Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Sometimes when I'm doing genealogy, I get so used to the formal, entire name of a person - Hiram Horatio Raynor, for example, or you know, say, Maria Eva Justina Dauch Berg (what a mouthful!) - that I forget that the people who knew and loved them whether parents, spouses, or friends, probably didn't refer to them as, say, "Richard William Poole." My sister is a Margaret and we call her Maggie, but that affectionate diminuitive of her name might possibly get lost in future generations of genealogists, who will probably record her as "Margaret Anne." Even my brother Tim will probably be remembered as Timothy. So I'm trying to start to record the nicknames as I learn them. Some I already know - my grandfather, Clifford Monroe Raynor, was known as Dick, my great-grandmother Amelia Berg Raynor was called Millie, and my great-grandmother Ellen Casey Cronin (sometimes called Nellie) had sisters Maggie (Margaret), Jennie (Genevieve) and Lizzie (Elizabeth). Some nicknames I'm just learning - my second great grandfather Joseph James Raynor was called "J.J." and my second great grandfather James Gorry was called "Jimmy" by his widow. In a way, these nicknames make them feel even more like real people - people who lived and laughed and loved. And knowing if someone went by a nickname can also be helpful in actual genealogy research. If you can find Margaret in one census but not another, look her up under Maggie. A great uncle Michael of mine was listed in one census as Mike. And don't forget Mary as Molly!