52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks – Leica


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Welcome back to Tenacious Genealogy! This is a brief post as I’m playing catch up this week. January (and February) has been crazy to say the least. This post in particular is for Week 3’s prompt which was Unusual Name. While there are plenty of unusual names in my family tree, the one I’m focusing on today is ‘Leica’.


Love them or hate them, they are all around us. And in pretty much everyone’s family tree. Whether a unique spelling or pronunciation, they are usually the domain of family stories and now, internet humor. Whether it is the folk stories of kids being named ‘Abcde’ (Ab-suh-de), ‘La-a’ (LaDasha) or ‘Shithead’ (Shuh-thee-ed’) or even ‘Utah Names’ like Aunistee (Honesty), they are out there.

Thing is, while a lot of people joke about how crazy parents have gotten with their kids’ names recently, it isn’t a recent trend. Genealogy gives us a peek into the past naming trends, which is to say… while popular names have flucated over the years, people have always given their kids unique names – for better or for worse.

Including my family.

So when I saw the theme for this post, one name immediately came to mind…


No, not the camera company. (Although they do have some nice cameras.) While that is what most people associate with the name, in my family, the spelling has a little different spin to it.

In 1911, my paternal grandmother was born. Her name was Leica Afton Pyper and she was the daughter of a Scottish father (John Barton Pyper) and a Swedish mother (Sarah Elisabeth Johnson). How they came to name my grandmother Leica is a little bit of a mystery and a little bit of a family story.*

According to family lore, Sarah Elisabeth Johnson went by ‘Lisa’ (which is how Leica is pronounced in my family). Supposedly Leica Afton was named after her mother, but with her own spelling. And while it may have been a bit of an awkward name – Leica Afton went by Afton for most of her life – it apparently was an important name to my grandmother, as she later named her oldest daughter the same name and spelling.

And thus the name got roots in our family. Since then, six other members of our family (including me) have had the name as part of our name. And while it is certainly unusually, it’s also something that ties us all together.

*Other stories of how ‘Leica’ came to be are that the name is a Gaelic or Swedish spelling of ‘Lisa’ which may or may not have any credence.

Questions and Comments

Questions or comments about this post? Do you have any unusual names in your family tree? Curious about the 52 Ancestors in 52 weeks challenge? Let me know in the comments! And if you like what you’ve been seeing on Tenacious Genealogy – please subscribe to our email list. Not only will you stay up to date with the latest blog posts, but you’ll also get freebies such as ‘10 Tips For Starting your Genealogy’ and other fun ‘subscriber-only’ items.

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