To help me figure out what was going on. I decided to research middle names and their history. From what I read, middles names were not used in the United States until after the Revolutionary War. At that point wealthy families began to give their children middle names. By the time of the Civil War, middle names were common.
Parents pick middles names for their children in a variety of different ways. Some use a family name like the mother’s maiden name or the names of the father and mother’s parents. Others use a name that they like, but would not make a good first name. Another choice is to pick the first or last name of an individual they would like to honor.
So what about my two uncles and their middle names? Two of my blog entries shed some light on where those names came from. While working on the blog about my grandmother’s wedding (#17—Gertrude Richards—Saying I Do?), I found the announcement in the newspaper and among the guests were several Fishers—“Mr. and Mrs. Irving Fisher, Dr. Fisher, Mr. and Mrs. Nathaniel Fisher.” With a little more research, I found that the Richards and Fishers were cousins and that they were both in the same business—shoes. Hence William Richards’s middle name came from a relative, and one that coincidently, was in the same business.
I really stumbled upon the source of Chester Richards middle name. I was working on my entry about my great grandfather, Abiathar Richards and his shoe business (i#29 Abiathar Richards --Do You Have a Glass Slipper?), when I found an article that talked about his very early years in the shoe business. It appears that J. D. Ingersoll was one of the first people he worked for in the shoe business and I assume that Chester’s middle name was chosen to honor him.
So it appears that William’s middle name came from a relative, and William’s from a business associate.