Sanders: Family matters
It started out innocently enough. Ira and Harriet Tillotson homesteaded southeast of Cascade Falls, near Hot Springs, S.D., in 1883. The land is the oldest farm in Fall River County that is still in the original family. This story has to do with the descendants. As is common, the homesteaders named one of their sons after the father, Ira, but called him by his middle name, Claude. Their other children were Grace, Gladys, Lin and Fern.
When Gladys married, she found a man named Charles. They had children named Charles, Fern, Grace, Barbara, Blaine and Kenneth. That son Charles married a Gladys. The men seemed to be granted nicknames. The son Charles was called “Bus.” One of Lin’s sons was Ira and was nicknamed “Tiny” although he was bigger than Bus. Another of his son’s was named Claude. The women weren’t so lucky. The younger Fern, Grace and Gladys were dubbed, Little Fern, Little Grace and Little Gladys. It had nothing to do with size, but age and perhaps pecking order. However the older women were never referred to as Big Gladys, etc. I supposed in days of yore they would have been Grace the Elder and Gladys the Elder.
Can you see the difficulty in explaining this lineage to someone, especially without photos?
After Fern the Elder and Lloyd Lyston Wyatt married, they had three sons, Russ, Harold and LeRoy. This is a keystone to the story so mark it in your memory. Harold married Dorothy, cousin Kenneth married a Gerri, who had a son named Kenneth and a daughter named Gerri Ann, also called Gerri. Later the elder Kennth married two other Dorothys in succession. Russell had a son, Jerry. Charles (Bus) and Gladys had a son, Kenneth. Of course he was called Little Kenny, later shortened just to Kenny. For those of you who know Kenny Halls, you are aware there is nothing little about him.
When I was 16, I asked my dad, Russ, why our family was so uncreative and had so many duplicate names. We found much common ground and after pointing out all of the common names, we did reach a conclusion.
If you are still reading this you are either family, confused or both.
Our family came up with a litmus test. We proclaimed that anyone who married into the family was required to have a first or middle name that was previously in the lineage. That covered quite a large swath as we have the family tree that goes back many generations. A niece and her husband had a daughter and named her Grace, so here we go again.
I knew our older son had found his mate when he asked me one night, “Guess what her middle name is?” He grinned and said, “Ann.” That is my middle name, was my mom’s sister’s name, our other daughter-in-law’s middle name and most recently her daughter’s name. And so it goes . . and me? I married a Russ. ❖
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