Posts Tagged ‘name’

I Hate My Name

Caryn Spencer 15 yrs oldMost of us have gone through a time in our lives when we hated our name. We wonder why our parents would have considered such an awful name for their child. It doesn’t matter what the name is either. It could be the cutest name on earth, and it’s owner would probably at one point or another, hate it. As an early teenager, I thought my name was too strange. I suppose I was at an age where it seemed important to blend in with the crowd, and an unusual name simply didn’t do that for me. I often thought I might like to be named Carrie, and yet, I never took that or any other nickname. I guess deep inside, I didn’t really dislike my name at all, but was rather at a self conscious age, and the name seemed as good a scapegoat as any. These days, I love my name, and I wouldn’t want any other.

My mom had told me that she was ok with her first name, Collene, even though most people mispronounced it and called her Colleen, which is not her name at all. Collene is pronounced with a short o sound, while Colleen is pronounce with a long o sound. This was not the name she disliked, however. Mom disliked her middle name, which is Ione. I never could understand why that name bothered her at all, because she didn’t have to tell anyone what it was, so what was the problem. Then again, I suppose that if Ione had been my middle name, I might have felt the same way in those awkward teenaged years. Mom eventually got over her dislike of her middle name, I guess, because she doesn’t mention it anymore. Young Collene Ione ByerPeople usually grow up and decide that those little things don’t really make that much difference anyway.

My Great Aunt Mina Schumacher, however hated her name all of her life. She was baptized Minna Albertina Schumacher, and I guess Albertina didn’t bother her, or maybe it was simply that she told no one what her middle name was, if it did. At that time, like often happens today, people added “ie” to the end of a child’s name and so, Minna became Minnie. Most people thought it was a very pretty name for a little girl, but Mina did not agree. Maybe it made her feel like she was always considered a little girl, and she wanted to be grown up. Whatever the reason, she hated it, and when she became an accountant, she decided that the name Minnie had to go. Her solution was to drop the “nie” from her nickname, and go, simply by Min. Her sisters Bertha and Elsa, and most of Mina’s friends decided that name suited her better than any other, and for them, she was Min from that time on. Mina’s husband, John Spare, who was going by his middle name, Clark when they met, liked the name Minnie, and called her that for some time, but gave in to her need for a more grown up name when they married. Later, when John became head of the Engineering Department of the State Highway Department in Bismarck, North Dakota, the need for a more dignified name arose, so Mina dropped one “n” from her baptismal name and became Mina.

According to Mina’s sister, my Great Aunt Bertha, children should simply be called “Hey” until they are old 007b1 Mina Schumacherenough to decide on a name they really like. I suppose that would be a possibility, and I’m sure she was just joking, but it could also be very confusing, since there could be entire classrooms of children going by the same name. Just think how confusing it would be as the teacher called on her students. I suppose one could say that using the last name would solve all that, but then again, since classrooms back then had all the grades in the same class, including brothers and sisters, that would still be problematic. Having three Hey Smiths in the class would be very confusing. I guess that is why it is your parent’s choice as to your name, whether you hate your name or not.

Petting Zoo

Bob, Jennifer, and baby cowThese days when the fair comes to town, many people think of the rodeo and the petting zoo, but years ago petting zoos didn’t exist. I suppose that might have been because so many people raised their own animals that they didn’t need to go out somewhere to see the farm animals…or at least, many of them didn’t. With the urbanizing of our country, more and more, people don’t get to be around farm animals as much in their everyday lives. I guess that has made us a little nostalgic is some ways. We keep trying to connect to the past in many ways.

I think most little kids these days have been to a petting zoo, but years ago, the petting zoo was out at the barn after the calving was over, and your admission fee was cleaning out that barn. It just didn’t have quite the same effect on a kid, whether they really liked animals or not. Taking care of animals is a messy job, as any rancher or 4-H student can tell you, and not one you usually associate with little girls. Nevertheless, little girls do like babies, and baby cows are very cute.

Personally, I think I would rather go to the petting zoo. We have raised a cow or two in our time living out in the country, and while the baby is cute when you get it, they are messy, and a lot of work. They grow from babyhood very quickly and then they aren’t so cute. They want their grain and they are willing to rush you to get it. Having a cow…sweet as they can be, step on your foot, or accidently kick you while trying to get to that food or Aunt Laura with a baby calfgrain really hurts. Oh, they don’t mean anything by it, but it was not a job I was willing to allow my girls to do,

And the saddest part about raising a cow…the main reason I would rather go to the petting zoo is that once they are grown…they must be butchered. They had been like a pet to us. We had even named them, and then we were expected to eat the meat. It truly got to the point where I could hardly stand to eat it. It’s not that I don’t like beef, because I do. It’s just that I don’t want to know my dinner by name!! No, I’ll buy my beef at the store, and go to a petting zoo, if I really feel the need to get next to nature in that way.

Great Great Grandpa’s Violin

Grandpa playing the violinOn the back of the violin is a name, Allen Spencer. I assumed that it was carved lovingly into the wood by my great great grandfather when he was young. I have no way of knowing just exactly when it was written, but it would seem like something a child would do. Grandpa was born in 1826, and died in 1883, and as near as I have been able to find, the violin might have been made in 1866, which would mean that my great great grandfather was 40 years old. No matter how old he was when he engraved his name into the violin, the length of time the violin has been in our family tells me that music to some degree has been in my family for several generations. That violin was handed down from my great great grandfather, to my great grandfather, William Malrose Spencer, to my grandfather, Allen Luther Spencer, to my Uncle William Malrose Spencer II, who passed it on to my dad, Allen Lewis Spencer, with the request that we keep it in our family. We have had several violinists in our family, my sister Allyn, and my daughter Corrie, to name two. The violin is in great condition, and has been well used throughout the years.

My grandfather, Allen, enjoyed jamming with his brother-in-law, Albert, who was playing the accordion. I can imagine that their jam session was a lively time, as those two instruments don’t usually go together. Nevertheless, when a couple of brothers get together and try to outdo each other in their play, and from what I have seen of these two brothers, they liked to joke around. They always seem to have a twinkle in their eyes in the pictures I’ve seen. I have a feeling that the brothers could be…maybe a little mischievious.
Grandpa's Violin
When we received the violin, it occurred to me that this was a pearl of great price, so to speak. Maybe the name engraved on the back reduces the value in the eyes of an antique dealer, but it only increases the value to us. So often you have very little that belonged to your great great grandfather…especially when he died 73 years before you were born. That is the real thing that gives it value to me and my family. This was something that my great great grandfather, great grandfather, grandfather, my uncle, and my dad all took pleasure in, and something my mom, my sisters, and our families will all take pleasure in for years to come…because it was my great great grandfather’s violin.

Majority Rule

When my Aunt Sandy was born, there was some disagreement as to what her name would be. My grandfather wanted to name her Sonja, but my grandmother wanted to name her Sandra. Neither of them wanted to give in to the other, so they decided to let the rest of their children make the final choice. So, while Grandma was still in the hospital, Grandpa went home and talked to the kids. He told them that they had a new little sister, and that they were going to help pick out her name.

Of course, the children were excited about both the new baby, and picking her name. Their dad, asked them if the would like to have her be named, Sonja…as he said the name, he tried to make it sound as beautiful as he could. Then he asked if they would rather have the name Sandra, trying to make the name sound as plain as he could. It didn’t take the children more than a second to pick the name Sandra, and when he asked why they didn’t like the name Sonja, all they could say was, “Sonja…eeeewwwww, that is an awful name. Sandra is much better!!”

Poor Grandpa. He must have been so disappointed, but he was a man of his word, and Sandra it would be. He and Grandma had decided that the kids would have the final say, and that is how it would be. I’m sure Grandma was happy about the decision, and yet I also think she felt bad about his disappointment. It was a tough decision, and yet she really wanted her name to be Sandra.

After hearing this story from my mom a number of years ago, I asked Aunt Sandy which name she would have preferred, had the choice been hers. So often we wish we could have had a different name than the one we were given…at least, at some point in our lives. Then most of us decide that the name we were give is the best one after all. As to Aunt Sandy’s choice…she said, “Oh, definitely, Sandra!! I can’t imagine wanting to be Sonja…ever!!” So, whether Grandpa liked it or not, it looks like the name she was given was the best by majority rule. Today is Aunt Sandy’s birthday. Happy birthday Aunt Sandy!! We all love you very much!! Have a great day!!

A Name In Its Purest Form

In researching my family history, I have seen many names change as people misspell them, Americanize them, or they change because part of the name is no longer important or does not exactly apply. The Spencer name has taken many twists and turns, going from being an occupational name, when it was Despencer, to a French sounding version when it was Le deSpencer, to the name we all now recognize following the marriage of Lady Diana Spencer to Prince Charles in London on July 29, 1981. One of the most interesting things I found with the Spencer name is when it was hyphenated, and for some reason, many people did not realize that it was a hyphenated name. Many people think that Winston Spencer Churchill’s last name was Churchill, but that is really not the case. His name really was Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill.

In 1700, following the 1698 death of his first wife, Arabella Cavendish, Charles Spencer, 3rd Earl of Sunderland married his second wife, Anne Churchill, who was the daughter of John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough and Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough. This was an important alliance for Sunderland and for his descendants. Through it, he was introduced to political life and later the dukedom of Marlborough came to the Spencers. It would seem that this alliance was important enough to keep the Churchill name in the marriage, because their children also carried the name originally.

The Spencer family divided into two branches at this point. The older children kept the Spencer-Churchill, and later Churchill name in many cases, and the younger children continued on with the Spencer name. From the Spencer-Churchill branch, came Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, who went by Winston Churchill as often as he went by Winston Spencer Churchill. I have not really found any evidence that he personally went by Winston Spencer-Churchill, although there are some documents about him that correctly list his name that way.

Princess Diana’s line came from the youngest son of Charles Spencer, 3rd Earl of Sunderland, whose name was John Spencer. This branch of the family took the correct name, which was Spencer, without the hyphenated addition of the  Churchill name, no matter how important the alliance of the two families was at the time of their joining. In researching the lines of a family, the thing that makes it the most difficult is the altering of the original names, because it makes it difficult to be sure we are following the lines correctly

My 7th Cousin 3 Times Removed

With the upcoming release of the 3D version of the movie Titanic, discussion in our office turned to the passengers on that fateful voyage. My boss, Jim and his wife, Julie found out that there was a couple on board the Titanic named Charles Emil Henry Stengel who was traveling with his wife Annie May. I have been researching both my family tree, and theirs, so I told them I would check into it. Unfortunately, so far, I haven’t found the connection in their family that I am fairly certain exists, but I will keep looking for it. As I was looking for the name of those passengers, however, I found that there was a man named William Augustus Spencer, who was traveling with his wife Marie Eugenie. It has been my experience in my years of research, that most of people with the last name of Spencer are related, so I began researching William Augustus Spencer.

He was pretty simple to find, as he became famous when he died during the Titanic disaster. Of course, finding him doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be easy to connect him to me. The good news is that the Spencer family is one of the few who kept extensive records. I followed the line backwards through names I had never heard of before, until I finally came to one I knew quite well…Gerard Spencer who married Alice Whitebread. To get to that connection, I had to go back to the 1500′s. Then moving to my own tree, and starting at Gerard, I followed the correct children to get back to William Augustus Spencer. After that, I requested a relationship connection between William and myself. I found out that William Augustus Spencer is my 7th cousin 3 times removed. I know that relationship seems very distant, and I suppose most would consider it so, but when you consider that Princess Diana was my 18th cousin, I guess 7th isn’t so far after all.

William was married as I said, but they had no children, so sadly his line ended on that tragic day at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean when the RMS Titanic met her fate. He was 57 years old. His wife Marie Eugenie died just 6 months later in Paris. She was only 46 years old. Strangely, I have found several survivors who died a short time after the Titanic sank. The causes of death have varied and really cannot be linked to the sinking of the Titanic, but I still find it strange. I don’t know what Marie’s cause of death was, but at 45 years of age, it seems strange to me…almost like she died of a broken heart.

William Augustus Spencer’s estate was valued at $2,218,650 of which $1,273,071 went to Marie and the remainder to his nephew and his sister, so Marie was not destitute. But money cannot buy happiness, as we all know, and it certainly couldn’t extend her short life. Their story is one that I find interesting, and even strange to think that one of my family members perished on that tragic day…that seemed so far removed from my family a mere 2 days ago. But, I also find it very sad to think that two lives were…ended that day. One just took 6 more months to complete the ending process.

You Know…

When my girls were little and in grade school, I used to volunteer to do throat cultures at the school they attended. Throat cultures aren’t done anymore, so for those who don’t know, it was and still is a way to test for strep throat, but it isn’t done in the schools anymore. Anyway, every Monday morning I went into town and my friend Pat Neville and I made the rounds at the school, swabbing throats.

Now my last name is not the easiest name to learn for little kids, and even most adults have trouble with it. So I was not surprised when on one particular Monday morning, when I came into the nurse’s office to get my throat culture cart set up, and two little kindergarten girls had a little trouble with my name.

As I entered the nurse’s office, there were two little girls sitting on the bed waiting for the nurse to come in. I don’t know if one was hurt or what, but that didn’t end up being the most important part of my story.I thought they knew me from throat cultures, because they started talking to me like they recognized me, and I guess they did…sort of.

The first little girl asked, “Are you Amy’s mom?” My first thought was ok, now I have been relegated to being just my kid’s mom, but that thought didn’t last very long, because the other little girl asked, “Amy who?” Then, everything became very clear. The problem wasn’t that they didn’t know my name, or that I was just somebody’s mom. It was my name.

That fact was made perfectly clear when, in answer to her friend’s question, the first little girl said, “You know…Amy Sugarberry!!! Inside I laughed and laughed, because I figured that if someone were going to butcher our last name, that was the best way to do it. With the last name of Schulenberg, I had heard every possible way to butcher my name, but this was by far the sweetest!