|Watson (Frederick) Emory Webster|
My maternal great-grandfather's name at birth was Watson Emory Webster. My regular readers may know that I affectionately refer to him as "The Traveling Dentist." For some unknown reason, Watson changed his name to Frederick Emory Webster sometime in his life.
I have two questions.
- Why did Watson change his name?
- Why did Watson choose the name Frederick when he decided to change his name?
Watson had an uncle named Watson Emery Webster. The only difference in their names was a slight variation in the spelling of their middle names - Emory verses Emery. Perhaps he wanted to avoid confusion.
Why Did Watson Choose The Name Frederick?
I could not figure out where the name Frederick came from and why Watson chose that particular name when he decided to change his name. Then I had a "light bulb moment." I remembered that Watson (Frederick) Emory's father, Ebenezer Perry Carlisle Webster, had a younger brother named Fred Lincoln Webster, who passed away in 1877 at 13 years of age.
Ebenezer was 25 years older than his youngest brother Fred Lincoln. By the time Fred Lincoln was born, Ebenezer already had a wife and two children. And he and his wife, Cynthia, were expecting their third child, my great-grandfather, Watson (Frederick) Emory.
When my great-grandfather, Watson (Frederick) Emory Webster, was born, Ebenezer's brother, Fred Lincoln Webster, was only four months old. That would have made Watson (Frederick) Emory and Fred Lincoln contemporaries in terms of their ages even though Fred was Watson's uncle.
At the time the 1870 U.S. Federal Census was taken, Watson (Frederick) Emory Webster and Fred Lincoln Webster both lived in Benton County, Iowa in separate households. Sadly, in 1871, Fred Lincoln's mother, Amanda Melvina (Carlisle) Webster, passed away. That left only Fred Lincoln and his dad, Moses Augustine Webster, living together in their own household.
By the time the 1880 U.S. Census1 was taken, Moses Webster was living with his son Ebenezer Perry Carlisle Webster and his family. You can see Watson (Frederick) Emory Webster listed here as well. They lived in Kansas at the time of this census.
|United States Census, 1880, Otoe Reservation, Marshall, Kansas|
So, when did Moses move in with his son Ebenezer and his family? Was it before or after Fred Lincoln died in 1877? I wouldn't be surprised if it was shortly after Moses' wife Amanda passed away in 1871.
If it is true that both Moses and Fred Lincoln moved in with Ebenezer and his family shortly after Amanda passed away in 1871, then Fred Lincoln and my great-grandfather, Watson (Frederick) Emory, basically grew up together as brothers, even though they were uncle and nephew. They could have become very close to each other. Both boys were about 13 years of age at the time Fred Lincoln died. The accident that took the life of Fred Lincoln could have been a very traumatic event in the life of my great-grandfather, Watson (Frederick) Emory.
Perhaps when Watson decided to change his name, he chose the name of Frederick to honor his uncle, Fred Lincoln Webster.
In a letter written by Watson (Frederick) Emory's brother, Rollin Waterman Webster, to my grandfather Debs Warren Webster, Rollin stated that Watson (Frederick) Emory (Debs' father), had indeed changed his name to Frederick.
|Rollin Waterman Webster Letter|
I'm glad Uncle Rollin confirmed the name change so we could be sure that Watson Emory Webster and Frederick Emory Webster were in fact the same person. I do wish, however, that Uncle Rollin had given the reason for the name change. Oh well, we can't have everything, right?
My theory about why my great-grandfather changed his name from Watson Emory to Frederick Emory is only speculation, of course. I sure wish I could ask my grandfather Debs about why his dad changed his name. But my grandfather passed away years ago, so I can only speculate about why Watson changed his name to Frederick.
Thanks for reading!
© 2013 Copyright by Jana Last
1 "United States Census, 1880, Otoe Reservation, Marshall, Kansas, Line #23, Dwelling #24" index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/MF5H-BBH : accessed 28 May 2013), Watson Webster in entry for E. P. Webster, 1880. ↩