Category Archives: Personal

Middle Names

This is a follow-up to a post yesterday that I wrote on the middle name of one of my ancestors. The name? Darwin.

So his name likely comes from a surname, I’m assuming somehow connected to the family tree, perhaps the surname of a grandparent or even his mother.

Family records list his mother as Axie English, but I’ve never confirmed that she even existed. I can’t find a record of her.

I am hoping the name Darwin could help yield some clues. It may be an avenue to pursue in branching out the story.

So I have been researching the background of the name.

Recorded in several spelling forms including Darwin, Derwin, Darwen and Darwent, this English surname has two possible origins.The first is from the pre-7th century personal name Deorwine, a compound of the elements deor, meaning dear, and wine, meaning friend, hence composing the term Dear Friend. This was probably used as both a baptismal name of endearment for a child, but also as a nickname for a close kinsman or partner.The given name Deorwine was first recorded in England in the Pipe Rolls of the county of Essex in 1070, and in the Latinized form as Derewinus in the tax register known as the Feet of Fines in the year 1176 in the county of Buckinghamshire. The surname from this source was first recorded in the early 13th century…

The second origin is locational from the town of Darwen. This place is named after the river Darwent in Lancashire, derived from the word derva, meaning oak. So this spot of the river was where oaks were common. It was recorded as Derewent in the year 1208.

Early examples of the name taken from surviving post medieval church registers include Elizabeth Darwin who was christened at the church of Saint Martin’s in the Fields, Westminster, on March 30th, 1636, while in Victorian times Charles Darwin became famous for his theory on the origins of mankind.

The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of John Derewin. This was dated 1219, in the county of Essex, during the reign of King Henry the Third, 1216-1272.Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as the Poll Tax.

Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to evolve often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.


Note that I have made some minor changes to the quote from the Name Origin site, which had some spelling and gramatical errors.

Darwin? Hmm, Darwin.

Ever since learning his name, his full name, I’ve wondered about it. Ezra Darwin Darling. That’s his name, the last born child of Jabez and one of my ancestors.

Little is known about the family. Even the name of Ezra’s father was riddled with confusion for years. It has to do with handwriting, probably a cursive script, and folks misinterpreting it for generations.

Some thought it was Zalig or Jalig. But a cursive z can look like a g. I know firsthand because a kid in elementary school, an odd know-it-all who I still detest, mocked my writing of pizza, declaring that it looked like pigga. Well, the same happened with someone, probably my great gandmother Geneva, jotting down the name Jabez. Maybe it’s a genetic thing.

But, in the end, after meeting up with distant cousins, I was convinced that Jabez was Ezra’s father. In a cafe on the campus of the local community community in Salem, Oregon, she, who lived on the Oregon coast for years, presented a transcribed copy of a probate record for Jabez. It listed every child, including Ezra, with his entire name for posterity, Ezra Darwin Darling.

His middle name, Darwin. What is the story there? How did that come to be?

Today, the name has a different meaning than in 1830, when Ezra was born in Ontario County, New York. Of course it has to do with Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution.

But Ezra was named long before this. So that got me to digging around.

Wikipedia has the following:

Darwin is a surname that is a modern spelling of the Anglo-Saxon and Old English name Deorwine.



The tragic, untimely end of my great grandfather’s younger brother, August Fromke

Someone sent August’s obituary to me via email, as printed in the Grant County Review on October 28, 1909.

August L Fromke, residing on the old Patt Rabbitt farm south of Twin Brooks, died suddenly at his home last night. He has been a great sufferer for six or seven years and was suddenly taken very ill yesterday and died a few hours later. He leaves to mourn his loss a wife and four children, three boys and a girl, the youngest of which is three years of age and the older ten. Mrs. Fromke is a daughter of Fred Radtke of Grant Center Twp. The bereaved family have the sincere sympathy of their friends and neighbors.

I am hoping to learn his cause of death.