Thursday, March 31, 2011

Obscure Biblical Names: Parshandatha

of Plymouth, NH
m. Jonathan Ferrin c. 1850

This is a strange one. In the Bible, Parshandatha was a man, and not a very nice one. He was one of the ten sons of Haman killed in the Book of Esther. Why would a New Englander choose this name for any child, let alone a daughter?

Sometimes I think that some New Englanders weren't all that Biblically literate, even if they were familiar with the Bible.

Obscure Bible Names Alphabet

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Obscure Biblical Names: Onesiphorus

Onesiphorus Tileston
d. 27 November 1771
Boston, MA

Onesiphorus Tileston, 1771, Granary Burying Ground, Boston

The Biblical Onesiphorus was an early Christian and friend of Paul (2 Tim. 1:16-18; 4:19).

Obscure Bible Names Alphabet

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Obscure Biblical Names: Nehushta

m. 6 November 1794
Spencer, MA

In the Bible, Nehushta was the mother of a king of Judah (2 Kings 24:8).

Obscure Bible Names Alphabet

Monday, March 28, 2011

Obscure Biblical Names: M

The letter M is a real challenge. How can you choose just one?

Mahalaleel: Melhalaleel Munnings of Boston

Mehuman: Mehuman Hinsdell of Deerfield

Mephibosheth: Mephibosheth Adams of Groton

Obscure Bible Names Alphabet

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Obscure Biblical Names: Kenaz

married Apphia Meachum, 19 February 1809
Chester, MA

There are actually three men named Kenaz in the Bible.

Obscure Bible Names Alphabet

Friday, March 25, 2011

Obscure Biblical Names: Jehosheba

b. 11 May 1755
Uxbridge, MA

I actually kind of like this name.

In the Bible, Jehosheba was the daughter of Jehoram (2 Chr. 22:11).

Obscure Bible Names Alphabet

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Obscure Biblical Names: Imla

b. 30 October 1793
Westford, MA

I get sucked into these records. I just go in looking for Imla, but my eye wanders down a line or two and I notice Ivory. That's right — Ivory Keyes. Then I see that Imla was the father of Emerline and twins named Liberty and Lydia. I could read these records all day long.

In the Bible, Imla was the father of the prophet Micaiah.

Obscure Bible Names Alphabet

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Obscure Biblical Names: Hazelelponi

Hazelelponi Gee
b. 27 May 1662

Hazelelponi Gee was named after her mother, Hazelelponi Willix.

The Biblical Hazelelponi shows up in a genealogy of the line of Judah (1 Chron 4:3) and is never mentioned again.

Obscure Bible Names Alphabet

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Obscure Biblical Names: Genubath

Genubath Strong
b. 22 Oct 1791
Bolton, CT

Genubath was the third of six sons born to Ebenezer and Lucy Strong. His brothers were Ebenezer, Solomon, Daniel, Eli, and Samuel.

Also of note: the genealogy says that the youngest son, Samuel, was adopted in infancy. I don't know why — his mother was still alive and lived another 30 years after his birth (though she did not have any more children, so perhaps there was some sort of problem). Anyway, his adoptive parents were named John and Cleopatra Skinner.

In the Bible, Genubath is an Edomite brought up by an Egyptian queen (1 Kings 11:20).

Obscure Bible Names Alphabet

Monday, March 21, 2011

Obscure Biblical Names: Fortunatus

b. 1742
Chilmark, Marthas Vineyard, MA

One of the nice things about Christians is that they really, really want you to know about the Bible. In service of that goal, they have created bajillions of websites that cover the minutia Bible in exhaustive detail. The Christian website I use for names is good for my purposes because it has lots of useful glossaries and tends to quote the King James Version (KJV), which would have been familiar to the residents of colonial New England (they also used the Geneva Bible, but that one isn't really so popular on the internet and it's similar to the KJV). Wikipedia also has an impressive list of Biblical names, but the spellings are not always taken from the KJV, so they seem less likely to show up in colonial New England.

The detail-oriented people at assure me that there are only 3 names beginning with F in the whole Bible: Felix, Festus, and Fortunatus. The first two were certainly Romans and the third probably was — in any event, they are all in the New Testament. Colonial New Englanders liked to use Old Testament names — you won't find many Pauls or Lukes in this crowd — and none of these three names seemed particularly outlandish to me. I picked Fortunatus because he seems to be a relatively obscure character (1 Cor. 16:17).

Obscure Bible Names Alphabet

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Obscure Biblical Names: Eliashib

Eliashib Adams
b. 18 Feb 1659
Medfield, MA

Actually, the Adams family tree is lousy with Eliashibs.

There were two Eliashibs in the Bible, both priests (1 Chr. 24:12; Neh. 12:22).

Obscure Bible Names Alphabet

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Obscure Biblical Names: Dumah

Dumah Tuttle

Ok, I cheated. Dumah Tuttle is from New York. He was elected to the New York State Legislature in 1831.

In the Bible, Dumah is the fourth son of Ishmael (Genesis 25:14).

Obscure Bible Names Alphabet

Friday, March 18, 2011

Obscure Biblical Names: Cozbi

Cozbi Hayden

b. 26 November 1749

In the Bible, Cozbi is the daughter of a Midianite king. According to the Christian encyclopedia I use to find exhaustive lists of Biblical names, she was notable because she "seduced Israelite men into sexual sin and idolatry." She was killed with a javelin. Lovely. Why would you want to name your godfearing New England daughter Cozbi? I don't know, but I don't understand the Jezebels either.

Cozbi Hayden was the daughter of the staidly named Richard and Mary Hayden of Braintree, MA. Richard and Mary had an unusual naming style — their children were:

Aminadah (b. 1746, boy)
Cozbi (b. 1749, girl)
Asenath (b. 1751, girl)
Ziba (b. 1754, boy)
Cyrus (b. 1756, boy)
twin girls: Sage and Molly (b. 1759)
Lewis (b. 1763, boy)

It's like they ran out of steam toward the end. Who starts out with Aminadah and ends up at Lewis?

Obscure Bible Names Alphabet

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Gravestone of the Day: Bezer Hill

Bezer Hill, 1821, East Bridgewater, MA

In Memory of
Who was killed by the
upsetting of a cart,
Sep. 20, 1821.
AEt. 29.
Adieu my friends, a long & sad farewell!
A scen more solemn than the passing bell:
I hope with God in glory I shall bloom,
Where sorrow, sickness, death, can never come.
Consoling thought! dear partner dry your tears,
Your friend has gone beyond your anxious fears;
Weep not for me, prepare without delay,
To meet that debt, you all must shortly pay.

Can't blame this one on David Blood.

I thought that this might be an example of Beza + accent = Bezer, but there is actually an obscure Bezer in the Bible. Maybe it's even the other way around — there's no Beza in the Bible, so maybe someone like Beza Soule is really Bezer + accent = Beza? There is a Bezaleel, though, so who knows.

In any event, the biblical Bezer appears only once. Some of his brothers and cousins listed in adjacent verses would also make great additions to my Alphabet: Jephunneh, Pispah, Ulla, Zophah, Imna, etc.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A New Names Series

I propose a new series for VPI:

Scraping the Bottom of the Biblical Names Barrell:
an Alphabet

In this series, I will highlight obscure Biblical names given to New Englanders. I may not be able to find examples for all 26 letters, but I will try.

See today's name of the day for the first installment and check back for updates in the future.

B: Bezer
C: Cozbi
D: Dumah
E: Eliashib

Gravestone of the Day: Abihail King

Abihail King, 1755, Wrentham, MA

In Memory of
Abihail King
who Died Octbr.
the 5th 1755
in ye 16th Year
of Her

Not a typo. There were several Abihails in the Bible.

Obscure Bible Names Alphabet

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Gravestone of the Day: Mary Willington

Mary Willington, 1799, Arlington, MA

to the memory of
dau. of Coln.
who died 26 Aug. 1799;
AEt. 16.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they shall see God.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Neglecting This Blog

Hello, everyone.

I just wanted to apologize for neglecting this blog over the last week. It was quite a week for us — midterm papers to grade, daycare centers to visit, and, most importantly, a new house to move into!

I'll be back with new content on Monday.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

More Press for Tangible Things!

More press for Tangible Things (the exhibit half of the course I helped develop and am teaching for this semester): Boston Globe.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

"The Letter'd Stone Shall Tell"

Boston Evening-Post, 12 March 1770 via Archive of Americana
Today is the 241st anniversary of the Boston Massacre. In honor of the day, I present the following poem, printed in the Boston Evening-Post a week after the event:
With Fire enwrapt, surcharg'd with Death,
Lo, the pois'd Tube convolves it's fatal Breath!
The flying Ball with heav'n-directed Force,
Rids the free Spirit of it's fallen Corse.
Well fated Shades! let no unmanly Tear
From Pit'y Eye, distain your honour'd Bier:
Lost to their view, surviving Friends may mourn,
Yet o'er thy Pile shall Flames celestial burn;
Long as in Freedom's Cause the Wise contend,
Dear to your Country shall your Fame extend;
While to the World, the letter'd Stone shall tell,
How Caldwell, Attucks, Gray, and Mav'rick fell.
A few notes on this poem:
  • Though unsigned in this form, this poem is generally attributed to Phillis Wheatley.
  • I have seen the poem reprinted many times, but somehow, nobody bothered to mention the little soul effigy border! The gravestone imagery used in this little woodcut really strengthens the "letter'd Stone" reference.
  • Did the Boston Massacre victims have a gravestone before the current marker (1906)? The Boston cemetery commission had no knowledge of an earlier stone when they published this pamphlet in 1902, and this book from 1853 says the same thing: if there ever was a stone, it was destroyed during the siege winter of 1775-6. Does anyone know of a reference to a gravestone for the Massacre victims from 1770-1775?
  • Let's go back to those little soul effigies in the border for a moment. The Boston Evening-Post was established in 1735 by Thomas Fleet. In 1770, it was published by his son, Thomas Fleet, Jr. The Fleets owned at least three slaves: Peter Fleet (d. circa 1758), Pompey and Caesar Fleet (Peter's sons, still alive in 1770). We know for sure that Peter Fleet made woodcuts — there is a book from the 1730s called The Prodigal Daughter that is illustrated with his signed woodcuts. We also know that Pompey and Caesar were trained as printers and worked in the Fleets' printing business before the war (I'm not sure about Caesar, but Pompey escaped to Nova Scotia and spent the rest of his life in Sierra Leone). Could Pompey or Caesar have carved this border? Is it possible that this is a poem by a black poet, illustrated by a black engraver, eulogizing, among others, a black/Indian sailor?
  • I feel a sense of calm knowing that people were messing up its and it's in the 18th century. It's the same calm I feel knowing that 18th-century Americans had ridiculous names like Belcher Noyes and Cotton Tufts. The world is not going to hell in a handbasket, or, at least, it is not a recent development.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Names of the Day

Jabez Rice of Marlborough, Massachusetts and his wife, Miriam, bore names appropriate for members of the new Israel. When Miriam gave birth to twins on June 27, 1775, she named them John Hancock and Dorothy Quincy Rice, names for the new republic.

source: Boston Gazette, 10 July 1775