Here we are at week 26 of 2020, and smack dab in the middle of Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge. Appropriately, this week’s prompt is “middle” and it’s got me thinking about middle names.
One of my cousins on my dad’s side has her mom’s maiden name as her middle name. Growing up, I thought it was unusual, but it’s something I’ve seen quite often since starting my family tree research.
My husband’s great-grandfather George Rouse Lindsey has his mother’s maiden name as his middle name. George’s brother John has his grandmother’s maiden name – Breckenridge. That grandmother’s full name was Letitia Preston Breckenridge Lindsey; Preston was her grandmother’s maiden name. An unusual middle name isn’t always a family surname, but it can be helpful when it is.
My paternal grandfather, Dewey Hoyt Cook, always went by his middle name. Once when he was in the hospital, I thought they’d lost him or he’d died because I asked for Hoyt Cook, and they said he wasn’t there. He was “booked” under his first name, of course. Two of his brothers, Arthur Harvey and Harold Hilton also went by their middle names.
My dad went by his first name, but all four of his brothers were called by their middle names, by the family at least.
My mother gave me very unusual first and middle names. It’ll be great for anyone researching our branch of the family in a hundred years. I quickly tired of my first name, though. People mispronounced it or “misheard” it as a more common name. Between 9th and 10th grade, we moved (again – we were a Navy family), and I decided – new school, new name. I started going by my middle name, Auriette, unaware it was pretty much a family tradition to do that. I still get some mispronunciation, but more often people will say, “Huh?” if they don’t get it, instead of just guessing at what it must be. People I work with laugh because when someone asks my name on the phone, I automatically start spelling it after I say it.
One last middle name story, from my early days of genealogy. Those of you with experience will get this right off. My mother had a great-uncle named Cleve. “Not Clive?” I asked. No, she told me, C-L-E-V-E. I was running into a lot of Pittmans named Cleve when I ran across a new document that showed me Cleve – or rather Cleveland – was his middle name. His first name, it turns out, was Grover.
“This is great!” I thought. How many people would name their kids Grover Cleveland — Oh. Yeah. Lots.