Monday, July 2, 2018

UNUSUAL ANCESTOR NAMES ~ How Many Are in Your Family Tree? Where Did They Originate?

Unusual names header

Most of us have them.  Those ancestor names that you just don’t see any more, or very seldom.

I’ve run across them for years, names like Achsah, American, Ancil, Artemesia, Awilda, Burdell, Calvary, Carpas, Dorcas, Gershom, Hazen, Jerusha, Kezia, Lavancha, Nabby, Orpha, Philena, Serepta, Simeon, Udora, Vivaldo, Zenis, Zilpha.  Those are just some of the examples from my own family tree, which has 5,539 individuals in it.

Of course we know that names can be passed down from generation to generation.  Isn’t that what keep us wondering “do I have the right person?”

There are common names like Mary, David, William, John, Matthew, Susan etc.  We certainly have no shortage of those.

Here is an article in Wikipedia about the origin of given names.

What got me thinking about his subject was yesterday’s church service.  We were studying from the book of Philemon in the New Testament.  Now that’s not a name you hear every day, or one I’ve ever heard at all, outside of Bible study. 

Yesterday afternoon, I met my long time friend, for lunch and we were discussing the church service when she told me that one of the landscape workers in her community was named Philemon.  Spelled exactly the same way.  What are the chances?

That got me thinking about another name in the book of Philemon, which is Onesimus.  It’s actually Onesimus about whom the Apostle Paul was writing when he wrote the letter to Philemon.

I know that many of the names given to our ancestors were from various books, whether it was the Bible, some other religious book or a book someone had just read.

Being a curious person, I decided to check the records on Ancestry and see if anyone had the name Onesimus. 

I did a general search in United States records and found there were 29,054,223 records containing the name Onesimus or a variation of it.  WOW!  I was quite surprised.

Onesimus on Ancestry

I found many of the records were in “modern” times, from 1900 to now.

Let’s see how many Philemon’s there are.  This time I searched both United States and All Collections.  Here are the results.

United States only – 75,441,670

Philemon on Ancestry

All Collections – 103,751,123

Philemon world wide results

This has been a fun little excursion away from my usual research today. 

I know I’m not the only one who wonders about these things.  What fun searches have you conducted?

Guess I better get back to finding records or figuring out DNA or something useful, huh?

Happy hunting,

Michigan Girl

Copyright ©  2010-2018   Diane Gould Hall



  1. And there are 47,025 Jehosaphat/Jehosophat guys too.

    And 104,732 Zilpha gals

    And 59,907 Pimple persons (given name)

    And 7,063 Vagina given names

    Who knew?

    I love name games!

    1. Holy cow Randy. I never thought to look for Vagina or Pimple. Wow!

  2. Looking at my husband's tree, I find some unusual and uncommon names: Capitola (female), Chleora (female), Amon (male), Train (male), Ardelia (female).


I look forward to reading your comments. If you have any connection to the people mentioned in this blog, please let me know. I write about mine and my husband's ancestors and would welcome new information or meeting a new cousin or two. Thanks for visiting and come back soon.