Archive for October, 2007

Just call me Nasturtium

I just read this post at Traversing the Midlife Minefield. It struck a chord. She decided to revert to her maiden name after divorce and her sister laughs, “What does it mean to you?” It seems to me that the only person a name should mean anything to is the one who bears it.

I’ve had my own problems with names. After almost five years of living together, my husband and I decided to go down to the sub-courthouse and make our partnership official. It seemed the thing to do for legal reasons, insurance coverage, etc. There were no children. I didn’t change my name. It didn’t seem necessary after all that time and hubby didn’t care one wit. Then, about a year and a half later, we moved 1,000 miles away to a very, very small town in bfn. Suddenly total strangers felt the need to voice their opinions regarding how I signed my name. I might add that the largely Hispanic population had their own unique naming customs but it didn’t seem to matter.

I quickly caved in the interest of keeping things *simple*. When I went down to get a new driver’s license, I put my name down followed by a hyphen and my husband’s surname. For example, Jane Marie Doe became Jane Marie Doe-Smith, wife of John Thomas Smith. I thought it would clarify things. Ha! People couldn’t deal with the hyphen and my name ended up recorded a dozen different ways.

When I got my driver’s license it read Jane D. Smith. When we went to buy a car, I specifically told the salesman that I was putting my name down exactly as it reads on my driver’s license and I wanted the title to read the same. It didn’t matter, he wanted my legal name, Jane Marie Doe-Smith. Finally, I thought, someone cares about getting it right. The car ended up titled to John T. Smith and Jane M. Smith. Now I was driving around in a car titled to Jane M. Smith, insured by Jane M. Doe and carrying a driver’s license for Jane D. Smith. That was just the beginning.

Of course all these permutations of my name were similar enough but it made my credit report look like a felon’s with a bunch of aliases. Furthermore, there were people who felt the need to lecture me about the need for consistency, for legal reasons you know.

My attempts at achieving consistency were thwarted by different rules for “name changes” at different places. One place might take your word for it and just make the change. At another place, the computer system wouldn’t accept characters, like hyphens, in the name field and one name per field please. Some places had two name fields but most had three. You are lucky to get three name fields, four is out of the question. Many times the second field only accepted one letter. Other places required that you send original documents to prove the name change. You want me to put my marriage license and my driver’s license in the mail to you? And it will take 6 to 8 weeks for processing? I was frustrated and decided to keep the name with which I was born but suddenly, hubby cared. He thought we should have the same last name. I told him that I was going to change my name to Nasturtium (one name like Cher) and be done with it. He wasn’t amused.

After almost two years in that small town, we moved to a large city in the same state. No one seemed to care which name I used. I happily continued using the name I had used for twenty-eight years before moving to bfn. The mailman might have been a little confused. I received mail in different names for years. They lingered on my credit report. Just call me Mrs. Jim Doesmith. When questioned about it I sweetly, slowly launched into a long, involved explanation that quickly bored the listener. They decided that they really didn’t want to know and were sorry they asked.

The name thing, as it came to be known, later became an issue in my marriage despite the fact that for years he never thought twice about it and he knew what a hassle it caused me when I tried to change it. I suspect that as he got older, Mr. I Am Not A Joiner succumbed to some sort of good ol’ boy peer pressure. We divorced after thirteen years of marriage and…you got it…he used the name thing as proof that I was never fully committed to our marriage (after eighteen years together?). I laughed hysterically.

Of course the lesson is, do what you wish and others be damned. You can’t please anyone but yourself.

I recently moved and experienced deja vu for the first time in a long time. Apparently my city is known for its odd street names. I had no idea. When I tried to get the utilities turned on at 123 N. 18 1/2 St., I was advised that my address is not in their database and therefore not in their service area. I live in the center of a large city, how can that be? Until I can give them a “good” address, they can’t help me. What?

It took me two or three days to figure out what the problem was and get it straightened out. It seems that some address fields don’t take special characters, like forward slashes. My address is different in different computer systems: 123 N. 18 1 2 St., 123 N. 18.5 St., 123 N. 18th half St., 123 N. 18 and one half St….

My life strangely loops back upon itself.


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Mary Denson obituary, The Rosebud News, Rosebud, Texas, 8 December 1933.

Pioneer Woman Passes Away in City Tuesday

Mrs. Mary Jane Jordan Denson, mother of Mrs. D. V. Barry of this city, and one of the beloved pioneer women of Williamson county, passed away at the Lehman home in this city, Tuesday night after an illness of a few weeks’ duration.

For the past four years, Mrs. Denson has made her home in this city, coming to be near her daughter, Mrs. Lehman during her illness, and since the passing of this daughter, she remained with Mrs. Barry, and during her residence here she endeared herself to all, with whom she has come in contact. She was a lovable character and truly one of God’s noblewomen.

She was born September 28, 1845 in Alabama, and later moved to Arkansas where she was married to Mr. J. H. Denson in 1868. To this union nine children were born; six surviving, Mesdames W. E. Nix of Lawton, Oklahoma; Tell Nix of Plainview, P. E. Root of Granger, and Mr. W. B. Denson of Granger, J. J. Denson of Carlton, Oregon and Mrs. D. V. Barry of Rosebud.

Mrs. Denson united with the Baptist church at the age of fourteen and lived true to its precepts. Hers was truly a life of love and service, and she lived daily at the feet of her Master, never faltering; never shirking in doing his will. For many, many years her bible has been her constant companion, and she loved to read it, and meditate on its wonderful revelations. Mrs. Denson lived an unusual active life and was happiest in the loving administrations to others. During the war, her patriotism was brought to bear most forcibly, and she spent a great deal of her time in sewing and caring for the Confederate soldiers. Her home was ever the center for social gatherings and within the confines of the old family home in Granger, many hospitalities can be recalled, where her genial manner and courtly air bade welcome to friends and acquaintances.

The husband and companion passed away at the family home in Granger in 1916, where they were among the pioneers in that section of the state.

Brief funeral services were conducted by Rev. T. H. Vaughn at the Lehman home Wednesday morning and later taken to the old home in Granger, where the body was laid to rest beside her companion. Funeral services were held in the Baptist church in Granger, with Rev Blailock assisting.

Pall bearers were V. D. Nicholson, Van B. Harris, Joe Smilie, Tom Arnold, T. J. Hickersn, George Robertsn, Charlie Cllins and S. C. Souther.

To the bereaved the News and its readers extend deep sympathy.

Mary Denson obituary, Williamson County Sun, Georgetown, Texas, 8 December 1933.

Funeral Held for Mrs. J. H. Denson

Granger, Dec. 6 – Funeral services were conducted here Wednesday afternoon for Mrs. J. H. Denson, 88, who died Tuesday at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Vance Berry in Rosebud. Mrs. Denson made her home in Granger for more than half a century and was one of the earliest settlers of this section. Four years ago she went to Rosebud to make her home with her daughter.

Surviving Mrs. Denson are two sons, Jesse Denson of Portland, Ore., and W. R. Denson of Granger, and four daughters, Mrs. Walter Hicks of Oklahoma, Mrs. Vance Berry of Rosebud, Mrs. Tal Nicks of Granger. There are many grandchildren.

Macedonia Cemetery

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Martha Jordan obituary, Williamson County Sun, Georgetown, Texas, 1 April 1909.

Mrs. Martha Jordon

Granger, March 21. Mrs. Martha Jordon, better known as Grandma Jordon, died at the home of her son-in-law, J. H. Denson, on Saturday morning after a stroke of paralysis and three week’s illness. Mrs. Jordon was 86 years of age the day of her death. She was buried at the Macedonia cemetery this afternoon.

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Daniel Bull obituary, Plumas National Bulletin, Quincy, California, 29 November 1900, page 3, column 4.


A telegram was received by the Masonic Lodge in this place Wednesday announcing the death in Oakland that morning of a well-known former citizen of Plumas, Daniel M. Bull. This news came as a great surprise to friends here, for none of them knew that he had been ill. The funeral took place today under the auspices of the Masonic fraternity.

Daniel M. Bull was a native of Georgia and at the time of his death was 67 years old. He was an old-time citizen of California. In the early “seventies,” he was a wood contractor in the Truckee country and supplied many of the mines in Nevada with fuel and timbers. He returned to Plumas in the latter “seventies” and engaged in mining, particularly at Minerva Bar on the Middle Fork of the Feather River. Later, he devoted much attention to a “perpetual motion machine,” in which enterprise he had the financial support of many of our leading citizens. This, however, proved a failure. Most of Mr. Bull’s time during the past ten years has been spent at Verdi. He made an occasional visit to Plumas to look after some mining interests. In fact, he had but recently organized a company to develop a mining proposition near Quincy. Just prior to his death, he made a trip to Omaha on a business connected with this enterprise.

Deceased was a man well known to the people of Plumas and to those of western Nevada. He possessed considerable native ability and a fund of originality, which, with his peculiar bent of mind and his wonderful versatility, always made him entertaining. Like the rest of mankind, he had his peculiarities, but he was a kind-hearted and generous friend. For many years, he was a member in good standing of Plumas Lodge, No. 60, F. & A. M.

California State Parks Office of Historic Preservation

CERES State Historical Landmarks

Plumas County, California

Plumas County Museum Association

Plumas County Northern California Visitor’s Bureau

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Bull interments in the Murphree Cemetery, Hamilton County, Texas.

Bull, James C., 1833-1911 (double stone)
Bull, Isabell Hawkins, 1838-1919 (double stone)
Bull, Dorcas Leah, 1863-1936
Bull, Ambrose Mack, 1875-1936
Bull, Frank, 15 July 1899-1 August 1921
Bull, Robert J., 5 September 1873-21 December 1950 (double stone)
Bull, Lydia Dunn, 10 September 1877-7 July 1934 (double stone)
Bull, Finis, 16 March 1910-17 March 1910
Bull, Isabell Bull Smith, 1867-1888

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I finally decided what I wanted for my birthday and since I was on my way to see the folks, I figured there was no time like the present…for presents.

Me:  “So, I decided what I want for my birthday.”

Dad: “Yeah, what’s that?”

Me:  “Your DNA.”

Dad: (smiling) “What?”

Me:  “You are the only one here with a Y chromosome and since you didn’t give it to me at conception, I would like it now please.”

Dad: (grinning) “All right.”

I wasn’t surprised that he was up for it. Dad’s a genealogist and family historian as well but we never discussed the subject before. Some people are leery of the swab. I went ahead and pointed out that if he had reservations about giving up his genetic material, he has a couple of male double cousins that should carry the same markers, paternal and maternal. No, he was game. So much so that the swabs came out immediately and the envelope was on its way to Houston before I hit the road to go home.

It seems genetic genealogy can be as addicting as the regular kind. We haven’t seen the results and we have already started planning further tests. I love maps. I can’t wait.

Randy Whited of Family Tree DNA gave a presentation to the Austin Genealogical Society last year. Here’s a sample of their reports.

International Society of Genetic Genealogy

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The things I miss

when I am in an exam. Someone told me that a really interesting show came on last night right before Frontline. She only caught a small part of it, but it seemed to have been about genetics and maybe some kind of ancestral genetic determination. My curiosity sent me straight to the listings. It was this week’s episode of NOVA entitled Ghost in Your Genes. I will have to try and set the vcr to tape the rerun at 3 am. I can’t remember the last time I used the vcr so it should be interesting.

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