Cemeteries, Guilbeau

People like Poley make our names seem boring

What’s in a name? This road sign near the family farm in Jefferson Davis Parish speaks to the union of my husband’s great grandparents. A LeBleu married a Langley. Don’t let the stop sign fool you. This is a road sign for dirt roads that plunge past rice fields.

I have a confession. Most people think my name is Ava because I started this blog using a junk email address that bore my cat’s name. My name is actually Michelle. Nice to meet you!

Why Michelle, you ask? There was a popular Beatles song with the name Michelle in it many years before I was born. It was so popular that here I am along with thousands of other Michelles.

I often wish I had a more unusual name. But I also often wish I didn’t have freckles, which do make me unusual. There’s no pleasing me.

My family tree is riddled with names no longer in fashion: Anaise, Florentin, Cordelier. Well, I could go on and on.

Why Baker? We haven’t a clue, but a son and a grandson now also have the name.

It’s interesting how names are decided. My great grandfather was named for a rich, childless uncle. It didn’t work. The money became an educational trust. My aunt was named for a pretty girl who worked the drugstore counter. For years, we’ve debated why my father-in-law was named Baker. We can’t come up with an explanation. Maybe his mother – who died young – read it in a book.

I encountered an entirely new name this past weekend when we visited my in laws’ graves in Jefferson Davis Parish (yes, we’re aware that name should be changed).

My in laws are buried on part of the family farm near Kinder. Buried near them is Poley Hebert. When was the last time you met a Poley? A Pokey, sure. But Poley? Was his name Napoleon?

I don’t know much about Poley other than that he was a tall farmer of medium build. One of his sisters was named Ariese.

Makes our names seem rather boring, doesn’t it?

4 thoughts on “People like Poley make our names seem boring”

  1. Fascinating! I see online that “poley” is British for “without horns.” Maybe some hornless cattle walked by the room the instant Poley was born? Anyway, I think Michelle is a perfectly lovely name (it’s definitely more mellifluous than “Paula”!). I do have a funny name story: I have an Italian relative who named her child Ultima (“last”) because she didn’t want any more children; she then proceeded to have three more, and when she finally pilgrimaged to Lourdes to pray that her fertile days would end, she got pregnant while she was there!

  2. Love your writing style and sense of humor! I have an unusual family name for you – Genius. My mother’s maiden name was Shirley Katherine Genius. She actually was a teacher in Kinder for a couple of years in the 1930s. Her family was originally from Natchitoches and New Roads. Looking forward to your next post. Pam

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