Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Naming Your Newborn “Buckminster”?

Most people (certainly above a certain age) recognize the name of Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983), he of the geodesic dome. Fuller also became something of a public intellectual and New Age figure in the late 1960s and 1970s, very much a positively-minded futurist and thought leader. Most people recognize the name, as I say, but not very many, and I’ll document this in a moment, ever wonder how that first name of his came about. Well, yesterday, Brigitte asked the question. She does tend to do that: ask the difficult ones.

Difficult because any serious perusal of at least web-based bios of Buckminster Fuller shows that all fully fail to explain that name of his. The first reason for that is that Buckminster wasn’t—wasn’t Fuller’s first name. He was born Richard Buckminster Fuller. But, and it’s a revealing “but,” he did not much care for that Richard—perhaps because his father was also named Richard Buckminster Fuller. For a while he called and signed himself R.B. Fuller. Then, later, he called and signed himself R. Buckminster Fuller. And then, as his fame grew, the media did the rest. They dropped the R. Soon Buckminster itself, a middle name, got shortened to “Bucky.”

After about an hour of trying and failing, the junk yard dog syndrome set in for me. I knew full well that Buckminster must be a family name, acquired along the way—far enough back when it was customary to name a child and, in so doing, honoring some female line. In our patriarchal world, women must abandon their lineage as they come under the shade of a husband. That custom began to be challenged, here and there, by self-assertive women—but it causes last names to turn very long and therefore inconvenient in the LOL age. In any case, I set to work consulting sites very unfamiliar to me: ancestry pages.

After another half an hour, I’d finally pinned down how the Fullers and the Buckminsters got linked and, in due time, produced R. Buckminster Fuller’s middle name. It all began in the eighteenth century with one Anne Buckminster. She married one Abraham Williams. Here is the rest of the story:

Anne Buckminster (1728-????)
m. Abraham Williams (????-1780)

  Sarah Williams (????-1822)
  m. Timothy Fuller (1778-1835)

    Arthur Buckminster Fuller (1822-1862)
    m. Emma Lucille Reeves (1833-1880)
      Richard Buckminster Fuller (1861-1910)
      m. Caroline Wolcott Andrews (????-????)

        Richard Buckminster Fuller (1895-1983)

My helper in this venture? Geneanet, the international geneology database (link). The illustration shows the Montreal Biosphère built by Buckminster Fuller in 1967; my source is Wikipedia (link).

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