As we stop and consider the possibilities we can indeed find a real cause for exploration. Perhaps there is a clue in the spelling of the surname. Does it end in ‘son’ or ‘sen’? That spelling will determine it’s country of origin.
It is well to separate the obvious syllables in order to compare them with your past experience of similar names. Almost unaware of doing so we presume to assign all ‘Mac or Mc’ names to Scotland, O’brien or Patrick to Ireland, and quite likely, Roosevelt or Styssant* points to Holland.
Regarding the origins of my own variety of surnames, I unconsciously assign charastics to each. My husband’s forefathers tended to have English-sounding names – Park, Paxton and Haws. As the siblings married we find Gingery, Norine, Jones and Ackerman.
My father’s background includes Harrison, Clevenger, Williamson, and Osborn – all very English. But a quite different picture appears as I contemplate the revealing assortment of Dutch, French, & English names in my mother’s family. I find such names as Roosa, Turner, Rappalje, Oakley, and Montayne appearing across the years. They appear to be all sorts of reasons for the bearers of such arrival in America and for a variety of livelihoods. Among the ladies teaching stood high with one nurse. The men were at times carpenters, farmers and a sprinkling of soldiers. Just possibly some official was notable for having a country named for him.
Adding spice to the interesting subject of names stop and consider the impact of the affect of forms of address. We feel particular interest in hearing “Congressman”, Judge, Professor, Admiral, General, and Doctor. 1) Just watch the quick increase of interest as the faces of the newly informed that first become alert and responsive. The expressions of the newcomers can be most interesting.
My husband was a veterinarian, and he was a member of a group of vets employed by the Dept. of Agriculture to test milk cows. As we were moved frequently nearly all of our acquaintances bore the title of “Dr”. Our children tended to substitute that word for ‘Mister’ and clearly saw no reason to do otherwise. Any friend of Dad’s would be Dr.
One of our landladies was so titillated by having two of our group as tenants she seemed to desire special satisfaction by constantly saying, “Doctor Ellsworth is there anything you need?” “Doctor Herndon, it’s so nice to have you men here. I just know we’ll be the best of friends.” Doubtless some of us went out of our way to “Doctor” the others in our crew lest someone feel unappreciated.
One of our family stories relates the time that a doctor was called to treat a lady with a critical condition. She lay quietly, eyes closed, and apparently uncaring. The doctor was unable to suggest a treatment so he shook his head and whispered, “I’m afraid there is noting I can do.” From the invalid’s bed came a frantic whisper, “I aint dead, I aint dead!”
Impatiently her husband responded, ‘Hush, Jennie, the doctor knows!” Here we find the attitude that the form of address used establishes the undeniable profession of the fortunate bearer.
There are, of course, numerous names that do not appeal to the general public. In fact some are undesirable due to their connections. In my time the names of Stalin, Hitler, Chang Kai Check, Mussolini, and Castro ring offensive bells. yet when a person has built a reputation of right living and reliability he has reason to honor the name given on his birth certificate. He has the privilege and responsibility of keeping its image clear.
My high school class included three or four students with Jewish names. Young Givirtzman was the son of the shoe store owner. he was a good student. At our fiftieth reunion the same man had a totally different name. Convenience and good business brought about the change.
After a woman marries with the understanding that she will keep her birth name. Or she may combine that one with her new husband’s. Children will be able to choose.
My newly married niece might be tempted to cling to the easily written name of Dewy rather than use the more complicated name, Santonasto. And how will their offspring decide to be – should surnames still be in vogue?
*Not quite sure of the spelling she used on this. Some of the letters are crossed out and not sure what she was trying to correct.