Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Searching for the Real Name

Finding Chevis Davis’ second husband in the 1940 census—back in his native Carter County, Tennessee, in his brother Tyler’s home—produced a second discovery: Luther Kyte’s mother was also listed in the household.

The 1940 record showed the two Kyte brothers’ mother’s name to be Maggie M. Kyte. That little piece of intel just might help unscramble the enigma of Luther’s AKAs.

And so it does…somewhat. Looking for Luther previous to his marriage date to Chevis Davis Chitwood—December 17, 1916—leads us to a likely 1910 census record in Carter County. With mother Maggie declaring her age to be seventy two in the 1940 census, she should show with an age of about forty two for the earlier census. A double check would be the fact that she stated in 1940 that she was born in Virginia. And those two details bear out in that 1910 census, revealing to us her husband’s name—J. Robert Kite in this case—as well as confirming the name of the son in question as Luther.

One document alone won’t do it for me, though. I have to look further. So let’s roll back the clock yet another decade and see what can be found. There in Carter County, at age thirty two and born in Virginia, is “Margret M.” This time, her husband reports his name not as J. Robert, but as James R.

Sometimes, I wonder if these Tennesseans’ name changes are trying to tell me something. Who are they running from?

Setting aside the notion that Margret's James R. might not be the same man as Maggie’s J. Robert, let’s take a look at the rest of the roster. Of those showing in the 1910 census, the children old enough to have been listed in the 1900 census, besides Luther, would include his sister Lina and brothers “Boydn” and Paul. If you make large allowances for handwriting or misinterpreting oral reports and assume that Lina in 1910 was actually Sina in 1900—and that “Boydn” was really the middle name for Eugene B.—it appears that the family unit portrayed in 1900 matches that of the one I’m looking at for 1910.

If so, I want you to take a long look at the oldest son listed in the 1900 census. Notice the entry is not for the name Luther. It appears to be written Flaves. Considering this is the same census taker who shrunk the syllables for Margaret down to “Margret,” would it be possible to assume the poor government functionary was attempting the spelling of a name quite foreign to him? Could that be an inept approximation of the name Flavious?

If so, there: I feel vindicated. I knew there was a Flavious in the works somewhere in this man’s record.

But if that is so, why the name switch to Luther? More than that, where did the name Franklin come from in his later records? Changing the spelling of Kite to Kyte I can handle. Luther could simply be a middle name—and we’ve already seen that middle names are fair game in this neck o’ the woods. But Flavious to Franklin? That encroaches upon the realm of aliases in my book.

And makes me wonder what the back story is.  


  1. If your name were Flavious, wouldn't you prefer to be called Luther?

  2. LOL@Wendy! She does have a point you know! :)

    1. I guess it's all in your point of view. The Romans certainly didn't mind a name like Flavius. There was a whole string of Roman Emperors sharing that name. Maybe his mom had big plans for his future...


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