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September 19, 2013

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SURNAMES by Janet Spencer

For centuries people went through life with only one name. As the population grew and more people shared the same name, it became necessary to add descriptive information about which John or Mary was being discussed. That’s when surnames were added. Sur comes from the Latin super and means ‘above and beyond.’ Come along with Tidbits as we consider names. • Many surnames began as physical descriptions of a person: Black, White, Little, Longfellow. Some described their personal qualities: Smart, Swift, Armstrong, Truman. Many described occupations: Cook, Baker, Butler, Carpenter, Farmer, Taylor, Weaver. Some described where the person lived: Wood, River, Churchill. Some described who the person was related to: Johnson, Peterson, Anderson. • Taxes had a big factor in the naming of people. Nobody wanted to pay taxes twice, so names and identities needed to be clear. By the 1300s it was normal for everybody to have two names. Names, just like all other words, pass from one language into the next and travel from country to country. When any word passes into a new language, it usually changes a bit. A massive name-changing occurred when foreigners speaking strange languages arrived in America at the desks of tired government clerks whose job was to write their names down in English. Difficult names were frequently Americanized on the spot. Turn the page for more!

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1. In a survey of college students, what percent were unhappy with their names? 2. Out of the first 30 U.S. presidents, how many did not have middle names at all? 3. What did the “S” in Harry S. Truman stand for? 4. What is the most common last name in the world?

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• Until 1804, Jews of eastern Europe and Russia were known only by their first names and the name of their father: Yaakov was his first name and his father’s name was Yitzhak, so his name was Yaakov ben Yitzhak. (Ben means ‘son of.’) Therefore, no name was kept for more than a single generation. Czar Alexander I forced Jews to acquire permanent surnames in order to aid in tax collection and the draft of Jewish soldiers. • In Slavic languages, suffixes -vitch and -ov mean ‘descendent of’ and many names end in those: Ivanovitch and Chekov. German and Austrian Jews used the ending -sohn, which also means ‘son of’ such as Mendelsohn. • In Sweden it was standard for sons to be given a first name followed by a surname of their father’s first name with -son added on. When Lars Carlson had a son named Erik, his name became Erik Larson. Erik Larson’s son Peter became Peter Erikson. Peter Erikson’s son John became John Peterson, etc. • The Hispanic tradition is to give the child his given name and follow it with the father’s surname and then the mother’s maiden name. • When the slaves were freed they were required to pick out surnames for themselves. Many adopted their previous owner’s names, and some picked out names of people they admired. Booker T. Washington and George Washington were greatly admired by blacks, so many took on the name of Washington. Today 4/5ths of the people named Washington are black.

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SURNAME SYSTEMS • In Germany there are laws regulating which names may be used, and names entered into the official record must be kept for life. German law also states that a woman must take her husband’s name upon marriage. The Roman Catholic Church requires that a baby be named after a saint.

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SURNAME SYSTEMS (continued): • In Scotland it was customary for the mother’s maiden name to become the child’s middle name. After becoming common as middle names, they frequently became used as first names, including such names as Sidney, Howard, Percy, Scott, and Grant. • The Seminole Indians chose three names for each person. The first name described the person’s temperament. The second name described their physical appearance. The third name linked them to an animal. Typical names would be Crazy-Round-Beaver or Wise-Tall-Bear. • There are about a billion Chinese living in China, yet they share only about 1,000 surnames. The most popular are Wong, Lee, Chang, and Ho. POPULAR NAMES • The Social Security Administration lists about 1.3 million different family names. One-third of them occur only once in the nation. Others are more popular. For instance, ‘Smith’ originally meant any craftsman who used a hammer: metal workers, wood carvers, and stone masons. The German word for smith is Schmidt; in Italian it’s Ferrari; in Polish it’s Kowalski; in Gaelic it’s McGowan. The Jim Smith Society was established in 1969. It has annual meetings of people named Jim Smith.

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• Cohen (‘priest’) is the most common Jewish surname in the U.S. In New York City, there are more Cohens than there are Smiths. Rodriguez (‘son of Rodrigo’) is the most common Hispanic name, followed by Gonzalez (‘son of Gonzalo’), Garcia, (‘brave in battle’) and Lopez (from ‘lupus’ meaning wolf). The most common Irish names are Murphy (‘the seafighter’), Kelly (‘the contentious one’), Sullivan (‘the blackeyed one’), Ryan (‘little king’), Dun (‘brown’), Burke (‘dweller at the fort’), Riley (‘playful’), and O’Brien (‘hill’).


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ORIGINS OF NAMES

by Samantha Weaver

• It was noted wit Ambrose Bierce who made the following sage observation: “All are lunatics, but he who can analyze his delusion is called a philosopher.” • When the famous “Hollywood” sign was constructed in 1923, it read “Hollywoodland.” It was an advertisement for a new housing development and was expected to be in place only about a year and a half. The sign became such a recognizable symbol of the new film industry in Los Angeles that it has been refurbished and rebuilt as necessary for 90 years. • In January of 2004, the Food and Drug Administration approved the use of maggots as a medical device for cleaning wounds. • If you’re planning a trip to Laramie, Wyo., you might want to make a pilgrimage to the Ames Pyramid. At the end of a 2-mile dirt road, in the middle of featureless pastureland, you’ll find this 60-foottall monument seemingly

plunked down at random. The pyramid was built in 1882 near a line of the Union Pacific railroad and in honor of the railroad’s financiers. It was thought that the monument would be a welcome distraction to railroad passengers traveling through the plains of Wyoming. The decline of railroad travel, however, caused many tracks to be removed, including the line that ran by the pyramid. Now only cows are left to admire this relic of the industrial age. • The 1979 horror movie “Alien” has become a cult classic, but not many people realize that it was originally titled “Star Beast.” * * * Thought for the Day: “Hollywood is a place where they’ll pay you a thousand dollars for a kiss and 50 cents for your soul. I know, because I turned down the first offer often enough and held out for the 50 cents.” -- Marilyn Monroe

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• The Irish prefixes O’, Fitz-, Mc-, and Macpreceeding a name mean ‘descendent of.’ The Dutch Van- (as in VanGogh) means ‘from,’ and Vander- (as in Vanderbuilt) means ‘from the.’ The German version is Von (VonTrapp). The French du- also means ‘of’ or ‘from.’ DuPont means ‘of the bridge;’ DuBois means ‘from the woods.’ • A man with brown hair, brown eyes, or a brown complexion might be named Brown in England; Bruno in Italy; Dun or Dunne in Ireland; or Braun in Germany. • The German name Schuster meant shoemaker; Spangler meant tinsmith; Zimmerman was a carpenter; and Schwarz meant black. • In old England, Kellogg was a person who killed hogs, Clark was a clerk, Coleman used charcoal, and Mr. Peck lived on a peak. • The person in charge of the food and drink in the great hall of a castle might be named Hall. The dispenser of provisions at an estate was often named Spencer. • Roosevelt meant rose field, and Rockefeller is a corruption of the German Roggenfelder, meaning rye field. • The Welch words Ap Rhys, meaning son of Rhys, was shortened and Americanized to Price. Leo Tolstoy’s last name meant ‘fat’ in Russian. Mr. Sinclair may have had an ancestor from the French town of St. Clair. • When the majority of the population was illiterate, shopkeepers relied on signboards with pictures on them to tell people what business they were in. Many names came from the signs, including the German Rothschild, meaning ‘red signboard,’ and Weintraub, meaning ‘grape.’ • Shakespeare’s name was spelled 83 different ways in his time.

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WOMEN IN HISTORY:

MADAM C.J. WALKER

Protect Yourself From West Nile Virus West Nile virus (WNV) is a mosquito-borne disease that first showed up in our region in 2002. This virus has been present every year since 2002. Human cases of WNV are starting to appear in Minnesota and South Dakota and it’s only a matter of time before it gets to our region. Grand Forks Mosquito Control is monitoring and testing the mosquitoes most commonly known to transmit this virus. We cannot eliminate this virus. The Grand Forks Public Health Department urges citizens to take personal precautions to avoid mosquito bites. The type of mosquito most common for transmitting WNV is present in our area and is most active from dusk until dawn.

How can people reduce their chance of getting WNV? The most effective way to prevent WNV is to avoid mosquito bites: • Wear long sleeves and pants when outdoors from dusk through dawn. • Apply insect repellents when you go outdoors. Repellents containing DEET provide the best protection. • Reduce the number of mosquitoes around your home by eliminating standing water from containers such as flowerpots, gutters, buckets, pool covers, discarded tires, and birdbaths. Anything that holds water for more than a week could be producing mosquitoes.

How do people get infected with WNV? Most people get infected with WNV by an infected mosquito. Mosquitoes become infected when they feed on infected birds. Infected mosquitoes can then spread the virus to humans and other animals. In a very small number of cases, West Nile virus has been spread through blood transfusions, organ transplants, and from mother to baby during pregnancy, delivery, or breastfeeding.

What are the symptoms of WNV? No symptoms in most people. Most people (70-80%) who become infected with West Nile virus do not develop any symptoms. Febrile illness in some people. About 1 in 5 people who are infected will develop a fever with other symptoms such as headache, body aches, joint pains, vomiting, diarrhea, or rash. Most people with this type of West Nile virus disease recover completely, but fatigue and weakness can last for weeks or months. Severe symptoms in a few people. Less than 1% of people who are infected will develop a serious neurologic illness such as encephalitis or meningitis (inflammation of the brain or surrounding tissues). The symptoms of neurologic illness can include headache, high fever, neck stiffness, disorientation, coma, tremors, seizures, or paralysis. Recovery from severe disease may take several weeks or months. Some of the neurologic effects may be permanent. About 10 percent of people who develop neurologic infection due to West Nile virus will die.

Who is at risk for serious illness if infected with WNV? Serious illness can occur in people of any age. However, people over 60 years of age are at the greatest risk for severe disease. People with certain medical conditions, such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension, kidney disease, and people who have received organ transplants, are also at greater risk for serious illness.

For information about West Nile Virus and the Grand Forks mosquito control program visit our website at www.gfmsoquito.com or call the Information Line at 701-787-8144

• C.J. Walker, born just after the Civil War ended, grew up to become not only the first self-made female American millionaire, but also the first self-made female African American millionaire. • Born Sarah Breedlove in Louisiana in 1867, she grew up in a family of six children. Her parents and her older siblings had been slaves on a plantation. She was the first child in the family born into freedom. She married for the first time at the age of 14 and gave birth to her daughter Lelia three years later. When her husband died when she was 19, she moved to St. Louis where one of her brothers ran a barber shop. She then spent the next 18 years struggling to support herself and her daughter as a washer woman. She married Charles Walker in 1906 and became known at that time as Madam C. J. Walker. • In those days, indoor plumbing, electricity, and hot water heaters had not yet been invented so people bathed infrequently and rarely washed their hair. Scalp problems were common. C.J. suffered from hair loss as a result, as did many of her friends and acquaintances. She tried all the products that were on the market at the time, and none of them worked. She tried numerous home remedies and got the same dismal results. Then one night she had a dream. In the dream, she was selling a formula that straightened black women’s hair. • Acting on the dream, she invested $2 in ingredients and began to experiment. The resulting formula, which used sulfur, made her scalp healthy and her hair shiny. It also straightened hair if it was used in conjunction with a heated hair iron. • She began selling the product to her friends and neighbors, who recommended it to their friends and neighbors.

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MADAM C.J. WALKER (continued):

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• Her hair straightener sold like proverbial hotcakes and soon she had trouble keeping up with all the orders. She began hiring people to help her sell the straightener as well as other beauty products she designed, in much the same way that Avon operates today. Her daughter took over the thriving mail-order business, running it out of a shop in Denver. • In 1908, C.J. Walker moved to Pittsburgh where she opened a cosmetology college to train ‘hair culturists.’ Here she taught other impoverished black women how to support themselves by running their own hair salons. Two years later she moved to Indianapolis where she established the permanent headquarters of the Madam C.J Walker Manufacturing Company. • She made another move in 1917 when she took up residence in a mansion on a New York estate on the Hudson River which had been designed by New York’s first licensed black architect. The house cost $250,000 to build, which would equal about $6 million in today’s dollars. • She spent the rest of her life giving lectures, training women, and agitating for the rights of blacks. Many organizations benefited from her philanthropic tendencies, including the NAACP, the YMCA, and numerous schools, orphanages, and retirement homes. • Madam C.J. Walker died in 1919 at the age of 51 due to problems with hypertension. Her daughter took over the presidency of the company. At the time of her death she was considered to be the wealthiest African-American woman in U.S. history, and the very first self-made female millionaire. • Years later, the Guinness Book of World Records confirmed her to be the first woman ever to become a millionaire through her own efforts.

Presidential Quotes: “We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the courts, not to overthrow the Constitution, but to overthrow the men who pervert the Constitution.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

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FIRST NAMES

• Studies have shown that people with odd or unusual names are more prone to psychosis and criminal behavior. Kids with common names (such as Michael or Jennifer) tend to be more popular and do better in school than those with undesirable names or names that are hard to spell or pronounce.

• On Sept. 23, 1875, Billy the Kid, born William Henry McCarty, is arrested for the first time after stealing a basket of laundry. He broke out of jail and roamed the American West, eventually earning a reputation as an outlaw and murderer, with a rap sheet that allegedly included 21 murders. • On Sept. 29, 1907, Gene Autry, perhaps the greatest “singing cowboy” of all time, is born in Tioga, Texas. While Autry was no cowboy, he was a genuine Westerner who had lived on a ranch. His lasting fame came from films and his first movie, “In Old Santa Fe,” eventually was followed by nearly 100 other films. • On Sept. 28, 1918, a Liberty Loan parade in Philadelphia prompts a huge outbreak of the flu epidemic in the city. By the time the epidemic ended, an estimated 30 mil-

• History’s most popular and enduring names have been Mary, meaning ‘star of the sea,’ and John, meaning ‘gift of God.’

lion people were dead worldwide. The most likely origin of the 1918 flu pandemic was a bird or farm animal in the American Midwest.

• In England, the hundred most common boys’ names account for 94% of all boys’ names; and the most popular 100 girls’ names make up for 83% of the total. In some countries such as the West Indies and parts of Africa, people emphasize giving a child a name that no one has ever had before.

• On Sept. 26, 1928, work begins at Chicago’s new Galvin Manufacturing Corp. In 1930, Galvin would introduce the Motorola radio, the first mass-produced commercial car radio. (The name had two parts: “motor” evoked cars and motion, while “ola” derived from “Victrola” record players.)

• The birth records of Pennsylvania showed that 160,000 children born in a recent year were given 12,774 different names.

• On Sept. 25, 1965, the Kansas City Athletics ageless wonder Satchel Paige started a game against the Boston Red Sox. The 59-year-old Paige, a Negro League legend, proved his greatness by giving up only one hit in his three innings of play. He was the oldest pitcher ever to play a game in the major leagues.

• In the 1600s Puritans liked to pick inspirational names like Faint-Not, Stand-Fast, and Lord-Is-Nigh. Some popular names with these Puritan roots are Faith, Hope, Charity, Joy, Patience, and Prudence.

• On Sept. 24, 1988, Canadian sprinter Ben Johnson runs the 100-meter dash in 9.79 seconds to win gold at the Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. Johnson’s triumph, however, was short-lived: He tested positive for steroids three days later and was stripped of the medal.

• David Carradine and his wife Barbara Hershey named their son Free. Free changed his name to Tom. • There are about 2 million Toms worldwide. • The name Ann is used ten time more often as a middle name than as a first name.

Answer

King CROSSWORD

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Answer

• On Sept. 27, 1540, in Rome, the Society of Jesus -- a Roman Catholic missionary organization -- receives its charter from Pope Paul III. The first Jesuits took vows of poverty and chastity, and made plans for the conversion of millions to Catholicism.

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• In another study, school teachers were given essays to grade and were told they were written by students. Popular and unpopular names were randomly assigned as being the authors of the essays. The essays that were supposedly written by David, Mike, Lisa, and Karen received higher grades than identical essays “written” by Elmer, Hubert, or Bertha.


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FIRST NAMES (continued): • Boys’ names shift in popularity at a slower DEERE. JOHN DEERE. rate than girls’ names do. (continued): • It was while living in Illinois that John no• In America the name is John; in France it’s ticed the problems that farmers faced when Jean; in Spain it’s Juan; in Italy it’s Giovanni; attempting to till soil. Because the area had informerly German been it’s Johann; in Russian it’s Ivan; in woodland, the soil was rich Irish it’s Sean. with hummus, which clumped and clung to • ‘Olph’ is German for wolf, so Adolph means the blades of the plows farmers were accustomed wolf’ to using. While repairing a broken cir‘noble and Rudolph means ‘famous cular ‘Ed’ saw, Deere stumbledroot upon an idea. He wolf.’ is a German word meaning employed skillsEdward, to fashion the steel wealth, so his thesmith named Edgar, Edblade and into Edwin the shape a plow. He affixed mund, all of have something to do two riches. woodenEdward spokes, means then hitched the device with ‘one who guards to a horse. It plowed the heavy Illinois soil over riches.’ like a charm. In fact, a farmer who happened • Romeo means one who is journeying to Rome. to be observing the test run immediately put • Nickname come the French in an ordermay for his ownfrom John Deere plow. word nique, which means a gesture of mockery. • In short order, Deere gave up his blacksmith shop and focused onOF making plows. The EVOLUTION A NAME company grew steadily and added many‘bright em• Long ago in England, ‘sheer lee’ meant ployees. In the late 1840s, John relocated clearing.’ Sheer Lee became a name. The the first entire operation to Moline, Illinois. Ashamed Sheer Lee might have been a person who lived of his own lack of education, John sent his in a bright clearing, or a child who had a sunny children to the state’s finest schools. One of disposition, or a person from the settlement lohis proudest days occurred when son Charles cated in the Sheer Lee. Sheer Lee became a earned the equivalent of an MBA from Bell’s common a surname, then it evolved into Commercial College and in Chicago.

a first name for a boy. Through the years the • spelling With hiswas sonaltered Charlesuntil managing the up company, it ended as ShirJohn found time to pursue philanthropic inley. In 1849 Charlotte Bronte wrote a book terests. He co-founded both the First Nationabout parents who wanted to have a boy. They al Bank and the First Congregational were so disappointed that they had aChurch. girl that He was elected the mayor of Moline in 1873, they gave the girl a boy’s name: Shirley. A where one of his first actions – the replacenumber a years later, a Reverend who lived in ment of the city’s open drains with a sewer the English town of Shirley cultivated a new pipe system – saved countless lives by reducvariety of poppy. He named the new flower ing the spread of disease. Shirley. Soon afterward it became fashionable • toThe original Johnflowers: Deere logo, in name girls after Rose,registered Violet— and 1876, depicted a deer that was native to AfriShirley. The final factor in the evolution of the ca. Thirty-six years later, in an 1912, it little was rename Shirley occurred when ideal girl placed with the image of a North American became very famous: Shirley Temple. Mothwhite-tailed In the decades that folers all over thedeer. country named their baby girls lowed, the now-familiar “outline” logo took after the actress.

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Tidbits September 19 Issue  

"Surnames," "Madam C.J. Walker" and "First Names"

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