No, not that Seattle! I’ve found myself saying those same words a time or two (or three or four). With a name like Seattle, it’s no wonder it comes up and is no surprise to me, frankly. I’ve heard it my entire life.
My granddaughter Erin Borgstom recently came across something about Seattle, Chief Seattle to be exact. I thought what a great idea for a blog! So, here I write about the origins of my name, Seattle, the same origins for the city Seattle. We can both thank Chief Seattle for our names.
Of the two questions I’m asked a great deal: If we are located in Seattle and if my name is made up for marketing purposes. I guess I can understand where both questions are coming from and why people are naturally interested. It is unusual. Since Seattle Sutton sounds like Bette Crocker or one of those made up names you’ve heard for years. My answer is, no and no. I just married my husband Kelly of 59 years because Sutton went so well with my first name, Seattle. That’s my joke I like to say when giving a speech. I always seem to get a laugh from the crowd.
As for where we are located, I guess, that’s a good question too since most people associate Seattle with the city and not a person’s first name. So, when I tell them, no we are located in Illinois, I usually get a puzzled look. If I am speaking to them on the phone, there’s always a pause. However, after explaining our name has nothing to do with where we are located rather my name, they say, “Oh, I see. That makes sense to me.” Then, comes the question about my name being made up for marketing purposes.
I realize that Seattle for a first name is unusual, and for a woman even more so. Imagine a girl born in the 1930’s to have such a name. It was absolutely unheard of in those days. You had plenty of Hazel’s, Martha’s, Roses, Betty’s, Grace’s and so on…but, never Seattle.
What’s a girl from Gackle, North Dakota doing with a name like Seattle? The first logical question in a succession of questions that normally leads one to ask if I have Native American roots, and to many people’s surprise, I do not. I’m German. You see, my paternal grandfather named me Seattle, after Chief Seattle, the same chief for whom the city which bears his name. So, who’s this great man that a city (and yours truly) was named after?
Chief Seattle lived from 1786 to 1866 and was the Chief of the Suquamish, he lived along the Puget Sound in Washington State. He was among the Native Americans living there to witness the first of the settlers to come to the Northwest. He converted to Christianity in 1830 and tried to integrate his faith with the beliefs of his ancestors. In 1855 he signed a treaty, which transferred the lands to the federal government in exchange for a reservation in the Northwest.
He was known to have said, “We are part of the earth and it is part of us.” He keenly understood what man has had a difficult figuring out ever since…“Humankind did not weave the web of life. Whatever we do to the web we do to ourselves.” He died on June 7, 1866, near the city that today bears his name.
Why I’m named after Chief Seattle, well, that’s a long story actually. My grandfather on my father’s side named me Seattle. He also gave me a small quilt when I was born that I eventually used for my dolls. I am not sure a grandfather would name a child in today’s world, but in those days it was not out of the question. It wasn’t a regular occurrence, but not necessarily a rarity as it would be in today’s culture. Am I glad I have a unique name? You bet! If I could have foreseen my future, starting a business from scratch after raising our 5 children, working side-by-side with my physician husband as his registered nurse and having such a remarkable name that traces its roots to an amazing man as Chief Seattle, perhaps that’s what helped propel me in life. I wear the name proudly.
So, with that, I thank my grandfather Remboldt for naming me such a wonderful, unique and honorable name. Not too many people can trace their name back to a leader like Chief Seattle. I just hope I’ve lived up to the name. I had rather large shoes to fill.