The Commerce Journal


April 23, 2012

Early settlers demonstrated imagination in naming children

Commerce — Early settlers of Hunt County gave their daughters some charming, if not outright strange names.  

Although names like Sarah (by far the most popular among parents in the pre Civil War era), Nancy, Rebecca, Elizabeth and Mary appear most often in family genealogies from this period.

Scattered here and there, however, are unusual, even whimsical names that break the monotony of the more ordinary Anglo-Saxon names and that give testimony to our ancestors’ sometimes overactive imaginations and individuality.

Here are a few gleaned from the Hunt County censuses of 1850 and 1870 and from cemetery inscriptions, that appear unusual to my eyes.

Samuel P. Moore, a cabinet maker in Greenville and his wife Marcy, had a daughter born in Texas — and named her Texas. The wife of Jacob Reed was named Texana.

M.M.M. (initial only in the 1850 census) was a female child of James Moore; Phylinding was the daughter of Hunt County farmer Thomas Stubbs and his wife, who had three other children, named George, Fanny and Cynthia; Feltie was the 7-year-old daughter of William Payne; and Silihah and Cyrena were the daughters of Charles Hart and wife Eliza.

Elisha and Elizabeth Brake had two daughters named Ruliany and Hulda; while Catherin Mooney, a 40-year-old widow with daughters Elizabeth, Mary Ann, Sarah and Martha — all fairly common names for the time — named her youngest daughter Cloa.

In addition to Texas and Texana, as noted above, I found Louisiana, Tennessee, California, Kansas, Indiana and Missouri on the 1850 and 1870 census records. There is a Hunt County tombstone for Miss Arizona Miller, aged 17, who died Oct. 23, 1889.

Phelina, Movalda, Narcissus, Tilitha, Rencia, Arena and Prudence Angeline were all present on the census rolls of 1850.

Euphena and Fora were sisters, and while listing other unusual names without comment, the 1870 census taker noted that “Hinchy” was female.

And Jenetta, Lunvenia, Fletie, Rosetta, Thursey, Anrilla, Zora, Selitha, Abbaalen, Sophronia, Mina and Artemesa are wives or daughters listed on the 1870 census. Also the 1870 census shows that Isaphina was the daughter of Arch and Nancy Dill who named other children Onicimus (male), Eliza, Josephine, Columbus, Jeff Davis, Nancy and Sarah.

In addition, feast your eyes on these other unusual names from Hunt County cemetery inscriptions while you ponder the reasons for these sometimes lyrical names — Zerrelda, Dovie, Gapitola, Zoona, Pardetia, Alfeete and Flarra.

Let us not forget the parents who named their sons Napoleon, Zepliamah, Pepton, Theadore and Americas (brothers), Damascus, Tiberious, Mansilus, Zebeda, Ephraim, and Ludelian — so the females had no monopoly on unusual names.

Dr. Jim Conrad has retired as Emeritus Head Archivist from Texas A&M University – Commerce.  He remains active in the community.

Text Only
  • This is ‘Our Commerce’

    Commerce, Texas is a unique community in north east Texas and yet in some ways very typical.

    June 26, 2014

  • IMG_2998.JPG Lions reveal true character

    Character is revealed during times of success and times of tragedy. Texas A&M University-Commerce, and specifically the Athletics Department, showed its character last week when two student-athletes were tragically killed in a car accident.

    June 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Father's_Day_1.jpg A short history of Father's Day

    There are more than 70 million fathers in the United States today. 

    June 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Judging pianists

    “The Van Cliburn Competition is the most important piano competition in the world,” says John Giordano of Fort Worth, who was chairman of the Van Cliburn jury for 40 years.

    June 10, 2014

  • Junk.jpg Enough with the junk

    Let’s play a game.

    May 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lessons learned from decades of making speeches

    I’ve been making speeches to various groups since 1973 when I made my first chamber of commerce speech in Dumas, Texas.

    May 27, 2014

  • Yard full of turtles

    Barbara Ellison of Cameron loves her backyard. It is full of flowers and birds. Occasionally a squirrel will drop in for a meal. “I could stay out here from morning ‘til night,” says Barbara. “It’s so pretty and we enjoy taking care of it.”

    May 13, 2014

  • Mapping Texas’ rocks

    Jim Runge of Eldorado is always doing unusual things.

    April 28, 2014

  • Motel a real winner

    I traveled to Kingsville to do some filming and interviewing on King Ranch.

    April 17, 2014

  • Fighting more than just fires

    For the past few weeks I’ve been attending a Citizen’s Fire Academy hosted by the Greenville Fire Department. 

    April 4, 2014

Featured Ads


How many games do you think the Lions will win in 2014?

7-9 wins
4-6 wins
1-3 wins
     View Results
Must Read
AP Video
Renewed Violence Taking Toll on Gaza Residents 2 Americans Detained in North Korea Seek Help US Employers Add 209K Jobs, Rate 6.2 Pct House GOP Optimistic About New Border Bill Gaza Truce Unravels; Israel, Hamas Trade Blame Raw: Tunisia Closes Borders With Libya Four Rescued From Crashed Plane Couple Channel Grief Into Soldiers' Retreat WWI Aviation Still Alive at Aerodrome in NY Raw: Rescuers at Taiwan Explosion Scene Raw: Woman Who Faced Death Over Faith in N.H. Clinton Before 9-11: Could Have Killed Bin Laden Netanyahu Vows to Destroy Hamas Tunnels Obama Slams Republicans Over Lawsuit House Leaders Trade Blame for Inaction
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide