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What's In A Name? You Would Be Amazed!

Updated on February 10, 2009

So many Jim Henrys

I was curious, a few minutes ago, to see what would come up if I typed my name into I half-expected to see some of my own work showing up in the search results, since I have posted material far and wide online.

Instead, what I found was much more interesting. I've always known that the name Jim Henry was hardly unique. I was named after my father's cousin, James Francis Miner, but years after making that choice, my father commented that he had a recollection that there was also a James Francis Henry in his group of relatives. I thought that was cool enough that for a while I played around with the notion of making myself James F. Henry II, but it just didn't fit, so I abandoned the thought.

When I was in graduate school, at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, from 1990 to 1992, there were a few Jim Henrys floating around the University and in the city of Carbondale. Just by looking in the campus phone directory, I found there was an undergraduate student named James Henry, myself in the graduate program, and a Professor named James Henry, I also met a guy at a gas station near the University who changed my oil one time, and his name, too, was James Henry.

Then there was a guy in Western Massachusetts named Jim Henry. He was a musician, and it is his name that comes up most frequently on google when I type in my name. I had to do an interview with Jim Henry the musician because so many people confused us. I have little to no musical ability, but I did write a music collumn for The Recorder newspaper in Greenfield, Mass. for a while, and had run a publication named NIGHTLIFE Arts & Entertainment Guide out of my basement for a year. So when people heard Jim Henry's music on WRSI in Greenfield, they just assumed that he and I must be the same person.

So one day I took the bold step to introduce myself to the more talented Jim Henry, and proposed an interview. He liked the idea, and we met at a small restaurant in downtown Amherst. He was a genuinely nice guy, and if I had to be confused with someone, I'm glad it was him.

Then there was the time when I started work for the Athol Daily News in Athol, Massachusetts. When I interviewed for a reporter's job there, I had only met the editor and the publisher. Apparently the editor announced to the staff one day that Jim Henry was coming to work for the paper. So I showed up for work on my first day, and the editor - Barney Cummings - introduced me to the whole newsroom. Every man and woman in the room (except Barney and me) replied, "That's not Jim Henry!"

Apparently there was a Jim Henry who lived in Orange, the next town over, and apparently he was pretty well known among the staffers at the Athol Daily News.

There was a time when being named James F. Henry was not a good thing. I had just started working for an online university when I received an email from human resources, informing me that I was being fired. The reason given was that I had lied on my employment application, when asked if I had ever been convicted of a crime. It seems that after I had started teaching, the University had a private firm do a background check on me, and they found that someone who lived in Carbondale, Ill. at the same time as me had been found guilty of assault and battery. He had a birthday that was close to mine, but was not the right date, and he was actually three years older than me. I was even able to find out his social security number, and it was close to mine!

It took me a week of working the phones, but I finally got someone in the Jackson County Government to write a letter certifying that the James Henry who had been arrested and convicted was not me, and ultimately I was allowed to continue to teach for this University. The whole experience left me with such a sour taste in my mouth that I decided to look elsewhere for work, after having to fight to prove my own innocense.

Other Jim Henrys

There were some really interesting Jim Henrys who came up on google as well. One of them is a Baptist Minister in Orlando, Fla. I'm not a Baptist, but I would love to live in or around Orlando some day, since I firmly believe it's never too late to have a happy childhood. This, of course, means that I must hate this Minister Henry. Oh and it also helps that I'm not a Baptist.

The most incredible Jim Henry I found was a baseball player, and they had his career stats online. It seems that this man's name was also James Francis Henry, as is mine, but amazingly, he started his major league career with my beloved Boston Red Sox.

He began his major league career with the Sox in 1936, and had his best season that year. He was  pitcher, and had a 5-1 record, with an ERA of 4.60, and appeared in 21 games, eight as a starter. He finished two of those games.

The following year he only got into three games for the Sox. He started two of them, and one of them was a complete game, his only victory of the year (against no losses though).

In 1938, he was out of baseball, but he made a comeback of sorts with Philadelphia in the NL in 1939. He got into nine games, starting one, and ended his major league career with an 0-1 record that year. He ended his major league career with a record of 6-2 and an ERA of 4.79 (stats taken from ). Hardly numbers that would persuade the veterans' committee to put him in Cooperstown, but still respectable enough.

There are doubtless many thousands of other Jim Henrys out there, and if you happen to stumble upon this hub and would like to share your story, drop me a line by email or you can post a note below. I'd love to hear from you!


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    • crashcromwell profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Florida

      When I was in graduate school, the first class I taught was an introduction to newswriting class. There were 13 students in the class. One was a news-editorial major. Eleven were PR majors, and one was a Cinema major. It seems that Southern Illinois University wanted their future PR practitioners to learn how to write and think like a journalist, so they would have a fighting chance of getting their press releases into the newspapers. So I grilled them on the importance of using AP style, writing appropriate leads, etc. Some of those PR types went on to get jobs in the University's daily newspaper after taking my class. I think all PR programs should be so enlightened.

      By the way, after posting my comment about my poor friend Jean, I decided to call the town hall and found that they do, indeed, still receive mail addressed to Jean Shitm, and also learned they get a lot of mail addressed to James F. Henry, too! I'm pretty sure that's me.


    • William F. Torpey profile image

      William F Torpey 

      9 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

      You're right about PR hacks, Crash. At The Hour we received mail almost daily addressed to editors or reporters who had left the paper years earlier. One a name gets on one of those lists, it seems it'll stay there in perpetuity.

    • G-Ma Johnson profile image

      Merle Ann Johnson 

      9 years ago from NW in the land of the Free

      Well was a interesting hub my dear...My mother named me after the actress Merle Oberon...I hear she was a great actress back then and have since read about her...seems much like me  but she was beautiful...also "the older woman" in a marriage...

      My reason for even the mention is I get taken for a male all the time...well until you meet me..LOL am very much a woman...but by the  mail, even on the phone and on the internet...Love to surprise people...I have a middle name of Ann so I try to use the two together...sounds more lady is very interesting NAMES...

      G-Ma :O) Hugs & Peace

    • crashcromwell profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Florida

      Mr. Torpey - Thanks for the note and thanks for the link to your hub. It was interesting, and a prime example of why most PR types are accurately referred to as hacks.

      You would be amazed how many people can screw up a simple name like James Henry. Some call me James Henery, others can't resist calling me John Henry, and of course, being a writer, people often call me Henry James. I tell people the main differences between he and I is that he is dead and I'm a better writer!

      As I read your column, I recalled an old friend and coworker named Jean Smith. Jean had served on the Board of Selectmen years before I knew her, and by the time I came to work for the town, she was working as the assistant Treasurer. Now it can't get much simpler to spell a name than Jean Smith. But unfortunately, some mailing list made a mistake in entering her name into their database, turning Jean Smith into Jean Shitm. Now, that original list was probably sold repeatedly to other organizations, because we got letters addressed to Jean Shitm several times a week. One time I decided to call the company that had sent such a letter, to advise them of the error and the fact that Jean was no longer on the Board of Selectmen. When the young lady looked up the name in her database, I knew immediately that she had noticed the error, because she started laughing hysterically.

      Despite this, I'm sure that even today, 10 years after I left the employment of that town, they are still getting mail for Jean Shitm!


    • William F. Torpey profile image

      William F Torpey 

      9 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

      Good hub, Crash. My name is not all that common but, although I don't get confused with anyone else, I've had a few incidents. Way back in 1961 when I was working for an engineering company my boss called me in to ask if I had authored a technical article in a magazine. The writer's name was identical to mine. From another angle, I got lots of mail while working as a news editor for The Hour newspaper and was confounded by all the misspellings of my name, so I clipped them out and pasted them to my computer in the newsroom. My boss wrote a column about it, which I reproduced here at HubPages. You might find it interesting -- here's the URL:

    • TheRealTruth profile image


      9 years ago from Virginia

      i honestly dont know if anyone know who justin wilson is considering i have so many aliases (so to speak)

    • Lgali profile image


      9 years ago

      good hub

    • Constant Walker profile image

      Constant Walker 

      9 years ago from Springfield, Oregon

      Yep, our show biz personas and our every day selves are often very different, even if we don't consciously try to do that.  It just happens.  I've always made a conscious effort not to be show business phony.  It always seemed so distasteful to me when I saw others doing it.  But when on-stage, you're  performing, and that's who and what you act like... you know?  Did that make any sense?  The performer is rarely the same person when off-stage.  The circumstances are just so different.

      OK, I'm all through babbling...

    • crashcromwell profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Florida

      Yeah, I can understand why you would want to be distinctive. I think that's part of the reason why I came up with an outrageous radio and now online persona like Crash Cromwell. The downside to that is that when I was in college, many people never made the connection between Crash Cromwell on WSJB and James Henry the editor of the college newspaper. That was a hoot!

      Thanks for the comment Ronnie!

    • Constant Walker profile image

      Constant Walker 

      9 years ago from Springfield, Oregon

      Wow, I think if I had a very common name like that, or Smith or Jones etc, I would change it in some way: add another "e" to Henry, like "Henrey," or something like that to avoid further mix ups like the university teaching debacle.

      When I was a kid and still commonly being called "Ronney" (most people now say "Ron") I changed the spelling to "Ronnie" to set myself apart from the other Ronneys in my class. I've never had it legally changed to that spelling, but the name on all of my I.D. or any documents (except my birth certificate) is now "Ronnie." Has been all my life. Funny...


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