I don’t have to go far back on my family tree to find the most unusual name in my ancestry. The name belongs to my maternal grandmother, Rubanner Fletcher, who was born in Florida in 1889. I asked my aunt one time if she knew where her mother got her name. My aunt had asked the same question of her mother. The following is the account my aunt gave.
She said there was a couple who came by their house when Aunt Sally was born. She must have been just born. This couple suggested they name her Rubanner. They said, “We’ve already named her Sarah Elizabeth.” And so Mamma was the next one to come along, and so they named Mamma Rubanner. She said the couple just came by; she didn’t say if they were neighbors or if they were traveling or what. They weren’t around when Mamma was born, but they remembered they suggested the name Rubanner.
It would be interesting to know the identity of this, obviously, very influential couple in the lives of my great-grandparents. But I suppose they shall forever remain an enigma. I never heard of my grandmother complaining about her name, so maybe it was not important to her.
Apparently, not everyone was enthralled with, or could believe, her name. My mother said my grandmother was lovingly called “Banner” by her siblings. In the censuses, she is enumerated as Rubonner (1900), Ruby (1910), Rubanner (1920), Rubona (1930), Mrs. O. L. (1935, Florida State census), Rubamer (1940), and Rubanner (1945 Florida State census). Her marriage license lists her as Rubella!
A search across all collections in Ancestry.com yielded only two other people with the exact spelling of “Rubanner.” Interestingly, both were contemporaries of my grandmother; one was a woman born in 1884 in Louisiana; the other was a man born in 1887 in Kentucky. There were more similar names (not my grandmother) in the Ancestry search results list than I expected – Rubannar, Rebanner, Ruebanner, Rubaner, Rubanie, Robanner, Rubenner, Rabanner – and these are just from the first fifty results.
One year at a family reunion many of us shared our memories of our mother and grandmother, Rubanner Fletcher. Here are some of the comments:
She had the patience of Job and the gentleness of a dove. – one of her six daughters
No one has ever had a better mother-in-law. I couldn’t have loved her more if she had been my own mother. – one of her four daughters-in-law
A time or two when Ovedia was sick, I called and she said she was packing her suitcase. She said she was waiting for transportation. – one of her six sons-in-law
William Shakespeare, in Romeo and Juliet, penned the phrase, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” That’s how I feel about my grandmother. It didn’t matter that she had the most unusual name I had ever heard. It was the character of the woman who bore the name that was more important to me. This special lady was as kind a person as you will ever meet, never had a mean word to say about anyone, and loved her children, grandchildren, and God dearly. It’s so appropriate she was born on Valentine’s Day.