Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Cousin Sister

Family trees have unique branches
Last night while we were out and about, we chanced to meet up with my cousin Sister. She has a "real" name, but family members have always called her Sister, because that's what her three brothers called her while we were all growing up. So even though she isn't my sister (she's my first cousin), I call her Sister, too.

This got me to thinking about family names. Besides my cousin Sister, I had an Aunt Bubba, and Bubba is usually a nickname for a male.

We have lots of Bigs and Littles in our family. Big Hunter, Little Hunter, "Savannah" Hunter, and now Baby Hunter. When I named my oldest daughter after my best friend Suzanne, we got Big and Little Suzanne. In an odd twist of fate, Big Suzanne is married to Little Hunter, though their sizes and weights are the opposite of their descriptors.

We have two family members that went by initials: T.P. and T.C. Both men had Thomas as their first name, so you might think we had a family aversion to the name Tom, but T.C.'s daughter named her son for him, and he goes by the "first" name of Tom Crawford.

Oh! I nearly forgot this one. Another first cousin was a second child. She grew up hearing her sister Gay saying the word "Mama" for their mom. So Little Syb called their mom "Gay's Mama."

I also had an aunt named Tootsie.

I've laid a portion of my family tree out there for you. Care to share about the "different" names of your family? A free download to one lucky commentor. The prize drawing will be on Friday afternoon, so it's not too late to post.

Maggie Toussaint

Coming in March:
Death, Island Style - a little sun, a little fun, a dead guy in the surf
Murder in the Buff - murder blooms in the nudists' organic garden


  1. What a cute post, Maggie. I enjoyed hearing all your relatives' nicknames. That might be a southern thing, all those cool nicknames. I've read a lot of southern literature and there is always a Bubba or a Big or Little somebody. I grew up in the Midwest, and I guess my ancestors were not so interesting or colorful. We all went by our regular 'ol names. My mom called me Sis, but that's as far as it went. I can't recall a single neat nickname in my family, or my husband's either.

  2. LOL, Maggie, loved your post. Holy cow, I don't know how you keep track of all of the names. :) The only 'different' thing I did when growing up, and wasn't so off key, was to call my grandparents grandma and grandpa in French.
    *I'm a huge fan, so please don't enter me in the drawing. I want someone new to fall in love with your stories! ^5 Wishing you continued success! *Hugs*

  3. Maggie, I had a great-uncle Hubby (I think it might have been for Hubert, but I'm not sure). His wife was my Aunt Mame. Another great-aunt wanted her grandchildren to call her Mother Margie. An early grandchild couldn't manage that mouthful, so she became Augie. We have our share of initials, too. And in my brother-in-law's family, everyone's name begins with the letter "M." Last, but not least, my sister is Vetron.

  4. Maggie,
    What a great topic. My father's name was Abraham, but when he entered the navy, they used his initials, A.L. so he became Al and from there Alfred on some legal documents because of people's assumptions. I'm Ginger which is a nickname for Virginia, but Virginia's my mother. I've had to struggle my entire life to keep Virginia off my records, and my mother has had to endure the horrible nickname of "Dude" bestowed upon her by her brother.

    My brother's name is Gary, but to us he's always been Butch. So when his wife's refers to him as Gary, we all scratch our heads and wonder who she's talking about it until it dawns on us. I fear for grandson whose name is Spencer, but has been called "The Pook" for reasons not clear. I fear I may have started it by calling him Pookie Bear when he was little. We really have to watch what we say these days, don't we. Oh, and my grandpa used to call my mother (his daughter) Sis, which confused us because we had an Aunt Sis. Now my sister has dubbed her granddaughter, Natalia, "Bubby" because she's in Macedonia and wears a little scarf at times that resembles a babushka. I could go on, but I think you get the gist that your family isn't the only one with odd names. *lol* Oy Vey!

  5. Maggie, this is a cute post. I call my DH Sem-Sem and he calls me Mon-Mon, call my son Pol-Pol and my daughter Lilly. Okay we love repetitious sounds! We have a Toto, a Jojo, a Roro among the cousins.

  6. My dad was the third born of five sons. The youngest got dubbed Sonny by his big brothers. Outside the family, he's Matt, but inside he's always been Sonny. Evan my grandkids refer to their great-great-uncle as Uncle Sonny.

  7. My family name on my mother's side was Weishaar. They came from Alcace Lorraine in 1843, homesteaded in Northern Illinois. "Weishaar" in German means 'white hair', and generally one or two children in every generation are born with bone white hair (as was I). On my father's side, Klawitter. Pronounced in America 'Clay-wit-er' Pronounced in Europe and by me 'Klaaa-vitter' as in Wagner and clavichord. My grandfather, a tishler, came over from Klawittersdorf, a small chunk of land along the Baltic deeded them by the Dutch upon return from the crusades. (Farfetched sounding, but true. You can look it up in those books of heraldry, family crest and all) Klawitter is reputed to mean 'he who steals through the night and makes off with your wife', but that's just an old wives tale and you shouldn't really believe it. My wife's sister traced their family (through DNA, that thing on Oprah a year or two ago) to Robin Hood's family. On the other, other hand, my scholarly and unpredictable Uncle Robert claimed to have traced our ancestry back to Guzi the Bandit who robbed travelers through the Black Forest and kept everything for himself. Guzi, so my uncle's story went, was captured, hung by the neck until dead and then exhibited for a few days in a butcher shop in Hamburg with great copper pennies over his eyes. Some other time I'll tell you about my great great great Grandfather, Old Man Wichernich who fought a band of multiplying cats with Turkslicer, his sword. Each time he sliced a cat, it became two. This was on his way home, shortcut through a graveyard...but then, he'd had a mug or two at the local pub. His bemused and long suffering wife said she thought he'd fallen in the bramble bushes again. Well, there, I guess I HAVE told you after all...
    John Klawitter

  8. What fun! Years ago, my mother and I visited the cemetery in the small Minnesota farming community where she grew up and she was commenting on folks and telling stories as we walked. "Oh, there's Tonnie," she said, referring to her long-gone aunt. I was baffled. The marker said "Katherine." Most of us knew her only as Tonnie from Tante, "aunt" in German. I never knew that wasn't her real name until decades after she died.

    Ginger, I laughed at your story about Butch -- my mother had a much-younger brother called Butch when as a child, and now that people refer to him as Frank or Francis, she has to think for a moment to remember who that is!

    And then there's my husband Don and his brother Dave -- and his other brothers Don and Dave (step-brothers, always called Little Don & Dave because they're younger -- even though they are taller!). Love family name stories!

  9. Maggie, your post brought a smile to my face. My mother's name was Ruth, as was my father's law partner.My mother became "Little Ruth" and Dad's law partner, who became a second grandmother to me, "Big Ruth." My mother was fairly short, so that's how they got the designations.

    As for me, my mother named me Margaret so she could call me Peggy. She and Dad named my sister Michele after my grandfather. They started calling her "Mikey" but decided that was too masculine and switched to "Shelley." My first cousin, four years older than I, is named Martin because his father hated the name Michael. The family called him Mickey. The whole Michael/Martin caused a huge family rift (Grandad was much loved) that was years in the mending.

  10. PS: My mother called my father by the nickname "Lepkey" (not spelled like that, I suspect) which was the nickname of a famous (at the time) criminal with the same first name (Louis) as my father.

  11. I am enjoying this comment thread immensely!

    Nothing wrong with "regular" names, Stacey!

    Thanks for your unflagging support, Diana.

    I love "Uncle Hubby," Patricia.

    Ginger, what fun in your family with the Abraham to Alfred saga and "The Pook."

    LD - say hi to "Uncle Sonny." Makes me smile to hear those words together!

    John, You have quite the colorful family! I enjoyed hearing about them.

    Leslie, How cool that "Tonnie" derived from the name for aunt.

    Margaret/Peggy, Your family sounds like a lot of fun. I often wondered why my parents waited until their fourth daughter to use my paternal grandmother's name, LOL. Even though she was named Margaret, she went by Meta, and we called her Big Mama. I hope you guys have the whole Micheal/Martin/Mikey thing ironed out by now!

    Y'all keep the comments coming. I will pick a commentor randomly on Friday afternoon.


  12. This is surely the Southern way - since everybody in the family has more or less the same name (six James Roberts named after after Grandpa), there has to be some way to distinguish them - James, Jim, Jim Bob, little Jim, J.R., Bubba, Scooter, etc. My husband's brother is named Gary, but when he was born a relative said he was quite a little man, so his family has called him Man ever since.

  13. Donis, I love the nicknames for your grandpop's namesakes. And how about that Gary getting saddled with Man? I can just see him correcting his teachers every fall in school. Maggie

  14. Southern nicknames are definitely more colorful!

  15. A little off the topic, but thought you might like to know that paternal first cousins in India are cousin brothers and cousin sisters -- partly because families used to live in the husband's parental home so the first cousins were raised as brothers and sisters. Not sure if the same is true for maternal cousins.

  16. Wow! I certainly enjoyed reading about the names. We didn't have any nicknames in our family, but my dad's full name was George Washington Luft. His family was German and actually came through Russia to the US. They obviously loved their new country. My youngest brother is George W. Luft. My parents only gave him an initial, and my two other brothers and I used to be really mean and say we were going to call each other by our middle names. Weren't we awful? My name, Merrillee, with all it's double letters, came from my mother's maiden name--Merrill.

  17. My DH also had an aunt named Tootsie. I had an uncle called Sonny Boy.

    Morgan Mandel

  18. Oh, reading the rest of the posts jogged my memory about people who have initials as names. We had a W M...not william, just the two letters said aloud. We also had a Sonny, Sonnyman, and an R.P. It's funny how genetics enters into naming...my mother's family were Okies, so names like Ruby, Ora Fay, Grace, Sally, Flossie, and Ula were common, but on my Dad's side, immigrating from Russia and living on the east coast, they had distinguished names like Miriam, Alice, Rosa, Estella, and Mary Margaret. Yep, names are fun, aren't they?

  19. I think I was really the only one in my family with a nickname growing up. They all called me Berbs, I of course hated it! Now my neice and nephews all call me Amer. They can't for some reason say the B in my name. I guess I'm either lucky or cursed? lol

  20. Oh, Maggie. I knew this would be right up my alley. We had an Aunt Sister--she was Mother's youngest sister. Often we dropped the Aunt and just called her Sister. Her name was Irene, and I don't think I ever heard anyone call her Irene.And isn't that a beautiful name.
    We also had an Uncle Brother. That was Daddy's older brother. His name was Reeves, and often we called him Brother Reeves...or if we felt like it...Uncle Brother. He was never just "Reeves." Have you ever known anyone named Reeves in Texas or Georgia? England perhaps? Where in the world did my Grandmother find this name? What fun. Thanks.

  21. Maggie, lol. Stephanie was big in my family. I was "little" Stephanie, my mother was "big" Stephanie and several cousins actually called me "Cousin Stephanie." LOL!!

    Thankfully Andrew and Joe are the only ones in the family. We never did have a Tootsie, but I have an Auntie Sue. Doesn't everyone have an auntie sue somewhere in their family?


  22. Hi Maggie,
    Fellow WRW'er here. I love your post and felt right at home reading it! I have two grandma's who married brothers so as you can imagine, my family tree does all sorts of interesting stuff. I also have an Auntie Bubba in the family and several sister/cousin/aunts! Thanks for putting yourself out there, always helps to know we're not alone!

  23. I always figured my mom had an inkling of what I'd want to be when I grew up - a romance writer - when she named me Jocelyn Keely.

    Imagine my shock and chagrin when I found out author Jo Anne Ferguson had picked Jocelyn Kelley to be her pseudonym for her historicals. Ack! LOL!

  24. Maggie, my cousin goes by Marty now, and I named my oldest son Michael. My sister still goes by Shelley.

  25. Hi, Maggie, My great-grandmother's name was America Jane. Actually, all my "great" mothers had the name Jane, as do I (as a middle name). That is one of the fun things about genealogy...you make such wonderful connections.

  26. I'm so excited by the response to this post! Thanks everyone for taking time to leave a comment. I need to be able to contact you if you win the drawing, so please leave an email addy for me.

    Jacquie and Pat - thanks for your comments. Pat, I had no idea about the cousin sister thing in India.

    Hi Merrillee, I never knew your name came from your mom's Merrill. Now all the double letters make sense! After George W Bush popularized beging called "W", your brother with W for a middle name would have been in exalted company (grin).

    Morgan, Hurrah for Aunt Tootsie and Sonny Boy.

    Ginger, I love how the names on each side of your family reflect their origins/cultural heritage.

    Amber, you have cool nicknames. I didn't have a nickname that stuck while I was growing up, except for the pediatrician who called me Bargaret.

    Velia - I love that you have an Aunt Sister and an Uncle Brother. I've never heard of Reeves as a first name. We had a Mrs. Reeves as a teacher down here, but she was a bit out there. We have ladies here with first names like Sudy and Bailey. I bet Reeves is somewhere in your lineage as a last name.

    Steph, I didn't have an Auntie Sue in my family, but we did have an aunt/cousin named Cousin May if you were descended down one family branch and Aunt May on the other. No one ever called her May.

    Carlene, I also have a relative a few gens back who was a twin. He and his brother married sisters. One wife died and the brother married the next sister in line. I kid you not!

    Keely, I've always loved your name. Its so distinctive. You tell Jo Ann Ferguson she can't have it cuz its on your birth certificate!

    Margaret - thanks for the update on the Michael-Martin-Shelley triangel in your family.

    Alana, How cool to have a name like America Jane. I wonder if she went by the whole thing or either her first or middle name. And how cool that all of your family females have Jane as part of their names. What a good way to link everyone together.

    Keep the comments coming folks! Maggie

  27. My husband was called Dickie by all of his family until I met him. I insisted on calling him Richard and his brothers by their real names, too, and not their nicknames. They all needed to get over those baby names.

  28. When my sister was married to a Michael, we had a Michael our brother and a Michael our husband. Odd, I know, but not much odder than a cousin named Sister or an aunt named Bubba. LOL

  29. Sorry to be a day late! I had to work an extra shift yesterday at the paper. When I got home, I forgot about the blog. Sorry sorry sorry.

    MY WINNER IS AMBER AKA VAMPED CHICK at goodblinknpark@yahoo.com. I will contact her by email to see which book she'd like. Thanks to all who commented! I had a lot of fun with this post.


  30. I actually understand the Big and Little, Jr. Missy, Cissy etc. I have family all over the South and a family home in Atlanta.


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