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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

What’s in this name



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.


21 comments:

  1. My ex-wife kept my name after we were divorced because she always hated her maiden name - "Crump." That name still makes me laugh.

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  2. I think it's fascinating to trace family history. Ancestry is a great site.

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  3. Love that you got to use the nugget. It takes all kinds of people I guess. Have wonderful and relaxing thanksgiving.

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  4. Very interesting. Polish would be Noragonski with a litle apostrophe over the n.

    I love my maiden name so after leaving my ex with a great pleasure I went back to it. My boys do not mind or they never told me so.

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  5. I kept part of my ex's name for the same reasons you did.
    I've been tempted to check out the ancestry.ca sites, too.

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  6. I would say yes to Bohemian.

    A nugget to savour with a chuckle...did she re-marry?!

    My children (four) decided unanimously to dump the patronymic part of their names..."up yours dad", their decision not mine....after we jointly kicked him out. They also wanted to be known as individuals.
    So then I went back to my family name, which isn't common- and I'm proud of it.

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    1. My daughter, who refuses to open a google account, asks me to tell you, Yes, she did. I don't know if the current one, number three, was single when she met him.

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  7. This is an interesting story and I had to smile while reading it because I was one of those people who wondered (but didn't ask) about your last name ;-) It's one I've never heard before so you know I haven't heard of Hal, lol. Good luck with finding out the origins. I'm sure you will.

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  8. I have a very unusual surname, if anyone has the same name they are related.The name stems from a tribe of Viking warriors..I kept it on marriage..well, we joined names so we are now double barrelled.
    Jane x

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  9. geneology is so interesting I think. I did a couple of posts recently on some new info on one of my family lines taking us back to the 900s. At least two of my family lines have been in America since the late 1500s. Actually the reason I started my blog was to leave a record for future descendants of who I was and the life I lived. Not because I think I am so unique but because when I read the lists of names in my ancestry, that's basically all I know about them, that and dates of birth and death. I've often wondered who they were, some details from their lives.

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    1. That's why I started this blog, too. To record what I know of my parents and grandparents. I've been sidetracked with two little girls lately, but I'll get back to it. The details are fascinating, are'nt they. My grandma was a pistol!

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  10. Genealogy can be fascinating. I kept my ex husbands name to for the same reason as you and then married Joe. So CC and I do now have different last names. My family is so twisted I would be scared to dig deeper into it. Have a happy Thanksgiving Jo.

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  11. As they used to say, that and two bits will get you a cup of coffee.

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  12. Loved that story! I have always thought your surname was very interesting but it's even more interesting than I imagined.

    Piece of work, that ex-best friend of yours!!

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  13. I love to read about family history; less so, the work involved in finding it ... I am not very skilled at it and get frustrated easily. Your family is surely thankful for you and your curiosity :)

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  14. I, too, got very involved with Genealogy after my father compiled vast files of all the work he had done -- for all his children. I found that it was interesting and compelling. Hours and hours can pass -- much like being on the computer and keeping up with the blogs I follow -- except worse!

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  15. I didn't keep my husband's name after the divorce, but I didn't go back to my maiden name either, it was too long and impossible to pronounce. I went through the phone book and chose something I liked the sound of.

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  16. first time visiting/commenting on your blog; I sure enjoyed reading this. I'm not much into genealogy but I had an aunt who did a lot of research for my mom's side of the family and a little for my dad's side. It is always interesting to find out a little abour our ancestors! I had a very hard (Polish) maiden name that I always had to spell; so when I got married, the name shortened but I still had to spell it since it can be spelled either "en" at the end or "on" (ours is "on") but at least the name can be pronounced more easier than my maiden name.

    I hope your day was a nice one.

    betty

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  17. Truly fascinating!

    I regret to say that I have a cousin who is rather like your ex-best friend - she is working on No. 5 now.

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  18. My maiden name is Kissinger. That''s what the k is for in my online name. Another person with the name Kissinger told me he had researched it and found, like you, that it came from a Hessian soldier who came to fight for the king during revolutionary times. He deserted his post and ran away. True? I have no idea, but it makes for an interesting story. I've said I'm really not interested in learning about my ancestors because they were undoubtedly murderers and horse thieves.

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  19. I must say, this is the first time I've heard of the name Noragon. It has a nice ring to it though. My maiden name would have translated to "base of the stone." My friends used to tease me though and say it meant "rock bottom."

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