My surname is Noragon. I married it. I was not interested in its origins back then; I lived every moment in the present. My husband told me he was a Polish prince, which made me laugh. He was German to the core. Blond hair, blue eyes, fair. His mother’s maiden name was Siebert, for crying out loud. Explaining their heritage to my daughters, years later, their grandma said Bohunk. That makes me smile.
When I divorced my husband I kept the name. Back in 1973 it was becoming common for women to resume their maiden name after a divorce. I had two children, and felt they didn’t need their mother to dump their last name, together with their father, so I didn’t. He married my (former) best friend shortly thereafter. Sadly, he died of a massive heart attack at age 44. At the graveside his wife said, in front of my (her) in-laws and daughters, that in the event we wondered why she was burying him in a single plot, she intended to marry again. I’ve waited for a story to drop that nugget!
People inquire about the origins of the name and I’ve always responded I didn’t know, I married it. People wanted to know if I was related to Hal Naragon, the Cleveland Indians catcher. Especially as his wife’s name is Joan. I would say my name is Noragon, pronounced like Oragon with an N, and that’s all I know. Oh, and my grandmother used to take me to the ball games and from the upper deck over first base I saw Hal Naragon catch.
I used, occasionally, to clear clutter from the house via EBay. Selling their heritage according to my daughter Beth. It’s a joke; the girls were always offered to re-home the stuff first. My email address always displayed my last name to my buyers, and I received more than a few friendly inquires about my name. I can’t believe how many people knew about Hal Naragon!
One fellow from the Midwest would not let me off the hook with my usual dismissal of “I married the name.” “Just hold on,” he said, “I will make an inquiry of my friend on the west coast, (I don’t recall her first name) Naragon. She has traced the genealogy back to Europe and was telling me something interesting about it not long ago.”
And several days later he forwarded an email from a lovely sounding lady who assured me that her research showed that every variation of Noragon, Naragon, Naragan, Narogan, you get it, can be traced back to one Hessian soldier, sent over to fight for King George, who did not go home. His name was—and she gave me a great long name that began with N, contained an excess of consonants, and had an Eastern European ending. I passed it along to both my girls, one of whom was interested in genealogy, and parked the email in a Save Forever folder. Of course that was fifteen years and umpteen computers ago, it is long gone. Neither girl was interested enough to hang on to the information, either.
I thought I’d leave reseaching their father’s genealogy to my girls, but the little green leaves on Ancestry.com are compelling. I’ve begun plunking in the facts I know about my husband’s ancestry. I’m not back to that Hessian soldier yet, but I do know my lovely mother-in-law was right—Bohunks. I wonder if the Hessian was Bohemian.