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Inheriting Given Names

Posted in Family Biographies/Histories, and Genealogy and History

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 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?”

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  1. Denise Stone
    Denise Stone

    Hi Dana,
    I came across your blog ‘inheriting given names’ which made me think of our Granny. I am Winnie (Thurman) Bolding’s youngest daughter and in a sense named after Granny as my full name is Denise Lucille and I can tell you that my Mother used my full name many times as I was growing up, which leads me to believe I may have inherited some of Granny’s mischeviousness. I really miss Mama, Granny and Grandpa. I have read other blogs that you have on our family history and find it very interesting. Thanks for sharing.

    Denise (Bolding) Stone

    October 28, 2009
    • Hi Denise! I miss them all, too, especially Granny. She used to offer us Dr. Peppers in glass bottles when we came to visit and called us all “Sugie.” I used to tease that it was because there were so many of us that she didn’t remember all our names. Remember all of her refrigerator magnets? I loved to play with them when I was a kid. My grandparents, your Aunt Doris and Uncle Udell, just celebrated their 59th anniversary. I sure can remember Granny and Grandpa’s 60th. It’s kind of strange, but it doesn’t seem like it was that long ago. I was small when we celebrated their 50th, and I remember Bill Jr. and Gary telling me I couldn’t eat any more of the nuts because I was eating too many. They were bigger than me, so I thought they were right. Did you know Gary lives near my grandparents now?

      October 28, 2009

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