Thursday, November 17, 2016

Where Did This Name Come From?

Over on the Empty Branches on the Family Tree blog, written by Linda Stufflebean, today's blog post is Where Did They Get These Names From?  Often, our ancestors named their children after famous persons, like Linda's example of Elbridge Gerry.

My problem has always been a bit more mysterious.  Three generations of my Seaver ancestors have had the middle name of "Walton."  They were:

*  Frank Walton Seaver (1852-1922), son of Isaac and Lucretia (Smith) Seaver.

*  Frederick Walton Seaver (1876-1942), son of Frank Walton and Harriet (Hildreth) Seaver.

*  Frederick Walton Seaver (1911-1983), son of Frederick Walton and Alma Bessie (Richmond) Seaver.

So where did "Walton" come from?  I have no clue.  I've considered:

1)  An ancestor with a first or last name of Walton.  I can't find any.  It would likely be in the ancestry of Isaac Seaver and Lucretia Smith, since their son was the first one with the middle name.

2)  A famous person named "Frank Walton."  A search on Google and Wikipedia found no famous persons with that name.  There was a "Frank Walton" who was an American football player, born in 1911.  Can't be him.  There was a philatelist named "Frank Walton" in England, but he was born in 1955.  Can't be him.

3)  A friend, associate or neighbor of Isaac and Lucretia named "Frank Walton."  I checked the 1850 U.S. census on, and did not find a Frank Walton who resided in Medfield, Northborough, Westminster or Leominster, Massachusetts where they had lived.

4)  It sounded dignified or impressive.

Of course, Lucretia Townsend (Smith) Seaver had interesting given names.  She was named after a school teacher named Lucretia Townsend, who had taught school in Dedham with Lucretia's mother, Elizabeth Horton Dill before her marriage to Alpheus B. Smith.

Don't get me started worrying about my own middle name - Jeffrey.

'Tis still a mystery!  Thank you to Linda for the blog idea!


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Unknown said...

Perhaps a military friend who died? One of my relatives has an unusual first name that doesn't appear anywhere else in the family, and it was discovered that it was from a friend his father made while at war, who died.

Grandpa Landmeier said...

Perhaps someone was an admirer of Isaac Walton or member of the Isaac Walton League

Unknown said...

My great great grandfather was John Baxter Little. My mom was Audrey Little, and my dad was John Baxter. She really wanted to find out where that middle name came from.

John Baxter Little (he had four Mayflower ancestors, so you have a certain faith in the documentation) is extremely well documented, and I can find no female ancestor with that last name and looked for neighbors named Baxter in LaMoille County, Vermont, where he was born. NOTHING.

Baxter is not a name I would think would come out of nowhere. I find this utterly annoying and am glad you posted on the topic.

Kathleen Baxter

David said...

I've also got a couple of interesting names in the tree. One of my Cannon relations who was born in the middle of the Boer War had the name Ethel Ladysmith Kimberley Cannon. The two middle names of course being battles in that war. Another relation born in 1917 was called Allenby John Spreadborough, named after the theatre commander in the Middle East who as the ultimate superior of Lawrence of Arabia.

Jane said...

My great-grandfather was named Edwin Adelbert Irish, born in 1848 in Monroe County, New York. I have no idea where he got his given names, but he wasn't the only Edwin Adelbert born in that area around that time, so there must have been some famous person it came from, I just don't know who!

Another source our ancestors often used for given names was characters in the books they read. For example, Clara Barton was actually Clarissa Harloww Barton, after the heroine of Samuel Richardson's novel Clarissa.