Mahala Scott Wren with her descendants
It’s a cold, blustery Saturday evening, rye bread rising and everyone in the house torpid. For the first time this year, I had a day with nothing on the schedule. Almost every Saturday has been taken up with our final move into the new building, which was turning into Zeno’s move for a while there. Two weeks ago, however, thanks to an awesome team, we completed the last of it. A few tweaks here and there, and that was it: we have our collections 100% under one roof for the first time in decades.
So Gene went birding and I stayed asleep this morning. After a late rise, I came in here, looked out the window and there was a peregrine falcon on the telephone pole. It flew past so close that I could count its primaries. Apparently, it was the best bird of the day, and I didn’t have to leave the house or even put down the tea. We leave for the annual crane trip in 4 weeks, weather permitting, so I'm birding in slothful comfort while I can.
I’ve signed up for a community education class to learn Lakota 101. I have no illusions that I will ever be a fluent speaker, or even a Tarzan-level speaker, but I’m fascinated by the language and the culture of our Lakota friends and colleagues here. This should give them much amusement. It's nice to give your friends something to laugh at.
I’ve been catching up on a number of things—grant applications, plans for the next few months, rearranging the sewing space—and indulging myself by spending a little time with the genealogy project. Lately I’ve been mired in fractious medieval relatives, if they are in fact relatives, which some of them appear to be multiple times over. Genealogy is not a good pursuit for those who do not wish to untangle the results of intermarriages between cousins. The on-line resources are not as useful as one could wish when one is trying to determine if a relative is a direct ancestor, a cousin, or both. I seem to keep running into “both.” The Brits in particular seem to have a cheerful lack of boundaries here. I’ve been known to yell at them when the family trees start looking like kudzu.
The names fascinate me. I’ve been keeping a loose list of Names You Just Never See Any More. Here are a few from the files. These are all my relatives, if I’ve done this correctly, so I am not presenting this in a mean-spirited way. Quite the opposite—I’d like to see some of these in use again. Note: “Some.”
- Antiocha (Hawkwood—may be one of the best names in the family)
- Mahala (occurs 6 times in the files so far)
- Green Berry (Moon and Savage)
The virtues: Comfort, Deliverance, Pleasant (Moon—another great name), Charity, Please, Increase, Rest, the lovely Rachel Obedience Rosebloom, and my particular favorite, Thankful Shears, which I will use as a business name if this quilting thing takes off.
The British lines tend to taper off in the 10th century unless Vikings are involved, in which case the lines can go back in time several more centuries. Say what you will about their pillaging--they kept good records of it.
There are no fewer than 8 women named Martha Patsy. I am finding out that Patsy was a common nickname for Martha, as Polly and Molly were for Marty and Sally was for Sarah. I am not sure how you get Patsy out of Martha. This goes back at least as far as Thomas Jefferson’s daughter and seems to be an American thing.
But my new favorite relative’s name is Devorguilla, or Dervorgilla, which sounds like a 1950s creature feature but is actually a Latinization of Dearbhfhorghaill. Of course it is. It’s supposed to be much easier to say. Right. I've also found a Derbforgaill later on, when consonants were harder to come by, apparently, so it was not a one-time thing. Gaelic cannot be harder than Icelandic or Lakota, can it?
And the best name (twice) in the online hints is one I can’t really cite as a name, but has to have a killer story behind it. Ghilo DePinkney of Scotland is linked to the following records:
Father: Ghilo DePinkney (980-1030)
Mother: Agitated Lady of Scotland (980-1030)
Spouse: Agitated Lady of Scotland (1021-1130)
This is for real. I am not sure what this means, but somebody must have found it difficult to live with somebody. Maybe somebody was too close to somebody else’s cousins. It gets cold in Scotland. Agitatedly yours, sys