The Power of a Name

"Names have power." ~ Rick Riordan, The Lightning Thief
"Every name is real.  That's the nature of names." ~ Jerry Spinelli, Stargirl

Mary Anne BAKER  &  Laura Ann BULLOCK
This week's theme is “same” and can refer to an ancestor that you have a special connection with, one you are like, one you are named after, one you look like, etc. I chose Mary Anne BAKER DRAKE and Laura Ann BULLOCK RITER because I was named after both of these women.

Mary Anne BAKER DRAKE

Poppy and Annie (Mary Anne BAKER) DRAKE above with three of their children.

Mary Anne BAKER (referred to as Annie for the duration of this blog post) is my great-great-grandmother. She was born in Pineville, McDonald County, Missouri and died in South West City, McDonald, Missouri. My grandma told me that Annie was on her own from the time she was 16 years old and was doing laundry for others to support herself. She left home so soon because of her stepmother. There are a lot of stories about Annie but facts about her are hard to come by. One story says that her grandmother was Mary BEAR (no one to my knowledge has been able to document Mary BEAR and I have seen her last name spelled BAIR and BAER) and that she was Native American and was adopted. Another says she was Native American and was adopted after her birth-mom gave her up. No one seems to know why her mom gave her up. The general thinking that I've encountered is that she was very ill and dying. I have been unable to prove her Native American heritage. I most recently checked with Choctaw Nation about a person on their rolls with that name and it wasn't her. I have checked other tribes as well and have never been able to find her. Her vital records show her father was Jehue (also spelled Jhue, Jehu, and Jay Hugh) BAKER and her mother was Mary VETRELL. I believe Mary's (Jehue's wife) last name was actually LITTRELL.

Annie went by various versions of her name throughout her life including Anne, Annie, and Anna. Annie is one of a couple of my ancestors for whom I am named. I think a name does say something about who you are. The Bible supports this by showing that names tell a lot about the character of a person. The name Mary is a Hebrew name meaning 'bitter'. Annie did have somewhat of a bitter life in some respects. I haven't found a lot of documentation about her early life, but my grandmother told me Annie's mother (adopted mother, if the adoption story is true) died when Annie was young. That means she lost two mothers as a young girl and possibly a father if Jehue isn't her biological father. (We will assume for now that Jehue is her father since I have never found any proof that he isn't.) Annie's father, Jehue, remarried and Annie and her new stepmother did not get along well. I've been told that Annie's stepmother didn't treat her well. Annie moved out at a very young age (prior to 18 and I was always told early to mid-teens). She soon married Ervin Alonzo DRAKE. I have been told that Ervin (“Poppy Lonzo”) had quite a temper at times and that he once nearly broke Annie's leg with a cane when he beat her with it in a fit of anger. I can't say with certainty this happened. That's only one story I was told. I also was told that later in years he deeply regretted this incident. I believe he really did love Annie and she loved him. I've been told that DRAKE's from a couple generations past had tempers and liked to fight.

Annie died on 25 April 1947 at age 69. If I remember correctly, she had cancer.

Laura Ann BULLOCK RITER

I believe this photo is of Laura and her daughters. My granny- Jessie- is on the far right next to her mother, Laura BULLOCK RITER. To the left of Laura are two other daughters of Laura's.

Laura is my great-grandmother. She was born in Caverna, McDonald County, Missouri and died in Gravette, Benton County, Arkansas. Laura was petite but her love for her family was giant. Laura's husband, William Sherman RITER, died when Laura was just 41 years old. She never remarried. She finished raising her children by herself. My granny always said she was a very loving mother to her children and they never felt as though they did without. Granny remembered her mother going outside and playing with the children.

When Laura was in her late 60's her daughter, Bertha, was diagnosed with cancer. Bertha lived in California at the time with her second husband and the children from her first marriage. Laura moved to California and lived with Bertha, taking care of her until Bertha's death in 1957. The children's father was already deceased and now their mother was also gone. The stepfather of the children did not have much of a connection with the children. He and Bertha had not been married very long when she died. So Laura loaded up the children, brought them back to Arkansas and finished raising them. Her family meant everything to her.

The name Laura is an English name meaning 'crowned with laurels'. The laurel is a plant that symbolizes honor and victory. Laura lived her life with honor and was victorious in the face of difficult circumstances. I so admire her for raising her grandchildren even though she didn't have to. I know at times that must have been very difficult for her to do.

One last thing that comes to mind when I think of Laura concerns food. Laura baked angel food cakes and when she made them she put candy sprinkles in the batter so that it had a finished appearance of confetti. I rarely make angel food cakes but when I do, I use candy sprinkles in memory of her. A visual reminder o myself tthat I can overcome difficult life circumstances and do my best to live an honorable life. I know that Laura was another one of my great-grandmothers who prayed for my parents and I and I am so grateful to be blessed with a heritage of grandmothers who prayed for me. What a blessing!! Praying for my grandchildren is one piece of my heritage that I carry on for my own grandchildren.

Laura passed away on 3 January 1970 at age 80.

Lisa Anne

Yep. That's me- sporting a dress my mom made me, a great smile, and few teeth. That hairstyle looks so familiar… (sorry to all you fashion mavens who think people shouldn't be wearing the same hairstyle 40+ years later.)

Lisa is a Hebrew name meaning 'consecrated to God'. I always loved my name and one of the things I love about it is that my name means “set apart or dedicated” to God. Though I'm not perfect, I hope that I live my life in a way that at least TRIES to match the meaning.

When someone says both my names- “Lisa Anne”- specific memories come to mind. One is when I was saying my wedding vows and the judge said, “Do you, Lisa Anne…”. That sent me into a fit of giggles which the judge didn't much appreciate. The other is that my Aunt Carolyn always called me by both my names. When Aunt Carol was in the hospital and I went to see her for the last time I leaned down and whispered in her ear, “Aunt Carol, this is Lisa Anne.” Nothing the doctors will ever tell me will make me believe that she wasn't aware of my presence at that moment.

One other thing I remember about my name- it wasn't the one my parents originally chose for me. It was a change of name made later in the pregnancy but before I was born. I know what name they originally chose for me and it definitely wasn't me. Things happen for a reason and I'm so glad there was a reason to make a change in my name.

I also appreciate that my parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, etc. lived in such a way that the surname I inherited came with a good reputation.  I did not have to live my life always having to overcome a bad reputation left by those who came before me.  For that, I am grateful.

Anne/Ann- The Name We Share
The name I share with both of these women- one from each side of my family- is Anne/Ann. The name means 'favor or grace; prayer; God has favored me'. In each of our separate lives, God has favored us and given us grace in so many ways and so many circumstances. I'm thankful that each of us can be a favored child of God without pushing anyone else out of their position as a favored child of God. I love that prayer is also a part of the meaning of my name. I know that prayer played a part in each of our lives. It makes me happy to share a name with women who loved God and loved their families. I hope that I share not only a name with these beautiful women but also their love for God, love for and dedication to their families, and their spunk and courage to go on in spite of difficult circumstances.

Our names are very important. We are known by them- whether in a good way or a bad way. You have your name for a reason. Your parents loved you enough to give it to you. It was chosen especially for you. Choose to make your name a good one today.  Lastly, make memories with those you love so that when you are gone and they whisper your name their hearts and minds are filled with all the love and kindness and good things you want surrounding them when you're gone.

If you want a little more, I encourage you to watch this poem written and read by the then-Poet Laureate Billy Collins about September 11, 2001 called 'The Names'.  You can find it at http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/entertainment-july-dec02-names_9-06/.  You can also click on over to these blogs: http://downintherootcellar.blogspot.com, https://theologyformom.wordpress.com/, and https://recipesfromlena.wordpress.com/.

Until next week,

Lisa @ Days of Our Lives

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