My grandfather's name was Clark Commander Branch, and his middle name always puzzled me.
Why would someone name a child "commander?" The only commander I could identify with was the person who was in charge of a ship.
I simply couldn't figure it out, and no one in my family, not even my grandfather himself, knew why he had been given this name. By the time I was old enough to question the source of his name, my great-grandmother, Claudia Baldridge Branch, had already died. I was still young enough at the time that it never crossed my mind to ask one of my great aunts, his sisters. If I had asked, maybe they could have told me the story of how my grandfather was named.
Years later, when I began genealogy research, I stumbled across a cemetery listing for the Harmonia Church near the Attala County communties of Newport and Sallis. My grandfather's family, along with several other Branch and Baldridge families, lived near Newport.
The listing contained several individuals with the surname of "Commander." At that point, I had never seen the surname of "Commander," or known anyone who had that name. A little more research showed that many Commander family members now live in Georgia and in Florida. To add to this mystery, I found two individuals in the cemetery listing with the surname of "Clark," my grandfather's given name.
Was my grandfather named for two families? And what was the Branch family's connection, if any, to the Clark and to the Commander families? Was Rev. Commander their minister?
I had never even considered that my grandfather's middle name might really be someone else's surname. And I still don't have facts to back this up, and the puzzle remains unsolved.
Commander family members buried in the Harmonia Church cemetery are:
Margaret S. COMMANDER, Sept 28, 1821 - June 4, 1897, daughter of James & Susan Commander
Amanda D. COMMANDER, Dec 25, 1852 - Sept 15, 1877, daughter of James & Susan Commander
Susan COMMANDER, Oct 16, 1794 - May 1, 1873, wife of James Commander
James COMMANDER, Oct 13, 1791 - Aug 15, 1866
Two infant sons of L. J. & N. P. CLARK, b & d Jan 8,1867
Eliza E. COMMANDER, July 8, 1817 - Oct 17, 1854, wife of James P. Commander
Rev. James P. COMMANDER, Jan 15, 1817 - June 7, 1889
Adaline T. COMMANDER, Nov 22, 1829 - Sept 14, 1884, wife of Rev. James P. Commander