by Mary Joyce Feazell Jones
One of the many things that my husband has shaken his head about since we married is how I referred to the members of my King family. He still is “name challenged” after being married to me 45 years. Lately, I have noticed that all the King cousins do not refer to the people we love so much by the same name. I will try to explain and perhaps this will help the spouses and the younger members of the family to understand.
My sister, Peggy, was the first grandchild born to Henry Harvey and Elvira Lavinia Wright King. I have assumed that she is the one who gave everybody the nicknames…but that proves to be not necessarily true.
First let me say, Peggy’s name never was “Peggy.” Her name was Fay Elizabeth King Geldmeier.
Our grandmother apparently began calling her “Peggy” and it stuck. Now, I call Peggy Fay Elizabeth “Sissy” so bear with me. Sissy called our grandmother ”Mama Dear” and our great grandmother, “Sweet Granny.” That is what I call them. Some of the cousins say Granny King, or Mamaw. We seem to be consistent in calling our grandfather “Papaw.”
Sissy seemed to think she could improve on the poetic names that our grandparents had given their children being Rufus Henry, Mary Annie, Winnie Wooten, Minnie Mabel, Virgie Mae, Seth D, and Earl Lee. Thus the names became:
Rufus – Uncle Bud; Winnie – Aunt Ninnie; Mabel – Aunt Mek; Virgie – Aunt Birchie and then, Birch; Seth – Uncle Tessie; and Earl – Uncle El or just El.
In addition to the immediate family, there was “Big Seth” for Seth King, a cousin who lived with the family at one time. Another cousin, Everett Fuller, was called “Doodley.”
In my generation of King cousins, I call our cousin Martha K. Kirkpatrick, “Mart.” Our cousin Elizabeth Leigh King Agnew is known as “Libba.” Our New Jersey cousin will always be “Little Wilma,” rather that Wilma because her mother’s name was also Wilma. Our cousin, Charlotte D’Lee Wolfe Parker has shared the story of her name. My mother always called her D’Lee and I think of her by that name even when I say, Charlotte. Some of us are called by both our given names such as
Linda Ann, and Bobby Charles. Some of us go by our middle names like Mae and me. Some of us go by a part of our name as do two of my three children and my husband ( Ken, Tim and Becca.
I thought Steven would be Steve, but he has always been called Steven. ) My beloved Sissy called me Joy. Recently, while reading some of the letters exchanged by the family during World War II, I saw myself referred to as “Joy.”
Some of the spouses of the cousins have added to the melee. Bobby Wolfe’s wife’s name is Hsu Kwei-but we call her “Linda.” Linda Hopper Riley’s husband, Edgar, is called “Punchy.”
I thought the “H” in our great grandfather’s name stood for Homer, as in Jonathan Homer Wright. since there were other “Homers” in the family. My mother told me that Sweet Granny called her husband “Hummer.” Not until I got into genealogy, did I learn that his name was, indeed, Jonathan Hummer Wright. Hummer is a family name. His, and our, ancestor was William Hummer, an American Revolutionary soldier from Virginia.
The other day I overheard my grandson ask his mother, “Mama, why does Granma call me, “Punkin Doodle?”
She said she had no idea and then I said that I didn’t either. It is just buried somewhere in my genes.
By whatever name we are called or what we called our precious family members that have now gone to their heavenly home, there is genuine affection and respect for each other in our King Cousin connection.