Sometimes a T Really Is Just a T

It was somewhat unusual, but it’s possible that your relative’s middle name really was just a letter. Most of the time that middle letter does  stand for something, it’s just a matter of determining what it was. But there are always exceptions to the rule.


11 thoughts on “Sometimes a T Really Is Just a T

  1. GrammaKaarin

    Thanx for bringing this up. My father-in-law’s first name was “JL”. It has been reported on one Fed. Census as “Jay L”. But his name was J L. Though his birth certificate was filed years after his birth, his mother was one of the sources/validators of the information on it. According to my sister-in-law, the story is that his mom wanted to name him after two of her husband’s brothers, but her husband was adamantly opposed (I’ve never heard of any bad blood between them). So mom had her little victory by completing the hospital paperwork using the first initials of the two brothers. A couple generations later one of her great granddaughters wanted to name her son after her husband (so it would be a junior). Her husband put his foot down with a firm “no”. So, when she filled out the the paperwork for the hospital, she gave the boy his dad’s name in a different language (there’s only one letter difference). Never underestimate a mom’s determination.

  2. Ann A.

    I ran across a man named Ai while around on my family tree. You can imagine the confusion the indexers had with that one!

  3. Deb Meyer

    My grandfather was an “OB”. One census had him as “Obbie” as a child, which is possibly a person making an assumption. Again, as in the experience of the GrammaKaarin above, his birth certificate was done many years after his birth and his brother used just the letters. I suspect he was to have been “Obadiah” but even in 1904 that might not have stuck. All of his children and nephews claim it was only “OB”.

    1. Jan

      I also knew an O.B. My dad told me when OB enlisted during World War II the Army would add “only” after an initial if there was no name it represented. So O. B.’s paperwork said “O only”, “B only”. “Only Bonly” became a nickname for a time.

  4. Jane Coryell

    One of my uncles had just the letter C for a middle name. On official papers, he wrote C only. My father called him Conley for years.

  5. Paula Perry

    In Texas, 2 initial names are still common. Some men report that they had to “choose” a name when they went into the military.

  6. Dana Sutton

    Probably the most well-known person to have a middle initial & not a middle name was Harry S Truman. The S is now commonly written with a period after it, but it did not stand for a specific name. Some of us are old enough to remember when he was President & was often asked about this.

  7. Marianne

    My grandmother had no middle name. However, during her lifetime she used either the initial “R” or the initial “M” for the middle name on legal documents. The “R” was the last letter of her first name and the “M” was the first letter of her last name.

  8. Mary Jo Roman Purdy

    My great grandfather name is Samuel Buckingham and was born in Logan Co. Ohio. I never did find out what his middle name was. He had fought in Civil War and got the records of it. I have tried to find out who are his parents were. Both were born in Conn.

  9. Kat

    My relative had no middle name. The Sears Roebuck order form had a space for middle initial. His wife wrote Z in the blank. After that his nickname became “Zeke.”


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