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What's with this name, anyhow??

Esaias is Welsh, taken from the Bible (it's Isaiah), probably when the English required one of my ancestors to have a real last name. The Welsh used patronymics until the English imposed their system, and most of the standard Welsh surnames are really just first names: Jones (John), Davis (David), Evans (Ivan), Brown and Brian (both Brian), Rhys and Rice and Reese ( and Price, which retains the full patronymic form ap Rice) and so on.

Most of the Esaiases who came to America settled on or around Armenia Mountain in Northern Pennsylvania, where many of their descendants still live or have cabins. In Wales, I know of Esaiases living in the Swansea area. You can find a couple of my cousins on the Web: Wayne Esaias, who is an oceanographer working for NASA; and Esaias Johnson, a professional dancer who had her own company in Miami.

My family pronounces Esaias as ee-ZAY-us, but other branches say eh-ZAY-us and ee-SAY-us and sometimes, i-SAY-us. Pretty much however you say it, somebody in the family is with you on that version.

Timons is the nickname my scoutmaster, Mr. Wilson, gave me in my misspent youth, as part of distinguishing the Tims and Jims peopling the town of Rantoul in that distant age. I was inclined to read Shakespeare and the Greeks and Romans then (as now), and I think he meant to be referring to Timon. He pronounced it to rhyme with Simmons, and so do I. At least it wasn't Timmy.

The dark secret of this name is that Esaias is my maternal surname, not my paternal one. If you want to know the long and sometimes ugly reasons for this, well, buy me a cup of coffee sometime and coax it out of me. Maybe two cups. Or a glass of port. I used to list my original name with SFWA, but it is identical with that of a Clarion graduate (not related that I know of, and we've never met, but may his career prosper) and I started to get his emails. The man deserves not to be weighed down with the burden of my sins, so I've stopped listing myself under both names.

At USCF chess tournaments, though, you'll still find me under my former name. Didn't want to have to re-establish a rating…