Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Her Name Was Beulah

I first became aware of the name "Beulah" when I was 10 or 11. I heard it in school, thought it a very unusual and funny name, and laughed. That evening at dinner as I was telling my parents about it, I laughed again.

My father gave me a warning look and said, "You better watch it."

Puzzled, I asked why. When I received no response from him, I looked to my mother who said, "That's your father's mother's name."

Ohhhh. This was completely new information to me. It was the first time I'd ever heard anything about my father's mother. I grew up unaware that most children have two sets of grandparents.

It was years before I learned more about my grandmother, Beulah Gerner Doyle, who died a few weeks after my father was born. This morning I was imagining how my life might have been different had she lived and had I known her when I was a child. There would have been trips to Stoneboro to visit with her, perhaps for week-long visits in the summer months; letters and cards sent back and forth; and one more person to love and be loved by. My imagination went further when I thought about how much different my father's life would have been. He would have grown up safe and secure, loved by two parents instead of in a home where his loving father had to protect him from an unkind step-mother. Beulah died in 1913; my father in 1987: they've had 24 years to get to know and love each other. I'm sure the reunion was grand!

Today is Beulah Gerner Doyle's 123rd birthday. Happy Birthday, Gramma!


  1. Happy birthday Beulah! Noticed you have her marriage certificate up, nice to see both your sights together.
    My husband's mother was sick for a good while and then died when he was young. What a sad situation. Thanks for the site, and your childhood memory. I remember saying stuff like that and getting the same remark as your Dad's back. JLK/NK56

  2. Isn't it amazing how common it was for families to not speak of their loved ones after their deaths? I couldn't imagine not having pictures of my father hanging in my house today. My dad's father passed way when he was only in his 40's, long before I was born and I didn't see a picture of him until I was a teenager. I think it's wonderful that you are sharing Beaulah's story now. It reminds me of the old hymn "Beulah Land". :)

  3. I adore the name Beulah! I will always hear it with a smile and a feeling of love in my heart; it was the name of my beloved grandmother.

  4. NKJLK and Lori, I think part of reason my father didn't talk about his mother is because he never knew her, never had any memories of her. I also think he didn't talk about either of his parents was because of the pain of losing them when he was young.

    I know what you mean, Lori, about having photos and telling stories about those who have passed away. My family, neither my mom or dad nor my grandparents, talked much about their childhoods. It is mostly just a vast emptiness in my mind except for what I can discern from comments they said and scraps of writings they left.

    Patti, after learning a bit about my grandmother, I also love the name Beulah. It's not a very common name, though. I think your grandmother is only the 2nd woman I know who had it. Did you know it means "married?" I looked it up yesterday while I was writing the post.

    Thank you all for visiting and leaving a comment.

  5. Nancy,

    Thank you for letting me know the origins of the name, that's fascinating! Funny story...my grandmother Beulah began dating my grandfather in 1927; his previous girlfriend was ALSO named Beulah! Ha!


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