I’ve always liked the custom of passing down family names, even though my own mother named me after the Christmas songs being sung at the hospital when I was born.

The Hall family followed a rhythm of repetition when they named their children. The first three generations included four Johns, and one Jonathan, the Jonathan being a brother to one of the Johns. And there were three Marys, three Elizabeths, and two Sarahs.

In the fourth generation Asahel Hall and his wife Sarah Goldsmith gave birth to twelve children. Many of them “died young,” and in those days, because child mortality was so common, it was customary to name a surviving child after a brother or sister who had already died. So Asahel and Sarah bore two Aarons, three Asahels, and two Sarahs. The surviving Aaron (Aaron Hall, Esq), lived for seventy-two years, giving birth to his own sons Aaron and Asahel and his own daughters, Mary and Elizabeth. Here and there an odd name crops up. Asahel (itself a bit odd) and Sarah had a Mehitabel and Aaron an Electa.

My great-great-grandfather, Salmon Hall, had a younger brother Billious Kirtland Hall. He seems to have been named after a Dr. Billious Kirtland whose family plot is next to the Halls in the Wallingford Cemetery. I’m still trying to find out more about this family connection. The name Billious was never used again, as far as I know, but one of my mother’s favorite cousins as well as my brother shared the name Kirtland.

Salmon (pronounced Sal-mon) may have been a version of Solomon. Biblical names were popular. This photo, probably taken around 1860, may be my great-great-grandfather. My grandmother wrote on the back “Possibly Salmon Hall.” But recently my cousin Patti sent me photos of two portraits that used to hang in the farm living room. She refers to them as “The Eggheads,” and they may be Salmon and his wife Cornelia. It’s always nice to have a face to go along with a name, but for now I have one name and two faces that don’t appear to belong to the same person.

Possibly Salmon Hall

Possibly Salmon Hall

Also Possibly Salmon Hall

Also Possibly Salmon Hall

The last name of mysterious origin is Whirlwind Hill. I always thought it was named after the Wallingford Tornado of 1878, but in his book, “History of Wallingford, Connecticut,” Charles Davis says, “Whirlwind is that high land east of the late residence of Luther Hall, and west from Pistapaug Pond.”

Since Davis wrote his book in 1870, our hill couldn’t have been named after the 1878 whirlwind. I read somewhere that it had once been called “Wild Mare’s Hill,” but can’t seem to find that reference again. If anyone has any ideas or clues to the source of the name “Whirlwind Hill,” I’d love to hear about it. For now I’ll just let it conjure thoughts of wild winds, blowing trees, and houses flying over hill and dale.

At the top of Whirlwind Hill, May 2014

At the top of Whirlwind Hill, May 2014

On Friday: May Window

4 thoughts on “Names

  1. Molly Jones

    Hi Carol –
    I see that your photo from the top of Whirlwind Hill is dated this month. Wish you had time to come over for a visit in Poughkeepsie. I’ll be in Anchorage May 21-31 and hope to see you there and then.
    My mother’s family, the Scottish side, is full of a very confusing number of Marys, Margarets, Elizabeths, Johns, Jameses, and Alexanders. I’m a Mary myself, disguised as a Molly. And of course I have an Alexander (who broke with tradition and has an Angus and an Ian).
    All the best —

    1. Carol Post author

      I had forgotten about your Scottish heritage. All of those names seem so comforting and royal to me. Unlike the odd “Billious.” Angus and Ian are very Scottish.
      It was a too short and very busy visit. But look forward to seeing you in Anchorage. Soon!


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