I know some people prefer not to name their children after family members. A solid argument can be made for giving a child a name that is entirely their own, at least within the context of the family. When someone is calling for Dana at family gatherings, I always know they mean me. I believe I’m the only Dana in any branch of my family; I’ve yet to prove otherwise, anyway.
My daughter Maggie has an old-fashioned name. We named her for her grandmother, Margaret, my husband’s mother. Indeed, when parents name their children, it is generally for a close relative rather than a distant ancestor. What I didn’t realize, however, is that the name Margaret stretches quite far back in my husband’s family. My husband’s second cousin Bobbye Phillips connected with me online and shared her Ancestry.com family tree with me.
My mother-in-law’s mother was Margaret Emma Ledbetter (1916-1995), daughter of Clarence Ledbetter (1868-?) and Rosanna Belle Beasley (1881-1946). Rosanna Beasley’s paternal grandmother was Margaretta Etta Pugh Beasley (1827-1898). It’s possible that Margaretta Pugh’s mother, Prudence Jane Nicks Pugh (1794-1887), named her daughter after her own paternal grandmother, Margaret Doaks Nicks (1752-?). Prudence’s paternal grandfather also had a mother named Margaret — Margaret Edwards Nicks (1717-1753).
I find it fairly interesting that the name Margaret has been passed through my husband’s family for nearly 300 years. In some ways, it feels like a connection across the generations. My friend Roger has an interesting essay (which I contributed a small part to) on naming practices around the world: “What’s in a Name?”