#115: More in the Middle

115.1  Samuel Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, Patrick Henry, John Hancock, Aaron Burr, Alexander Hamilton, John Jay…none of these Founding Fathers had middle names. 13 of the first 16 Presidents, and 26 of 43 overall didn’t have middle names…the last one without was Teddy Roosevelt. Of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence, only 3 had middle names: Francis Lightfoot Lee, Richard Henry Lee, and Robert Treat Paine.

115.2  Uncle Wiki lists an additional 140 individuals who can be considered Founding Fathers, and of these, only 10 had middle names…split evenly 4 and 4 between surnames and second Christian names. The 2 remaining are special cases. In the family of diplomat and jurist Robert R. Livingston, sons used their father’s first name as their middle name…his father was also named Robert, so he abbreviated that to simply an R.

115.3  Then there was Daniel of St. Thomas Jenifer of Maryland. Historians don’t know the origin of his unusual middle name “of St. Thomas,” but it was part of a curious custom in the Jenifer family…that of naming a son “Daniel” and one of this brothers “Daniel of St. Thomas”…this happened at least 4 times! One hopes that at the dinner table they were Dan and Tom…

115.4  Now our history is studded with gentlemen named Lee, and this was indeed one of the most prominent families in early Virginia…so I assayed a part of the family tree for the signatory brothers mentioned above, Francis Lightfoot Lee and Richard Henry Lee. As you can see in Chart 414, they were 1st cousins once removed to famous cavalryman Light Horse Harry Lee, and twice removed to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. They had several other siblings that did not have middle names, but as they were born in the early 1700s, their family had begun doing this considerably before most people…as befits gentry, I suppose. Their mother was born in 1695, and given the surnames of both her parents.

chart 414

115.5   Also noteworthy is that Lightfoot is not the surname of a blood relative, but the husband of Francis’ father’s maternal aunt. The similarity between “Lightfoot” and “Light Horse” is pure coincidence…and neither individual should be confused with Sir Henry Lightfoot Boston, sometimes hyphenated, a prominent figure in the founding of Sierra Leone, and the descendant of freed Creole slaves from the West Indies.

115.6  And as an aside, a word of caution…while researching the Lee family, I found several mistakes on Uncle Wiki…a reminder for you to double, triple, and quadruple check this stuff. They also say that Francis Lightfoot Lee “married his cousin,” one Rebecca Plater Tayloe…then immediately clarify that with “2nd cousin once removed.” Waddya bet that’s a boo-boo, too? I’ll look into it, just not today. If you’re interested, here’s what I posted on the “Talk” pages…

uncle wiki

115.7  But as I did last time with the middle-name-less Presidents, I thought it might be a hoot to give those Founding Fathers I mentioned in 115.1 their mothers’ maiden names as middle names…and it was, to wit: Samuel Fifield Adams, Benjamin Folger Franklin, Thomas Cocke Paine, Patrick Winston Henry, John Thaxter Hancock, Aaron Edwards Burr, Alexander Fawcett Hamilton, and John Van Cortlandt Jay. Interesting assortment, wouldn’t you say? Can’t make this stuff up…


  115.8  Dear Stolf: Last week you ended by taking the Presidents whose middle name wasn’t their mother’s maiden name, and showing what they’d look like if it had been. BTW, you left out Harry Young Truman. But I got to thinking maybe the reason they didn’t was that another sibling got it first…sound reasonable?  …from Shorty in Bracketsburg

115.9  Dear Shorty: You’re right, I did miss Truman, thanx. And yes, the same thought occurred to me, by gum, and it turns out that in 5 of the 16 cases, that’s pretty much what happened.

115.10  William Henry Harrison didn’t get Bassett because his older brother Carlton Bassett Harrison beat him to it. Likewise, James Abram Garfield had an older brother who died at age 2, James Ballou Garfield, and also an older sister Mehitabel Ballou Garfield. Stephen Grover Cleveland was the 5th of 9 sibs, the first 2 being Anna Neal Cleveland and William Neal Cleveland. 

 115.11 Now this wasn’t the case with David Dwight Eisenhower…he was the 3rd of 7 sons, but it was the youngest, Milton Stover Eisenhower, who got their mother’s maiden name. You may have heard that there that were only 6 brothers…they generally leave out #5, Paul Dawson Eisenhower, who died of diphtheria in 1895, 2 months shy of his first birthday. Oddly enough, some genealogies list 2 additional Eisenhower siblings…Morris and Paula…I suspect the latter is actually “Paul A.” which is sometimes erroneously given for “Paul Dawson.” But census records reflect just the 6 sons, Paul having been born and died between the 1890 and the 1900 census. 

115.12  Finally we come to George Walker Bush. His sister Dorothy also got Walker…brothers Neil and Marvin both got their mother’s maiden name Pierce. And ole Jeb, he’s John Ellis Bush, named after Alexander Ellis, who married his Aunt Nancy Walker Bush, third child and only daughter of grandpa Prescott Bush. Go figure.

115.13  Next week, we’ll wrap up middle names for a while with a couple of interesting Presidential genealogical snapshots…till then, peace out…

Wicked Ballsy

ikes speia

Speaking of the Eisenhowers, Ike and Mamie did give her maiden name of Doud to both their sons…Doud Dwight “Icky” Eisenhower, who died of scarlet fever in 1921 at age 3…and John Sheldon Doud Eisenhower, father of Dwight David Eisenhower II, who married Julie Nixon.

As to the nickname Ike, friends originally bestowed it upon older brother Edgar…who eventually became Big Ike when David was christened Little Ike. Interestingly enough, they both graduated from Abilene High School in Kansas in 1909, altho Big was a year and 9 months older than Little. And both were older than their classmates…Little was a year behind, having repeated his freshman year due to a severe leg injury…and Big dropped out in the 8th grade, then returned to finish high school…no wonder he was the football star!


Copyright © 2013 Mark John Astolfi, All Rights Reserved



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