Namespotting in Arlington: Ammi, Loammi, Ruhamah

Names of American revolutionary soldiers at the Old Burying Ground, Arlington, MA
Patriots’ Grave, Old Burying Ground, Arlington, MA

My husband and I visited the town of Arlington last weekend. Of course, I made sure one of our stops was a graveyard. :)

The one we chose was the Old Burying Ground, a small cemetery used from the 1730s to the 1840s. (During those years, Arlington wasn’t even called “Arlington” yet. The original name was Menotomy, which came from an Algonquin word.)

Most of the names in the graveyard are biblical names, some still common today (e.g., Benjamin, Elizabeth, Lydia, William), others not so stylish anymore (e.g., Dorcas, Ebenezer, Jeduthan, Mehitable — one of my all-time faves!).

One name that made me curious was Ammi, which belonged to both Ammi Cutter (1733-1795) — one of the “old men of Menotomy” — and to his son.

At first I thought Ammi was a nickname for Loammi, as it reminded me of Loammi Baldwin, another Revolutionary soldier from the region. Turns out this wasn’t the case, but the two names are related.

In the Book of Hosea, God tells Hosea to name his daughter Lo-Ruhamah, meaning “not loved,” and to name his son Lo-Ammi, meaning “not my people.” Later on, God renames the two Ruhamah, meaning “loved,” and Ammi, meaning “my people.”

And, wouldn’t you know, Ammi Cutter had a twin sister named Ruhamah. (She’s buried there as well.)

How do you like Ammi and Ruhamah as boy-girl twin names?

Source: Paige, Lucius Robinson. History of Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1630-1877. Cambridge, MA: H. O. Houghton and Co., 1877.

4 thoughts on “Namespotting in Arlington: Ammi, Loammi, Ruhamah

  1. They sound very middle eastern. Since my family is Irish-American, English-American, Scottish-American, German-American, Norwegian-American, French-Canadian and Native-American, I don’t see these names being popular with my relatives. (Seems to be a trend to not just be American thus the hyphenated descriptions!)

  2. Hey, I know Arlington!

    I think Ammi-Ruhama may have been the name of Bethia’s baby in Caleb’s Crossing. Something about him having to be both her son and her daughter since he was going to be an only child?

  3. How interesting that they were used together in a book recently!

    I haven’t read it, but (while looking for more info) I did happen to spot this:

    Bethia isn’t simply a passive observer, she and her Wampanoag friend, Caleb, are the agent of change, starting with each other. Almost the first thing they do when they meet is to rename each other. Caleb’s birth name, Cheeshahteauamauck, dismays Bethia, with its length, unpronouncability and its meaning, ‘hateful one.’ He in his turn, is pained by the meaning of hers, ‘servant’ and renames her Storm-Eyes.

    (From a review of Caleb’s Crossing at the blog Vulpes Libris.)

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