You can hit a brick wall pretty fast when you try to research a surname as common as Jones. Our Jones line disappears into Jackson County, Alabama, in the 1820s, when our ancestor William "Billy" Jones was born there. We know that Billy's father was born in South Carolina, but we do not know his name. A cousin who has been doing genealogy research for years has tried to track down Billy Jones's father, and while she's not found anything close to definite, she has found some possibilities. My favorite is a man named Salathiel Jones who lived in Jackson County at the right time, was born in South Carolina, and had a son around Billy's age. I'd love to have a Salathiel in the family, wouldn't you?
Thinking about Salathiel reminds me that there a bunch of cool and/or weird names in my family history. Here are a few favorites. Depending on which side of the family you're on, some of these may be in your tree too. Feel free to consider them if you're planning a family:
Jeroboam Howard (b. 1759): an ancestor of George Bailey Paxton on his mother's side. Jeroboam, like Salathiel, is an Old Testament name. (At left is King Jeroboam, from the first book of Kings.) Those were big in the 19th century.
Jehu Jehu: C.M. Branch's great-grandfather. There were at least three generations with this identical first name-last name combination in his mother's Welsh family.
Grizzie Riddle (1826-1876): Billy Jones's wife. The name Grizzie was not all that uncommon among the Scotch-Irish; it derived from Griselde, a name that appears in the Canterbury Tales. Still, I'll give five bucks to anyone who honors the family legacy by naming their daughter Grizzie.
Ferdinando Thayer (1625-1713): an ancestor of Cal Jones via his father's mother, the source of my only New England ancestors. Ferdinando was an early settler of Mendon, Massachusetts, and, it is said, a renowned wrestler. I don't know anything about the origin of the name, but it definitely sticks out amid a bunch of Isaacs and Thomases in the Thayer family.
Argyle Blackstone (b. 1650): also from way back in Cal Jones's grandmother's family, but from a Virginia line. This one always sounded like someone from a romance novel--kind of a Rhett Butler type, maybe.
Charity Grubb (1687-1761): an ancestor of Cal's other grandmother. The name Charity appears many times in this Quaker family, but "Charity Grubb" sounds like a name for a soup kitchen.
Johan Andersson, aka Stalkofta (1627-1685): a distant ancestor of Cal's mother. Johan came to America as part of the Swedish settlement called New Sweden (later Delaware). He became known as "Stalkofta"--or "steel coat"--among the other Swedish settlers, apparently because of his habit of wearing armor when hanging around the fort. He took the name as a surname, and it was gradually anglicized to "Stalcop," a name still seen frequently in the Southern U.S. Any of you who are unsatisfied with your current surname might consider a favorite article of apparel: "Bob Fleecepullover," maybe, or "Karen Haltertop."
Gruffydd Nannau (b. 1568): a Welsh ancestor of Clara Paxton via Levi Overholser's mother. The Welsh names always look like someone was typing with their eyes shut--and sound like something from Star Wars.
Anybody out there know some good ones I left out?