Thursday, June 12, 2014

Research Tip - What's in a Name?

Naming a newborn child after a well-know person has been a common practice through the years. My own family includes George Washington and Andrew Jackson.  No, they weren't the former presidents of the United States. Their last name was Joyce. I don't know why George Washington was chosen as a name for one child, but the mother of these two babies was from Davidson County, Tennessee, where Andrew Jackson lived, and that may have played a part in adopting his name for the other child. Whatever the reason, you have to admit their names are impressive.

Then there was their brother and my ancestor, Lycurgus Mino Joyce. Not a name found very often - unless you lived in Lawrence County, Tennessee in the mid-1800s. And the Joyces did.  Apparently, my ancestor, James P. Joyce thought so highly of a local business man, Lycurgus Mino Bentley, that he named his youngest son after him. He didn't use his full name very often, preferring to be called L. Mino.

A name seen more often in Kentucky was Linn Boyd. Who was he that caused so many parents to give their children his name? Well, Linn Boyd (1800-1859) began his political career in Kentucky, having served in the House of Representatives from Calloway County. Later he moved to Trigg County. He was speaker of the United States House of Representatives 1851-1855. It makes you wonder if parents thought good fortune would come to children toting around the name of a famous person.

Do you have a Joel Grace in your family?  Joel Grace was an early Baptist minister in Livingston and Crittenden counties and died 27 January 1864 at the age of 63. He was ordained in 1835 and served a number of churches. If there is a Joel Grace in your family don't be surprised if the family was Baptist.

Names may be clues leading us to more information about our families. At the very least, they are fun to wonder about and speculate why those particular names were chosen.

Published 12 June 2014 Western Kentucky Genealogy Blog,

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