Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge ~ F

F is for the funny names that I/you/we encounter in doing genealogy and family history research.

Normally I would use one of the following synonyms to describe these names:

  • absurd
  • amusing
  • ludicrous
  • humdinger
But since we are using the letter f, I am calling them funny. Actually, some of these names I would refer to as just plain awful.  Hey, I know, let's just have fun with names.

There are some first names that can actually be clues to your ancestors ethnic origins, religions, educational and social backgrounds. An excellent resource on names in history is Given Names in Early America: Shaped by history, religion and traditions, by Myra Vanderpool Gormley, CG.

If you have done or seen any research for LDS families you should recognize the obvious first names of Moroni, Brigham, Nephi or Lehi.  But I had no idea there were other first names that were dead giveaways for being from Utah until I found this site: The Utah Baby Namer.  You should read some of these names.  You will be dumbfounded, I'm not kidding! 

Just to name a few, here are some oddball Utah (or LDS) names from my database:

Girls -  Rinda, Givette, Deola, Printha, Capitola, Orbie, Nithell.

Boys - Taggert, Rondo, Mardee, Levoir, Rulon, Purtell, Clytie, Welcome.  

And let's not forget husband and wife Worthen and Werdna.

There are also folks who like to name their children using some kind of a theme, like the parents of Ian, Ida, and Ira. I am all for giving your maiden name to your son for a middle name, but if your maiden name is Bridges why name your son Golden?  And just what was Daisy Fern's mother thinking?

If you have Puritans in your ancestry, you will recognize some of these names: Peleg, Mehitable, Patience, Experience, Gershom, or even Reliance.  And then there was poor Preserved Fish.  Really?  What were his parents thinking? I don't care what century you are living in the kids are going to pick on him for that.  So what else does Preserved do but turn around and subject his son to the same fate.  Who are we kidding?  It was probably Mrs. Fish's doing.

There are also names that seem to be distinct for the Appalachian areas Missouri, Virginia, Tennessee, and North Carolina such as Pleasant, Larkin, Ransom, Greenberry, Littleberry, Fielding, Micajah, Benajah, and Hezekiah for boys. For girls there is Orpha, Oney, Mourning, Pairlee, Orlena, and Urbanna.  I even found a Leafy.

Some folks named their children after famous people or politicians.  I bet every American has a George Washington something in their ancestry.  There are also several James Madisons, Andrew Jacksons, and Benjamin Franklins. Even a couple of James K Polk somethings.  But how many Buster Browns are there? I know of one.

I don't think I have run across funny or unusual names in researching England or Wales. Do you know of any?  What are some of your unusual names?

Thanks for playing fun with names.

Leslie Ann


  1. This is hilarious!! Yep, I've got a "George Washington," two named "Delight" and even a few named "Desire."

  2. What a great collection of 'funny' names you have. I can't lay claim to having any 'George Washington's' of 'Delight's in my family. In fact I think my own name is the oddest that is in my family - it's never in any baby name books/lists, though I do have a cousin with the middle names of Isaac Newton which I would say isn't very common.

  3. Fascinating post. Great that you have so much fun. My lot (English) had no imagination at all. They just kept repeating the same bunch of names in each generation and as each of them had about 10 kids who repeated the names too it gets pretty difficult trying to figure our which one belongs to which. Doesn't help when they lose an infant and reuse the same name for the next one either. So think yourself lucky you have some weird ones. You can borrow some of my numerous George, William, John, Thomas, Robert, James, Margaret, Isabella,Eleanor, Jane and Elizabeth :)

  4. I quite like unusual names. It's usual names spelt a zillion different ways that I can't stand!!!... Let me tell you, from experience, that is indeed a teacher's nightmare :-(



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