Who is that James in Memphis, Tennessee…

James wants to keep a low profile.

I wanted to hide his identity by calling him Jim in my articles, but James prefers to be called James instead of Jim.

We have been exchanging e-mails.

He seems to be a nice fellow and I have fun making jokes about genealogy.

James thinks he is a serious amateur genealogist, and I agree with him.

James wanted to know more about people here in Quebec. I told him about “les dits”, kind of nicknames that people gave to others.

James sent me this question…

Hi Pierre,


Were these second names added later or were they given at birth?

I told him this…

They were given later at first, then… at birth

This came about to be able to distinguish people having the same given name.
Before, people had only a given name.

Then I told him this story I made up…

There was a James, and there was also a James living close by who had, of course, a son named James.

Then James emigrated with his son James and all the people were mixed up.

– Ah… This is James… the soldier who was carrying a rifle… we’ll call him La Gâchette.

– And this one.

– Oh… this is James. He likes flowers. We’ll call him La Rose.

– And this one…

– Well… he’s a lumberjack. We’ll call him La Forêt.

James the lumberjack had a baby boy and wanted to call him… You’ve guessed it… James.

So in the parish register they wrote…

On this date, we, priest, have christened James, son of James dit La Forêt. Godfather, James dit La Rose and godmother Marie, wife of James dit La Gâchette…

Instead of…

On this date, we, priest, have christened James, son of James. Godfather, James and godmother Marie, wife of James…

Have a nice day. I hope it’s sunny and warm in Memphis, Tennessee.

See you.