The grave stone of my paternal great-grandfather lists him as W. F. L. Northen. Sources of family history list his name as William Fitzhugh Lee Northen. Nick-named Willie, he was described in the 1900 Northen Family History as having being 5 feet 10 inches in height and slender” with “light hair, red beard, and light blue eyes.” I’d always wondered who the Fitzhugh Lee might have been since it clearly seemed to be some sort of family name. An additional twist was added on a 1910 census in which his name is listed as W.H.F.L. Northern [sic].
Last October, when speaking with James Hoffman a distant relative of who is also a descendent of Willie Northen, the mystery began to unravel. Hoffman told me that Willie was known in the family as the man of many names. Family legend had it that he was named after William Henry Fitzhugh Lee, the second son of Robert E. Lee who was passing through Richmond Country passed through the area with the 9th Virginia Calvary when Willie was born in 1863. Apparently either one of his older brothers (Willie was the youngest of about 10) or his father met Lee and was impressed enough that Willie was named after him. The facts about William Henry Fitzhugh Lee check out, so apparently a little Civil War history was injected into a name on our family tree.