Tuesday, December 8, 2009

What's In A Name?

To start off...I've had these names picked out since I was about 14-15. So, when I met David when I was 16 and knew immediately I was going to marry him (true story), I was a little nervous about whether or not he'd like the names. We had always talked about names and he said he liked them, but when it came time to actually give the girls names, he told me he had always loved the names and couldn't think of anything else our girls should be named. Yay! And yes, they are all family names, but I think they're pretty darn cute, too.

Piper Lee and Harper Missouri
In the summer of 1849, four men...John Piper, Leamon Tebo, John Harper, and Missouri Joe...all were fugitives living in Great Britain. They were scoundrels...thieves, con men, gossipers, dilly-dalliers...and met in a pub in London. They thought to each other, "What can we do to escape the oppressing confines of the law, because that's getting old." One of the Johns turned to the rest of the group and said, "Hey, let's be pirates! And sail the open seas!" They all loved that idea and in one harmonious unison, began to sing "Yo ho! Yo ho! A pirate's life for me!" as they walked out of the pub and made their way to the shipyards...setting out on their high-seas adventure.

Man, how cool would that be. Nah, they're not pirates. One of them is close, though.

My grandmother, Daphne, my Mom's mom...her great-grandmother was from Ireland. She came to America and met a ruggedly handsome man from Germany...John Piper. Mamaw is not 100% sure how they met, but they fell in love, got married and lived in Kentucky. They soon moved to Alabama to a German community that was working on railroad ties at the time. They had four children. Fannie Mae, Bernice, Jenny and Grover. Grover disappeared one day and the rest of the family never heard from him again. Oddly enough, there's a man named Grover Piper who helped invent the Piper Cub airplane. Fannie Mae, the sister, investigated a little bit, but didn't find out much. Fannie Mae, Mamaw's grandmother, married Joseph Henley and they had four children...Vera, Becky, Beauton, and Harry. Beauton (we called her Ton) married a sweet guy named Leamon...and had little Daphne...my grandmother.

Here is a picture of the Pipers...sorry for the quality of the picture of a picture. These are originals and I didn't want to take them out of the frames.
Check out John Piper goofing off...I bet G'ma Piper smacked him later.

As I said a second ago, Beauton married Leamon. Leamon Tebo Hornbuckle. Yep...bless his heart. My grandmother Daphne's dad. We called him Papa Buck. Mamaw wanted to pass down his name to her kids, but couldn't bear to name one of them Leamon. So, she went with Lee...my Uncle Greg's middle name. I've always liked the name. Also, it just so happens to be David's mom's and sister Rebecca's middle names as well. Perfect! I don't have a picture of Papa Buck with me right now, so I'll just use this one.

In Scotland, a young boy (about 12 or 13) named John Harper stowed away on a boat bound for Mobile, Alabama. When the ship arrived to the New World, the captain found him and told him he had to stay onboard to be returned to Scotland. Well, anyone related to me is not gonna follow orders, so of course John got off the boat and boarded another boat that sailed up a small river further into Alabama. He arrived at a small town...the town I was born and raised in...and became acquainted and more or less adopted by a family, the Yonge's. John Harper lived and worked with them for several years. Mr. Yonge's father or grandfather (not sure which) was the Vice Chancellor of Westminster in England and moved to the Bahamas after he was granted lands and titles there. Mr. Yonge grew up in the Bahamas before moving to America. The University of Florida has named their library after him. While John Harper was working for the Yonge's, he fell in love with their daughter, Mary Alice. They got married and had a daughter who then married a guy named Edward Oates. Their son was John Harper Oates. John Oates married a gal named Alice. After being married for a pretty long while, Alice got sick and John Oates hired a young nurse to come and help take care of her at their home. That nurse was named Ruth Thomas. Sadly, Alice died. About two years later, ole Johnny Boy went back to the hospital to ask about that foxy young nurse, Ruth Thomas, many years his younger. He asked her to marry him. She said yes. So, John Oates' second wife, Ruth (where they got my name), had my great Aunt Johnny and my grandmother Ruby, my dad's mom. Pretty saucy, huh?

An interesting bit of information...my parents moved to that small town after Dad finished medical school to start his own practice and, only after having lived there for a little while, did he find out that his ancestor, Mr. Yonge, actually founded the town.

I don't have a picture of John Harper either, so I'll use this one.

In the 1800's, a Cherokee Indian woman named Mary Ann was born in either North Carolina or NW Georgia. Around that time, in 1864, a man named James Monroe Sutton was born. They met and married and had a daughter named Missouri Jane. They had other kids, too, but not sure of their names. James Sutton ran a general store. When they kids went to school and asked for pencils, he would break the pencils in half and give them each a half. When they came back and asked for the rest of the pencil, he'd give them the needed end. It taught them to be conservative. Maybe that's where I get my cheapness from. Anyways. Missouri Jane married William Moses Dennis. The two of them moved to the side of a mountain because the government was selling land on the mountain very cheaply to help settle people there. They had lots of kids...Elizabeth, Walter, John, Vesther Mae (died young), Emmett, Frank, Posie, Oakland Ray, Warren G, Gordon, Vesther Mae (yes, another one) and Esther Mae.

Esther Mae and Vesther Mae were fraternal twins. That was good to know at first bc fraternal twinning is hereditary on the girl's side...but as it turned out, ours are identical, so just happened.

Warren G...that was his name. They called him "Whig." When he was born, they didn't know what to call him. They were extremely strong Republicans, so they just named him Warren G after Warren G Harding.

Oakland Ray (O.R.) was the first person on either side of the family to finish college. My grandfather was the second. O.R. went to Auburn University in Alabama. During college, he was drafted and went to fight in WWII. After the war, he came back, finished school and graduated.

Esther Mae (Mamaw Esther) married Ernel Ray and had a son, William "Clyde" Leslie...my grandfather. (Also where I got my middle name...Leslie...not Clyde).

Here's Missouri Jane.
I wouldn't want to meet her in a dark alley. She was apparently pretty sassy.

So, there they are.

We thought for awhile about their names...we pondered Biblical names, Irish names, etc. I'm very into the meaning of names...but I think you can overthink it too much. Yes, that child will have that name for forever and definitely deserves strong consideration. You're responsible for it. You name them something weird, it's your fault. You have to be careful with initials, too. During my Irish name phase when I was 13, I liked the name Eilidh for a girl. Pronounced Eye-lee. Yeah...nobody would ever get that right. Poor kid. I liked the name Rory for a boy. Rory is hard to say. Well, for me it is. Still cute, though. Obviously, I'm really into family names...I like heirlooms and passing things down through the generations...teaching your kids about the great people that came before them and the people they were named after. I was stressing at first because I thought, "Oh gosh, they should have super strong names that have this amazing meaning." And, I mean...Piper means "one who plays the pipes." But we got to thinking, it really doesn't matter what the Google name meaning finder tells you about your child's name. It's the love and thought that you put into it that matters - whether it means "the chosen one" or "I'm hungry." Now, I'm not going to name my kid something that turns out meaning "least likely to be cool" but Sara's already my sister's name, so I couldn't use that anyway.

The second most common question I get asked (after "Did you plan on having twins?"...great question) is "How will you decide which one is named what?" Well, since Missouri was such a little sass ball, we're going to say that whichever girl has the most feisty personality will be Harper and the more chill, calm one will be Piper Lee. The hospital said we can take as long as we need to name them as long as we name them before we leave. So, we'll just spend a little time with the girls and if we can't decide, we're flipping a coin.


  1. I think my brain just imploded in on itself. I might have to draw this out on a family tree.

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