Archive for May 16th, 2011

One of the interesting naming patterns that you sometimes see is in cemeteries. In life, unless you spend your time dealing with newborns (or birth certificates), you don’t often know the full first, middle, and last names of people you meet. But a tombstone is a likely place to have someone’s name spelled out in full. And some parents, perhaps hoping for greatness for their offspring, give their children famous people’s names as a first and middle name. Some children, by virtue of already possessing a convenient surname, end up sharing the same first name and surname with someone well-known.  At least, one assumes that parents were aware of the significance of the name combination they chose – perhaps some just liked the sound, made vaguely familiar by an association they couldn’t put their finger on. Like my friend Glenn Miller’s mother and father.

In the National Cemetery at Gettysburg, you can find the final resting place of Thomas Jefferson Alexander.

Alexander Thomas Jefferson (2)

Was Woodrow Wilson, who died as a baby in 1913 and is buried in East Cleveland Township Cemetery, named for the 28th President of the United States (elected the year of this Woodrow’s birth)?


Perhaps hoping to evoke a poetic affection in their babe, the grandparents of this young man named their son Ovid, and he bestowed the name on the next generation. (Harrisburg Cemetery)

Johnson Ovid

And this woman buried at Harrisburg Cemetery seems to be named for the famous nurse Florence Nightingale, who would have been well known by 1863.

Houck 1

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