This blog has moved! Please join us over at!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Family Trees

My friend Firegirl was assembling her family tree, and she discovered she has a great-great aunt named Sunbeam Olive.

This led me to wonder, since so many of us have looked in our family trees for baby-naming inspiration: what fun/funny names have YOU found? I have a great-great uncle with the middle name Haddock. I have an actual Egbert in the family, and a Fanny, and a Hubert, and a Wilbur, and a Hulda, and a Jemima---names that are funny now, though I assume not at all funny at the time.

I have a several-times-great uncle named Justice, and I have other relatives with names such as Hannah, Emma, Eva, Clark, Adeline, Isabel, Polly, Henry---all names I could say I was using because they were family names, when I'd actually be using them because they were currently in style. (Unlike, say, "Haddock.")


Sarah said...

I know there is a "Gyner" or "Geiner" in my family tree. I have no idea how it is supposed to be spelled, or where that name even comes from, but I always thought it was a funny name.

Michelle said...

My husband's grandfather was named ZOLTAN. The best part? He was one of six, all the kids had "normal" names but him - and he was the FIRST ONE born in the US when the family immigrated. So clearly they weren't worried about fitting in.

Most people immediately think of the fortune teller in Big, but that was Zoltar. :)

Barb @ getupandplay said...

I haven't discovered any funny names in my own family tree, but my SIL has an ancestor who was named Greenberry. Yes, first name, and yes, he was male.

Allison said...

I have several Fidelia Abigail's or Abigail Fidelia's. Growing up I loved the name Fidelia and I named all of my dolls Fidelia! On the other side I have a great grandfather named Olaf and several Bernard's. I feel like even though none of these are too too uncommon, they would sound very fresh if used today since they aren't really used right now.

anne said...

My family has fairly vanilla names, but my husband's mom's family is full of such gems as his great uncle Napolean Bonaparte _____ and his great-great aunt Fairy, just to name a few.

Suzanne said...

My dad's step-father's middle name is Klare, which I considered using for a girl but couldn't bring myself to spell it that way and spelling it "Claire" makes it too common.

My mom's parents are Swedish so we have lots of Olgas and Olafs in the tree, but my favorite is one of her second cousins named Mona Lisa. I'm assuming it was intentional - she's still alive so no chance of pre-dating the painting.

Tara said...

My paternal grandmother's name is actually Oma (which is the word for grandmother in German, funnily enough). She's gone by her middle name her whole life. :)

young and changing said...

My Great Grandmothers were named Zora and Lula, so none of my siblings were named after them. I may Lula as a middle name.

Susan S. said...

My mom's parents (born late 1890's):
Iva Louise
Herbert Bryon

Their children (born late 1920's early 1930's):
Wilma Francis
Alva Walene
Vivian Maxine
Lela Fern
Virgil Lee
Betty Louise
Vera Lee
Dennis John

Herbert Bryon had a twin named Sukie. They fought over how old they were. :)

Carolyn said...

Nothing unusual, but a lot of very nice names that are on trend now:
Aurelia (nn Ria)
Wilhelmina (nn Minnie)

Anonymous said...

The strangest name I've come across in my family tree is Thankful Downer. It usually causes me to stop and ponder what it means, and I've yet to figure it out!


Jana said...

My husband has an ancestor named Herod. Who in the world names their kid Herod?

My grandmother (born early 1900's) was named after her grandmothers, Viola and Isabelle, and was given the name Ola Belle. Her daughter (my aunt) was named after her grandmothers and was given the name Hattie Maude. I'm very happy that my parents discontinued that particular naming tradition.

rachelopoly said...

My maternal grandfather's first name was KERMIT.

There are also tons of strange names among my grandmother's siblings. The best one? NINA. Oh, you think that's normal? Well, she was the ninth baby born in that family and its pronounced "9-ah". Yeah.

Erica said...

My Great-Grandmother's name was Baby Grace. Yep, that's what was on her birth certificate, not a nickname.

Giselle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Giselle said...

My great-grandmother was one of 18 children...and 2 of her sisters were named Eucharist and Resurrection. Catholic much? My great-grandmother was Bernadette, so I can only think they simply ran out of names at the end of the 18 kids.

My great-grandfather on the other French Canadian side was Doria and his sister was Joan of Arc. Of course in French, it was pronounced prettier..J'darc ;) My other great-grandfather was named Calyx (Cal-eex).

My dad's family was very lacking in creativity. My grandfather had one set of cousins where all of the boys were named "John" and all the girls were named "Mary." So everyone went by their middle names. But I think there were 5 Mary's and 4 John's in that set of siblings. Even a John John. I don't think there was a Mary Mary. :) Another cousin back in the 40s name was Maryjohn. Real creative ;)

Fun topic!

Clarabella said...

Oh man, where do I start? My American grandmother's family from Georgia is full of old school gems like Inez, Hazel, Kermit and Reba (my grandmother, a name I LOVE).
My German family is much more...interesting. I feel I need to point out that I get the feeling alot of these are odd even for Germans. I'm just saying: Here we go: (most of these are great-aunts and distant cousins)
Irmagard, Ursula, Egon (boy), Jutta, Otilie, and Hildegarde (my Oma).

Anonymous said...

Jemima isn't a funny name!

Paige said...

My grandpa's great aunts were named Fannie Lee and Flonnie Lou. And my mammaw's sister was named Octavia, which I actually love and plan to use someday :)

Laura Lou said...

One of my great-grandmothers was Sibyl Sunbeam, and she went by Sunny. The rest of the names I've run across are pretty common for the time though, Olive, Alice, Elizabeth, etc.

Mrs S said...

Nothing too exciting on my family tree. I have a great aunt Nan and a great uncle Juley. My great grandma was a Maisie and both my great great grandmas' were named Isabel.

Mrs S said...

My grandma's name is Enid Julia Stone. I love it.

Linda said...

I have a male cousin born in the 1960's who's name is Shannon Renee.

Elisabeth said...

My grandmother had two sets of twins (my mother is one of them). Their names are Rock (m) and Roxanne (f) and Kathleen and Kayleen (both girls). This has been more than a little confusing at times.

I have a great-grandfather and a great-great-grandfather who are named Amasa (pronounced A-ma-see), a great-great-uncle named Kermit, and some many-great-uncles named Alba, Tema, and Oni (all born in Scotland).

My husband's family has some strange names, too. He has great-great-great-aunts named Tryphena and Manilla and a great-great-great-great-uncle named Marquis Lafayette Perry.

There are some really adorable names, too. My favorites include Elliot, Alice, Lillie Irene, Emma Susannah, and Lucy Viola

Karen L said...

My family tree is dullsville. The most interesting family is my great-grandfather (Leonard) who had siblings named Leander and Levilla Immina plus seven others of the Charles, William, Harry, and Edith variety.

The only other "interesting" name is my aunt's middle name Ethelwyn (a mashup of her aunts' names, Ethel and Winnifred.)

Elisabeth said...

Ah! How could I forget this family name! My grandfather's middle name is Leroy. The name isn't strange until you consider that he was named for Leroy Parker. Otherwise known as Butch Cassidy, a friend of my great-grandfather's in his pre-outlaw days. My grandpa was ashamed of his middle name and almost never admitted it.

Karen L said...

Oh I missed my great-great-grandfather's sister Deidemia, who had 11 siblings of the Thomas, John, and Rebecca variety.

Snoopyfan said...

I am sure there are some weird ones as my dad has traced his family back to the early 1700's, but I haven't asked strangely enough!

My grandpa was Clement and my grandma was Maime (may-mee), but that is it. Lots of Helen's and the name Christina (my name which I used to hate) goes back in my dad's family to 1707. Now I think it's pretty cool, but I still don't really like it that much.

nicolemorales said...

My grandmother's name on my dad's side is Pura. My grandfather on my mom's side is Eusebio. On my mom's side, my great grandfather was Catalino and my great great grandmother was Saturnina! I always thought that was a weird one.

My mom thinks her name is odd (Maribel) but I don't think it is at all! When she was born, they couldn't choose between Isabel and Maria so they went with Maribel. But overall I think Saturnina takes the cake in my family.

Phancy said...

This is a fun post!
I have an Orabelle, and my great-uncle was named Burnham. There are also two, completely unrelated and different generations, Mehitable.

My great-great-grandmother was one of a set of twins. They were born so early that no one thought they'd survive. So they were named Marie and Maria and put in a cigar box on the stove. Both survived and had plenty of kids!

Finally, there was George Washington Cherry and he did indeed marry Martha.

The Mrs. said...

Awesome topic!

I know of a family that has an Aldine Shirrel (All-deen Shur-rel) and a Wilma LaVonne... they had twin girls, Sharon Kay and Karen Fay. Another family has a Golden Eva, Vernon Carlyle, Parthenia Elmira, and a Forrest Eunice (girl). They also had Elsworth, Rosegrant, Elziver, and a Marquis (all boys). And there was a sister set of Orvilla and Sophronia. The weirdest? Rochcina Signa, her brother, Louis Berry Holly Brown, and her sister, Parthena.

Suz said...

One of my favorite Puritan names is Preserved Fish. Regarding the Otilie posted earlier: I have a great-great aunt with that name. My great aunt told me it was German for "Amelia". Distant cousins (triplets) were named Alvin, Alvina, and Alvinta; none of them survived to adulthood.

bunnyslippers said...

My great great grandmother was Drucilla (or Druzilla, depending on the document). There were a number of Drucillas in the area on censuses (censi?) so there was some sort of local influence.

There are a lot of Theodores (which isn't remarkable) but there was also one Theodosia.

Anonymous said...

Oh I love looking through family trees! We have some real gems in ours- Lottie May (which is adorable), twins Pauline and Oline, twins Amajean and Imajean (with sister Shirley Jean), Wavel, Lodusky, Dorthuly, Obelia, Nutte, Pattytire and Pagan. We also have quite a few single letters,like O V and J R. Gotta love the rural South.

Rayleen said...

I have a lot of Berthas, on both my mother's and father's side. also Jens Jensen.

Jenny said...

My family history was pretty vanilla and a little southern such as Lula Mae, Ruby, Pearl, Sabra Ann, etc.

My husband's family was straight up crazy. His great uncles were named Tarzan, Bunyon, and Rage Pain (I always imagined him as a violent man cause C'MON)

Phancy said...

Oh, we also have a Sophronia. I thought that and Orabelle were the prettiest names when I was little.

Little Bird said...

My grandfather used his Hebrew/Yiddish name and went by Kiva. I LOOOOVED it and wanted to use it for my son but my husband veto'ed me. He thought it sounded feminine and/or Nordic. Of course, he now has a colleague (a Jewish man) named Kevah. But I like my grandfather's spelling better.

Joanne said...

I have an uncle Andre, but that's as crazy as we get on either side, since we are Irish Catholic and have a lot of Marys, Rose Bridgets, Agnes, Helen, Margaret. My sister's name is Laura and my grandmother thought that was CRAZY. My husband's grandfather's name was General and his middle name was Mack. General Mack. I love it. Also I went to high school with a guy named Zoltan and I always think of it as a bad-ass name, as he was one too.

My grandmother's name was Josephine and although I loved her so and I love the name, it's used a lot now.

Caitlin said...

LOVING this! (So many Kermits!!)

My Dad's name is Duncan...which seems reasonable until you consider that his nuclear family were Bill, Jan, and Sue. Story goes that my grandmother was all set to name him Stephen until a friend told her that Duncan was the name of a Scottish King, and she decided then and there to use it (we're American, but with Scottish roots. Or Scotch roots, as my grandmother would say.)

That same Gramma was named Janice Eldora Williams when born. She hates her middle name (I think it's charming), and says it was chosen because her mother thought that initials should spell something. Yes. Her initials spelled JEW. (They were Protestant, so don't ask me!)

Caitlin said...

Oh! And! One more story about that same Gramma who named her son Duncan:

When I was born (before all the other Caitlins - we're very Irish on my Mom's side) and my parents mentioned my name, she said "Uck! Why don't you name her something plain like Jane or Susan!"

(Of course, I am her favorite grandchild, so I guess she's gotten over it.)

Kimmy said...

I love the name Adeline, which is the name my great-aunt took when she became a nun. I used the name when I made my Confirmation & it's definitely on my list of potential baby names for the future.

Magic27 said...

Love this topic!
My maternal grandparents, born in Scotland in 1885 (grandfather) and 1896 (grandmother) were Daniel Rosie (no idea where the Rosie comes from) and Jamesina (I'm guessing her parents were hoping for a boy!); and my mother (their 5th child, the youngest by a long way) was Hilda.
Nothing adventurous on my dad's side - just lots of Williams (Bill, Will, Willie, Billie...) and Georges for the boys, Helens and Ruths and Marys for the girls.
Just a word to Caitlin - you should tell your grandmother that Scottish people HATE being called Scotch - for them, that's a drink only! You can say Scottish or Scots, that's it!
As for me, my name (official, not a nickname), Kirsty, is in fact a traditional Scottish version of Christine; when my paternal grandmother heard it (she was English) she thought it dreadful and told all her friends that my name was Catriona... I've had hassles with Kirsty all my life - everyone either calls me "Kristy" (English-speaking people) or, here in France, some mangled Kr-iusoidjgoisglsdhgd-ty type thing.

ksmaybe said...

Oh, we looked hard at the family tree and ran away afraid! I have more than one Hubert, a Rosetta, Hardy, Cecil, Malcolm, on and on. Some aren't terrible, but wow, as an aggregate....not a lot to go from for our tastes!

Marie Green said...

I have a grandpa (great-great, I believe) that was named Torger Torgerson. TRUE EFFING STORY. Besides a few people in my family that are still alive, my family tree wasn't helpful, like, AT ALL.

♥OSD♥ said...

ooooh, i love this topic!

my mom's family is largely dutch, and my dad's is swedish, so there are a lot of normal for the times type of names, but also quite a few interesting ones there:

charles, marvin, jennie, carl, florence, elisabeth, burton, raymond, arthur, harvey, ione, irene, larry, velma, paul, jean, charlene, gerald, roy and ruby (twins), viola rose, lorraine ruth, and marie are all of the kids born in the US...

the dutch side holds such treasures as hendrika, eltje (m), andreas, elsie, emil marius, lilian, milo, magdalena, ethel, corneil and a LOT of peters.

the swedes have several jensens, a bothilde, wilhelmine, neils skott, carl august, marie johanne, and a handful of annemarie's.

on my dad's side, there are several george harrison's/harrison george's back to the 1700's. very interesting.

we are also related to the carvers who commissioned the mayflower, and family members in that line include mary ella, clara, mina, jennie belle, myrtle, sylvia, carol elaine, margaret jane, ethel viola, and a lone marilin. i am liking this spelling, too!

other interesting ones i've gleaned from the family tree:

hans adolph
jorgen praetorius
soren johanne (f)
peder andreas
inger (f)
mette marie (f)
else marie (f)
terkel christiansen
trine johannes (m)
frantz rasmus
morten hansen
beered (m)
harmke (f)
roelf (m)

and sisters:

my great-grandparents were charles and jennie, and charles and florence bothilde. my grand parents were ruby a. (no middle name, just an initial... after 10 kids, my g-grandma had run out of mn's for my grandma and her twin brother!) and marvin charles, and carl edward and martha lucille.

...and to think that i ever complained about being a girl named tracy. ;)

Anonymous said...

The most interesting name in my family tree is William Bentinck H... who was named after the ship he was born on.

Anonymous said...

I love all of these Kermits!
Well, very far back I have, I think, a great great great (etc.) uncle whose name was Elmo. And then he went and became very religious, and his name was officially Saint Elmo. I always found it very funny to think about, Saint Elmo.

Liz said...

Crummett. He would have been my Grandpa's uncle but died as a baby when he was sitting too close to the fireplace and his nightgown caught fire (no one else was in the room, supposedly). Seriously, I could not make this stuff up if I tried. Who names a kid Crummett??

Anonymous said...

Actually there were a lot of girls on my dads side named Dorcas and my great grandad on my moms side was named Dutch.

Lindsay said...

My grandmother was one of 8 children: Otto, Vesta, Oneda Merle (my grandmother), Preston, Georgie, Edward, and the twins Sherwood and Alwood. When I was little, I didn't think anything of them, but as I got older and started talking about visiting my uncles Sherwood and Alwood, people thought I was making those names up!