Thursday, April 19, 2012

My Latest Obsession

"Monster" Chittick's on the left
Or “How Monster Got His Name”

I got into genealogy about six months ago, not long after I heard an awesome talk on the subject. I thought it would be a nice thing to fill my Sunday afternoons, since Honey Bear has a bunch of meetings and my kids are super-sleepers. I never realized it would turn into such a quest--or bring so many little miracles into my life.

I e-mailed my only living grandparent, my father’s mother, and asked her a few basic questions about her parents and grandparents. The e-mail I got back was long and detailed, complete with attached pictures that she’d scanned herself. (My grandma’s eighty-five, by the way. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?) I couldn’t believe the wealth of information I’d discovered. But mostly, I couldn’t believe it’d taken me so long to ask.

Almost right away, one of the names stood out to me. It was my grandma’s grandpa’s name, my great-great-grandfather’s, Monster Chittick, who'd immigrated to the United States by way of Ireland in the late 1800s. (Monster is a nickname, by the way, one that I came up with for the purposes of this post.) That’s probably why I noticed it. I’d always liked the name Monster, so I was happy to see that it belonged to my great-great-grandfather.

Then I noticed that his birthday was January 11, 1863.

I felt like someone had plugged my finger into an electrical outlet. Because I have my kids by C-section, I already had a pretty good idea of when our Monster would be born. And according to my calculations, we were going to do the C-section on January 11, 2012, Monster Chittick’s one hundred and forty-ninth birthday.

I suggested the name to Honey Bear in combination with his grandpa’s middle name, since his grandpa’s birthday is January 9. He was a little resistant to the idea at first, mostly because he hadn’t come up with it himself (and I’d come up with all our kids’ names), but after a while, he caught the vision of the thing. And now we have our little Monster, who shares a birthday and a name with his great-great-great-grandfather.

That’s the beauty of family history. It brings the generations of a family together.

14 comments:

Danielle B. said...

I really wish I knew what "Monster" stood for. My birthday is also Jan. 11th! How cool. I love learning about my history.

Kayeleen Hamblin said...

All three of ours so far have a middle name that we found on our family history sheets. It's so cool to be able to make those connections. I need to start looking for new little girl's middle name.

Bittersweet Fountain said...

I was born on my great-grandmother's birthday (which strangely enough was Valentine's Day), and that was always a special bond we shared. We also had the same initials AP (A being Amanda which Mandy is "short" for, though my great-grandmother's name was Anna).

I didn't get a chance to know my great-grandmother super well even though she died when I was seventeen, but I've always been inspired by her. She was a woman who came to America by herself when she was sixteen! Imagine the guts and bravery that took! (Of course she was also really smart, because she left Poland in the 1930s right before WWII got really bad there).

But having that family history has always been really special, and I'm sure you're Monster will enjoy having that sort of history to look back on and feel inspired by. :)

Suzi said...

That's a neat story. Of course it makes me want to know what the name is. We know some boys with older (at least to me) sounding names. Names of my uncles and grandfathers. It's cool to see them rebounding.

Kelly Bryson said...

That's really neat. Our kids middle names have all been "legacy" names, and their first names are from the scriptures. And they're names we really liked:)

And it's interesting to me how our history really does shape us. My dad's grandfather was born in Missouri in the 1880s, and ended up in FL as a bootlegger, was shot in a gunfight and they didn't take him to the hospital bc they were afraid of the police. He bled out on the kitchen table, died the next day.

Most of his children have a suspicion of churches and authority, and I figured that he had been raised in that type of environment. I recently discovered that the generation previous immigrated to the U.S. as missionaries for a protestant church, and this great-grandfather was actually a bit of a black sheep. I don't know what that mattered, but it feels good to know more, since the people who are still around and know what happened won't talk about it.

Amy L. Sonnichsen said...

My brother was born on Jan 11th, too! Good day!

Love this story. I loved picking out meaningful names for our kids and all my kids' middle names are family members'. I think it's fun to have that connection with the past.

Krista Van Dolzer said...

It's a good day for a birthday, Danielle.

Yes, Kayeleen, you do need to start looking for a new little girl's name. You're more than halfway through!

Mandy, what an awesome story about your great-grandmother! I can see how she'd be inspiring.

Suzi, since most boys back then had one of, like, fifteen names, it shouldn't be too hard to narrow it down:) And I like older-sounding names, too.

Interesting story, Kelly. And it is nice to know more. My great-grandfather on my father's father's side was also pretty tight-lipped about his origins. It makes me wonder if he just hated where he'd come from or if he was ashamed of it (or both). I can't imagine thinking less of a person, especially a family member, because of circumstances beyond his control.

Amy, so many birthdays on January 11! And I like having that connection with the past as well.

Rachel said...

Love this, Krista.

I'm named after my great-grandmother Regina, the only grandma my mom knew - as the other one died during the Holocaust :/ My Hebrew names Nessa (miracle) is for the struggle I had when I was born (I was in the hospital half a year before I could come home), and Batyah (daughter of G-d) is for my dad's mother,Bess.

In the Jewish religion- we name after the dead. If we name after the living we have a fear that the Angel of Death will take the baby...

Escape Artist said...

Great story! There are so many stories I wish my grandmother could tell me again. I remember her lying in bed beside me during hot summer months, the curtains blowing in and out beside me. I'll never forget the calmness of the room and her voice...but I've forgotten the stories about he life in the 'old country.' Makes me very sad.
My youngest too...January 10, but he was supposed to be the 11th! Seems a popular date!
Speaking about digging around in family histories...my husband never knew his father, but when we moved far, far away and landed in my husband's home country, we drove ourselves mad looking for a house. Really, coming in at a market high just about killed us! But we eventually got really serious about a house and it turned out to be two doors away from the house his father grew up in and stayed in just about his whole life! We never knew it at the time. How's that for some crazy chills? This is a big city, you know with lots of people, lots of suburbs. Just crazy!
You start digging, you never know what you might find!

Julia K said...

This is a reminder to me to do my family history!! One of my side's is done very thoroughly but my Japanese side needs help and I don't know how to read Japanese...better get on that :) What a cool story and how neat for monster to get to share that whenever anyone asks him how he got his name...I love a name with heritage behind it :)

Traci Kenworth said...

I love hearing about family history and where names came about.

Krista Van Dolzer said...

Rachel, thanks for sharing! I really like the idea of naming after the dead instead of the living. There's probably a story idea buried in there somewhere... :)

Linda, I love your memories of your grandmother telling you stories. And how cool that you ended up in a house two doors down from the one your husband's father grew up in!

Julia, you let me know when you figure out Japanese:) I need to work on Tagalog over here. My mother's father was Filipino, and we've got a lot of work to do on his side.

Cool, Traci! I'm having a lot of fun working on it. I like learning more about where I came from.

MaDonna Maurer said...

That is a great story. How fun. I wanted to name our kids after family members, but couldn't get my better half to agree on a name for #1. So, we started the "M" trend instead.

Krista Van Dolzer said...

MaDonna, I know a few families with a letter trend. That's got to help narrow the field when you're looking for a name:)