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Rare names and secret societies

Okay, so I dabble occasionally in genealogy, everyone needs a hobby, right? But today I stumbled across something that really surprised me.

Jenna E. Beadle is my 1st cousin three times removed. In her case, that means that her mother, Rebecca Beadle, was first cousins with Hattie Wordehoff, who is my great-grandmother. That wasn't so surprising.

The thing that was surprising was the name. Jenna. Now Hattie (which was actually short for Harriet), that's a name I expect from the late 1800's. Rebecca, being Biblical, is pretty timeless. Jenna, on the other hand, makes me think more of a late Gen-X'er early Millenial. And data from Wolfram Alpha backs me up on this.

That's what I'm talking about. Jenna went from a barely perceptible name to 0.4 percent of births in a decade and a half. Although it seems that it's time has come and gone and it's on it's way out again. Fare thee well, Jenna's of the world, we hardly knew thee!

Time to go to the log scale!

So yeah, the data only goes back to 1914, but we're already seeing that instead of 0.4 percent, it was about 0.001 percent near the beginning of the century in the U.S. So a pretty rare name for someone born in 1882!

Then I went to the BillionGraves website to see if anyone had taken a picture of her gravestone. And fortunately, someone had:

There's a lovely laurel leaf like decoration around the edge, nice work for a flat stone. But what struck me was the five pointed star pointing downwards, I'd never seen that before. So I took a closer look, and saw something interesting.

There was a little O, E, and S lettering in between three of the points. It didn't take much googling to find out that this was the symbol of someone who belonged to the Order of the Eastern Star.

This was an organization that spun off from the Freemasons in 1850. Unlike the Freemasons, the O.E.S. admitted woman, but there did need to be a connection to an existing Freemason. Sure enough, Jenna's father was also in the system.

Ah, there's the compass and square that anyone who's ever read Umberto Eco or Dan Brown knows and loves. So yes, it looks like Dad was a Freemason, which granted entry at the time to his daughter Jenna to the O.E.S.

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