What’s in a Name?

In honor of the Strawberry Festival on the grounds of Lane Place in Crawfordsville this weekend, we thought it would be appropriate to consider one of our many ties to the Lanes. This excerpt was brought to our attention by one of our summer interns, Kasey Greer. Lew had strong opinions and might have been an authoritative military leader, but he didn’t always get his way on the home front.

“In early 1853, Lew and Susan Wallace were in Covington, Indiana, eagerly anticipating the birth of their first child. In a letter from Lew to his brother, William, he explained what the child should not be named. Lew parodied the names of his father and brothers when he wrote:

“I think I had better right here quietly observe, that the fellow’s name shant be David, that’s too plebian – nor William, that’s very pretty for a child, but unfit for a man, nor Edward, that’s too pretty for either man or baby. I have determined that the most aristocratic and democratic, the most semantic and unpedantic the most noble, manly, appropriate and significant of all that ‘best becomes a man’ is – ‘Lew.”

“However, Lew failed to convince Susan of the name ‘that best becomes a man.’ For on February 17, 1853, Susan gave birth to a son and he was named after his uncle, Henry Lane. Another factor figuring into naming the boy is that it was a common nineteenth century practice to name a child after a military commander and Lew Wallace had served under Henry Lane during the Mexican War.”

Lighty, Chandler S. “Henry Lane Wallace Part I.” Montgomery Magazine, (Crawfordsville, IN) Oct. 2, 2001.

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