The tradition of family names has been observed for generations. Though not quite as popular now as it once was, it’s a tradition still followed in some families. Most often it’s a name that holds significant meaning, honoring a person of great accomplishment or character. The name Isaac was especially popular in our family throughout the 1800’s, making it difficult to determine what record goes with which Isaac or even which Isaac goes with what family. The Hammitt family actually had two naming traditions. Most prominent was the name Isaac. Our first Isaac has proven to be somewhat of a mystery and difficult to document. But family notes, bits of information and a tradition that lasted generations tell us he existed. Since so much of our family history is centered on shipbuilding, we decided an Ark would be the perfect place to gather all the Isaac’s. And so, the meaning of Isaac’s Ark.
The second name, although not quite as common but equally important, is John Kille Hammitt. The John Kille Hammitt’s in the family, often identified as John K Hammitt, were initially named after John Kille of Woolwich Township, Gloucester County, New Jersey. We haven’t done a lot of research on the Kille family, but we have discovered a few Isaac Kille’s in their history. Did the same story, passed down generation after generation, make its’ way through the Kille family the way it did ours?
Having one name repeated through the generations is tough enough. Having both names in multiple families at the same time makes tracing your family history challenging, if not impossible. But if you look close enough you find little clues along the way. Searching for addresses, occupations and identifying the unknown household members may lead you down a winding path, but it may also lead you to the answer.
We know how the naming tradition started. There are two very similar, but slightly different stories. We don’t know exactly what took place, but we do know that both of these men were honored by the Hammitt Family. Uncovering the details of their story is what will eventually help us solve the mystery surrounding our first Isaac. Because what began as a pact between two impressed seamen became a tradition that lasted close to 100 years.