Namesakes

My granny had the dubious distinction of being named after a dead child.

Joseph Augustin Giroir and Elizabeth Montet had 15 children, and all but one lived to adulthood. They lost Monique Florence at five months. I have no idea what killed her although it wasn’t uncommon for babies to die in the 1890s.

Last year, we lost a baby in my family. It was horrible and devastating, and I take some comfort in that.  Nowadays, it’s uncommon to lose a baby unless it’s in the early stages of pregnancy. No one should have to go the section of the funeral home where they keep the tiny coffins.

But back to my granny. She was one of the first grandchildren so she got saddled with the dead baby’s name: Florence. Her father always thought it was morbid so he insisted on calling her by her middle name: Gertrude. Her mother and her mother’s family supposedly always called her Florence. On the 1930 census, when she was living with her mother’s sister, she was recorded as Gertrude so who knows what the truth was.

I wonder if her father thought it was morbid or just bad luck to be named after a baby who died. I was thinking about that when looking at the descendants of Marie Heleine (or Helena) Babin.

Helena died at age 33 in 1873. She left behind Cordilier, 14 (my ancestor), Aladin, 11, Adea, 8, Olivia, 5, and Adrienne, 2. All were her children with Desire Gautreaux.

Helena had two full brothers: Melite and Anatole. The Gautreaux/Babin families apparently liked unusual names.

Because she died so young, there aren’t any family stories about Helena that I’ve been told. But her relatives attempted to carry on her name.

Her daughter Adea christened her first daughter Marie Helena. The baby died at age 2.

Her brother Anatole also named a baby Helena. That baby grew up only to die as a young woman.

Personally, I think Helena is a lovely name.

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