03 March 2015

Fearless Females: Unique names and naming patterns

Lisa A Alzo of The Accidental Genealogist started the Fearless Females prompts for Women’s History Month. Throughout March, each day will feature a different female ancestor. Today’s prompt is: Do you share a first name with one of your female ancestors? Perhaps you were named for your great-grandmother, or your name follows a particular naming pattern. If not, then list the most unique or unusual female first name you’ve come across in your family tree. 

To my knowledge, I am the only Jeanne on either side of my family. Mom said she chose my name because it had to smooth the rough sound (her words) of Ruczhak. It also (I was raised Roman Catholic, Latin Rite) had to be the name of a saint or a derivative of one. Jeanne d’Arc was the natural patron saint then. She lived a short life, 1412 – 1431. When I converted to Orthodoxy, I chose St. John Climacus, also known as John of the Ladder. His Icon speaks volumes to me. I have a small one on the wall above my desk. 

Two of my three girls were named for family members. Our oldest – Mary Theresa – was named specifically after my maternal grandmother Mary Rose Welsh Still. Theresa was a favorite saint (St Theresa the Little Flower), as I was still Catholic at the time. Anna Mabel is named after my paternal grandmother, Anna Kurenda Ruczhak, and hubby’s grandmother, Mabel Eckman Eckman.  

Our other daughter – Zorina Katherine - has a unique name. I was so sure the twins were a boy and a girl that we had a boy’s name picked out. We had agreed on Joseph Frank. Joseph is the name of both my dad and his father. Frank is my father-in-law’s name. I did not like the name Frances Josephine even though both are family names. Frances is Baba’s mother, who I never met and Josephine is the name of hubby’s aunt. Frances also made me think of the talking mule! She was “Baby B” up until the SSN paperwork had to be filed. Hubby picked out Zorina from a character in a book he liked. Katherine was one of the names we had discussed for the child we lost. It also flowed well with her first name. 

The girls all had saints’ names without trying. Mary of course is the Theotokos. Anna is the mother of Mary. Zorina is a derivative of Zoe - St. Zoe  Zoe means “life” so it seemed fitting on that level as well. 

You would think that Zorina is the most unusual name in the family. However, hubby’s great grandmother is Apolina Morrill. According to a baby name site, Apolina means “gift from Apollo.” The most unusual name on my side is my 3rd great grandmother Knapy Penelope. Knapy was the name listed on her daughter’s - Anna Keating- death certificate but it is the only place I have been able to find the name Knapy. 

What is YOUR most unusual name? Have you come across mine in your travels or searches?


Fearless Females is a daily prompt throughout March celebrating Women’s History Month 
© Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman, 2015
Locations listed are located in Pennsylvania (USA), unless otherwise noted in post.