Wednesday, November 5, 2008

What's in a Name

Harrison was my great-grandmother's maiden name. Though I haven't focused as much on it in the past year as I did previously, I am a fairly avid genealogist. My Harrison line was one of the first that got me hooked. At the time of the Civil War, my Harrison family lived in West Virginia (Virginia initially -- my great-great-great-grandfather was a delegate to the Wheeling Convention, which ultimately resulted in the formation of West Virginia); their friends and neighbors were divided, some fighting for each side.

My great-great-grandfather was too young to enlist, so he worked as a civilian clerk under his older brother, who was a Union captain. In an act of retribution for the capture of the (soldier) brother of a confederate officer, confederate soldiers captured my great-great-grandfather and imprisoned him at Andersonville under atrocious conditions. His pension file is quite interesting, in part because he was repeatedly denied a pension since he wasn't an enlisted soldier and repeatedly had to appeal through his state representatives to receive one, as they would pass a private bill granting him a pension under the then-current pension act, which would become void when a new pension act was passed. (Sadly, this process continued even after his death as my great-great-grandmother tried to collect her widow's benefits.) He eventually became a lawyer, serving as his area's justice of the peace for many years. The house he built in the late 19th century for his family is still standing and remained in the family for 75 years. I visited it last year.

Harry is not just the most common nickname for Harrison; it was also my great-grandfather's first name (in a different branch of my family). This great-grandfather was the one my grandmother says I take after. His story is also interesting, but I'll save it for another day.

Finally, John was my father-in-law's first name.

6 comments:

mo*reezy said...

That is so wonderful that you have this kind of fascinating info about your ancestors. And Harrison is an excellent name. In college, I was (fairly embarrassingly) totally infatuated with a guy whose last name was Harrison. I've always liked it. *just don't tell timon!*

Amanda said...

What a beautiful name. I love the history behind it, too.

Jen said...

We picked out family names too. We don't know quite that much about our ancestors though.

To A T said...

How cool is it that you know so much about your family history!? I would love to hear the stories about where I came from.

Love the name Harrison BTW! :)

Nicky said...

Very cool that you know so much family history! We also dug deep into the family tree -- LL's middle name is S's great-great-great-grandfather -- but we know little more than names.

Jaymee said...

i love his name. i love it even more knowing all the history behind it, how wonderful to know so much about where you came from.