Google is pretty cool. I entered my own name in the popular search engine. I entered my full name, Ohg Rea Tone, not knowing what I was hoping for. The results are rather enlightening.
Historically people were named for their professions. Blacksmiths, those powerful men who forged steel by hand, became Smiths. File clerks working for Ebenezer Scrooge became Clark. Alcoholics jonesing for a drink became Jones’. Something like that.
My family has a rich tradition of wackyness. My maternal family tree were designated Wacko until the mid 1800’s. Then they met Joseph Smith III, gave all their money to the upstart church, and became Poe. I am grateful they did not hyphenate names back then or my mother might have been Poe-Wacko-Jones. Fortunately, fate plays a role. Otherwise my great grandfather would have been Edgar Allan Wacko.
My father’s sister is 90. She is an old aunt who sits in the corner and rants, proudly claiming we are descendants of Johnny Chapman. He later became known as Johnny Appleseed. I am happy that did not stick.
But there is a sure connection to Apple trees. One of my ancestors was named Ohg. He tinkered with everything from mechanics to chemistry. He was particularly proficient with copper kettles, copper tubing, and fermenting. While fermenting apples he noticed there were color variations that could be manipulated with heat and additives. Bored with his drab clothing he experimented with making clothing dyes. An unselfish man, he generally tried his products on himself before offering them for general consumption.
He invented an Apple Red dye that some called Ruby Red. The designation was dependent on the tone of the color. Leather products accepted this dye and he made slippers to sell in Kansas. The local folks began calling the old man a Toner. Later generations shortened the name to Tone.
A by-product of his dye making process was a thick black gooey substance that was set aside – he was not yet confident of the functionality. When dried and ground into powder the black substance became a dry ink.
My middle name is a latter day invention. The custom in Missouri is to call people by their first and middle names, Billy Ray, Bobby Ray, Jimmy Ray – in that manner. My father was in France in The War and when they named me he attempted a French variation of Ray. He changed the spelling to Rea.
My mother used to call us from the back door. She ran her words together and I can remember her calling out, “Ogray, get in here and eat your mashed potatoes!”
Google is pretty cool.