What Does Your Last Name Mean? (Alternate title: You guys have just GOT to hear what name was given to one of my ancestors. THE BEST ONE YET.)

Do you know what I love most about Ancestry.com?

It shows that people matter.

People aren't forgotten.

Actually, people are forgotten, but Ancestry.com helps us all remember them. Let's be real. We will one day just be people that lived long ago on a family tree. I have researched all the way back to my 6th great grandfather so far on my dad's side. Nobody remembers that dude. That places that man, Captain Jones R. Fuller, way back there. He was born in 1735 and died in 1815. He was 80 years old when he left out of here. He lived and died in North Carolina. I'm still waiting to figure out the exact coordinates where his 6th great grandfather was born, but I haven't made it that far.

The thing is, just because people lived so, so long ago doesn't mean they mattered any less than any of we do now. They laughed. They told stories. They burped. They cried. They told jokes. I'm almost certain they farted. They gave hugs. They said the wrong things. They loved their families.

They were human.

I think, honestly, learning more about my family makes me feel more human and more finite. This isn't depressing, but inspiring. It makes me want to make these days that I do have here on earth matter. I don't want them to be wasted.

(Don't get me wrong. I still enjoy plenty of couch sitting and I can really eat the heck out of a bag of Pirate's Booty. Just let me get philosophical and poetic for a second, would you?)

I honestly feel like sifting through Ancestry.com is like going on a treasure hunt. When you find that your family member is in another person's family tree, you will see that they have done a lot of work for you already. It seriously feels like hitting the jackpot. A small jackpot, sure, but a jackpot.

My FAVORITE finding so far is that I have a relative named...

Wait for it...

I think I'll make you scroll down for this one.

Maybe scroll a little more?

He's SO worth it.



The guy's name is Barzilla. I can't even get over it. I tried to give myself some time, but time didn't help me get over it. That's the guy's name. Nowadays, he could get his own TV show. Right after "Bridezillas" would be "Barzilla"'s own show. It would be just scenes of him going to different bars.

"Whaddya got?" Barzilla slurs out to the bartender.

"Well, we've got everything, sir. We've got just about anything you'd want. May I ask why you are dressed like you are from the Revolutionary War?"

"Because, I AM from the Revolutionary War, ya nitwit!"

"Oh, okay. So sorry, sir. What can I get you?"

"I'll take a cognac! The best one ya got!"

"Alright." The bartender gets out the glass and pours it.

Barzilla downs it, wipes his mouth with his revolutionary war outfit's sleeve, hacks a bit, coughs again and then yells, "I DON'T LIKE IT!"

*He throws the cognac glass against the wall and it shatters in thousands of pieces.*

This scene would just be repeated over and over. Barzilla requests a drink in a cranky, slurred voice. Barzilla downs it fast. Barzilla yells that he doesn't like it. Barzilla smashes the glass against the wall.

I think it would be a hit.

Besides learning of really awesome names in your family, time spent on Ancestry.com also helps you see the transformations that your last name has gone through. In addition, you can find out more about the meaning of your last name. If you go to Twitter, you can see what others have found by searching the hashtag #surnameproject.

For example, my mother's grandmother's last name was "Anderau", but many spelled it "Anderaw". Pretty sure Mildred Sue just got sick and tired of saying, "Anderau. A-N-D-E-R-A-U" to the local post master. She had it up to here! It was probably her that pointed her hard working finger in her father's direction and said, "We're droppin' the ewe and adding a dubya, Daddeh!"

Mildred Sue would probably be totally flabbergasted to see what we have at our disposal in this day and age. She thought she could pull over the addition of that "w" without us finding out. Mildred Sue had no way of knowing that Ancestry.com would exist one day and certainly had no clue that there would be a very-easy-to-access page allllll about your last name.

You guys, this has made me all kinds of excited- even more excited than I was when I found out about Barzilla. I had no clue that something like this existed. To find out lots and lots and lots about your last name without doing anything besides typing it in, you will go to Ancestry.com, find "surname project" and type in your last name.

A screen like this one will pop up:

I did a quick search for "Holt", which is my maiden name, and found that, not surprisingly, there is a high concentration of Holts here in Texas. Hardly any Holts live in North Dakota, which is disappointing because I was hoping to stay with family on a future vacation there.

The bar at the top that goes from 1840 to 1920 will show you how people with your last name have dispersed over the years. It looks like the Holts decided they were too good for New Mexico and Arizona. They skipped right over those states and planted their behinds in California. Most Holt families came from England and most of them came from Lancashire.

There really are so many interesting twists and turns you can go down while on this one particular page. For example, you can see how many of the people with your last name were in the Civil War and you can discover which side they were on. The Holts were pretty even on the Union and Confederate side, with a few more in the Confederacy.

Just think of all the fun facts you can learn about your own last name. You can play a game of Last Name Trivia at your next family get-together. You can try to stump your grandmother. She may think she can remember way back to the old days, but can she remember as far back as Barzilla?

If you are interested in finding out if you have any Barzillas in your family or learning more about your last name, please go here for a free trial of Ancestry.com. I think the five minutes you spend on the page above is more than worth a visit over there.

Thanks to Ancestry.com for sponsoring today's post!

Now, excuse me while I wait by the phone to see if any producers are interested in a show called "Barzilla". If they are, I'm going to need some of you as extras.


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