My paternal Grandparents had a total of 11 children, 2 from my Grandpa’s first marriage and 9 of their own. I can imagine the hard time they may have had coming up with names for each child. This is evident in that 3 out of their 4 girls have “Belle” as their middle name. My Grandmothers name was Virginia Belle but everyone called her Jennie. I am sure she loved her middle name so much that she wanted to pass it on.
The oldest girl’s name was Leola Belle. Born in 1907 she passed away from an acute heart problem at the age of 32. The next in line were the twins, Ellie Belle and Nellie Belle. They were born in 1910. When they were born they had the genetic defect of a hair lip. They were identical in every way. Growing up they played tricks on others, including their parents and siblings. They pretended to be each other, confusing everyone. When new kids moved into town one of them would make friends with them, then they would trade off playing with the kids. Once they were convinced there was only one girl, Ellie and Nellie would both show up to play! Believe me, no one ever forgot these girls.
I was able to attend 2 family reunions when we lived in Missouri for a couple of years. I was fascinated with them as I hadn’t meet twins before. I remember getting in trouble because I was sitting near them laughing and my mother thought I was making fun of them. In reality, I was laughing because I watched as others came to talk with them and had them confused with each other! You couldn’t blame the people, they had the same hairstyle, same clothes, same voice!
Although they didn’t share the exact first name their names were so close that for years I have had trouble separating some of their information to add to my tree. Back in the late 60’s Nellie just kind of disappeared. She had gotten married in 1929 and within 9 months she was 6 months pregnant and became a widow as her husband had been murdered. After this she moved around a lot, eventually marrying a man from Michigan and having 2 more kids. Then there were big gaps in her being in touch with the family. At the beginning of 1962, she reemerged without her husband. By the end of that decade, she disappeared again.
A month ago I finally found her date of death and some other information I had been looking for. One of the problems with researching is the names Ellie and Nellie are so close in the spelling that when I typed in Nellie’s name I would get Ellie’s information. I don’t feel too bad about the mix-ups though. Ellie’s son passed away last month and they put Nellie listed as his mother!
I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.