The Christopher Columbus In My Family

Growing up, my mother would always tell me – “you have a great-grandfather named Louis Christopher Columbus Robinson.”  As I delved into my genealogy more in-depth, I learned more about him.  Given the current timing with Columbus Day approaching, I thought this would be a good time to post about him and his middle name.

My mother’s father was Herman Robinson, and Lewis was his father. I have previously posted about Lewis’ occupation as a longshoreman, but for awhile now, I’ve wanted to write about his middle name.  When I started with my genealogy “obsessively” a couple of years ago, one of the first places I started was with Lewis. I was able to locate Lewis in the 1920 census, but that was pretty much it. It was only with the help of a distant cousin of mine whom I “met” through a message board,  that I found him any earlier – this time in 1900 living a few doors away from his future wife, Lucinda.  It took me a little while longer, but thanks to the efforts of the New York Italian Genealogy Group that has provided an online index of deaths in NY, it was through their index that I located his death certificate.  I have so far however, found no documentation of his middle name being “Christopher Columbus.”

If his middle name really was Christopher Columbus, I certainly know why. His birthday is either October 11 or 12- he was born about 1886.  His WWI Draft Registration card has  his birthday as October 11. This was recorded in 1917.  His death certificate does not have a birth date. His 1900 census record says he was born in October 1886.  Lewis died in 1928, 9 years before Columbus Day was made a national holiday.

However, October 11, 1886 was the second Monday of that month. This is the day when we now celebrate Columbus Day.  And, even though it was not a national holiday until 1937, it was celebrated in New York for years prior, since the mid-to-late 1800’s. Lewis and family lived in New York for many years (I think I found him in the 1910 census as a boarder in NY, but I can’t be for sure it’s him, so that record is not part of my official file).  So, I would not be surprised if realizing that he was born on “Columbus Day” for the time, he was thus called Lewis “Christopher Columbus” Robinson.  Or maybe because his birthday was “close enough” that became his nickname.  It would be so cool to find his middle name somewhere recorded, but somehow I doubt that I will.

Another Christopher Columbus

There is another Christopher Columbus in my tree – Christopher Columbus Cherry. He was born April 9, 1934 in Washington County, NC and is on my maternal grandmother’s side of the family. He passed January 8, 2004.  I don’t know him or his family, but his great-grandfather, Christopher D. McNair, and my great-great grandfather, Andrew D. McNair, were brothers – making me his  3rd cousin once removed.  I hope in time through more research and contacting more family members on that side, to one day learn the story behind his name too.

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