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Baby name story: Emancipation Proclamation

Detail of the Emancipation Proclamation (1863)
The Emancipation Proclamation

Did you know a baby girl born in Ohio during the Civil War was named Emancipation Proclamation?

It’s true!

Her father was journalist and publisher William T. Coggeshall (1824-1867), who served as State Librarian of Ohio from 1856 to 1862. During the first year of the Civil War, Coggeshall worked directly for Ohio governor William Dennison as well.

Through Dennison, Coggeshall became friends with President Abraham Lincoln. (In fact, according to his wife Mary, Coggeshall may have even foiled an early Lincoln assassination attempt.)

William and Mary had a total of six children. One of those six, a baby girl, arrived on September 20, 1862.

On the same day his daughter was born, Coggeshall received a telegram from Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase. The telegram revealed that President Lincoln had finished the final draft of his Emancipation Proclamation.

Coggeshall, an ardent Lincoln supporter, wanted to choose a baby name that commemorated the occasion. But he didn’t want to name his daughter before the Union took back Richmond, Virginia — the capital of the Confederacy.

Until then, they would call the baby “Girlie.”

The Emancipation Proclamation was signed and issued on the first day of 1863, but Richmond didn’t fall until April 3, 1865.

On that day, Coggeshall’s two-and-a-half year old daughter was finally named Emancipation Proclamation Coggeshall.

A schoolteacher later nicknamed her “Prockie,” though family members continued to call her “Girlie.”

She married a man named Thomas Addison Busbey and they had one child, Ralph. On the 1900 census, she’s listed as “E. Prockie.”

E Prockie Busbey photo

Her husband served as the mayor of South Vienna, Ohio, for several successive terms. She died while he was in office, in 1913. On her grave marker, as on the census, she’s identified as “E. Prockie.”


Update, 1/2/2013: Cool news! The U.S. Census Bureau is linking to this story as part of its January 2013 feature on the Emancipation Proclamation, which turned 150 years old on January 1. Here’s a screenshot: