Kelly D: what???s in a name?

February 21, 2010


Who were you named after? Your grandmother? Your uncle? I was named after a cartoon opossum. Okay, not exactly. I was named after an opossum’s cartoonist. Walt Kelly, to be exact, author and artist of the Pogo strip.

Pogo ran during the 1950s and ’60s; my mom was quite a fan. I guess there was little debate about what my first name would be. For my middle name, it was between Ann and Lynn. I’m glad Lynn won. I think I remember hearing that if I had been a boy, they would have named me Paul.

My mother corresponded with Walt Kelly for a while. It was at least long enough for her to report that I had been named for him. In return, he sent us his original pen and ink artwork for the strip from my birth day, pictured above. (For those of you who know me, isn’t it fun that the character Bun Rab appeared on that day?) When I was a youth, I remember its hanging on the wall where the hall took a little jog to my bedroom. Now that I think about it, I can’t say that I remember that it’s up anywhere in my parents’ current house, to where we moved when I was 15. No doubt it’s in a box in the basement.

As for our last name, no one’s quite sure of its origins. Our bloodlines are very majorly German, with just a wee dab of Scottish and Irish (in this context do you say Scottish or Scotch?). As near as we have figured it’s Bohemian, which is the more romantic-sounding way of saying eastern Slavic. But as I understand it, the first namesake to come to America traveled from England.


Oh, the things you learn when you call your parents to quiz them for information about your blog topic. An hour later and I now know the following.


It turns out that we’re fairly sure our D last name is Welsh. Bohemian was just one of the theories bandied about. The original D namesake, John, son of Henry and Elizabeth, was English and lived from 1728 to 1808. But that’s not the interesting part. He didn’t just “travel” to America from England. No. Young Master John, it seems, was kidnaped at age fourteen from a wharf in England to work as a ship’s helper on a vessel that was sailing for the New World.

“You mean as a ‘swab’?” I asked.

“Well, you could dress it up a little more than that,” replied my mother.

The ship landed in Edgecombe County, North Carolina, where John met a girl and proceeded to father fourteen children. In 1804, they migrated to Belmont County, Ohio. I grew up in Hardin County, Ohio. I had no idea about the details of this part of family history. My Grandpa D was born in 1907, so figuring 30 years per generation, John was my great, great, great, great, great, great grandfather. Not a close enough relative to get me a British passport.

My Grandpa D’s parents were D and Emery. My Grandma D’s were Zimmerman and something else German which I didn’t note quickly enough to pass on here. As I mentioned in the tale of my cuckoo clock, my mom’s side of the family is exclusively German. But yay, I have more English in me than I’ve been under the impression all these years. Instead of one-sixteen Scotch-Irish, I am one-eighth so. But still not enough to get me a British passport.

After I had all the D facts straightened out, I went back to my name. I asked my mom if she really liked Pogo that much or if it just makes a good story to say that they named me after Walt Kelly. She said, “Oh no, I was a big fan when I was younger! I wanted to name you Kelly, so your dad chose your middle name.” The boy name would have been Bruce Allen, my dad’s middle name and my maternal grandfather’s name.

I’m just glad they didn’t name me Pogo. 

Well, someone had to say it, it might as well be me.

Pogo cartoon from this source. Check out page 27 for all the comics. It was a different time.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: