Smoky Mountain Family Historian

Saturday, July 14, 2007

What's in a Name?

A GOOD name is rather to be chosen than great riches, and loving favour rather than silver and gold. Proverbs 22:1 (King James Version)

For this surname installment of the Carnival of Genealogy, I thought it would be fun to look at a few of the surnames in my family. My cousin Terry has already posted on the Thornton surname so I'll omit that one.

Lantz - Lantz is a Germanic form of a word meaning "Land." My Lantz family was an Amish family which fled persecution in Switzerland, residing in the French portion of the Palatinate before coming to America in 1749. The documents found in France for the family have the name Landis which is a French version of the name. The most famous Lantz is Walter Lantz who created Woody Woodpecker. Apparently, Woody was based on a real woodpecker that was quite a pest on Walter's honeymoon with his new bride. (Source: Robb, H. Amanda and Chesler, Andrew. Encyclopedia of American Family Names. New York: HarperCollins, 1995.)

Fowlkes - Fowlkes is a Welsh name meaning people. You will also found it written as Foulkes. It was originally pronounced something like "fooltz" with the "oo" sound being the shorter sound rather than the longer sounding "oo." Today, it is pronounced "folks" with a fairly long sounding "o", at least in Mississippi. Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour is descended from the Fowlkes family. There is a Tremaine Fowlkes who was an NBA player. I do know that the Fowlkes in Monroe County, Mississippi were slave owners. Several Fowlkes in middle Tennessee served in various public offices throughout the years. My line in Monroe County, Mississippi (and the ones in Middle Tennessee and Haley Barbour's line) all share Gabriel Fowlkes (b. abt. 1696, allegedly in Denbighshire, Wales although efforts to locate him in records there have not been successful) as a common ancestor.

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