The following post continues the month long Fearless Females Challenge by Lisa Alzo, author of The Accidental Genealogist blog, which is focused on “celebrating and honoring ‘fearless females’ in our family trees” to mark National Women’s History Month, which is the month of March, with a post responding to unique prompts for each day of the month.
Prompt for March 3 — Do you share a first name with one of your female ancestors? Perhaps you were named for your great-grandmother, or your name follows a particular naming pattern. If not, then list the most unique or unusual female first name you’ve come across in your family tree.
As a male, I am not named after a female ancestor. However, I am named after my grandfathers, my first name (William) being that of my paternal grandfather’s name and my middle name (Lee) being that of my maternal grandfather’s name (well the name he legally changed it to anyway). My paternal grandfather is also named after his grandfathers, with his first name (William) being that of his maternal grandfather and his middle name (George) being that of his paternal grandfather. So, in an extended way I am named after my great grandmother Maxine’s father.
Despite not being named after a female ancestor, I do have some uniquely or unusually named women in my family tree. I have some female ancestors with unusual names like Jemima, Jerusha, Zerutha, Kjersti, and Ingeborg. I have one ancestor named Euphemia (Wink) Leishman (1789-?), my 5th great grandmother and an ancestor of my 2nd great grandmother Anna Margaret (Leishman) Lapham (1875-1951). Although I am unsure of its popularity throughout Europe, it seems unusual for a Scottish woman to have the Greek name Euphemia. I also have some ancestors with names that are unusual to find today, though not in Puritan Colonial America, such as my 5th great grandmother Thankful (Raymond) Stearns (1756-1817) and my 7th great grandmother Deliverance (Bigelow) Stearns (1695-1762). Both Thankful and Deliverance are both ancestors of my 2nd great grandmother, Maudena Elizabeth (Stearns) Kernan (1885-1936), whose first name is so unusual that she often went by nicknames, such as Dena when she was a child and Lizzie (after her middle name) when she was an adult.
Perhaps the most unusual female name I have uncovered in researching my ancestry is the name of one of my 3rd great grandmothers, Tirzah Olive Stephens (1873-1967), who was first married to Otto W. Agee (1868-1904). Until I uncovered the name Tirzah in my own ancestry, I had not recalled every hearing the name before. Researching the meaning of this name, I found that it is of Hebrew and Biblical origins, being the name of one of the daughters of Zelophehad who is spoken of in Numbers 27:1-11 as petitioning Moses for the right to inherit property following the death of their father. It is said that this petition is what granted Jewish women the right of inheritance under Jewish law. Tirzah is also the name of an ancient city now in the West Bank.