02 February 2012

What's in a name? Maybe a cemetery!

I learned something interesting about the last town I lived in. The town was named Killeen in 1881, after Frank P. Killeen, the assistant general manager of the Gulf, Colorado, and Santa Fe railway, who built the town on land along the tracks being laid through Central Texas. The Killeen family apparently stuck around, because there are number of them buried in Killeen City Cemetery.

I always thought the name sounded vaguely Irish, but according to an article I recently read about a children's burial ground in Ireland, the name "Killeen" itself is an old Celtic word (cillĂ­n/killeen) for a burial ground for unbaptized children, the mentally disabled, those who committed suicides, and others prohibited from burial in consecrated ground in the 16th century.

The especially interesting part about this is that in order to have gotten such a thing as a surname, some distant ancestor of the Killeen family must have been very closely associated with such a burial ground.

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