a.k.a. Josephine Story

for the comfort wprEmilie Loring published her first book under the pseudonym “Josephine Story.”  The source of the name was said to be her husband’s middle name.  Simple enough, right?

Emilie’s husband was Victor Joseph Loring.   Did Emilie add “Story” through artistic license?  When she started her book column, did she already intend to write stories?  Her father, sister, and brother were all writers; it was a natural-enough expectation.

But that wasn’t it.  Victor’s father, Hollis Loring, was a merchant and an active, public servant in Marlboro, Massachusetts.  He served as the local postmaster and Justice of the Peace as well as in the Massachusetts legislature.  When his sons were born, he named them for prominent, public servants.  Victor’s namesake was Supreme Court Justice Joseph Story.  It’s clear that this was the case, because of an entry in the Loring family Bible for Victor’s birthdate:  “Joseph Story Loring.”

That answers one question and asks another.  Why not “Victor Joseph?”  The entry is written in the same, flowing hand that recorded all of the entries through 1872–possibly his mother’s, as it does not match his father’s, and both of his grandparents had died by the time Victor was born.  If his mother wrote it, she was certainly in a position to know her son’s name.  If someone else wrote the entries–one of Victor’s aunts, perhaps, who lived with the family–then maybe “Joseph Story” was only considered, and the final, name choice was not communicated in time.  Then why not change the record?

Version 2

The entry for Victor’s birth was, indeed, changed, but apparently not until years later.  In what appears to be Victor’s adult handwriting–or his son Selden’s–the name Joseph Story is crossed out, and Victor Joseph is written in.  The Bible was kept many years at the cottage in Blue Hill; they could have made the change at any time.

According to Massachusetts Vital Records, Mr. Loring’s name at birth was “Victor J. Loring.” Why it appeared otherwise in the family Bible and was not corrected for years has no explanation beyond speculation.  Emilie clearly knew about it, and the pseudonym it offered, Josephine Story, served her well.  It truly did come from her husband’s name–with a Story behind it.

Family mysteries can last for years.  Are you working on one?  Please leave a comment.



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