18 May 2012

A Stranger's Impact

The comments for a previous post brought up more interesting facts about names. Today being named after someone means sharing a first or middle name. You can even be named after two people, i.e. first name Floyd for one grandfather and middle name William for the other. But in the past, being named after someone could mean you had their full name with your father's surname: George Washington + surname, Benjamin Franklin + surname, etc..
So you noticed that you have a couple Lorenzo Dows (first and middle name) in your family tree on completely unconnected branches. You start wondering if those branches might be connected in some way. First, do a quick Google search of that name. You may find a popular culture figure from their day. Lorenzo Dow was a popular preacher but you may find a politician or a character from a book.
So before you go on a hunt to find out how the other 10 people in your ancestor's town are related because they have the same distinct first and middle names, do a search. You may find that a pop culture connection is all there is. And definitely don't make assumptions that your tree will connect to that famous person!   ;-)
Here are some examples. If you don't recognize the name do a quick Google search to find out who they are.

Just about every American President
Henry Clay
Lorenzo Dow
Francis Marion
Daniel Webster
Waldo Emerson
Elmer Ellsworth
Thomas Jefferson
Benjamin Franklin
Napoleon Bonaparte

Some people named after an icon ended up with two middle names:

John Jordan Crittenden
Horatio Nelson Trafalgar
William Tecumseh Sherman

Female names:

Helen Keller
Clara Barton
Dottie Dimple
Martha Custis
Dolly Madison
Susan Anthony
Eleanor Roosevelt
Martha Washington

NEXT POST: They Do More Before They're Born Than Most People Do...

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