Family Names

I tried wracking my brain, trying to recall if he slept on the couch that night. If not, he should have.

Family stories hold special meaning and offer invaluable insight into the lives of our ancestors. At the same time, some tales might veer a little off course, so those that listened to the tales must sift through the details as they decide, fact or fiction.

In my family tree, I discovered one great-great grandfather that told my mother some less than truthful tales about his experiences while immigrating to America and the details of his life once he arrived. Research refuted those facts, but I still chuckled about this grandfather’s tall tales that he shared with his great-granddaughter.

So, what does that have to do with family names? Well, some stories behind the family names have more than one account attached, and at the very least, some names raised eyebrows as parents stewed over the naming of precious infants.

While pregnant with my daughter, I just had the feeling the child I carried was a girl. Her father, Dave, felt the same, and we had a backup name if we were wrong. If we had a boy, his name would have been Brandon Raymond. We both wanted to add family names, and Raymond was the middle name for Dave and his father. We liked the Irish meaning of Brandon, which meant prince or brave. That decision was easy.

Leslie Marie

Although we focused on female names, we could not agree on what that name should be. The middle name was settled, Marie. This middle name started with my grandmother and was passed to my mother and to me. Still, her first name became a chore, for it had to be perfect. He didn’t like my ideas, and I didn’t care for his, especially when he suggested the name Mary, which happened to be the name of his ex-wife. I remembered that I gave him the look of death, and her father laughed when he realized what he had muttered and stuttered about as he denied it was for his ex. I tried wracking my brain trying to recall if he slept on the couch that night. If not, he should have. After that misstep, in the end, we decided on Leslie Marie, and when she arrived, it was befitting and perfect for our daughter. Since meaning also played such an important role in her name, I was tickled to find, it had a unique purpose and significance, a peaceful warrior. This Scottish name suited our baby girl.

When my parents named their brood, some shenanigans did come into play. The mischief created some exciting stories, and maybe a surprise or two. My parents wanted to include family names to the mix, but they did not always agree on the perfect names. My father made the final decision on all the names except for the youngest child, and that was a funny tale of its own.

To begin, I was the first to be born and the only daughter. In the spirit of tradition, both of my parents wanted to continue with the family namesake. But, in true fashion, the parents did not agree on what that name should be. My mother wanted to name me Aimee Marie, for one dear cousin had married a man, and his last name was Aimee. Mom thought that was a lovely name that would honor her older cousin. On the other hand, Dad thought I should be named after my two great grandmothers, Anna Strassburg and Tamra Anna (Ann) Peyton. So, Ann Marie, it was. When I was in my teens, I remember my mom finding out that he had an ex-fiancé in Georgia named, you guessed it, Ann Marie. I have just decided to leave that one alone; still, I thought that should have also been cause for another man’s punishment for sleeping one night on the couch.

Two years later, a brother showed up in my world, and in true family fashion, he has a spin on his name too. When mom found out she was pregnant in time, she shared her story. Quite determined, I let her know I wanted a brother, and I started calling one of my baby dolls, Tommy. So, it was lucky for me that this newest addition was named for his two grandfathers, Tom Allen, and Wilson Reeder, and Tommy Wilson received his name.

Right on time, another two years passed, and David added joy to our growing family. His name didn’t ruffle any feathers. He was named for a kind uncle that married my dad’s sister, Betty and a pioneering 2x great grandfather that moved his family from Ohio to Colorado. His middle name was LeRoy after my father.

The third son showed up just a little overdue, for he missed mom’s two-year plan by about six months. Keith Allen did include a family name, for Allen was my mom’s maiden name. Dad settled on his name, but I am not sure about the name Keith, and if it has any family ties. It was one of those times, I wish I would have asked more questions.

Now, the last child on the two-year plan has a great family story about his name. Dad wanted to name him William and call him Billy after his older brother. At this point, mom decided she was going to have the final say on this baby. She named him Daniel Harold, and she was the one who filled out the birth certificate. Dad called his tiny son, Little Billy, for three days before mom spilled the beans. My father just laughed about the whole situation, but he would catch himself calling the baby, Billy, for a few weeks after Danny’s birth.

Family names bring a sense of pride and tradition to our family trees. And while I enjoy the fact we have kept those family names, I still smile over some of the controversies. May our family names and crazy anecdotes continue to find their way into the many branches of our tree.

Here are the links about some family members mentioned in this blog:
Spinning Yarns
And Baby Makes Five Part 2
The Land of Milk and Honey

Photo by Simon Matzinger on

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