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Archive for November 6th, 2007

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Encyclopedia of Me

I have been thinking about participating in this meme at Bella Dia (ha-ha, me and meme) since first encountering it at Tookshire. It is based on Amy Rosenthal’s Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life. Endless posts of public records and old newspaper clippings will get pretty dull and it fits with my theme, family history and lifestory writing. It could be fun however, I make no promises regarding either posting on any kind of schedule or within any sort of guidelines. How’s that for commitment?

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My musings about names and naming traditions have me thinking about a little mystery. Among Bull researchers there has been some debate about Rebecca H. Bull’s middle name. Some think her middle name was Hogan, some think her middle name was Ho(l)mes. While writing my post of Oct 30 about names, it suddenly occurred to me that maybe they both belong to her. There is a “four name” tradition in my branch of the family. Maybe it originated in the earlier generations.

As a child, I knew my great-grandmother as Cora Campbell Jordan, married name Moody. Turns out, and I didn’t know this until a few years ago, she was born Cora Southey Jordan. There was much debate about this in the family which was settled by consulting a great aunt who explained it all. She was named Southey after the English poet. Later in life she adopted the name Campbell, her father’s name, to honor her father. I briefly debated what I would do with this information and decided to acknowledge all of her names. I now list her as Cora Southey Campbell Jordan Moody. To shorten it for convenience would be bureaucratic and would not honor the story of her life.

Some years ago I came across information about her father’s family that included many second middle names that I had never heard. I doubted the information at first. Then I tracked down the cemetery where many of that family are buried and found evidence that at least some had indeed had a second middle name. For instance, Aunt Ann was Margaret Ann Jordan. She was listed on someone else’s family group sheet as Margaret Ann Augustus Jordan. Her gravestone reads “M. A. A. Jordon” supporting the idea that her middle name was both Ann and Augustus.  This still leaves the question of why her married name, Splawn, was left off (maybe they just ran out of room?). She died young, at the age of 37, and most likely the persons responsible for placing the original stone were her parents.

I always say, if unanswered questions drive you crazy, be careful about wishing for answers. Every answer inevitably leads to more questions. However, I know the answer to one question. “What’s in a name?”…the story.

So how am I going to prove or disprove my theory that maybe Rebecca is Rebecca Hogan Ho(l)mes Bull Scarborough Meek(s)?

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