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

This is my first attempt at joining something like this (and it may well be my last), but one of the names that has fascinated me since I first "discovered" her some 30-40 or so years ago is Hephzibah.  When I first "found" her she had no last name and was simply mentioned as attending some family thing (I could never remember if it was a wedding or a baptism).  More recently I "refound" her and started detailing her relationship to my direct line.  After I signed up to Wikitree I discovered she actually had a profile here (created 2013), but there wasn't really much on it.  (I think the profile had been added because she was the second wife .. and it was the husband's line, or the husband's first wife's line that was the interest there.)

I posted on the profile and the PM posted back on my profile, granting me access.  So I added what I had: children, grandchildren, added to her mother's profile, added grandparents, properly linking her to my direct line.  So, she's not one of "my" profiles, but she is "mine" by blood relationship.

May I present my first cousin five times removed Hephzibah Gordon (married name Lesslie). 

by Melanie Paul G2G6 Pilot (269k points)
+15 votes
Gumbo Blackwell: https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Blackwell-3275

Makes me hungry just looking at his name!
by Jessica Key G2G6 Pilot (180k points)
+14 votes

My great-great-great grandparents (https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Reece-1583 and https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Messervy-81) named their 3rd daughter (not on WikiTree) Kate Llewellyn Messervy (similar to the name of their ancestor Llywelyn I "the Great").

by J-M Mustchin G2G6 (8.4k points)
+14 votes

My great grandfather was Fred Orange Pinckney.  I always thought his middle name and surname were unusual.  Since I've gotten into my family's genealogy, I've come to learn that Pinckney was a lot more prominent than I had ever realized (two Pinckney's signed the USS constitution, and quite a few fought in the Revolutionary War, including my 5th great grandfather, Gilbert).  I've also learned that the name originated from Picquigny, a township in northern France.  My ancestors left Normandy with William the Conquerer to take the English crown; hence, my English ancestry.

by William Catambay G2G6 Mach 2 (22.0k points)
+17 votes
How about Orange Lemmon my aunt's father and village grocer born 1855. I can remember him often sat across from the church
by Norman Bishop G2G1 (1.7k points)
I love this name. And how appropriate that he was a village grocer.
+14 votes

I had to go through my family list for this one.  I have Garthelus Cowing (Cowing-9) born 4 Feb 1709 in Scituate, son of Israel Cowing and Hannah Litchfield Cowing.  Might it be a Scottish name?  I think the first Cowing in my line came from Scotland and changed his name a bit.

by Peggy Moss G2G6 Mach 2 (22.3k points)
+14 votes
I have someone in my family tree named Federal Constitution Sprague. As u could imagine he went by F.C.
by Zoiya Tate G2G6 Mach 3 (32.6k points)
edited by Zoiya Tate
Wish he was living today. We need a person with his name walking around, reminding people what the United States was founded on.
+13 votes

For this weeks theme, I have decided to write about one of the more uncommon surnames in my family tree - Tangney. This is the surname of my 3 x great grandmother, Honora (Tangney) McCarthy.

This is my blog post this week:

52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks - Week 3 - Unusual Name - Tangney

by A O'Brien G2G6 Mach 1 (13.7k points)
+12 votes

I had an Uncle Turgarmar Francis-1834 He is my grandmother's brother. I think the name is Welsh but he was born in the US. Just about every source mostly government sources spelled it differently almost every time. Those of involved in our family genealogy laugh  that they spell his name so wrong  so many times that they spell the name just about everyway possible without using a letter Z. It became so bad that I began to use the name that he preferred to use.

by Jerry Dolman G2G6 Pilot (166k points)
+11 votes

My is https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Fine-614. I have never heard of Media it is very unusual name for anyone even a female.

by Anonymous Barnett G2G6 Pilot (465k points)

Under a slightly different spelling, Medea is a Greek goddess.  https://www.britannica.com/topic/Medea-Greek-mythology

+13 votes

My Great grandfather's sister was named Pocahontas Adaline Law (born Badgett) born Feb 1839 in Caswell, NC, died Dec. 8, 1911 in Pelham, Caswell Co., NC

by Cynthia Newton G2G Crew (590 points)
+12 votes
I don't have a lot of unusual  names in my family tree. The ones that come to mind are Gatewood Blevins,  my  3X Great grandfather,  his granddaughters Julia Alizira and Amelia Latitia Blevins . On my Grandmother's side it would be her mother Ludie Elizabeth Parker and her aunts Marvilla and Arrilla Carson.

This is my third week post
by Michelle Parker G2G4 (4.9k points)
+11 votes

For this challenge I chose Ziba Burrows to write my blog on, which is also posted on Facebook and Twitter.

by T Counce G2G6 Mach 6 (63.2k points)
+13 votes

Another UNUSUAL NAME in my family: PRESTWOOD Bowsher, my 2nd great grandfather. His grandfather was ALSO named Prestwood Bowsher (my 4th great grandfather), but his father was William Bowsher. They were from England. I don't know the history of the first name "Prestwood" - my 2nd great grandfather occupation is gardener/groom/greenhouse keeper in 1871-1891 censuses. Prestwood Bowsher

by Sheri Taylor G2G6 Mach 2 (24.6k points)
+13 votes

I don't know if others feel the same way, but I can't read the name Eliphalet without a snicker.  And I have trouble saying it or spelling it correctly, an "n" keeps creeping in.  I guess it was pretty common among the Puritans in New England, but its unusual in modern times.  My 5G grandfather was Eliphalet Read

by Laurie Giffin G2G6 Mach 8 (83.1k points)
Laurie, you are right. I said it with an "n" the first time and smiled.
+13 votes
Oh my. There are a few.

My father , eshelman-223, was named Shearley.

My grandmother, Snide-12, was named Sebra.
by Sue Eshelman G2G6 (6.6k points)
+13 votes

The statistically rarest name in my tree is Henry Rosorn Barsness. His middle name Rosorn doesn't appear to trace to maiden names or family names. He was born to Norwegian Immigrants so there is a possibility this name meant something from Norway. 

by Shanna Leeland G2G6 Mach 5 (54.6k points)
+13 votes
I've been tracing my husband's Hart side back to some of the original immigrants to New England, and it seems there's a John Hart and Mary Hart in every doggone generation! Thankfully my mother's side is fairly unique... there aren't a ton of Sperleys and Mathres. The most unique name I've come across is [[Anonby-3|Maren Iversdatter Anonby]]. She went by Sophie.
by Elise Sheppard G2G2 (2.3k points)
+11 votes

My mind is drawing a complete blank other than all of the German and Italian names in my family tree and my husbands. To me they all seem unusual. While looking thru the posts someone shared a cute story of her dad and mom and how family would call them the pools and their little puddles. (https://www.wikitree.com/g2g/user/Poole-4523) So it got me thinking about one of my aunts used to like to make up nick names for every one. Since younger children have difficulties with pronouncing "L" I became "whanny bird" Although my given name is Louise, my other nickname is "Louann". I recall hearing my mother many times saying she really didn't like the name Louise because she didn't the "wheezy" a popular nick name for Louise. I remember one of my sisters, Julia, being nicknamed by my aunt as "ju ju bee" and I love her husband always calls her jewels.

by Louann Halpin G2G6 Mach 6 (62.2k points)
edited by Louann Halpin
I know what you mean, Louise. When I look at the watchlist of my ancestors, nothing strikes me, luckily, as unusual. However, the nicknames......
This is a cute story, and made me smile - Louise. My husband's siblings have many nicknames:

Bones, Moocher, Hackie, Winehead, Teeth, Bighead, Maggie May, J.D., Ax-Man, and Popsy.

None of the names make any sense to the people who carry the names.
Maggie May was what my one brother called me to irk me, Cheryl!

Louise, love your name story.
Maybe one week the will have nicknames as the topic!
lol.. that is just hilarious and fun Cheryl!
Aw Maggie what didn't you like about Maggie May, I actually love the sound of it?
I love Maggie May also, but my sister-in-law's name is Susan.


Bones was Roger, and he wasn't thin, Moocher was James, and when I asked why, there is no reason. No reason for Hackie - he is David.  Winehead is Dale, and he doesn't drink.  Teeth os Barbara and I have never been able to figure that one out.  J.D. is Gene, named after someone in a T.V. show.  Ax-Man is my husband, because he is on the fire department ( the only one that makes sense) and Popsy is their dad.  He was named that when a child. I always thought he had that name because he had 12 children.

So much fun. My mother-in-law was talking about James one day, and I asked my husband if that was a brother I had not meet yet.  He said no - that is Moocher. It was hard learning double names for everyone. And then the next generation had nicknames also.  laugh

+12 votes

For someone with a mixed pot of ancestors across many ethnicities, I found it hard to locate "unusual" names, surnames or first names. So what ancestor in this 52 Ancestor Challenge will be my focus?

She is not an ancestor; she is my father's cousin who was named after the Capital of Ecuador when her paternal Uncle became an Envoy in Ecuador.  https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Mahany-15

by Maggie N. G2G6 Pilot (822k points)

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