Tag Archives: family legends

Sorting Saturday — The Legend of Middle Names

Both my father and grandfather were named Gilbert McClung Gillespie.

According to my father, it was tradition for parents to give the last name of the Doctor who delivered them as a middle name.  The story was the elder Dr. McClung delivered my grandfather and the younger Dr. McClung who was the son delivered my father.

I have found nothing to support that this tradition was prevalent in the early 1900’s but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t tradition.  It made have been a family tradition.

A search of the 1940 census in Rockbridge County, Virginia finds a Hunter McClung who was a practicing physician at the age of 60 in 1940. 1 I found no other physicians in Rockbridge County, Virginia whose last name was McClung. My father was born in the Stonewall Jackson Memorial Hospital in Lexington and I believe it is reasonable to assume that his doctor resided in Rockbridge County.

1940 entry for Hunter Oscar McClung

Hunter McClung was also a practicing physician in 1910 in Lexington. He was the son of John McClung who was a retired physician in 1910 .2 Again, I found no other doctors named McClung in Rockbridge County. My grandfather was born in Lexington, Virginia and Hunter McClung may have delivered him as well.

1910 entry for Hunter Oscar McClung

I wonder if the same man delivered both my grandfather and father.   I have never found the name McClung in our family tree and I suspect that there is a bit of truth to the story of where their middle names came from, but it does appear that if it is true then they were delivered by the same man.

1. 1940 U.S. census, Rockbridge County, Virginia, population schedule, Lexington Township, enumeration district (ED) 82-7, sheet 9-B, dwelling 195, Doctor Hunter A D McClung; Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com accessed : 20 Jul 2012); citing NARA microfilm publication T627, roll 4290.
2. 1910 U.S. Federal Census, Rockbridge County, Virginia, population schedule, Lexington, p. 167 (stamped), enumeration district (ED) 114, sheet 17-A, dwelling 246, family 252, O H McClung; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed : 20 Jul 2012 ); citing NARA microfilm publication T624, roll 1647; Dr. Oscar Hunter McClung was a physician, his father John was a retired physician living with him at the time which suggests he did not deliver my grandfather, but Hunter did if indeed a Dr. McClung delivered him.

Wisdom Wednesday: Indian Princesses and Self-Delusion

Finding random documents to support what we want to believe is not research.  It’s self-delusion. — Elizabeth Shown Mills

This from a Quick Lesson that ESM wrote about the ever popular family legend about Indian Princesses in the family tree. 1

There is no point in finding a forgotten story if it isn’t true. Everyone who does research or even just casual family history should recite this to themselves everyday.  We want to know our ancestors as they were, not as we would imagine they were.


1. Elizabeth Shown Mills, “QuickLesson 7: Family Lore and Indian Princesses,” Evidence Explained: Historical Analysis, Citation & Source Usage (http://www.evidenceexplained.com/content/quicklesson-7-Family-Lore-and-Indian-Princesses : 27 Jun 2012).