Posted by Anne Gillespie Mitchell on January 14, 2014 in Ask Ancestry Anne

I suspect most of us have plenty of names like John Smith or Bob Jones in our trees. But some of the names stand out just because they are a little bit different. Or maybe just fun to say.

rm cash
Tombstone of Ready Cash

Take my 4th Great Grandfather. On his tombstone, we see the rather boring old R.M. Cash and his wife Mary Hartigan.

He went by Ready Cash.  Most of his census records list him as Ready.

And he signs his name on my 3rd Great Grandmother’s marriage bond as Ready Cash. Who chooses to go by Ready Cash?

ready signature
Signature of Ready Cash

Now the 1880 census lists him as Redding, which I suspect is his real name. But it seems he went by Ready. Ready Cash.  He’s pretty hard to do a text search on.

Oh, and then there is his brother Peachy. Their father was Thomas Cash. Thomas’ first wife was Jemina Peachy and his second wife was Jane Camron. Most researchers believe that Peachy was the son of Jane. Sometimes the surname of the first wife was used as the name of the child of the 2nd wife. And sometimes the maiden name of the only wife was used as a name of a child. But yes, they were Peachy and Ready Cash.

I also have a Zebedee and Josephat Hash in my tree. Granted, they don’t make you smile like Peachy and Ready do. But they are fun to say!

I also find state names throughout the family trees for the women. There is the usual Virginia and Georgia, which seem like common enough girls’ names. But I also have Arkansas, Tennessee, Oregon, Missouri and America. Never quite been able to figure those out.

So what names did your ancestors leave for you to smile or wonder about? What are you favorites?

Happy Searching!

Anne Gillespie Mitchell

Anne Gillespie Mitchell is a Senior Product Manager at She is an active blogger on and writes the Ancestry Anne column. She has been chasing her ancestors through Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina for many years. Anne holds a certificate from Boston University's Online Genealogical Research Program. You can also find her on Twitter, Facebook and Finding Forgotten Stories.


  1. Linda

    my 3rd great grandfather Oley spelled his name differently on every census.. He even used his son name on one. And his son has died 5 years earlier before that census!!

  2. Matt Rademacher

    Regarding names of states used as first name — I too have found a woman named Missouri, and I have found a man with the first name of America. Unusual and/or creative spellings and usages bring a smile to my face, and no longer surprise. What is a bit odd is when an unusual first name gets repeated again & again in an extended family. I guess one has to evaluate “hints” even if it is an unusual name.

  3. Larry

    One wonders how Pleasant Pinkney Shehorn survived his school days? Or Peter Meador? Or the ladies Dimple Alice Shell and Dimple Era Etheridge.

  4. My 4 great-grandmother was Palmyra E.F. Jackson. Thought Palmyra was an odd name, but its not as uncommon as I thought. No idea what the E and F stand for. She also had a sister named Epsey. Their father was Absalom.

    I do have to say, Ready Cash is quite a different name. Having such an unusual name makes you want to find out more about him!

  5. Joy

    My 6th great-grandfather was Frost And Snow – first, middle, and last name. Others in the family were Ice Snow and Hail Snow.

  6. Donna

    I have females named Sarah Texas and her sister Mary Tennessee. I have males named Lafayette/Lafait (La Fate or Fate), Cleveland, Greenberry, and Beriah(Bee). I also have a Holiday.

  7. Erica

    My 2x great grandfather’s name on his tombstone is Jacob K. Hudson. When searching for any info about him and his wife Susan Crossley, I found that his name was actually Jacquish. This being confirmed by his and Susan’s marriage record. On the 1880 Census it is spelled Jakewish and in the 1890 and 1891 Columbus City Directories it is spelled Jaquesh.

  8. Sue

    We have a woman named California whose nickname was Callie. And her granddaughter was actually named Callie. And that granddaughter had a great-granddaughter named after her: Callie. I do not think the latest Callie knows that started out as California. That first California was married to Christopher Columbus Dikes.

  9. Adriana

    I have a female ancestor named “Mary America” and often she’d go by “America.”

    Like many other people, I have ancestors with presidents’ names, like Andrew Jackson [surname].

    My great-great-grandmother was Aletha Artemis [surname]. Artemis?

  10. My 5X Gr. Grandmother’s maiden name was Eunice Ditto. When I first saw it on other Ancestry trees, I thought it was a mistake and her real surname was found on the previous page of an incomplete passenger list. It doesn’t help that in early US Census only the head of household was named. The wives were unfortunately just counted in the age group column of females. Later when the family were named, the surname was just “ditto” of the Head of household. Apparently “Ditto” is an English name; I still wonder if her real name was E. ” “

  11. Lynn David

    One name I like was that of a friend of my father. His name was Usona – which came from the first letter of United States Of North America.

  12. Bunny Merrill

    While they were not so unusual at the time, names I like are Thankful, Comfort and Love. I have several of each in my tree.

  13. Jeff

    My grandmothers maiden name is Wyse, but on my fathers birth certificate it was changed to Weiss. I do not know who my grandfather is, as my father was born out of wedlock. No relatives will tell me as they don’t want to bring the skeletons in the closet out into public. I just want to find who my grandfather is/was.

  14. Jan

    I have a bunch of McRaes in my tree with the first name, Farquhar. I thought it was pronounced Far-qwar. When I visited Scotland I was informed that it was pronounced Fo-ker, as in “Meet the Fockers”. I can understand why the name died out! And glad it did!

  15. Mindy

    Relatives on my Grandfathers side are John Bee Gay, James B Gay, John B Gay. My favorite is (Ansenetta) Ashenfelter. I think is its a very different pretty name.

  16. Betty F. Clifton

    My favorites in my family are two which roll off your tongue with such ease and both were easy to trace with these unusual names
    /say then two or three times quickly…

  17. Lori

    In researching my husband’s family, I have found the names, Pink and Bland for men and Pleasant for a woman.

  18. Lorie

    For a very long time, I believed that “Karenhappuck Johnson” was one of my ancestors. Turns out she’s not, but I still love the name and wish she were 🙂

    Funny that the above Lori said she has seen Pleasant for a woman’s name. I have seen it many times as a man’s name.

  19. Allen

    I’ve got a Bernt Bacon in my tree. I’m thinking the censsus taker misspelled it, but it’s a funny one!

    There’s also Colon Bacon.

  20. Marti

    My family doesn’t really seem to have the unusual names, so I’ve really enjoyed reading what other’s have in their families.
    What I’ve noticed in my family is that they had 2 or 3 names and they stuck with them, over and over and over again. Sometimes, siblings in the same family had the same first and middle names, just the order changed; so one’s first name was the other’s middle name.
    Sadly, one family had 4 sons named Jan, the first 3 died in infancy, the 4th one lived to be in his 70’s.
    I also had an ancestor that changed her first name each time she got married.
    Adds to the mystery!

  21. Kiki

    My great-grandfather, Cherubusco, was named after the battle of Churubusco in the Mexican American War. His son was named the same, which has made it difficult to find records, because it was written in almost every configuration you can think of, and interpreted wrong when it was right on a document.

  22. Paula Tillman

    I love unusual names! To me, its so much easier to find ancestors if they weren’t one of a thousand John Smiths, etc. My family is a blend of several different ethnicities, and my favorite names are the Italian and French ones. My great grandmother was Caterina, which I know means Catherine in Italian. My grandmother’s name was Lugrezia but she was called Lugri (which somehow census takers thought was GRACE!). My grandfather was Fernand, but he went by his middle name of Robert; and his father’s name was Joseph Elizir or Elisee. My son’s name is Xander, which is a shortened version of Alexander.

  23. Joan Gill

    I have 4 generations of men with the same first, middle, last name. But I also have Independencia Ruth Gill. Spellcheck wants to quit because of Mehetabell, Spicy Ann, Tryphena, Sylvanus, Vilate, Experience, Jeredassa, Alpharetta, Orling Schovel, and Rheuemma. The winner of the “what Were They Thinking?” award goes to Fanny Rash – the tears are still rolling.

  24. Suzanne Moller

    I have an Issachar in my paternal line. My maternal line is Silpath. No clue of its origin. All I know is that all Silpaths are related!

  25. Jade

    In one branch, Agzilla recurs. In another Vi(o)linda goes through generations and is a family marker — as is Aseneth/Sena in another (not uncommon along with Ruhamah and Mahala in New England, but this is West Virginia!).

  26. Julie Walker

    I had a great Aunt Gool. That was what I always knew her as and boy was I surprised when I learned her full name was Jesse Gool Hamilton. I will always wonder why she went by the name of Gool instead of Jesse. I have yet to find a family connection for this strange name. One of my other aunts was named Ruby Gool Hamilton. I’m glad Aunt Ruby used her first name instead of her middle name!

  27. Susan Johnson

    Great names here! I have a “Houry” Neil, at least that’s how ancestry reads it on the 1855 census. I can’t find her anywhere else to compare the name. Any ideas from you folks about what this name could be? Starts with an H, has some very hard to read letters in the middle, ends with a y. Could be Honny? She was from Ireland, if that helps. Thanks!

  28. Melissa Brogan

    I love the ones that sound weird now but were fairly common in their contemporary era. Thankful, Comfort, etc… the best one IMO is “Experience” of which my tree currently has 4. The nicknames are fun, and I wish I could find more information about how they came to be called by those names, such as Thomas Goodman, who went by Merrik. Nothing quite as fun as Ready Cash, though!

  29. Tara Wildes

    I have in my tree…

    Thank ye Lord Perkins
    Union Kettle
    Experience Byram
    Civility Robinson

    Along with my aunts Vernie Mae, Oweda Faye; my grandmother Claudia and her twin Maudia; uncles Lester and Chester it seems our family has a recent affinity for rhyming.

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