Not every girl can say she was named after her great-great-grandfather. Mine was Alfred Loraine Batson and I received his middle name, Loraine, as my own middle name. It made me very curious why Alfred’s parents would give him a “girl’s name” for his middle name. I decided there had to be a story behind it, and started researching where the name Alfred Loraine came from. Church records provided the answer.
There were several family stories about the origin of Alfred’s name. I knew all of the maiden names for Alfred’s mother and each grandmother, so I knew it wasn’t a name carried down in the family.
One family rumor was that Alfred’s parents, John and Sarah, were recent immigrants from Alsace-Loraine in Europe. After doing a bit of genealogy, I found that the Batsons had been in the U.S. for several generations, and not just off the boat as assumed.
In my effort to solve the mystery of his name origin, I went to Muskingum County, Ohio, where Alfred was born. After some poking around in the John McIntire Public Library in Zanesville, Ohio, I found the answer. There was a history on the Trinity Church in Zanesville. During the time my Batson family was in the area, the Trinity Church–then known as the Seventh Street Methodist Episcopal Church–was completed and dedicated in 1849. The history stated, “The sermon was delivered by Rev. A.M. Lorain of Putnam Station.” I did a little more research and found that Alfred M. Lorain became a Methodist preacher in 1823 and traveled around that part of Ohio preaching at different Methodist churches.
Once I proved A.M. Lorain was Alfred M. Lorain, I knew that John and Sarah had to have known him. Reverend Lorain must have given amazing sermons because on 24 March 1849, John and Sarah named their first son after him.
I didn’t think the Batsons were religious, but now with this new information, I was able to search the Methodist church records in the area. Unfortunately, not many records survived for that time period in Muskingum County, Ohio, but it still is great to solve the family mystery of my ancestor, Alfred Loraine Batson.
For more information about Church records in U.S. research, see the United States Church Records article in the FamilySearch Research Wiki.