#52Ancestors: Same Name

Growing up, I never realized my dad was apparently named after two – or four – of his ancestors. I never knew enough to even ask him or my grandparents about it.

My dad’s name was William David Hahn. His great-grandfather, who came to the United States from Germany when he was about 13 years old, was named William F. Hahn. He died many years before my dad was born. My dad’s grandfather also had an older brother named William Bernard Hahn. I never knew anything about him until I started doing genealogy. He did just one month after my dad was born. So, William could have come from either one of those family members.

Man and child in front of a display of pinatas in Mexico.

Me and my dad in Mexico. I had just had my first birthday.

Or maybe William came from his mother’s side. His maternal great-grandfather was William H. Silcox. My great-aunts say the H stands for Hampton. Some others say it stands for Henry. I haven’t found any documentation for either middle name.  My dad’s first name could have honored him.

My dad’s middle name probably came from his mother’s side. Her father’s name was Henry David Silcox, but he went by Dave. Her maternal grandfather’s name was John David Givens. So there are two possible inspirations for his name.

Photo of Henry David Silcox taken in 1938

Dave Silcox in 1938

My maternal grandmother was Willie Aline Stevens Cook. She was named after her father James William Stevens, a.k.a. Billie. He was apparently named after his dad, for whom I have exactly one record, a marriage license that gives his name as William A. Stephens.  Mam-ma hated the name Willie, because it was also a common name for men. I don’t know why she never switched over to using her middle name.

Willie Cook and her family on her 65th birthday

Pictured left to right (back): Dewey Hoyt Cook, Zenova Arlea Hahn, Howitt Dale Cook, Aldis Wainwright Cook. Seated (front): Willie Aline Stevens Cook.

Willie’s mother’s family had a couple of names that repeated. Her mother’s grandfather was Isaac Pittman (or sometimes Pitman). He had a son Thomas E. Pittman. Thomas had a son Isaac, my great-great-grandfather. Isaac had a son Thomas E. and another son Isaac. That youngest Isaac died when he was just 15 years old. My mother didn’t even know about him.

Portrait of Isaac Pittman in the possession of my mother.

Portrait of Isaac Pittman (b. 1841) in the possession of my mother.

My mother’s paternal grandmother, Dorcas Elizabeth Allison, was named after her grandmother Dorcas Elizabeth Woodall. The younger Dorcas went by Dollie, and that is the name on her tombstone. 47 years later, my mother is still mad that her legal name isn’t on the grave, but that was between Dollie and her daughters.

Dorcas Elizabeth "Dollie" Allison Cook

Portrait of Dorcas Elizabeth “Dollie” Allison Cook

On my dad’s side, my 3x great-grandmother Arminta Alice Stephens Cooper apparently named three of her children after herself. Her oldest daughter, born in 1860, had the similar first name Araminda. Nineteen years later, she gave birth to Arminta A. Cooper, and the next year she bore Alice M. Cooper. She had 13 known children, so maybe she just ran out of ideas for names.

I mentioned that my mom’s mom didn’t like her name. She gave her three children very unusual names, and my mom, Zenova, liked her different name well enough that she picked unusual names for me, too. She told me that if I’d been a boy, she and my dad had chosen the name David Andre, so but for that extra X instead of a Y, I would have had not only a more common name, but I would have been carrying on a family tradition.

About Taminar

When I grow up, I want to make movies and write books. Now in my 50s, I wonder if I'll ever really accomplish the dreams of my youth. I have made two short films, one for a college film-making class, the other for an MTV-sponsored contest. I have written short plays that have been produced, and a few short stories and reviews that have been published. I also perform and direct for community theatre. My working life has included stints in local TV news, public relations, retail management and cashier, and for a couple of years, I made the rides go at Walt Disney World. I have two cats and a husband.
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