I've been putting together a little family history information to send to my dad. Let's keep it a secret just between us, OK? His computer is on the fritz so he won't be reading the blog and I know I can count on you not to spill the beans. And as it turns out, it's really not so little after all. Despite the fact that it's only my grandmother's side of the family, the folder filled up quickly...more than 55 pages.
There's a lot of names buried in those pages, some of which probably haven't been used much since the 1600's. Oh, there are plenty of John's and Samuel's but Obadiah and Benoni aren't names you hear everyday. They probably aren't names that are going to make a come-back either.
Then there were the names were I wouldn't have known if the person was male or female if I hadn't had a spouse's name to go with it. While Elisha would be a girl's name these days, there's more than one man in my family tree bearing that name. I was in trouble, however, when I came to Increase Ward who married Record Wheelock. Neither name seems to fit a man or a woman. As it turns out, Increase is the husband and Record the wife.
The most recent family I've been working on is full of unusual names. It's the family of Humphrey Atherton who on his own is an interesting fellow but he certainly picked some strange names for his offspring...or perhaps it was his wife to had a penchant for the offbeat. They started out pretty ordinary with Elizabeth, Jonathan, Isabel and Margaret but then they chose Rest (F), Increase (M), Consider (M), Thankful (F), Hope (M), Mary (F), Watching (M) and Patience (F). I'm not sure how a perfectly normal name like Mary got into that string of very different names but it did. And don't you just wonder what the thinking was in naming sons Consider and Watching? You can tuck those away in the back of your brain for those times when someone is soliciting a unique name for an as-yet-unborn new baby.
The popularity of names comes and goes. Probably in 350 years someone will be tracing their family roots and shaking their heads at the names we're using now. Still, I'm betting they won't be naming their kids Obadiah or Watching.