Friday, May 15, 2009

"Making" a Family Story Up

Where Does Your Name Come From?
Have you ever thought about where your name came from? Maybe you already know, but then again maybe you don't...I know that I'm named after my mom, and that I share it with my great-great grandmother Catharine Caroline Vaughn. Also, I already shared with you how I acquired my middle name Martin. I'm one of the lucky ones, though. Nowadays, so many don't know where their name comes from.

It's Personal
However, I never realized how important given names are in finding your family story until I started doing genealogical research. Actually when you think about it, names are highly personal to us now, so why wouldn't they be highly personal to our ancestors? If you have children, think about the time you spent and the thought processes that you went through picking out your children's names.

Diggin' Up Stories
There are so many aspects of researching given names that I love and that I use consistently in my research - from name origins to naming patterns. It seems that whenever I start digging into given names, they seem to reveal family stories. I am by no means [not even a smidgen] an expert on genealogical given name research [say that 10 times fast], but hopefully it can help others in their research. Oh, and if you don't do genealogical research [What, there are people who don't?], then I hope it gets you thinking about your family's given names and the family stories that may be behind them...

A Family Story Within a Family Story...
As I was going through my husband's family's genealogy jackpot cache this week, I stumbled upon something of my own family's meager heirlooms. Remember the WWI Victory Medal that is probably my grandfather's that I found in my father's old jewelry box? Well, there were a few more items that I found. One of which is a lady's powder compact with matching [and at one time] attached lipstick. They both still have "product" in them, and the lipstick is bright red. Now I'm pretty sure they aren't my dad's. How? Because he never wore that shade of lipstick [badump-bump...] Seriously, I think it was my Paw-Paw's [his mother's] makeup. They weren't my mom's, and my Paw-Paw died a year before my dad. So, it's a possiblity... The bottom of the compact is stamped with "Made in the U.S.A." [don't see that much anymore], and the bottom of the lipstick reads: "Jacqueline Cochran New York Distributor" and the shade is "Firecracker" [and it certainly is...]. I'd never heard of Jacqueline Cochran, so I "Googled" the name [you know you've made it when the name of your business is also used as a verb...]. Do you know who or what Jacqueline Cochran was? Well, it's the name of a cosmetics company started by a [you guessed it] Jacqueline Cochran. She was a woman who had grown up poor in Florida moved to New York and became a hairdresser who also "dabbled" in the making of cosmetics. She was a hair dresser to the "rich" and was often invited to their parties. She often traveled with her wealthy customers, and this is how she met a tycoon [what are the odds, right?], Floyd Bostwick Odlum, who would eventually become her husband [just as soon as he stopped being someone else's husband...tsk-tsk]. He basically funded her cosmetics business, but that's not what she's usually known for...she was a pilot in the same era as Amelia Earhart, and she won many races and set a multitude of records in aviation. In addition, she led the WASPs [Women's Air Force Service Pilots] in WWII. [These women serving in WWII are everywhere.]

If You Want, Make Up Your Family Story...
Jacqueline Cochran, however, was not really Jacqueline. It seems that Jacqueline was not really proud of her family's poverty and her real family story, so she made her own family story up that included her being an orphan, raised by a foster family, and she even changed her name from Bessie Lee Pittman [which doesn't really have the same ring to it...]. Anyway, some of her family [who did exist] who lived with her later in life on her ranch in California were instructed to say that they were her adopted family...[now that's a tidbit that could come in handy with some of my family members - lol]. Her whole story can be found here, here and here.

Named After Aviatrix and Cosmetics Line?
So, what does this have to do with my family story? Well, I've done a lot of research on my Paw-Paw's lines, and one thing I know to be true is that there are definite naming patterns in all her lines [that ended up in Johnson County in Southern Illinois]. So, it always baffled me that my Paw-Paw named her only daughter, my aunt, Jacqueline [and she named her daughter, my cousin, Jacqueline]. Coincidence? looks like I am going to have to call my aunt again, to see what she knows, but I do find that it is at best, very suspicious, and at worst, very interesting that this name has "popped" up and has uncovered another family story [Bessie's, not mine...yet].


  1. Great story! Its so interesting to see how people came up with names and the stories we find behind litle things that we find, if we dig deep enough.

  2. hmmmm very interesting. Also coincidence, I'm posting soon about my girl's names and asking other's how they chose their children's names.
    It is interesting what influences people when they name their children. Cosmetic or famous names, etc.
    I guess the Bessie Lee line wouldn't have made it long in New York. haha.
    That is really amazing that there was still a tube of lipstick in with that stuff.


  3. One of the other blogs I read did a geneology post you might enjoy:

    I'll put your button on my blog soon. Next time I'm in there moving things around. How do you make those?



Inappropriate comments will be deleted. So keep it clean and be nice.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...