What's In A Name?

by Harry Wilkinson

Marblehead has always had a reputation for being a Town very much enamored with the nicknaming of its inhabitants. Many of the names have stuck down through the years and have been handed down from generation to generation, many times to great personal discomfort.

One person in Town very must interested in the preservation of nicknames was Charles O. Mitchell, with his own nickname of "Ish" probably derived from the cartoon character of yesteryear, "Ish Kabbible."

Mitchell, a long-time employee of the Water Department, and a postcard collector with a fine collection, and another hobby dear to his heart is the gathering up of local nicknames. In a book he once showed me, he had listed 536 nicknames, A to Z, complete with surnames.

Back in 1929, during the 300th Anniversary of Marblehead's incorporation, the Marblehead Messenger came out with a special souvenir edition, and on one page were listed 616 colorful nicknames. A prize of $10 was offered to the person who first brought into the Messenger offices the surnames to match the nicknames. I never did find out who won that contest, but I can bet a good many Old Timers, who were around in '29, puzzled their brains out, thinking of the correct answers.

Some names that people are called by as nicknames are not true nicknames, but rather are just derivations of their given first or last names such as Champ for Champlin, Gus for Augustus, Timmy for Timothy, Bowdy for Bowden, Webby for Webster, Hutchy for Hutchinson, Amby for Ambrose, Jot for Jonathan, Auvy for Auville, and so on.

Nicknames were usually necessary in the old days to distinguish one family member from another. Large families like the Adams, Atkins, Browns, Blaneys, Bowdens just had to to give special names to the men folk to tell them apart.

Lots of nicknames became attached to a person all through life, and some people never knew one's real first name until either during the funeral or while reading an obituary. I'm sure some nicknames even got engraved on the stones at Waterside Cemetery.

Ish Mitchell went all out to provide an interesting list of both nicknames and surnames, and I am happy to mention just a few here, in alphabetical order. Some are colorful, some unusual, and most do have strange stories attached to their origination.

Bony & Bummer Adams - Kaiser Atkins

Dubby Bartlett - Dutchy & Star Gazer Brown - Ducer & Licorice Legs Blaney - Spikey Bassett - Count Brady - Bucket Barclay - Jorby Bailey - Dildlo Bowden - Long Pocket Bowden - Half Past Six Bowden - Quarter of Seven Bowden - Bismark Bowden - Stargazer Brown - Austin Henry Shit Legs Brown - Gut Bucket Brown

Biddo Carey - Cupcake Cameron - Stovey Cavanaugh - Tinker Carroll - Duffy & La-Dee-Da Chapman - Winker Chapman - Spider Man Cunningham

Windy Davis - Iggy Drennan - Buster Dixey - Puggy Doolan - Rock Cod Dixie
Ma Duncan -  Dipper Dupar

Towhead Eustis - Spool O'Cotton Evans

Mucho & Chummy Frost - Bummy Florence - Indian Jim Farrar - Peacock Finch
San Diego Fader

Gizzy Graves - Mandy Gillis - Moldy Goodwin - Beanie Goldsmith - Tabby & Kitler Glass

Luggie-Doo Hammond - Jacker Hammond - Chippy Humphrey - Mugsy Harris - Esso Haines - Clam Belly Howard - Red Howe

Hashew Ingalls

Hot Dog Jordan - Bunny James

Pooch Kiley - Jackass Kiely

Bogie Lecraw - Bushy Lane - Cheese Lynch - Mickey Lyons

Cornball Martin - Hucko & Nana Mason - Tripe Melzard - Moe Magee - Monk Mace - Freckles Messervey

Deano Nichols - Soreneck Nichols

Billy Buckeye O'Brien - Strawberry Orne

Wire Paine - Buzz Palmer - Porky Palmer - Jack Rat Patey - Beelo, Peanut & Yorkie Powers Ki Peach - Puck Pierce

Spark Plug Rodgers - Tom Teat Roads - Mishy Robbins - Shoe Stick Roundey - Boots Robie - Philly-Lou Regan  - Sooner Reynolds - Acki-Gee-Mama-Kella Russell

Joppy Stevens - Ducky Standley - Dogger Smethurst - Hoddy Snow - Pickle Sweet - Bumby Scott - Doodler Shattuck - Shinny Sullivan - Babe Snellen - Jumping Jack Sinclair - Whip Symonds - Jackerbee Stacey - Firpo Sanborn - Doodler Shattuck

Dish Mop Taylor - Stand To It Tucker

Rickaday Vickery - Ike Varrell

Soapy Waters - Mondo & Secret Woodfin - Digger Woodfin - Goat Wiley
Ben Tee Wooldredge

From old Barnegat to the Shipyard, those old nicknames were called out whenever friends met, along with the age-old Marblehead expressions like "Whip," "Down Bucket," "Rock 'Em," "Round The Corner," and everyone knew and everyone understood what they all meant... and we all had a good laugh about it.