Wednesday, December 11, 2013


~12:45 p.m., December 11, 2013.

William Lee Hoskins.

Yes, I'll carry on your name, but also everything you've taught me during over the course of my nearly 35 years.

Love you, Grandpa.

The Name of William Hoskins

Just about six years ago, I started exploring family history.

This was a couple years after finding the Diabetes Online Community, but before I really stepped into that world of wearing diabetes very openly on my sleeve. Back in late 2007 and early 2008, my focus was on my full-time newspaper job and my off-hour, stay-up-all-night hobby of aspiring family historian. This was just before got a surge of new interest and a TV show brought it even more recognition, and it was something I couldn't pull myself away from.

A key motivation for this was my grandfather, William Lee Hoskins, who's been a pivotal force in my life and has always been the heart of our family. I'm proud to have William as my middle name, as does my own dad, and it's an honor to have been able to compile 20 months of intense research into a 35-page Living History that I presented to my grandpa on his 80th birthday on Oct. 8, 2009.

I found myself scouring through online records and databases, traveling back and forth to talk family history with my loved ones back in Michigan and even traveling to distant places where historical records and old cemeteries were at my fingertips. My dad and I even found ourselves digging into the dirt of a 19th century cemetery to expose hidden gravestones and snap some photos...

Of all the cool genealogical gems that came from that research, I'm still floored that I found in southwest Kentucky a small county road (OK, it's more like a driveway... seriously) that bears our family's name thanks to some long-ago ancestors who lived on that land.

But, the whole experience was fascinating. My grandfather loved the historic "story" that came from that, as did the rest of the family who got a copy. I'm very proud of that, and see it as one of the most personally satisfying things I've ever done.

Some of that story's already been blogged about here, in a first and second post on the origins of my Hoskins Family line and our first American immigrant named Barth (totally righteous name). But what I haven't blogged about here on The Corner Booth is how that name William became a part of the family, first embraced in the 1700s and carried on all the way to my generation.

This is a particularly important story for me to share these days, as my grandfather remains in the hospital after a nasty fall in late August. He's in a nursing home and has been on my mind a lot more lately, so I've found myself turning back to the family history story that I wrote.

Update: We lost Grandpa this very morning, ironically, not long after I posted this very blog post telling the origin story of his name.

Here's more of that origin story...

I Shall Tell You of William... Hoskins

Yes, this is a Braveheart prologue reference, for those who might have picked up on that.

My middle name comes from the 1700s.... The Hoskins family has been around on this continent since the early 1600s, but it wasn't until the mid-18th century that the name William came around in our line. The names John and Thomas were becoming overused generally in those days and within the family, so they began turning to the name William in the early to mid 1700s.