February 4 – Happy Birthday, Johann Ludwig Bach

Posted on February 4, 2015

I'm sure you know that Johann Bach was a German composer living in the late 1600s and early 1700s.

But did you know that there were TWO Johann Bachs, both German composers living in the late 1600s and early 1700s?

One is our birthday boy, born on this date in 1677. The other one is Johann Sebastian Bach, born at the end of March in 1685. They were second cousins. Do you know which one is “the” Bach? The famous one?

It is Johann Sebastian Bach that people know and love today. His second cousin, Johann LUDWIG Bach, did fairly well during his lifetime but is now just a footnote in musical history.

The importance of middle names

Having a middle name helps us to know who we are talking or hearing, reading or

writing about. It helps us keep straight presidents (George Herbert Walker Bush and George Walker Bush), famous people (like paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould and author Steven Gould) and family members (I had a friend whose name was Maria Fernandez, and all of her sisters were also named Maria Fernandez, but they all had different middle names, and that's what everyone called them).

My mom doesn't have a middle name, and George Washington didn't have one, either! But most people have one or two middle names.

I was wondering how many people have my first and last name, in the whole U.S., and it turns out that I am unique! When I checked the website How Many of Me? I discovered that there is only one Cathleen Earle in the nation: me. 

Does it seem like I don't need a middle name, since I'm the only one? Well...that website only checks the U.S., not the world, AND there may have been other Cathleen Earles in the past, or there may be in the future. It's good that I have a middle name, just in case I get famous!

By the way, I wanted to check for a more common name than mine, and so I checked the name John Smith. Guess what? There are 46,233 John Smiths in the U.S. right now!!! Wow!

I guess those John Smiths really, really need middle names to help keep them all straight!

How common is your name? Do you have a middle name to help make it a lot less common?

Also on this date:

Astronomer Clyde Tombaugh's birthday

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