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  #1  
Old 02-07-2006, 12:04 AM
Surreal Surreal is offline
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Are There Any White People Named 'Washington'?

I've noticed that while it is quite common for black people to have the last name 'Washington', I can't think of a single Caucasian person who currently bears that particular name. Why is this the case?

Did African Americans with the name 'Washington' obtain their names from white slave-holders of the same name? If so, where did all of the white 'Washingtons' disappear to?

Thanks.
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  #2  
Old 02-07-2006, 12:57 AM
Larry Mudd Larry Mudd is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Surreal
I can't think of a single Caucasian person who currently bears that particular name. Why is this the case?
I dunno why you can't think of any.

As for a single one, there's the milk-white Jim Washington, who's a sports broadcaster for Fox. There's lots of white Bob Washingtons. I'm sure you can pick any other random given name and find plenty of white and black folks who have both it and the surname "Washington."

You do ask some peculiar questions.
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  #3  
Old 02-07-2006, 01:09 AM
Diogenes the Cynic Diogenes the Cynic is offline
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I may be spouting a bit of ignorant urban legend here, but I seem to remember reading somewhere that many freed slaves chose to adopt the names of presidents after the Civil War, and that's where all the Washingtons and Jeffersons came from. It may be that this phenomenon (if it's true) caused the name Washington to be statistically more prevalent among blacks than whites.

I do have to wonder, though, why I don't hear of very many, if any, black Americans named Lincoln. If newly freed slaves were going to take the name of a president, you'd think that would be the one. It was a name that was pretty well despised in the south after the war, so maybe that's why? Could it be that a freed slave calling himself Lincoln might have been a dangerous thing to do in that environment at the time?
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Old 02-07-2006, 01:25 AM
The Flying Dutchman The Flying Dutchman is offline
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http://www.horatioalger.com/members/...memberid=WAS95
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  #5  
Old 02-07-2006, 02:10 AM
Scissorjack Scissorjack is offline
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Washington Irving.
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  #6  
Old 02-07-2006, 02:21 AM
KGS KGS is offline
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Speaking of president names, don't forget George Clinton...

George & Martha Washington had no children. I wonder if "Washington" was ever a common name even back then, and nearly died out before the freed slaves resurrected it?
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  #7  
Old 02-07-2006, 08:26 AM
Askia Askia is offline
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I have never personally met a white family of Washington. I keep looking for one, too. I have only met older black dudes named Lincoln; it's usually a first name, like Linc Hayes from the Mod Squad. That name's popularity seems to be a generational and regional thing.

If you play with male first names and tack it to "Washington" in a Google image seach, you'll tend to see more black guys. F'rinstance James Washington has examples going back to the 19th century and waaay more examples than white Bob Washingtons.

Here's a link to seven minute NPR stream re: black patriotism and the founding fathers: Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and George Washington. Presidents Washington, Madison and Jefferson (all Virginians) were slaveowners. There's some evidence to suggest that while some blacks changed their names after Emancipation, some descendants are directly related to those bondsmen once owned by these men and still carry the name.
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  #8  
Old 02-07-2006, 08:30 AM
Shagnasty Shagnasty is offline
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The ones that I know of have all been black. I work work with a black man now that is named Washington.
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  #9  
Old 02-07-2006, 09:35 AM
Jake4 Jake4 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Askia
I have never personally met a white family of Washington. I keep looking for one, too. I have only met older black dudes named Lincoln; it's usually a first name, like Linc Hayes from the Mod Squad. That name's popularity seems to be a generational and regional thing.
My next-door neighbor is a older (60+) white dude named Lincoln.

As an interesting aside, he is a former electrical engineer for NASA or somesuch and is arrogant enough to have the personalized NJ license plate "MENSA", of which I assume he is a member.

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  #10  
Old 02-07-2006, 10:09 AM
you with the face you with the face is offline
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Perhaps there was a family of big planters in the antebellum South named Washington, who, among them, owned a huge chunk of the slave population.

If there were only a handful of white Washingtons relative to all those slaves, then the proportion of white to black Washingtons in today's population should be small (assuming that the slaves were named after their slavemasters). This would be even more so if those white Washingtons procreated with their slaves and made even more black Washingtons.

All this is speculation, so it may not be appropriate in this forum. But it's an interesting question.
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  #11  
Old 02-07-2006, 11:03 AM
lissener lissener is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Diogenes the Cynic
I may be spouting a bit of ignorant urban legend here, but I seem to remember reading somewhere that many freed slaves chose to adopt the names of presidents after the Civil War, and that's where all the Washingtons and Jeffersons came from.
[nitpick] If it's a myth about slave culture and the Civil War, what is "urban" about it? Unless "urban" is a euphemism here, as it is in the white corporate music business, for "black," can't we just call it a myth? That is all. [/nitpick]
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  #12  
Old 02-07-2006, 11:15 AM
Duke of Rat Duke of Rat is offline
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I went to school with a white guy named Washington, FWIW.. And I can't think off the top of my head any black acquaintances named Washington.
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  #13  
Old 02-07-2006, 11:24 AM
AFAIKnow AFAIKnow is offline
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Didn't slaves take their owners surnames? Did they mostly change their names after emancipation? Maybe Washington was a prominent name for slave owners and blacks never changed it. I donít know the answers to my own questions, so obviously I'm throwing things out there.
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  #14  
Old 02-07-2006, 11:29 AM
John Mace John Mace is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by you with the face
Perhaps there was a family of big planters in the antebellum South named Washington, who, among them, owned a huge chunk of the slave population.
Well, we know of one such family, right? Guy by the name of George...

GW's will stipulated that his slaves should be freed once his wife died. I don't know how many slaves he owned, but I've been to Mt. Vernon, and there were lots of slave quarters there.

And, since we're speculating... I would suspect that a good number of freed slaves would be reluctant to take the last name of their former masters, wanting to start a new life fresh from those memories. Wahsington would certainly be right up there as a choice.
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  #15  
Old 02-07-2006, 11:35 AM
Askia Askia is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AFAIKnow
Didn't slaves take their owners surnames? Did they mostly change their names after emancipation? Maybe Washington was a prominent name for slave owners and blacks never changed it. I donít know the answers to my own questions, so obviously I'm throwing things out there.
Technically, true, although most didn't change their names until after the Civil War was over. Here's a cited article discussing black soldiers who changed their names.
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  #16  
Old 02-07-2006, 11:38 AM
Cerowyn Cerowyn is offline
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Many of the names under discussion here are relatively common in the UK (which, after all, is where they came from in the first place). Despite the almost non-existance of slaves* domestically in British history, neither was the non-white population very large prior to the 19th century. Consequently, most of the British people with those names are white.

* To head off any debate, we can safely ignore serfs, indentured workers and the like from this discussion, as they were not visible minorities either.
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  #17  
Old 02-07-2006, 11:38 AM
Askia Askia is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Mace
And, since we're speculating... I would suspect that a good number of freed slaves would be reluctant to take the last name of their former masters, wanting to start a new life fresh from those memories. Wahsington would certainly be right up there as a choice.
John, the article I just linked had this interesting paragraph -- basically saying there's no single naming convention that predominates, but rather:
Quote:
These compiled data identified that names were changed in assorted forms and for a variety of reasons. In most cases the pensioner went by the surnames of their mothers, prior to the war; served in the army under the surnames of their former owners, during to war; then, took the surnames of their fathers, after the war. The foregoing statement is merely a generalized observation because a wide variety of other name-changing conventions have been identified. This article provides several examples of these name-changes and discusses the impact it might have on researchers who utilize this information.
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  #18  
Old 02-07-2006, 11:40 AM
Askia Askia is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cerowyn
Many of the names under discussion here are relatively common in the UK (which, after all, is where they came from in the first place). Despite the almost non-existance of slaves* domestically in British history, neither was the non-white population very large prior to the 19th century. Consequently, most of the British people with those names are white.

* To head off any debate, we can safely ignore serfs, indentured workers and the like from this discussion, as they were not visible minorities either.
So it's also possible that whites in America with the surname Washington are the descendants of post-Revolutionary War era immigrants.
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  #19  
Old 02-07-2006, 11:56 AM
yBeayf yBeayf is offline
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I work with someone with that last name. She's white as can be, and is in fact descended from the family of Geo. Washington.
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  #20  
Old 02-07-2006, 05:16 PM
Chronos Chronos is online now
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Quoth lissener:
Quote:
Unless "urban" is a euphemism here, as it is in the white corporate music business, for "black,"
This is a pet peeve of mine. "Urban", as in "urban music" is not a euphemism or synonym for "black". It's an accurate descriptive term, in fact more accurate than "black music" would be. Although American inner cities are predominantly black, there are white folks who live in the cities, too. And by and large, those white folks listen to the same music as do their black neighbors. Meanwhile, blacks living in suburban and rural areas (of whom there are some) tend to listen to the same sort of music as their neighbors, too. So the music listened to by people in the city is urban music.

Meanwhile, of course, in the phrase "urban legend", "urban" is used as a synonym, not for "black", but for "modern".
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  #21  
Old 02-07-2006, 05:48 PM
Askia Askia is offline
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"Urban" being used a euphemistic black racial descriptor is pretty well documented. You can't ignore that fact that "pop," "rock" "goth" and "techno" not generally listed as urban music forms but "rap", "R&B" and "neo-soul" are.
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  #22  
Old 02-07-2006, 06:26 PM
Larry Mudd Larry Mudd is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Askia
You can't ignore that fact that "pop," "rock" "goth" and "techno" not generally listed as urban music forms but "rap", "R&B" and "neo-soul" are.
Nobody's ignoring it, we're just bitching about how it's an abuse of language.

I think I understand how it came to be used this way: "Urban" is an antonym for "Country," and you don't get much whiter than "country" music. It's those guys who committed the first offense -- there's very little that's rural about Nashville or the "country" music that's produced there.

Outside of the U.S., "urban music" means what you'd expect it to mean, and includes everything from techno, house and drum&bass to jazz to hip-hop. The kind of stuff that gets played in any sort of cosmopolitan club, as opposed to the more provincial sounds that the unsophisticated rubes in the suburbs and backwaters groove to. (Ouch! Stop!)

If we need to pigeonhole classes of music into quasi-racist phyla, why not just be direct about it, instead of being cryptic and using a term that has another meaning which is both intrinsic and useful?

It's irksome.
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  #23  
Old 02-07-2006, 06:37 PM
Harriet the Spry Harriet the Spry is offline
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I think the tangent is way wide of the mark.

Urban music may or may not refer to black music. That's beside the point.

Urban legend is a completely different term having nothing to do with race. The best I can explain it is "popular misinformation". It includes things like alligators in the sewer, putting cats in the microwave, babysitter on pot putting the baby in the oven & the turkey in the crib, and all kinds of "it happened to a friend of a friend" stories.
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  #24  
Old 02-07-2006, 07:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Case Sensitive
Washington Irving.
You might have missed the "last name" part of the question...



Quote:
Originally Posted by Surreal
I've noticed that while it is quite common for black people to have the last name 'Washington'...
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  #25  
Old 02-07-2006, 11:32 PM
Dr. Drake Dr. Drake is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Harriet the Spry
Urban legend is a completely different term having nothing to do with race. The best I can explain it is "popular misinformation".
Auughh!!! Yes to the first part, but then no no no no no no no.

"Urban legend" is a 20th-century term, coined by folklorists once they realized that legend (a type of folk narrative) existed among modern, urban, educated, first-world people just as much as among rural and less-educated people. It was popularized as a term by Jan Brunvand. Since then, folklorists have largely supplanted the term with "contemporary legend" (as Chronos mentioned) or just "legend." Meanly, the general population has kept it and even added the monstrous hybrid term "urban myth."

The thing is, to be a legend, there has to be a story. A belief or a misconception or summary of a story cannot, technically, be a legend, urban or otherwise. The story about alligators in the sewer is a legend; "there are alligators in the sewers" is a statement of belief, to be sent to the Straight Dope for verification.

[crawls off soapbox]
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  #26  
Old 02-07-2006, 11:51 PM
Walloon Walloon is offline
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The 1930 U.S. census had 1,049 heads-of-household with the surname Washington who were white.

Alabama, 43
Arizona, 6
Arkansas, 28
California, 42
Colorado, 7
Connecticut, 8
Delaware, 2
District of Columbia, 15
Florida, 29
Georgia, 78
Idaho, 3
Illinois, 13

etc.
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  #27  
Old 02-07-2006, 11:57 PM
Walloon Walloon is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Larry Mudd
"Urban" is an antonym for "Country," and you don't get much whiter than "country" music.
How about rock music. Any major black rock acts in the last twenty years?
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  #28  
Old 02-08-2006, 12:43 AM
yBeayf yBeayf is offline
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Any major black rock acts in the last twenty years?
Lenny Kravitz, Local H, Ice T / Body Count ("Cop Killer" was *not* a rap song), Skunk Anansie, Prince, Fishbone, Living Color, Suicidal Tendencies...
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  #29  
Old 02-08-2006, 12:53 AM
Walloon Walloon is offline
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Living Color has been MIA the last twenty years. Of the others, only Lenny Kravitz and Prince and be conisdered both major and rock acts.
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  #30  
Old 02-08-2006, 01:02 AM
Snooooopy Snooooopy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yBeayf
Lenny Kravitz, Local H, Ice T / Body Count ("Cop Killer" was *not* a rap song), Skunk Anansie, Prince, Fishbone, Living Color, Suicidal Tendencies...
Suicidal Tendencies and Local H have or have had black people in them, but I don't know if they'd really be black rock acts. The primary creative forces in both bands are white boys.
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  #31  
Old 02-08-2006, 01:13 AM
Scissorjack Scissorjack is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yBeayf
Lenny Kravitz, Local H, Ice T / Body Count ("Cop Killer" was *not* a rap song), Skunk Anansie, Prince, Fishbone, Living Color, Suicidal Tendencies...
Bad Brains.
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  #32  
Old 02-08-2006, 01:43 AM
Hippy Hollow Hippy Hollow is offline
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Living Color has been MIA the last twenty years. Of the others, only Lenny Kravitz and Prince and be conisdered both major and rock acts.
Continuing the hijack... Living Colour released an album, Collideoscope, in 2003 and toured extensively. Critically acclaimed, but not a huge commercial success. But hard rock tends to be a niche market, methinks.
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  #33  
Old 02-08-2006, 10:08 AM
Peter Morris Peter Morris is online now
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And are there any white people called Winston? (apart from the Churchill dynasty, that is)
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  #34  
Old 02-08-2006, 10:15 AM
Shagnasty Shagnasty is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Walloon
The 1930 U.S. census had 1,049 heads-of-household with the surname Washington who were white.

Alabama, 43
Arizona, 6
Arkansas, 28
California, 42
Colorado, 7
Connecticut, 8
Delaware, 2
District of Columbia, 15
Florida, 29
Georgia, 78
Idaho, 3
Illinois, 13

etc.
Wow, that is really rare. Does it say how many black ones there were? It must have been many times that.
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  #35  
Old 02-08-2006, 10:19 AM
Walloon Walloon is offline
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The 1903 U.S. census has 898 heads-of-household with the surname Winston who are white.
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  #36  
Old 02-08-2006, 10:24 AM
Walloon Walloon is offline
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The 1930 U.S. census has the following heads-of-household with the surname Washington and these racial classifications:

Negro: 14,378
Colored: 58
Mulatto: 0

For the surname Winston:

Negro: 1,297
Colored: 4
Mulatto: 0
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  #37  
Old 02-08-2006, 10:36 AM
Walloon Walloon is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Walloon
The 1903 U.S. census has 898 heads-of-household with the surname Winston who are white.
I meant 1930, of course.
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  #38  
Old 02-08-2006, 11:39 AM
Wendell Wagner Wendell Wagner is offline
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So the answer to the OP seems to be that there are whites in the U.S. named "Washington", but they are outnumbered by blacks with that name by a little more than 14 to 1.
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  #39  
Old 02-08-2006, 02:17 PM
yBeayf yBeayf is offline
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Living Color has been MIA the last twenty years.
They won their Grammy in 1989. That's less than twenty years ago.
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  #40  
Old 02-08-2006, 03:00 PM
she sells sea snails she sells sea snails is offline
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I couldn't follow those census answers.
Were there more or less white than black Washington families in 1930?
And how many white or black Lincoln families?
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  #41  
Old 02-08-2006, 03:08 PM
Rubystreak Rubystreak is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Askia
Here's a cited article discussing black soldiers who changed their names.
From this article:

Quote:
"I was born in Berkeley County, the slave of Capt. Theodore L. Gourdine. My father was Crapps Dingle. I served under the name of Nero Gourdine. I changed my name to Dingle about fifteen years ago. Up to that time I was called Gourdine. I pay taxes under the name of Dingle. If it is the same to the government I should like to have my name changed to Negro Dingle on the pension certificate
The guy's name was Crapps Dingle?!? And his son had his name changed to Negro Dingle. Wow, this is an object lesson about how much one man hated his slave name and the lengths he would go to in order to disassociate himself from it.
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  #42  
Old 02-08-2006, 03:13 PM
Walloon Walloon is offline
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The 1930 U.S. census had 14,436 heads-of-household with the surname Washington who were black, and 1,049 heads-of-household who were white.

The 1930 U.S. census had 221 heads-of-household with the surname Lincoln who were were black, and 2,079 heads-of-household who were white.
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  #43  
Old 02-08-2006, 03:23 PM
Walloon Walloon is offline
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Oh, and there were five people named Lincoln Washington in the 1930 U.S. census.
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  #44  
Old 02-08-2006, 03:34 PM
jjimm jjimm is offline
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Originally Posted by Rubystreak
The guy's name was Crapps Dingle?!? And his son had his name changed to Negro Dingle. Wow, this is an object lesson about how much one man hated his slave name and the lengths he would go to in order to disassociate himself from it.
Good lord, what dreadful names.

I just wanted to point out - though I'm sure most know already - that the source of many of these names are places in the British Isles:

Washington - towns in Sussex and Tyne-and-Wear
Lincoln - city (and county town) in Lincolnshire
Dingle - peninsula and town in the Republic of Ireland

Not sure that there's a "Clinton" in England, though there is an Aston Clinton. "-ton" means "township" or "enclosure" in ye Olde Englishe.
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  #45  
Old 02-08-2006, 03:36 PM
she sells sea snails she sells sea snails is offline
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So Sureal was right after all and Larry "You do ask some peculiar questions" Mudd was wrong after all.
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  #46  
Old 02-08-2006, 04:08 PM
Peter Morris Peter Morris is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Walloon
The 1903 U.S. census has 898 heads-of-household with the surname Winston who are white.
I'm actually talking about Winston as a first name.
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  #47  
Old 02-08-2006, 04:14 PM
Argent Towers Argent Towers is offline
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Originally Posted by yBeayf
Lenny Kravitz, Local H, Ice T / Body Count ("Cop Killer" was *not* a rap song), Skunk Anansie, Prince, Fishbone, Living Color, Suicidal Tendencies...
Hootie and the Blowfish
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  #48  
Old 02-08-2006, 04:21 PM
Ethilrist Ethilrist is offline
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Originally Posted by Larry Mudd
You do ask some peculiar questions.
Hence the user name...
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  #49  
Old 02-08-2006, 04:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Surreal
I've noticed that while it is quite common for black people to have the last name 'Washington', I can't think of a single Caucasian person who currently bears that particular name. Why is this the case?
Did African Americans with the name 'Washington' obtain their names from white slave-holders of the same name? If so, where did all of the white 'Washingtons' disappear to? Thanks.
wAG George?
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  #50  
Old 02-08-2006, 04:45 PM
yBeayf yBeayf is offline
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Hootie and the Blowfish
That's not rock, it's crap.
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