The Importance of Given Names

In genealogy we usually concentrate on surnames since they are the most important way of identifying people who are related.  A surname is usually inherited and, while it may be changed, some form of it is usually retained.  Given names are more important in a way because they represent a voluntary choice by the parents. 

A name is usually not given lightly.  It represents thought and feelings and can be significant to the researcher.  Such is the case of my Great Great Grandfather Rene Marion Pittman.

His unusual given name of Rene was a source of speculation that led to assumptions landing previous family researchers in France.  The following is part of a post where that myth was debunked.

 At the TOP of  the Pittman Family Branch, Irene had traced as far back as Rene Marion Pittman from Alsace Lorraine, France who came to America and married a Black Dutch woman...according to her notes.  Right off the bat, I'm wondering how a Frenchman...which could be with a name like Rene, got a surname like Pittman which I knew was not French, and how his wife could be Dutch and black.  (excerpt from Leatherwood-Pittman Myths Debunked)
Rene Marion Pittman Myth .... Debunked
Rene Marion Pittman was Born, Raised and Died in Georgia, USA!
His wife, Mary Anne Howell Pittman was Born, Raised and Died in Georgia, USA...was not Dutch or Black. 
Since the 'debunking', continued research has led to the discovery and the source of my Great Great Grandfather Rene Marion's name which was one I could not resist digging into.  

What a surprise and significant treasure of genealogical information the name NAPIER has revealed. 
Tracks of Rene Marion Pittman's Ancestors is the next segment of
 Tracks of My Georgia Ancestors.
For More on The Importance of Given Names
~click HERE~


  1. I think given names are under rated. Mine comes down through many generations, and I've not yet met a woman with my name who isn't related to me, born on the same island as I or named for my grandmother, who was a nurse and delivered babies to many grateful women who then gave our unusual name to a daughter.

  2. I think names do make a difference in attitudes. Nowadays there are so many unique names and spellings, but there were studies long ago on teacher prejudice to odd names. My mother was named Juanita and hated her name. She was a 5 ft. 2 red haired Irish -American growing up in PA. The name never fit.

  3. Glad you discovered to real meaning of where the name came from. Love solving those mysteries!


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