Feb 8, 2016
Say Your Name
Write about your first name: Are you named after someone or something? Are there any stories or associations attached to it? If you had the choice, would you rename yourself?
The name Deborah is a Hebrew baby name. In Hebrew the meaning of the name Deborah is: Bee. Deborah was the Biblical prophetess who summoned Barak to battle against an army of invaders. After the battle she wrote a victory song which is part of the Book of Judges.
You may read about the heroic exploits of DeBorah (Judges) in my previous post. The Song of Deborah is Judges Chapter 5.
I’m not really sure who or what my Dad had in mind when he named me. Perhaps he was a fan of Deborah Kerr who was a popular actress during the 1950s. Once he told me that he wanted to avoid the traditional Palmer female family names and name me something different, a name he thought would be unique. However when I was in the 3rd or 4th grade there were about five (5) Deborahs, Debras, Debbies in my class!! So much for unique. Like most African-Americans born during the 40s, 50s, and 60s pretty much you either had a passed down family name or a Bible name. Later in the 1970s and thereafter African and Muslim names became popular I believe in an attempt for African-Americans to reconnect to the Mother Land.
About six or seven years ago I did a Free DNA screening given by 23andMe. Here are the results copied from an old document.
Through my maternal line my ancestors were from Mozambique. I belong to the maternal haplogroup I also probably have some Nigerian ancestors. My maternal genetic
makeup is 85% Africa, 12% Europe and 3% Asia.
Our ancestry and genealogy are traced through mitochondrial DNA which
is only passed down from mother to child. This is fascinating information.
By the way the study affiliated with Dr. Henry Louis Gates was free and they
were targeting African Americans mainly to ascertain my African Americans have such high levels of high blood pressure and diabetes. I wanted to have my DNA traced for
several years and when I saw the ad in Ebony or was it Essence along with
the word Free, I immediately signed up. I was so thrilled to find out this
news. Now along with my African co-workers feel a more direct connection
to the Motherland.
Naturally, I’ll never be connected to Mother Africa the way in which my co-
workers from Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Cameroon, Burkina Faso, Togo, and Mali are
since they were born there and have a direction connection with the
culture, language and respective tribes, I feel now more of a blood tie. Now
I can plan for my pilgrimage to this country of my ancestors in the next 20 years.
In December of 1863 my Great Great Grandfather, William Henry Halstead, who
lived in Tarrytown, New York, traveled to New Haven, Connecticut to join the
29th Connecticut Colored Infantry. On his Volunteer Enlistment papers it notes
his occupation as a farmer. He enlisted for three years and was discharged on the
24th day of October 1865. He married and had five children. William Henry
Halstead passed away in 1888 and was buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in
Tarrytown, New York. His wife moved to New York City with her five children.
Her children grew up in Harlem and belonged to various organizations such as Odd
Fellows, Ladies of the Grand Army of the Republic and the Daughters of New
Sometimes I get the feeling that she is me and I am she.