06 April 2010

What's In a Name?

Hannah A. Yount (1845-1891), daughter of Frederick Yount and Polly Mayfield, was my 3rd great grand aunt. I've only just begun dipping my toe into the waters of her short life history. My first post connected to her is really about her husband. My 3rd great grand uncle was named Powhatan V. Rauls (1849-1922). At least that is how I think his name was spelled. I've already seen Powhauttan, Powhattan, Pauhatton, Pawhatton, Pawhattan, Pohatan, and Powhatton. Less ambitious folks usually went with "P. V." And don't forget Rawls and Ralls.

P. V.'s first name intrigued me, so I did a Google search. I probably should have already known this bit of Native American history, but I did not make the connection until after doing some reading. It seems Powhatan is the name of a Virginia Indian tribe, as well as the name of a powerful confederacy of tribes which they dominated. In the late 16th and early 17th centuries, a chief known as Powhatan created a powerful chiefdom by affiliating 30 tributary peoples, whose territory was much of eastern Virginia, called Tsenacommacah, meaning "densely-inhabited land." Chief Powhatan was the father of Pocahontas. [source: Wikipedia.org]

P. V. was born in Tennessee, so knowledge of the tribe(s) is not a stretch. But I still wonder what caused P. V.'s parents, John and Sarah, to name him Powhatan? I certainly would love to know!

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