Thursday, July 12, 2018

It's the names! Some family history

When I started thinking about the glorious variety of names carried by contemporary U.S. citizens and residents, I realized a side trip into my own forebears was warranted.

Many of my ancestors' names would seem mighty foreign to my contemporaries. What's a Gamaliel? The name is Biblical, naturally among those hearty settler Protestants; Gamaliel appears in the Book of Acts as a good guy among the religious authorities of his day who didn't want to condemn the Jesus' followers to death. The particular Gamaliel whose cemetery monument I've posted about actually had an additional Biblical middle name which also sounds foreign. He was also a Cyrus. The only Cyrus I know in my circles is of Iranian/Korean-American origin. Some delightful world!

Another ancestor was an Asaph. What's an Asaph? Again, this is derived from the Bible: there are three named Asaphs in the Hebrew Bible, of whom the most prominent is identified as the author of several Psalms of David.
Asaph's last name, Bemis, may be of Greek derivation, or maybe be a corruption of the English surname Beamus. In contemporary usage, Bemis is a company that makes toilet fixtures.

America marches on.

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