Insecurity rules the formative years for most of us and being saddled with an unusual name can certainly add to the burden.
At least that’s what I thought as a child and young adult.
“Dad”, I would say … what’s up with this Judson thing?” “Why is it your name?” “And more to the point, WHY is it MY name??”
Although I never made a big deal of it with Dad, I didn’t particularly like my name. unlike Bill, Jim, or John … people always want you to repeat yourself when you tell them your name is Judson.
“What? Your name is Johnson?” “Jensen?” “What??”
The problem with my question was that my Dad didn’t really know the answer himself. By the time Dad was old enough to begin to feel self-conscious about his name, he was left with nobody to explain it to him. He lost his own father when he was only 11, and his grandfather … the first Judson in the family … had died six years before Dad was born.
Subsequently, a lot of the background information for our name was lost to us. My grandmother was equally in the dark about the origins of our name. She’d helped to decide on the name for her youngest son, but she really didn’t know why.
Being the third generation of the family to bear an unusual name like Judson and not knowing why spurred my curiosity and gave me the incentive to dig into my family genealogy.
I really wanted to know more about the man who gave my Dad and me his name and I wanted to try to discover how our name came into use in the first place. It wasn’t easy in the beginning.
Frankly, it proved to be a tough nut to crack for most of my life. It was not until the internet and then Google came along that I was able piece things together in a reasonably confident manner.
Researching my family tree revealed that the first Judson in our line (my Great Grandfather) was born in 1847.
A quick search using keyword/phrases “Judson” and “1847” revealed the story of a great Baptist missionary of the period. A rock star of religion, if you will, who was named Adoniram Judson. The Billy Graham of his day, Adoniram Judson was so popular that mothers apparently gave their newborn sons his name in the way that mothers in the 1980s seemed addicted to “Heather” for their newborn girls.
My great great-grandfather probably loved his name! I’ll bet there were several Judson’s in town. I’m sure that everyone he came into contact with totally understood him the first time and seldom, if ever, made him repeat himself.
As I’ve matured, I’ve come to terms with my name. I’ve learned to sign my name with such flourish that most of the time my last name is reduced to an insignificant squiggle trailing behind it. Inconsequential … unnecessary.
I have become simply … Judson.
I’m proud of my name as an adult. When they ask me at the sandwich shop for a name to go with my order, I never hesitate to say, “Judson, the name’s JUDSON.”
And I’m just fine with it when the speaker comes on and the announcement is made … “JETSON, your order is ready … JET-SON.” Doesn’t bother me a bit. Not one bit.
PS: My first-born son also proudly bears the name Judson. However … it’s his middle name!