2019: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 23 (June 3 – June 9): Namesake

2019: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Week 23 (June 3 – June 9) Namesake

“first” joined Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks on its “first” year in 2014… and what a whirlwind year that was… writing, editing and researching daily for 365 days! As much as I wanted to continue the following year, I found that I didn’t have the time to continue another year with that type of research… although I did continue blogging and writing stories at my own pace, which allowed me to write on other topics as well as family stories when ideas came my way… but I’ve often missed it. The first year were no specific weekly prompts like today… but I’m taking a different spin on them. There will be some posts on a specific ancestor, but most will be memories that spring from those prompts. Head over to 2014 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks to read about my ancestors in the first years challenge.

If you’re new to genealogy, make your “first” stop to Amy’s website for genealogy ideas or even join in on this 52 Week challenge… you learn by doing… not procrastinating! There is no right or wrong… anything you do is a start!


Namesake… Who’s Who!

So many are lucky enough to have been named for a grandparent, favorite aunt, uncle or even a parent… but I was named after my mother’s favorite movie actress… Jeanne Crane! I did manage to receive my middle name of Lee from my uncle, Leroy McKinley.


My great grandfather, Edgar Lawson McKinley, was partially a namesake of his father, Hugh “Lawson” McKinley, who also had a twin brother, Joseph “Lee” McKinley; the continuation of using the “Lee” name goes back five generations. Edgar “Lawson” was the third son in a family of thirteen siblings; I have not found either of his names in any earlier lines… although they could have come from parents siblings, which I have not researched.

“Edgar” Thomas McKinley, my grandfather, named his only son, “Edgar” Leroy, after his father (“Edgar” Lawson McKinley) and himself; I feel the name Leroy was given as a partial of “Lee”; Leroy was a popular Southern name at that time.

When I asked my mother if she had a namesake… she laughs, “I don’t know why my mother named me Helen… and I’ve always hated that name… and not fond of my middle name, Rebecca, either.” In my family research, I did discover of where mama’s name of Rebecca originated. Besides her grandmother, Margaret (Hillsman) Askew having a daughter named Rebecca… Mama’s great grandmother was Rebecca (Mapp) Hilsman. I love the name… maybe there’s hope in having a great-granddaughter one day taking that name, as it didn’t pan out with my daughter… hubby didn’t like it.


In my surname of Bryan I haven’t discovered too many namesake naming… and I’m the only child of Harold Clayton Bryan and Helen Rebecca McKinley. In having no brother, our Bryan surname ended… although my mother wanted me to name my son “Bryan” but I hedged, as I wanted my son named after his father. Which almost didn’t even pann out either, as he didn’t want our son named after him… but I won! He always hated his name of Stephen… but who ever likes their name? I never did! Neither of my Stephen’s are called Stephen… they both go by Steve, although I do call my son by his given name.

In my grandfather’s (Paul Pinkney Bryan) family of nine siblings, the second son was named William Clyde Bryan… a namesake of his paternal grandfather, William Clark Bryan. It seems that William was one of the Bryan names that was often passed down through quite a few generations; William Clark Bryan’s father was William Madison Bryan, who possibly gave him his first name, and his father’s (Berrien Clark Bryan)  middle name of Clark. B. C. Bryan also had a brother named William, son of James Bryan, whose father was John Bryan; no children in John’s family with the name of William, although it’s been hinted that his father might have been a William… and also possibly that John’s middle name was William… but it has yet to be proven. Don’t you just love family stories passed down! His middle name of “Pinkney” has befuddled me as I’ve yet to discover from where that name was passed down from… was it a maiden name, or just a liked name… but thankfully, no one else received it. My Granddaddy was always very embarrassed with it, and never liked to tell people his middle name; I never knew it until I began researching and mama told me. I have found that it was a very prominent and well-known name in South Carolina… so I may need to begin researching there.

My cousin, Cindy (Bryan) Moore did use our “Bryan” surname for her first born, so at least one of us carried “Bryan” on in that way. Her son, “Bryan” was often called “catfish” by her father, Jewell “Runt” Hubert Bryan… as he loved to fish; “Bryan” was his fishing buddy! Cindy’s brother, William Ronald Bryan has two boys, Daren Scott Bryan and Kevin Brett Bryan to carry on the Bryan name… another “William” here! Daren has a son, Russell Bryan, and Kevin also has a son, Nathaniel Bryan… so our Bryan line continues! Sister Sandra Bryan Connor, partially named her son Gregory Burt Connor, after their father, Jewell “Runt” Hubert Bryan… slightly changing the “Hubert” into a spelling of Burt… taken from his father’s middle name.

I always wondered who my father’s namesake was… and I’m still wondering. There was another cousin named Harold Bryan later on, but I found no one before my father… and I don’t think he ever liked that name as he only went by “Clayton.” As a little girl, I always wondered why his best friend called him “Fats”… when he was skinny, well at least in his early years! His brother Robert “Floyd” Bryan wasn’t named after anyone either, but he did name his son as his junior. Daddy’s brother also only went by his middle name, “Floyd”, while his son was called by his first name of “Robert.” I always thought it funny how both my father and uncle, used their middle names as their main name. It seemed by the early part of the twentieth century, most families weren’t continuing with family name patterns any longer… they were now using more modern names.

I was named after a movie actress…. my namesake was Jeanne Crain, my mother’s favorite movie star. From the moment she saw her on the big screen, in State Fair, in 1945, she fell in love with that name and wanted to name a daughter with it. I’m not sure why she didn’t name my sister, born in 1949 with that name, but instead named her Monica Yvonne… she only lived six months! Besides me always hating my name, and often never pronounced correctly. I go by Jeanne, pronounced as Jeannie with an “i”, but spelled with no “i.”Have I confused you? My middle name of Lee was given to me in remembrance of my uncle Leroy McKinley.

When I first began high school, the teacher pronounced my name incorrectly of both first and last names… and when I didn’t answer present, he sent me to the principal’s office for being insubordinate! My surname of “Bryan” was also often written and pronounced as “Bryant”…  with a “t”… which annoyed me immensely! Through family research, I also found a couple of my Bryan’s listed as Bryant in the census… and was told that some changed the spelling when they moved from one county to another… so possibly the law wouldn’t find them. I won’t go into those reasons here!

In my husbands family, we have Italian names…

The Italian naming rules were:

  • A man’s first son was named after his paternal grandfather…
  • the man’s first daughter was named after his mother… the girl’s paternal grandmother.
  • the second son was named after his maternal grandfather.
  • the second daughter would be named after the girl’s maternal grandmother.
  • often if a sibling died young… the next child would be given that name again.

The reasoning with this custom, was to carry on a remembrance of their beloved ancestors soul… in the form of a namesake!

The children to follow, would often be named after the parents, a favorite aunt or uncle, a deceased relative and even a favorite saint of the church. While this ritual was followed closely… don’t ever assume it to be the ultimate truth! Sometimes a “falling out” in the family often changed the entire “naming” of namesakes!

Let’s look at my husband’s Italian family names!

Stephano & Giacinta (DeRosa) Insalaco

The first generation of Insalaco’s, Stefano (Stephen) and Giacinta (DiRosa) came to America in 1920… settling in Willimantic, CT. They immigrated from Sicily, Italy with son No. 1, Antonio (Tony), who was so-named after both his paternal grandfather, Antonio Insalaco, and his maternal grandfather Antonio DiRosa. Daughter No. 1 was also born in Italy and named Louisa, after her paternal grandmother, Louisa Cacciato. Daughter No. 2, Maria was named after her maternal grandmother, Maria Stincone, and her father’s sister, Maria Insalaco. 

Second son, Stephen Joseph Insalaco was born in 1921, in America, and was named in accordance also…. with the naming after his maternal grandfather, which also coincided also with the father’s name of Stefano, but given the more Americanized version of Stefano. The naming rule continued when Stephen J. married Cecelia (Cambino) Insalaco… their first son, Stephen, was named after his father and paternal grandfather The second son David, was named after no family member and caused quite a stir with her father… naming an Italian grandson with a Jewish name was a no-no… but he had no say… she won! My son was named Stephen after his father, and paternal grandfather. The Insalaco line ends now in our family as my son only has three daughters, but one day, they may pass his given name down to a son.

Our daughter was not named after any family member… I liked Rebecca after my mother, but my husband didn’t. I also liked Scarlett from Gone with the Wind… but again, he didn’t. An aunt mentioned Melissa, after he said Melanie… and then we both agreed on Melissa; he liked the singer Melissa Manchester and he liked the song “Sweet Melissa” by the Allman Brothers; she received my middle name of “Lee” after my uncle, Leroy McKinley, who was killed in WWII… she is his namesake!

My daughter, Melissa passed her middle name of Lee to her first daughter and gave her my mother’s maiden name of McKinley as a first name. Their second daughter, Grace Kathryn honors the husbands family after a paternal great grandmother. Just last year we added another McKinley to our tree… my third cousin named their daughter also as such. I’m hoping one day to get these two McKinley cousins together… one is in CT., and the other in Ga. My granddaughter, McKinley, was very excited when she heard she heard a cousin shared her name! You don’t often find the name of McKinley given to a girl… so they both are setting a precedence!


A popular name in my husband’s family is the name Joseph, which translates into Joseph from the original name of Giuseppe in Italy. Giuseppe Gambino came to America, through Ellis Island in 1913… arriving alone at the young age of 18. It’s said his older brother, Francesco (Frank) was already here… and must have signed for him as there was no other family. After marrying Domenica (Minnie) DeTulio, his name soon Americanized into Joseph and Joe, but no son was so named as such. Their first three sons, No. 1 son, Frederick (Freddie), was named after his father’s father, Frederico. No. 2 son Frankie, was named for his father’s brother, Francesco. Son No. 3, Johnny, was named after his wife’s father, Giovanni DeTulio, aka… John in America. Domenica DeTulio’s namesake was her mother, Domenica DeCuore. I always liked the name Domenica and tried suggesting it to my kids, but…

Joseph and Domenico “Minnie” (DeTulio) Cambino

Son No. 1, Frederick (Freddie) was the namesake after his paternal grandfather Frederico Gambino in Tramonti, Italy. The surname of Gambino was somehow changed in America to Cambino… either by accident or on purpose… but we’ll never know now! No children in this family line.

Son No. 2, Frankie was named after his paternal uncle, Francesco Gambino, but named his son Joseph after his father, and Joseph Jr. continued the tradition of naming his son Joseph after his father/grandfather… later, daughter Antoinette (Dolly) named her son Joseph after her father. Since then, no more Joseph’s have been named as such in the family.

Son. No. 3, Johnny, was the namesake of his maternal grandfather, Giovanni DeTulio (John), originally from Bari, Italy. Johnny had two daughters, Gina and Nancy… Nancy was a namesake of her aunt Nancy (Cambino) Cavallaro, while Gina was given a more American name.

Daughter no. 1: Catherine, we might assume was a namesake of her father’s sister in law Caterina Gambino (married to Francesco Gambino); many in the family called her “Cat”. While her husband lived here in America for many years, his wife and family remained in Tramonti, Italy.

Daughter No. 2: Cecelia must have been a liked name as I wasn’t able to find a namesake for her… but I suspect there’s one lurking somewhere in Italy, somewhere… that I haven’t uncovered! She was often called “Celia”, “Ceil”… but her brothers liked to tease her by called her “York”… maybe because she was born on York St., and sometimes “Yottie”

Daughter No. 3: Nancy was a namesake of her father’s sister… Annunziata “Nunzia” (NANCY) GAMBINO. (Gambino was original surname, but somehow, by chance of the way so many people spelled it, it eventually ended up as  Cambino, and let it stay.) Often her brothers and sisters just called her “Nan.”

Daughter No. 4: Antoinette (Dolly) was a namesake of her mother’s sister… Antoinette Detulio.  Dolly earned her nickname as she more played with the boys in the family and didn’t play with dolls, so they teased her by calling her “Dolly.” But in the early baby photos, she always looked like a little doll, so that’s probably why her brothers nicknamed her. She named her son, Joseph, after his maternal grandfather… making him the third grandson in the family to be the namesake of Joseph Cambino, her father.

While it’s nice to have a family namesake… remember, we are all named after someone… from somewhere!

Stay tuned for Week 23 … Dear Diary

Continue reading 2019: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks over HERE!

To read more Family Stories… click HERE.


© 2019, copyright Jeanne Bryan Insalaco; all rights reserved

About Jeanne Bryan Insalaco

My blog is at: https://everyonehasafamilystorytotell.wordpress.com/
This entry was posted in 2019: 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks, Daily Writings and funnies..., Family Stories and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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