“A name, of course is like a piece of clothing, isn’t it? It gives you an impression right away.” James Salter
I never knew my great-great-grandmother, Weltha Josephine Owen Driver. She was born 30 Sep 1851 in Alabama and passed away 17 Sep 1932 in Graham, Texas, 30 years before I was born. Wealthy, as she was know to her family, was the oldest daughter of Albert Owen and Martha Collinsworth.
She appears in the census as “Wittly”, “Wilsy”, “Weltha” and “Wealthy”. She was married to John Allen Driver on March 22, 1869 in the tiny community of Etoile in Nacogdoches County, Texas at the home of her parents.
I always thought she had the most interesting name, I mean who names their daughter Wealthy and why? There are 229 names that mean Wealthy however, I could never find the meaning of the name Wealthy. Eventually I did find out that her great-grandmother was named Wealthy so finally I knew “why”.
In 1875, Weltha, John and their sons, Albert and Henry migrated from Long Creek, near Weatherford, Texas to Young County. While laying in supplies for the trip, John saw some dress material in a store in Weatherford and bought a length for Weltha.
She was so proud of the new dress she made from that material, and even more pleased because John had taken the time to pick it out for her. Shortly after they began the trip to their new home, little Henry became ill and John and Weltha would take turn about carrying him as they walked along side the wagon. One night after making camp it began to rain. Weltha wanted to keep the cool air off Henry so she drew the wagon sheet up tight and hung her new dress up to block any air from coming in. In the morning, Weltha was heartbroken to find that during the night the cow had chewed her new dress.
I have often wondered if being named Wealthy or the incident with the cow influenced her personality. She was very “frugal”. Even though they were “well off” for the time, she would wear a dress until it was so worn out her daughter-in-law would intentionally get it hung in the washer ringer and would then tear the dress apart so Wealthy would have to start wearing a new dress.