What to name a child is a decision that many parents agonize over. The name is eagerly awaited by the parents’ relatives and friends. Today, many parents seems to be picking unusual names. That was not always the case. In ages past, some families followed naming conventions; e.g., the first son was named for his father’s father, the second son, for his mother’s father, etc. Alternatively, other families named their children to honor a relative or friend. I have relatives that followed both of those conventions.
Several weeks ago, I decided that I wanted to learn more about my great, great grandmother, Charity Mears’s, family. As I added her siblings to my tree, I noticed that I had seen many of those names before—not just one or two of them, but almost all of them. I then realized where I had seen them before. They were the names of Charity Mears’s children.
Charity Mears and her husband, John M. Hannah had nine children—six girls and three boys. Of the six girls, five have the same first names as her sisters:
Sarah Jane Mears—Sarah Ann Hannah
Nancy Mears—Nancy Hannah
Elizabeth Mears—Elizabeth Hannah (also named for her
grandmother, Elizabeth Mears)
Catherine Mears—Catherine Hannah
Mary Mears—Mary Sayres Hannah
Mary Sayres’s name also honored a brother-in-law. Catherine Mears’s second husband was Israel Donnelson Sayres. The Sayres lived in Edgar County, Illinois. The same location as John Wesley and Charity (Mears) Hannah. So that is where that middle name came from.
The sixth girl was Albertine Hannah. At first, I thought that perhaps Albertine was a popular girl’s name in 1834. That turns out not to be true. However, Charity did have an uncle, Albert Mears, so perhaps Albertine is named after him.
Interestingly, while Charity had a brother, Samuel, his names was not used for her sons. Her oldest son was named for her brother-in-law, the husband of her sister, Nancy.
George P. Newell—George Newell Hannah
The second son was named Oliver. I have not a clue where the name for Oliver P. Hannah came
from. Nowhere in my genealogy can I find the name Oliver. Further, a search of the census records for Edgar County did not turn up any one named Oliver. I think that fits so well—Oliver P. is a mystery. Other than the dates of his birth and death at the age of 20, I know nothing about him and have not been successful in my search for more information.
The youngest son was named for her husband.
John M. Hannah—John Wesley Hannah
I would guess that the children’s names were selected by Charity Mears Hannah. Her husband, John M. had 10 brothers and sisters. With the exception of the name, Nancy, none of Charity and John M.’s children had their names. I would just love to talk to Charity so I could ask about the naming of her children.