife used more ordinary names for their children, though.  There were no more Snowdens.
I have: America Lane, Dutton Lane, Lambert Lane, Bythrall Day, Horatio R. Ashby, Dempsey Odum, Wiley Odum, Josiah Cyrus Shelton, Joseph Zealot Shelton, and quite a few more but I'll stop there.
My grandmothers name was Horta Scroggins I thought my dad was kidding when I first learned her name . She passed in 1945 I was born in 1946 so it took awhile for me to find out her name.
I met a man named Kale (first name) recently.  I said I had never met anyone named after a vegetable before.  He said his parent didn't know it was a vegetable when they named him.
Kale is a hawaiian name for a boy or  girl and means something like "free person"

118 Answers

+13 votes
Best answer
An unusual name I found was, Lodowick M. Wills (Wills-860).  My tree has a lot of common names, James, William and Charles.
by Catherine Wydner G2G2 (2.4k points)
selected by Rosemary Dill
+36 votes

A child of Samuel Gorton (Gorton-2) was Maher-shalal-hash-baz (Gorton-38).  I don't descend from Maher (but rather a sibling).  I think this maybe counts as an unusual name don't you think? laugh

by Eric McDaniel G2G6 Mach 4 (40.5k points)
I would agree that it is an unusual name. It sounded, to me, like something from the Bible so I looked it up. It's found in Isa 8:1-4 and pertains to a prophecy there. The name in Strong's Concordance (#4122) means "hasting (is he [the enemy] to the booty, swift (to the) prey. The name of the son of Isaiah." I wonder why Samuel named him this this name.
Yes I saw that too.. but he named his daughter this.. which is even more strange..
I agree. Perhaps he just liked the name and didn't know the rest.

My uncle Garman Francis a brother to my paternal grandmother name at birth was Turgarmar. It seems to me that just about every source even government docs spelled it wrong. I used to kid with my uncle Jack that helped me a lot with family that they spelled his name every which way except with a letter z. It is probably the reason he went by the name Garmar and it is the reason why I use the name Garmar.

One of the principle actors in  the third season of True Detective has that name. He goes by a shortened form of it -- Mahershala Ali. That was my first thought when I saw your post.
+30 votes

Desagnes Bombardier still holds the title for most strangest and possibly most epic name I've found. No real story behind it. Just kind of cool.

We've also run out of Bort license plates at the Itchy and Scratchy land gift shop. =)

by Chris Ferraiolo G2G6 Pilot (400k points)
That name is badass.
+27 votes
This was a tough one for me -- I have so many usual names in my anccestry. Though this might not be that unusual, I thought it had a nice ring to it when spoken -- Elzina Azubah Dodge (Davis- 46145). Though a bit peripheral, Elzina was married to Sewell Crosby Dodge (another nice sounding and perhaps unusual name). I am his great grand-niece.
by Robin Shaules G2G6 Pilot (889k points)

"Elzina Azubah." Robin, that would qualify for a name in my mountain families!

I'm sure if she was my aunt, my cousins and I would all be calling her "Aunt E A D."

There are two sisters, Alzina and Almina, in my tree...and oddly, a Melvina and an Elzina in a family I suspect is somehow related.  Could it be their parents read the same trashy romance novel? ;)
Well, you triggered my "I've got to know" button. I knew Azubah came from the Bible and wondered if the others did as well. They don't. Alzina (and Elzina, a variant) is a Greek and Arabic name that means "woman". Almina has it's root in old German and means "determined protector" and can be short for Wilhelmina. Melvina is of Greek and English origin (though other sources said Celtic/Scottish) and means slender, delicate ( or handmaiden). So from a trashy novel or not, you have your history (?) lesson for the day.
LOL, good to know! I was just picturing some 19th century novel that a couple of cousins might be reading (after milking cows, then stashing it in the hayloft).  Found it intriguing that two families had two girls each with similar names in the same generation...trying to research my brickwall 3x grandmother.  Most likely Alzina and Almina's mother just thought the two names had a nice ring to them.  Or she had a weird sense of humor (her name was Marinda...not Miranda).
+31 votes
Oh, this one is easy for me! My grandmother named my mother Armorita Nell. The family story is that she was inspired by the name of a product in the grocery store (an aunt told me it was Armour baking soda!) I recently did a search and found that there was a facial soap manufactured and sold by the Armour Company during the time my grandmother was expecting in the 1930s and it was called "Armorita" so that is more likely the product which inspired my grandmother. My mother's sister couldn't pronounce Armorita so my mother became "Bebe" (the way my aunt said "baby") and was called that the rest of her life. When I was born, my mother gave me her first name but I was never called by that name, but by my middle name. On the first day of school, teachers who didn't know would call me Armorita. On hearing my name, the other children would tease me, calling me "Armadillo." So, for many years, I was not happy about my first name. Over the years since then, I've come to appreciate its uniqueness.
by Nelda Spires G2G6 Pilot (285k points)
What a great story! Thanks for sharing it.
I like the story
+28 votes

How about Urania Hooker Hart?  Unfortunately I haven't been able to find much in the way of sources for her. She falls in the time period of American history when women made few appearances in official documents. 

Urania is in the book The Descendants of Rev. Thomas Hooker, Hartford Connecticut 1586 - 1908 as a descendant of one of the early Connecticut Puritan religious leaders Reverend Thomas Hooker II.

Her husband, Matthew Hart, was also a descendant of the early Connecticut Puritans who left Massachusetts for Hartford, Connecticut with Reverend Hooker.   

Urania was one of the nine Greek muses and associated with astronomy.

by Jill Perry G2G6 Mach 4 (41.0k points)
I am also a descendant of Thomas Hooker, however, I haven't found Urania as of yet. I'll be anxiously waiting to find her in my next Thomas Hooker line searches!
+22 votes
I would pick my 3x great grandfather John Ungewitter (Ungewitter-3).  He is a brickwall for me.  He migrated from Germany to the U.S. about 1840 and was married in California by 1854.
by Caryl Ruckert G2G6 Pilot (190k points)
+26 votes
I love this prompt.  Here are a few favorites I've found in my family:

1. My grandma, Helen Adelite Mampel.  Adelite was the name of a local power company and my great-grandparents liked the name.

2. Distant ancestor of mine (and millions of other Wilcox descendants): Carynthaphuch Jackson. (https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Jackson-2819)

3. Another distant ancestor, Thanks-ye-Lord Perkins, wife of Ralph Shepard.
by K. Anonymous G2G6 Pilot (125k points)
edited by K. Anonymous
All three great unusual names. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks!  This prompt really is great.  I forgot one.  My great-grandfather Ernest Wintermute's maternal grandmother's name was Zillah Forrest.  Ernest had three siblings named Forrest, Fawn, and Fern.
+24 votes
Was Grandma right all along?
My paternal grandmother often stated that we were of Scottish descent, but her family name of Smith and a family who never left England made me doubt. I found out that her mother’s maiden name was Mackellow; but research into that family had them planted firmly in Kent and Sussex.  But then this week’s challenge of an unusual name got me thinking about Grandma’s eldest brother Joseph M Smith 1890-1954 "our Joe". The M is the interesting bit – on his birth BMD it’s transcribed as Meldron, but probate is Meldrum. I’ve often wondered what, where or who this related to; his mother was Mackellow and her mother Standing. Looking into Scottish naming conventions found a lot of good stuff about naming children after ancestors ( https://scottishkin.com/the-traditional-scottish-naming-system explains it simply) but I see no Medron/Meldrum in my tree. Google tells me that both variants are places in Aberdeenshire, Scotland which is the ancestral home of the Mackellows… still more work to do!
by Alison Wilkins G2G6 Mach 2 (29.7k points)
+22 votes

Some of the unusual names in my husband's family, especially when you add in their middle names, are Issacher Dame Whitten and Duxbury Worswick Moon. Then on my side of the family the most unusual I think are my maternal Grandmother and some of her siblings: LeolaFletcher,  Cleze, and Elonzo. 

by Emily Holmberg G2G6 Mach 9 (93.2k points)
+20 votes
My Mom, and Grandmother had my Great Great Grandmother Lillia Grindle Reader (Grindle-268<ref>https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Grindle-268</ref>) first name.

So many people would call them Lillian, or Lilly.  They would have to say it's LillA.   It is not as unusual as some names.  I think it is a pretty name.  If I ever had a daughter, I wanted to name her Lillia.  

This is my first post to 52 ancestors.
by Cathy Claycamp G2G5 (6.0k points)
+25 votes

The first person in my tree that comes to mind is Drinkrow Baron. He sounds like he was born to run a pub or something.  I wondered if he was cool enough to share until I looked to see if he was on Wikitree.  In his biography someone has a note stating;  
"Drinkrow Baron's name is accurate and not a mistake."   Haha :D

Early in my research, I came across an ancestor with the surname Trethewey.  I thought, Hooray, this will be an easy name to trace as it is so unusual.  Turns out it is now the single most common name in my tree.  I have 970 Tretheweys.  :o

by Susie O'Neil G2G6 (8.0k points)
edited by Susie O'Neil
+22 votes

My 3rd great-grandfather Banner Shields https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Shields-1231 was born in 1772.  His father was to be an officer in the Maryland Militia, so I think his unusual name comes from the martial spirit in his father in the years just before the Revolutionary War.

When I first shared my research with my father's oldest brother, my uncle rejected the name as "ridiculous."  It had to be Brenner, not Banner.  I was never able to get him to accept that the name was Banner.

I wrote an article about old Banner for a genealogical periodical in Polk County, Tennessee, where Banner died about 1845.  Ever since, I've been adding to the portrait of him.  I identified his seven daughters, who seem to have been close despite the different places they settled.  In fact I believe these seven sisters mostly orchestrated the subsequent moves from Tennessee to Arkansas, Texas and Oregon.  They had no lamp into the future and when the war came the families that had moved to Texas and Arkansas were caught in it.

Banner had several namesakes in the next few generations.  When I see one of his grandsons with the middle initial B., I have a clue to what it stands for.  His grandson B. S. Newman enlisted and marched from his home in St. Francis County, Arkansas, as far as Memphis before dying of sickness, having never seen action.

In the past couple of years I found a Tennessee Supreme Court case that made Banner come alive for me.  He inherited a slave from his father and, when the slave was grown, he was stolen away.  A man named Reuben Charles offered to find the slave for him--for a price.  Banner was not sure he could trust Mr. Charles, as he was known to be of bad character--but he had helped Banner in a tight spot before.  He proved false, however, and absconded, leaving Banner and his own bondsman, and Banner's bondsmen, liable for the bond.  Banner lost a couple of friends over this, one of them accusing him of secretly sweetening the deal. The court decided that Banner was ultimately the one defrauded, since he had the most to lose.  Around this time Banner's wife died, and he moved from Blount County to McMinn County.

by Margaret Summitt G2G6 Pilot (129k points)
edited by Margaret Summitt
+18 votes
I wrote about Jeremiah Little (Little-11300), a tailor who was born in Scotland, but came to the US about 1845. He was the only Jeremiah Little on the scotland 1841 census and the only Jeremiah Little to be married in all of the scottish old parish registers.

by Janelle Weir G2G6 Mach 4 (45.3k points)
+21 votes

My fifth great-grandfather was a man by the name Parmenas Boyt. He was from Somerset, Wellington specifically, which I think is interesting because the capital of my country (New Zealand) is named Wellington also.

The name Parmenas is Biblical, of Greek origin, being an abbreviated form of the name Parmenides. Parmenas was one of the Seven Deacons chosen by the people and appointed by the apostles to superintend the daily distribution to the Christian poor of Jerusalem. Parmenas suffered martyrdom in 98 under the persecution of the Roman Emperor Trajan. He was Canonised pre-Congregation as a Saint; in the Calendar of Saints, his Feast Day is January 23.

by Amelia Utting G2G6 Pilot (181k points)

Now that is cool!

I agree with Pip.
+17 votes

My older brother always liked the name Eliphalet, and said when we were children that he would name his child that. His boys are named John and Edward.

But the really unusual names in my family are Ukrainian: Karp SZYCH (and his near relatives), pronounced now as Zisch.

Gabriel Szych and Anasthasia Macsure are listed as the parents of Karp Szych on his marriage record to Paraska Frynko.

by Anne B G2G Astronaut (1.2m points)
One of my ancestors is Rev. Eliphalet Wright . I see by your other names you have Russian ancestry like me. I have many Karp's it seems to have been a popular name in the late 1700's to the early 1800's. Prasaka is also Proskovia.
It doesn't surprise me that Karp was a popular names where they came from. They went by Karl and Pearl in the States.
Yes you are absolutely correct.
+18 votes
To some extent "unusual" is in the eyes of the beholder.  By that I mean some names are commonly used in one generation and then disappear.  If you see an "Opal" or a "Jewell" as a name there is a 20-30 year window of when they were likely born.  Having said that I do have a few names I consider unusual, either in name and/or spelling.

1.  Cubbie Ella Mynatt (Mynatt-171)

2.  Mahalia Texana Mynatt (Mynatt -172)

3.  America Vespuscious Thompson (Thompson-35697), 2nd gr-gm
by Randall Gardner G2G6 Mach 2 (21.6k points)
Those are great names!
+20 votes

Hi, my G3 grandfather fortunately had what I consider the unusual first name of Hercules, helpful as his last name was the fairly ubiquitous Hall.  Many of his descendants, especially through his daughters and their lines, have used the name Hercules which has helped me piece my family tree together.

Hercules Hall

I have another relative in a different branch with the middle name "Neptune", we think he got this name because his father was a master mariner.

by Linda Hawkes G2G6 Mach 3 (37.5k points)
edited by Linda Hawkes
+20 votes

My great-great grandmother was named Iberi Ann Buzzard. I don't know why she was named Iberi. Her parents were named Samuel and Sarah, and I can't figure out what the word Iberi would have meant to them. But she had a brother named Irenarch Sylvester, and sisters named Orena Iowa, Oleta Venzia, and Ovoca Rachel.

On a different branch of the family, my great-great-great-grandfather was named Welcome Martin Roper. Apparently, he went by Martin. As you would, I guess, if your first name was Welcome. 

by Jessica Hammond G2G6 Mach 3 (31.5k points)
+19 votes
Most of my ancestors had rather boring names - John, Ernest, Edith etc.

The next generation in my family have unusual names, so they will remain private for now.

However my dad was Poole and he married Brooks and whenever we went back to his hometown people would address the family as mr and mrs Poole and the little puddles.
by Marion Poole G2G Astronaut (1.1m points)
That gave me a big smile. Thanks!
It also made me smile! Thank you!

Related questions

+15 votes
19 answers
304 views asked Sep 17, 2018 in The Tree House by Robynne Lozier G2G6 Pilot (875k points)
+16 votes
58 answers
1.4k views asked Jan 13, 2020 in The Tree House by Eowyn Walker G2G Astronaut (1.7m points)
+20 votes
78 answers
1.7k views asked Feb 3, 2020 in The Tree House by Eowyn Walker G2G Astronaut (1.7m points)
+14 votes
30 answers
699 views asked Jun 18, 2018 in The Tree House by Robynne Lozier G2G6 Pilot (875k points)
+17 votes
40 answers
1.1k views asked Feb 5, 2018 in The Tree House by Robynne Lozier G2G6 Pilot (875k points)
+12 votes
13 answers
249 views asked Jan 6 in The Tree House by Chris Ferraiolo G2G6 Pilot (400k points)
+7 votes
1 answer
136 views asked Dec 23, 2020 in The Tree House by Bill Sims G2G6 Mach 9 (95.1k points)
+18 votes
28 answers
772 views asked Dec 21, 2020 in The Tree House by Eowyn Walker G2G Astronaut (1.7m points)
+14 votes
34 answers
750 views asked Dec 14, 2020 in The Tree House by Eowyn Walker G2G Astronaut (1.7m points)
+15 votes
39 answers
1.4k views asked Dec 7, 2020 in The Tree House by Eowyn Walker G2G Astronaut (1.7m points)

WikiTree  ~  About  ~  Help Help  ~  Search Person Search  ~  Surname:

disclaimer - terms - copyright