Lottie is more than just another in vogue, vintage, nickname-name to me. People with Bertha’s and Hilda’s on their family trees may envy me for having the wholesome Lottie on mine.
Lottie Ardella doesn’t sound perfect but sounds like a name that was picked with care. A quick google search reveals there were actually a couple of Lottie Ardella’s born over a century ago. At one time Lottie Ardella could have been one of those automatic pairings like Carole Anne or Olivia Rose. But to the modern ear Lottie Ardella sounds fresh.
Lottie Ardella sounds like the next Hollywood Baby; the offspring of some hip actor couple looking to put their spin on the homespun granny trend. But that’s not who Lottie Ardella was. That’s not who Lottie Ardella is to me.
She was a young woman growing up in rural Pennsylvania Dutch country at the turn of the 20th century. She was most likely from a farming community. She was my Great Grandmother.
I find my Great Grandmother’s name cute but never used it. First of all, I recognize the current fashion appeal of the -ie ending, old-fashioned, nickname-name revival, and even like the idea of these names. But for my daughter these names seem too casual for my tastes.
Using a more formal variation of Lottie didn’t seem right. I wanted something more original than Charlotte. I do really like the Dutch/German Lotte and actually prefer it over Lottie. But my Great Grandmother’s name wasn’t Charlotte or Lotte.
There was another reason, besides style preference, that I didn’t use Lottie. I never passed on Lottie’s name because I never knew her. No one in the family knew her. Her life was cut short in the most horrific way imaginable back in 1913 – childbirth. Possibly on her first wedding anniversary.* She died giving birth to her only child, my Grandfather.
If there is any consolation to this tragic story, is that Lottie’s only child had a long life, a loving wife and three daughters.
My Grandfather died at 92 in 2006. From a single son Lottie had three grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren and eight great-great grandchildren. My children are the youngest of the double-great grandchildren. The oldest of that generation has just reached their 20’s. Within the next few years Lottie could very well have more double-greats and the first triple-greats.
Lottie’s life may have been short, but my Mother, my children and I wouldn’t be here without her, and her willingness to endure what must have been a terrible labor. My kids carry her mysterious genetic code. Nevertheless, I didn’t want my daughter’s name to have such a sad story attached to it.
Last week I visited my surviving Grandmother, Lottie’s Daughter-in-Law, in Pennsylvania. At 94 my Grandmother is moving into an assisted living facility, and my family was cleaning out her apartment, trying to get rid of some things my Grandmother can’t take with her.
My Aunt tried to get me to take some things, but space is a premium, and Rob and I tried to be selective. When I was offered the featured photo of my Great Grandmother, I just had to have it for reasons I can’t completely explain.
Maybe I had to have the photograph because we have something in common. I too had a very difficult first-time labor and birth experience, culminating in an emergency c-section after over 24 hours of labor. I try not to entertain the possible outcome had I been born a century earlier without the benefit of modern medicine.
The date of the photo is unknown. What’s certain is that the photo was taken at a time when photography was very primitive. Rob and I asked if the image was a photograph or a charcoal drawing because some of the detail is lost around the hands and looks smeared like charcoal. The answer was, “No. It’s a photograph.” Shutter speeds on cameras were just very slow.
Through some quick research I learned she was born in 1891.* Lottie was the 93rd most popular name that decade, more popular than Charlotte, then the 101st most popular name.
One hundred and twenty years later, Charlotte is clearly the more popular name, ranking at #27 in 2011. Lottie doesn’t even chart, and has been outside the top 1000 since 1959. In 2011 there were 6,365 newborn girls named Charlotte compared to 38 named Lottie. Of course a few of these Charlotte’s could be known as Lottie.
The Social Security Administration counted 5,499 Lottie’s born in the 1890s. However, not everyone born before 1937 applied for a Social Security Card, and not all births before 1937 were counted.
Having died long before Social Security existed, my Great Grandmother is among the uncounted. Today she’s been counted.
Readers: Do you have any interesting Great Grandma names on your family tree? If you have a story about your Great Grandmother’s or Great Grandfather’s name that you would like to share, contact us (contact at upswingbabynames dot com) and your submission might be a featured guest post on Upswing Baby Names.
*I found some information on a sub-domain of Ancestry.com, RootsWeb. The information includes a disclaimer that errors may exist.