Thursday, May 27, 2010

Why Didn't You Name Me Alice?

"Why didn't you name me Alice," my daughter asked me. "It's a much better name than mine.  It's beast."

["Beast," apparently, is the new "cool."]

I sighed.  When I was pregnant [both times], I put a lot of thought into the names of my children.  I researched what each one meant and made a short list.  In the end, I chose Irish names to honor my Irish heritage.  [Interestingly, to hear my mom's family tell it, you'd think we're 100% Irish, which we're not.]

Unfortunately, my daughter's Irish name just happens to be very popular.  [You know, like the name, "Jennifer" in the 80's and 90's?]  I did spell it the old Gaelic way, but no matter how ya' spell it, there's a gazillion of 'em.

Truth be told, if someone had presented me with our family tree and maybe a few stories behind the names, I could've chosen names from there.  But, Alas!  This wasn't the case.

"Sweetie, but there's quite a few Alice's in our family," I responded.

"But it'd be different.  There aren't that many Alice's in the world, and it'd be neat to be named after our Alice's."

"Why," I asked.

"Cuz they're my family," she answered.

[Sigh.  Can I have a do-over?]

"Oh well," I told her.  "If you have a daughter,... "  [much, much later] " can name her Alice."

"That's what I'm gonna do," she said.

This discussion about the name Alice that I had with my daughter the other day is not a new one.  She loves the name Alice.  And I have a soft spot for the name as well since my Gran was Mary Alice.  My Gran's mother was Alice.  I even have a second cousin named Alice.

And it really burns my butt that I can't find who they were named after.  Well, I know who ~ it was my 2nd great-grandfather's, Daniel Rook Vaughn's, baby sister, Alice.  However, I only found her one time and that's in the 1850 census.  In fact, that's the last time I see Daniel and the rest of his family together.  And it annoys immensely.

So our discussion the other day about the name Alice reminded me of how badly I wanted to find Alice.

I decided to start right here in Texas with Daniel Rook Vaughan and his children [in birth order]:
  • Henry Lewis Vaughan
  • Alice F. (Vaughan) Truitt [my great-grandmother]
  • Vyla P. (Vaughan) Sproul
  • Genevive L. (Vaughan) Bouquet
  • Daniel W. Vaughan
I previously found Daniel Rook Vaughan's death certificate, which stated that his father was "Benjamine Vaughn" and his mother was "Susiana Rook".

Because online databases are being updated all the time, I decided to look at Family Search's Record Pilot.  What I like to do with this database is to cast my net wide, so to speak.  I'll put in first and last names and the state, and then narrow from there.  With a name like Daniel, it could be spelled fully, shortened [Dan], or abbreviated [Danl].  Also, I try the common variations of the last name.  In this case, Vaughn and Vaughan.  In all my research of Daniel, this name is spelled both ways.  This database is not as voluminous as Ancestry's databases, and I also tend to pick up my ancestors in places I wouldn't have looked for them, otherwise.

When I entered all the variations, I had some success that I hadn't had previously.  Record Pilot has a database called "Texas Vital Records Index," which is a compilation of birth, marriage, and death information transcribed from filmed original records from repositories across Texas.  Yes, it's far from the primary source, but it's a good indication of where I need to look for records.  In case you haven't noticed, Texas is a big state.

The first record that comes up for Daniel Vaughan in Texas is entitled, Texas Births and Christenings, 1840-1981".  So, these are church records more than likely.  Here's some of the information on the first one:
  • Henry Louis or Lewis [V]aughan
  • Baptized/Christened 2 Jun 1878 at St. Mary's Cathedral in Galveston, Galveston Co, TX
  • Birth Date: 7 Apr 1878
  • Parent's: Daniel Vaughan and Annie O'Brien [who my Irish heritage comes from]
So, this is christening info for Daniel and Annie's 1st child.  I also found their next 2 children's [in birth order] christening info with their FULL names:

  • Alice Florence Vaughan [my great-grandmother]
  • Vyla Prudence Vaughan
Their 1st three children were christened on Galveston Island at St. Mary's Cathedral, which at the time was and still is today, a ferry ride from where the Vaughan's were living at the time, Bolivar Peninsula, Texas.  [Looks like I gotta go back to the beach.  Oops, I mean  Cathedral.  I gotta go to the cathedral. *sigh*]

Though I didn't find christening records for Genevive L. and Daniel W., I did find the middle names for Alice and Vyla: Florence and Prudence, respectively.  Now, I don't know where they got the name, "Florence," from, but I suspect the name, "Prudence," came from another one of Daniel's sisters [his older one], Prudence.

I also found death certificates for their children, Henry Lewis Vaughan, for Vyla (Vaughan) Brandenberg, and for their youngest son, Daniel Warren Vaughan.  So, Daniel's middle name was Warren and Vyla had married a man with the last name, "Brandenberg."  [Her first marriage was to a "Sproul".]

In addition, I found some death certificates and christening info for some of Daniel Rook Vaughn's grandchildren.  Now, get this.  Daniel Rook Vaughan's youngest child was Daniel Warren Vaughan who married [snort] an Alice Kelly.  [Yes, another Alice.]  Daniel Warren and Alice (Kelly) Vaughan had a son named Daniel Rook Vaughan in 1911, which was 2 years after the "original" Daniel Rook Vaughan died.  [Like we needed another "Alice." *rolling eyes heavenward*]

Anywho, finding Vyla's middle name was awesome.  I had already guessed it was probably that [Really, I had.] because I had found her in the census with the middle initial, "P," and I had already known that Daniel had a sister named, "Prudence."

But whatever happened to Daniel's sisters, Prudence and Alice?  I wonder if they ever thought that their brother's descendants would be named after them?  Specifically, I wonder if Alice ever thought that one of her 3rd great grand-nieces would be asking her mother, "Why didn't you name me Alice?"

"How 'bout Prudence?  Would you have liked to have been named Prudence?  You could've gone by the name, 'Pru.'  I like 'Pru,'" I told my daughter.

"Ewww, no," she replied.  Even if I went by the nickname, 'Pru,' on the first day of school, everybody would know my name was, 'Prudence.'  And 'Prudence' sounds like 'prunes' and then I'd be known as 'prunes' my whole life."

Huh.  She had a point.  Good thing nobody showed me our family tree so I could pick out names from it.  She SO would've been named "Prudence" so I could call her "Pru" cuz I like it. [Snort.]

Next on this quest for Alice, I will be taking a look at Daniel's parents and siblings in Ypsilanti, Washtenaw, Michigan.  [Really, is there any other place name that's any more fun to say?]


  1. I had an aunt Alice who I adored. The name really is beast, too.

  2. Enjoyed the post. I actually like the name Prudence. I don't know why, but I do. I don't think I would have the nerve to name my daughter that though as much as I like it.
    We really didn't name our girls after family members. Although there is a Grace in my family tree, that isn't the inspiration.
    Your daughter will have to name her daughter Alice when she has one.
    I laughed, because I have a very different first name. Joy is my middle name. My mom thought up my first name. My dad said "Can't we just name her Barbara Sue". Hey, I would have been good with that. :)
    ♥ Joy

  3. I do love your posts --- I start out with a cute mother-daughter exchange and end up on a search for Alice(s). And now we have to go to the beach again. You are fun! Thanks!

  4. Well, maybe you should ask your daughter if she would like to change her name to; Beast? ;-)
    I wonder if your Annie O'Brien is related Jeremiah O'Brien that was married to one of my Simmons'? We may have another connection there? ;-)

  5. Did you tell her that if she were named Prudence she would have a Beatles song named after her.. “The sun is up, the sky is blue, it’s beautiful, and so are you”.. but Alice is nice too! Great post, once again!

  6. Beautiful post! You are a great storyteller!


  7. Great story and you tell it so well. Ahh, the names we chose or could have chosen!


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