Genealogists are accustomed to following the surnames of individuals through past generations, those names providing guideposts from son or daughter to father to grandfather to great-grandfather and so on, until in the depths of history a generation without consistent surnames is reached (see for examples the history of the “Loeb” or “Ragland” names). Less commonly, it is possible to follow forenames – “first names” – along a similar path.
Frances Louise Paysinger was born July 15, 1907, in Pulaski, Giles County, near the southern border of central Tennessee. Her parents Charles and Lola Belle had temporarily returned to the place of their births between residences in Oklahoma and Alabama. As related in a prior post, the family would eventually move from Alabama to Nashville where Frances would spend the rest of her long life. She married Nashville native Ben Fohl Loeb there in 1930.
Frances and Ben had two children, a Ben Fohl Loeb Jr. and a daughter who was named Frances Paysinger Loeb for her mother. However, perhaps to avoid confusion when addressing family members, the children were rarely called by these given names at home, the nicknames “Buster” and “Snooks” applied to the boy and girl respectively.
Frances Louise was following a family tradition in the naming choice for her daughter. Her father’s mother was also a Frances – Frances Virginia Browning who went by “Jennie.” Frances Virginia was from a family whose roots mostly disappear into the mist of 17th century Virginia history. She married the widower Civil War veteran Thomas Polk Paysinger in 1876.
But Frances Virginia was not the first Frances in the family, because her mother was Frances Walker Biles who married Robert Jonathan Browning in 1830. And Frances Biles wasn’t the first Frances either, because her grandmother was Frances Pearson who married Charles Biles in 1773 in North Carolina. The parents of Frances “Fanny” Pearson are not known, so there may be more Frances’s to find.
The name Charles is also clearly passed down through this family. John Stephen Biles – the son of Charles and Fanny – named his eldest son Charles. John’s daughter Frances Biles then named her eldest son Charles for her brother and grandfather. Her daughter Frances Virginia Browning then named her son Charles – the Charles Paysinger who married Lola Belle Tenery. This Charles also had a son Charles, but it was his grandson Ben Fohl Loeb, Jr. – who was fond of both his uncle Charles and grandfather Charles – who passed the name along to the author of this blog.
In the case of Charles, the history of the name is traceable further back to an immigrant Charles Biles who arrived in the Delaware River on the ship “Elizabeth and Sarah” in 1679 along with his brother William. This Charles settled in New Jersey; it was his great-grandson Charles who moved to North Carolina and brought the name into this southern family’s history. Coincidentally, the present generation’s Charles also has a brother named William.
The connection of the names Frances and Charles to the Paysinger-Browning-Biles history is very distinct. While there are abundant Mary’s, Elizabeth’s, John’s, and James’ throughout the family tree, this is the only branch where these two names occur. “Frances” may yet provide a genealogical clue as to the unknown parents of Frances Pearson.
Frances Louise Paysinger lived almost to her 96th birthday. Her son Ben likely composed her obituary, which you can read here. She is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in Nashville, along with many other Paysingers from this family.