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Friday, September 07, 2007

His Uncle Was Fearless

Supreme Court Justice and civil rights icon Thurgood Marshall's forename has an interesting history.

In honor of his paternal grandfather, Thurgood was given two first names, Thorneygood and Thoroughgood, when he was born. When Thurgood's grandfather, a former slave, had joined the U.S. Army, he hadn't been sure what to call himself. So he signed up under both names and later wound up getting two sets of retirement checks. In time, grandson Marshall would decide he preferred the name Thoroughgood. In the second or third grade, he would shorten it to Thurgood. [Link]
His mother's family had its share of unusual names as well.
His maternal grandfather, Isaiah O. B. (for Olive Branch, he said) Williams, also went to sea, came home with money and a taste for opera and Shakespeare. He opened a grocery on Baltimore's Den-meade Street, and sired six children. The first was Avonia Delicia and the second Avon (both for the bard's river), the third was Denmedia Marketa (for the store), another was Norma Arica (he heard Norma in Arica, a Chilean port) and the remaining two, for reasons lost to history, were Fearless Mentor and Ravine Silestria. [Link]

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