Thursday, February 18, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday- An Unusual Namesake is still a Welcome Namesake

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My daughter was 4 years old this Christmas of 2009 when Santa Claus brought her a Madame Alexander doll. She immediately called her "My own twin doll" because they both have blond hair and blue eyes. She carried her around all morning. Later in the morning on Christmas, I asked her "What are you going to name that baby?" Her answer completely shocked me. I'm glad my husband was there because he would have never believed she came up with this name without any help from me. So why was I so shocked?

She said "I am going to name her "Susan Elliotte Vance Chandler" and call her "Elliotte."" The reason I was speechless was that this was the full name of my great-great-grandmother and her great-great-great-grandmother. Susan Elliotte Vance Chandler was born 26 March 1846 and lived in Greenville County, South Carolina. The 4th child of William Gilmer Vance and Sisaly Devenport, Elliotte married Pinckney Lafayette Chandler (possibly around 1866). Pinckney was the son of Willis C. Chandler and Leanna Campbell.  Together they had one child, William Vance Chandler, on 13 July 1867. Her husband Pinckney died on Christmas Day in 1868 at the young age of 25. Later the young widow remarried Ira William Davenport and had a large family with him. She also died young on 3 September 1882 at the young age of 36.

I have often wondered how horrible that Christmas Day must have been for her- losing her husband so suddenly and being left alone to care for a 17 month old child. Who would have thought that one Christmas morning 141 years later someone would pay tribute to her in such a special way? I can't imagine anything more wonderful than to be remembered. I think that’s all our ancestors want. But to hear her great-great-great-grandbaby call out her name 127 years after her death? I know she was proud.

So how did my daughter even remember this name? I had told her this name in passing weeks before. I think that in itself is remarkable for a 4 year old girl to remember. But maybe she had some help. Maybe someone special whispered it in her ear. Regardless of how she remembered the name, I am so proud she did. It made my day and I know it made a group of people in heaven very happy too.


  1. How oddly similar this is to my own daughter. She's 5 now but has had an imaginary friend for about 2 years now. The "friend" was very active early on, but has since taken more of a backseat to school, friends, and homework.

    The friend's name? Sickey. Which is an alternate spelling for "Psyche" in our family history. Psyche (Clevenger) McCoig was wife to Neal McCoig Sr. and mother to Neil McCoig Jr. Neil Jr. was murdered. Neil is also my name.

    Needless to say, it gets a little spooky when she talks to Sickey.

  2. Yes, you do need to be careful what you say around young children. We've had similar, though not as striking, words come back from both the 5 year old and even the 2 1/2 year old grandkids!
    I do kind of agree with the whispered help, however. Still, a wonderful story!
    Thanks for sharing!

    Bill ;-)
    Author of "13 Ways to Tell Your Ancestor Stories"

  3. What a wonderful story! Maybe your daughter remembers being with her 3x great grandmother before being born.

  4. This is a great story and just shows how much their little minds are like steel traps at this age. I often think that our ancestors indeed are whispering in their little ears. I had a similar 'namesake' experience in that we called our eldest daughter "bird" and "birdie" as a nickname and when I began doing my research I found that my great great grandmother's name was Birdie. Thanks for sharing this story!

  5. Thank you everyone for your wonderful comments. It made me feel good to read your kind words!