What’s In A Name?

So my grandpa, Hubert Harton, was the first Harton ever.

I know this is true, or at least partly so, because his brother Van was a Burton.  And their cousins Opal and Ruby were Burtons.  There weren’t any other Hartons in that county.

The way it happened was this:  Grandpa stole a car.  Why he did that, I don’t know.  He was supposed to have had a still and so maybe he was running moonshine, or maybe he just did it for the thrill or whatever.  Anyway, it was before he was married, so he probably didn’t need it for family-type errands.  And he got caught.

The judge gave him a choice:  he could go to jail or he could go into the army.  He didn’t exactly have much in the way of job prospects, so he chose the army.  And that’s when everything changed for him.

Somehow, some way, someone wrote his name down wrong.  It’s kind of easy to see how a “B” could look like an “H” if your pen skipped or something and how a “u” could look like an “a” that wasn’t quite closed at the top, but I almost think someone had to have done that on purpose.  Whether it was the judge trying to help Grandpa get a fresh start or the recruiter doing the same or Grandpa just practicing lying, I don’t know.  But there it was.

So when he came home and married Opal Burton and they had a daughter who had us, it took us years to figure out that not only were Great-Uncle Van and Great-Aunt Ruby cousins, but Grandpa Hubert and Grandma Opal were, too.  And being from up North where as far as we knew, people just didn’t do that sort of thing, that made us feel kind of funny. 

It didn’t make Mama feel funny at all.  In fact, she went to a Burton family geneology group gathering and was proud that she could take two nametags, showing she was from both sides of the Burton family.  I told her I wouldn’t advertise that if I were her, but she just gave me a look and went on.


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