Barry's Relatively Speaking: What Is His Name?

Posted on Jul 03, 2012

Barry's Relatively Speaking shares the personal experiences and stories of genealogists found in the Everton Genealogical Helper Magazine collection on J. Landrum shares the following experience.

Family history researchers wonder why they sometimes run into "dead ends" that seem unsolvable. The following may give one answer, and 1 am only glad that this genealogist's nightmare happened recently enough that I could correct it, at least in my own records. My husband's father, named IshamWilliam Hawkins at birth, did not like his first name (which was an old family name from earlier generations in Virginia and South Carolina), so he dropped it completely during his younger years, growing up as simply "Will Hawkins". Evidently after he grew up, he must have decided that he needed two initials, so he just assumed the initial "J",and signed papers, etc., as "J. W. Hawkins". After his death, my aging mother-in-law ordered a monument for his grave at Hamilton, Texas, which took some time to have completed and erected. Imagine my amazement, when I finally saw this monument, to read "John W. Hawkins, 1873-1943". Even his children were not completely sure of his first name, although they knew there was something wrong or changed about that first initial "J". I was able to check out his correct name with two of his sisters before their deaths. But what if this had happened just one generation before - or two or three? Indicentally, the "John" in my husband's name is quite correct - he was named for his grandfather!


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