Sunday, February 2, 2014

It's all in the Name

So, I have been busy working on my Ancestor 2014 Project this past month and I have mostly finished my chapter about Ethel Norton Dalton.
One thing that was really impressed upon me over the past few weeks has been "Names".
I heard something on Studio5 the other day about names.  The guests were asked about how they felt about naming their children and when other people have opinions about the naming of their child.
The guests all commented about their own names and whether or not they liked their names.
Then one guy stated that he thought that the best idea is to take a look your own family tree.  Find a name from your family history and give it to your child.  He felt that that was a significant way to bring generations together and give a child a sense of importance and belonging.  

Here is a letter about the name Ethel…
To Summer Ethel, 
When Grandma Esther May Norton was expecting Great-Grandma Ethel, she had a little girl just about 9 years old named Nellie.  Nellie was so excited about the new baby, and she could hardly wait for the baby to be born.  However, Nellie got really sick not too long before the baby was to be born.  She had  appendicitis. Now that is not a serious illness, but in those days, they had a hard time diagnosing it. They just thought that Nellie had a stomachache.  Her appendix burst, and she became very, very sick.  When it looked like she might not live, she asked her Mother, Grandma Esther May Norton, to get out all of the little baby clothes for the new baby, and to let her see them, and to please promise to name the new baby after Nellie's favorite aunt, her Aunt Ethel.  Little Nellie died on November 5, 1915 and the new baby was born on January 11, 1916.  It was a little girl named Ethel.  This little baby became my Mother and your Grandma Nan's Mother; your Mom's Grandma; and your Great-Grandma.  You would have been her first great-grandchild.  How neat that you are named after her.  She was a great lady, and you should be very proud to be named after her.
Love, Dolores
April 26, 1998

I had a lot of fun over the past few weeks, compiling pictures, looking up dates, finding stories, and asking questions.  I was fascinated as I looked through the names on my family tree and noticed how names are repeated from generation to generation and sometimes even repeated in the same generation.  
I was thrilled when I remembered that my Aunt Dolores had written this letter to Summer so many years ago and it seemed to appropriate to include it in the chapter about Grandma Ethel.
We sometimes tease Summer about the name Ethel.  It's not exactly hip.  It was, however, in the top 10 list of names in the 1910's.  Also in the list are names like Elizabeth, Lillian, Grace, Ruby, Emma. And many of those names are making a comeback.  But, sadly Ethel is not one of those making a big comeback.  Nonetheless, we are proud to carry on the name of Ethel in our family.  

Another name that is used multiple times is Nellie and Nell.  (Aunt Nellie in this above story, and my mom has a cousin, we refer to her always as Cousin Nellie).  Also, somewhere out there was a distant cousin named NanNell which tells us that my grandparents weren't all that original after all in coming up with a name like NanNell.  
BTW, my grandparents and Dolores have always referred to my mom as NanNell.  
Everyone else calls her NanNell or just Nan.

1 comment:

Amara said...

Regardless then of how she may feel about the actual name Ethel, it's got different connotations for her because of who it's associated with. (like that conversation between Anne and Diana Barry about names right?). I love the connection idea.