What was that name again?

Published 12:40 pm Friday, December 9, 2016

I have a fascination with unusual names and thought it might be amusing to share some of them. I once wrote an article entitled, “Peter Goosey’s Plantation,” because his name struck my fancy. Many early Clark County residents had uncommon given names or surnames or both. Here are a a few that I picked out.

Septimus Scholl (1789-1849) bears a name that dates back to Roman times: Septimus is Latin for “seventh.” Septimus was the second child of Joseph Scholl and Lavina Boone, a daughter of Daniel Boone. There is an amusing story in the Clark County Chronicles about Septimus and his grandfather.

“Boone came back to Kentucky in 1801; he visited his daughter, Mrs. Scholl. He went from Scholl’s home to Winchester one day, taking with him his grandson, Septimus Scholl. Septimus was told by his mother to get some coffee while in town; but Septimus was so engrossed with the strange and interesting sights that he saw in town that he forgot it. Returning home that evening, they had gotten as far as the place where the C&O Railroad now crosses the Iron Works Pike, when Boone said to his grandson, ‘Septy, did you get that coffee for your mother?’ Septimus exclaimed, ‘Oh! Grandpa, I forgot it. You sit here in the shade while I go back after it.’ Boone rested until his grandson went to town and returned.”

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Original Young gets points for originality. Original, who went by “Rig,” lived on the Mount Sterling Road and served as a magistrate on the Clark County Court.

Barzilla Abbott’s name has a biblical origin: Barzillai was a wealthy Gileadite who showed hospitality to David when he fled from Absalom (2 Samuel 17:27). Barzilla Abbott operated Abbott’s Mill on Lulbegrud Creek in the 1830s and ’40s. The only other Barzilla I have come across is my great-great-grandfather, Barzilla Shaw.

Lamentation Bush is another favorite. He was a son of Ambrose Bush Jr. and along with his brother, James, was accused of murdering Samuel R. Combs on the courthouse steps in Winchester in 1833. They were prosecuted and both were acquitted.

Wildy McKinney has a nice ring to it. Wildy (1784-1852) was born in Augusta County, Virginia, came to Winchester with his father, John McKinney, and later moved to Estill County, where he raised a large family. The family held the 91st “Wildy McKinney Reunion” this year at Spout Springs. Their recorded genealogy lists 2,676 descendants of Wildy’s sons and daughters.

General Davis served in the Union army during the Civil War. He was a 45-year-old slave belonging to William Cole, when he enlisted at Camp Nelson in December 1864. General was a private in the 115th Infantry Regiment, United States Colored Infantry.

Branch Tanner (1782-1870 is a fine appellation. He was a brother of Judith Tanner who married Josiah Hart, Joel Tanner Hart’s parents. Branch married Hanna Cooper; they are buried in the Tanner Graveyard on Morris Road. His father was Archelaus Tanner. Another biblical name, Archelaus is the Latinized version of the Greek name meaning “master of the people.”

Pretty Mary Shepherd was christened Mary Jane Shepherd and widely known for her great beauty. She was born to Augustine Shepherd in Amherst County, Virginia in 1754, married John Haggard in Albemarle County, and died in Clark County in 1846 at age 92.

Hay Taliaferro had two unusual names. The surname came from Tagliaferro, which was Italian for “iron cutter.”  The Taliaferros were a prominent Virginia family who pronounced their name “Toliver” and sometimes spelled it that way.

We could say the same about Mourning Quisenberry.  Mourning sounds like a Puritan name. She was one of Rev. James Quisenberry’s 24 children by two wives. Some of the Quisenberrys pronounced their name “Cushenberry.”

Waddy Tate (1798-1875) was a son of William Tate and Martha Winn.  Waddy was born in Clark County, married Ruthie Miles, and died in Macon, Missouri. He takes his given name from a venerable English surname. The Waddys were a well-known family in Northumberland County, Virginia.  Giving children a first name from the mother’s family name is an old Virginia custom, and once used the name often reappears for generations. Waddy was named for his grandfather, Waddy Tate, who was the son of John Tate and Mary Waddy.

Other Clark County favorites of mine may follow the same naming pattern:  Beverly Daniel, Ransom Tinsley, Flavel Vivion, Sharshall Jordan, Smallwood Acton (Ecton), and Shastain (or Shasteen) Watkins.

There are a few nice surnames too. John Sidebottom was the owner and operator of the Boonesborough Ferry in the early 1800s. John Halfpenny was born in New Hampshire, served in the Revolutionary War in the Connecticut Line, and received a disability pension for wounds received in the Battle of Long Island. The pension was awarded in 1818 while Halfpenny was residing in Clark County.

Reuben Blades died of smallpox in Clark County in 1873.  His name is special to me because it happens to be the same as the actor who played in one of my favorite movies:  “The Milagro Beanfield War.”

John Ronimus was a son of Johann Franz Hieronymous, an Austrian immigrant who died in Clark County in 1819.  Hieronymous has been spelled in dozens of imaginative ways.  One wonders if family members or county clerks are responsible for the version shortened to “Ronimus.”

I will close with my all-time weird name: North East, who appears on the 1797 Montgomery County tax list. Mr. East came west from Louisa County, Virginia, and was commissioned a lieutenant in the Madison County militia.  North East married in Lincoln County in 1786. His wife’s name: Karenhappuch Peyton.