I was digging around in a client’s tree last week, and I came across a couple who were very creative in naming their children. When I come across one unusual name it amuses me, but when I come across a handful, that’s even better.
John Brittain was born in 1796 in South Carolina. He took Sarah Lindsey as his bride in 1825, when he was twenty-seven and she was just seventeen. Over the next 30 years they had at least twelve children, most of whom lived to adulthood and beyond. Findagrave was a wealth of information on the children and their families, most of whom spent their entire lives in Indiana.
First was William Brittain, born in 1826, named after his paternal grandfather, nothing fancy there. But then things got more creative.
Jamima America Brittain was born in 1828. She went by “America” so she must not have minded her unusual name. She had nine children, all with quite typical names.
John Columbus Brittain – Named after his father John and Christopher Columbus, perhaps? John named his son born in 1861 “Abraham” and his son born in 1865 “Ulysses,” perhaps after the Civil War heroes of the North. (This was Indiana, after all.)
Mary Indiana Brittain went by “Indiana” all her life—her tombstone even gives that name. So being named after the state of her birth must not have bothered her too much. (I’m glad my parents didn’t name me “Illinois”!) Her eight children all had common names.
Virginia Brittain – another state name. Her mother’s parents came from Virginia, so perhaps that’s the connection. She named one of her sons “Washington,” but the other seven children have more typical names.
Marquis (Marion) Lafayette Brittain – I wonder what caused John and Sarah to name their child after this famous French aristocrat and military officer who fought for the United States in the Revolutionary War? Was it because the war hero had died two years earlier, in 1834? At any rate, this Lafayette had eleven children with two wives, and although some of the girls had unusual first names (Phelda, Lola, Orpha), none of the names had political or geographical overtones.
Leah Frances and Sarah Catherine Brittain came next. Both had ordinary names and as far as I could tell, ordinary lives. I think Sarah might have died young, possibly after having daughters named Dora and Flora, but the records aren’t clear.
Theodore Hyson Brittain was a Civil War veteran. His seven children had fairly typical names. The youngest was a daughter named “Tillie Belle,” which I think is very cute.
Sidney Smith Brittain was married twice. He and his second wife (pictured here) named their sons Simon Sidney, Orville Lee, and Orbra Ivan, and their daughters were named Bessie, Eutha, Lura, and Lenore. Perhaps these were popular children’s names in Oklahoma, where they lived.
Taylor Adolphus Brittain had the dubious distinction of dying of scurvy at a time when that was rare. He was unemployed at age 52 in the 1900 census; perhaps he was already sick.
Queen Victoria Brittain – What a name! She was born in 1851, at the height of the reign of England’s queen (pictured)—before her beloved Prince Albert had died and turned her into a perpetual mourner. Our Victoria had nine children, according to the 1900 census, but only two survived—daughters Artemesia and Estie May. One son was named Algain.
Lovina Brittain died at age 24, perhaps in childbirth. No children are recorded.
I love finding a collection of names like this, all in one family! What's your favorite name in your family tree?