Odd Names on the Martin Family Tree


My great-great grandparents, Charles Coleman Martin and Sarah Ann Ellison Martin, selected some unusual names for their children. I’ll research these a bit to see if there is some famous person that inspired the names.

►Milton Martenis MARTIN 1857 – 1879, Google wasn’t much help with this one. It felt I misspelled Milton Martinez and gave me thousands of results for that hispanic name.
►Upha Penina MARTIN 1858 – 1935, called Effie (that’s even on her gravestone). Apparently Penina is a variation on the Greek name Penelope.
►My great grandfather, John Thomas Martin was the middle child. Somehow he ended up with a fairly ordinary name.
►Francis Marion MARTIN 1868 – 1950, This one is likely named after Francis Marion of Revolutionary War fame, otherwise known as the Swamp Fox. The family called him Frank.
►Cora Gozena Martin 1875 – 1968, called Grace. Gozena doesn’t show up in the baby name directories at all. It sounds vaguely Italian though my family is not of Italian origin.

When the census taker came around in 1870, he was given the names Frank (age 1), Effie, John, and Milton, so even at a young age, the family did not use their fancy names for the children. Cora wasn’t born yet. The family lived in Lyon County, Kansas at that time.

Martin Siblings

Martin Siblings

The photo is from our family album. It shows John Thomas and Frank (L to R), Cora and Effie (L to R).


2 thoughts on “Odd Names on the Martin Family Tree

  1. I found more results for the spelling “Gazena,” and it seemed to be paired with mostly German names. Martenis comes up as a surname. One ship passenger list from Ireland had a number of them, mostly with English first names, but also a Juan and Emilio. Another earlier immigrant was de Martenis.


  2. Virginia, literary societies (what we call book clubs today) were quite popular in Lyon County at the time Charles and Sarah were having children. One would have to comb microfilm copies of Emporia and Madison papers for that period to find out what books were being studied in literary society meetings, but I’m guessing Milton, Upha and Cora’s names came from them. Traveling literary lecturers were also a big deal back then, so Sarah may’ve heard the names uttered in one of their talks. And don’t forget school children were exposed to a lot of classical literature in those days, and the names DO sound like characters out of mid-19th century novels!


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