Names have helped me immensely in my search for ancestors. This morning one helped me make an emotional connection.
I've been spending the last few days researching Thomas Earles and his son, Michael, my paternal great grandfather. I was gathering and filing documents. But I was bored with them. I was telling my mom last night that I was secretly hoping that someone had run away to join a circus.
What made matters worse, and is hard to admit, is that Michael's second daughter, Evelyn, my father's mother, was adopted, and I was feeling a disconnect to her adoptive father and mother. Why research them if we're not blood-related? This was the first time I'd ever had that thought. I know that my father wants to know both lines. So that's what I was doing, starting with what I knew. But all of a sudden I wasn't interested in the family who generously raised Evelyn as their own.
I needed something to wake me up and have some fun with them. But I woke up early this morning with nothing new.
Then I crossed the bridge over the Merrimack River back into Hudson.
It was 6am and the sun was just starting to come up. A new thought was emerging at the same moment.
"Pay attention to the names."
father, Michael Earles,
daughter, Evelyn Michaelle Earles.
Michael, having accomplished a lot in his life, found himself without a wife and children when he was 50-years-old. He adopted Elizabeth after marrying a woman 20 years his junior, and 5 years later, at age 55, adopted Evelyn. I found it incredibly sweet to incorporate his name into hers, Michaelle being the feminine version of Michael.
The tradition continued with Evelyn's only child:
son, Michael Earles Carlson.
grandson, Michael Earles Carlson
granddaughter, Kathleen Michaelle Carlson
great grandson, Kenneth Michael Cross
|Kathleen Michaelle Earles|
I have a vague memory of my sister complaining about her middle name. I hope she likes it now.
All of my children but my first carry a family name either as a first or middle name as a way to remember their ancestors. They are thrilled to share those names and are curious about the original "owners". In our joy of being a first-time parent we just wanted a unique name for our first daughter. I now wish we'd seen the importance of using a family name to help her remember someone, too. Maybe I'll find an Allison or a Lydsay someday. Maybe she'll start her own tradition with her children. We'll see!
I'll continue to write my great grandfather's story. It is quite impressive. But nothing that Michael did could have impressed me more and made me feel connected so quickly than to start a family name tradition!