Me Like Words
Friday, July 14, 2006

Everyone I meet asks me about it so I figured I'd give the breif and somewhat interesting history of my name. The word Streeter has been around for a long time and it's been a last name for almost as long. Nobody knows the exact date when it began as a family name but we do know that every American Streeter is descended from one man, Stephen Streeter, who came over from Goudhurst, England in the 1638. Stephen was a shoemaker and did quite well for himself, eventually marrying Ursula Adams - a member of the Adams political dynasty that would eventually produce John and John Quincy.

Anyway, enough about how I'm related to presidents. The history of the word Streeter isn't nearly as proud. Street comes from a Germanic word meaning, well, 'street.' This transfered over to Old English keeping the same meaning. Eventually the people of England decided they needed a name for all the poor losers pushing carts through the street selling junk. They decided on 'streeter,' because that's where these people did business, in the street. An alternate word for these people still in use (kind of) is Tinker. As often happened back then people would adopt their trade as their last name (Smith, Tanner, etc) so Streeter became a last name. A few hundred years later and here we are.

The Streeters are an amazingly well organized family. Because there are so few (in the greater sense) of us, members tend to be voracious in their attempts to document the geneology. My dad even recieves a newsletter a few times a year about the family. It's pretty entertaining to read and it answered one question I've had for a long time: Where did black families named Streeter come from? I checked on facebook and there are about as many black kids named Streeter as there are white kids. But if we all descended from the same guy - Stephen - what happened there? The Streeter Newsletter came to my aid and informed me that the black families bearing the name Streeter were not genetically related to my family but "probably adopted the name of their former masters." *awkward cough, nervous laugh* But here's what bugs me even more about my family than the fact that we used to own slaves: why are we not fabulously wealthy? We've been in this country since 1638, you'd figure that SOMEONE would have made a fortune and created a trust fund since then, but no. Almost 400 years and not one family member had the decent sense to become a billionaire. Oh well, I guess I'll get back to selling shit on the street.

My Mom offers up an alternate theory for the origins of the name she read somewhere once:

When the Romans ruled what is now England, they, as was their claim to fame, built roads which brought the natives from the hinterlands out to the new streets where they then began to hang out and watch all the action. They were eventually called 'streeters' and became basically the first homeless people.

I can assure you this is a bold faced lie. I do not know one person named Streeter who is homeless so I cannot faithfully endorse the validity of this claim.
But this does not explain how a family's last name became your first name. What possessed your parents to decide to just give you a surname moniker instead of a real name?
Sorry to not include that part. It was my grandmother's maiden name. Since it was going to die with her, she named my Dad Streeter and he named me Streeter, making me a 'the 2nd' or a 'junior'...I don't know which.
we know this one dude that we call streeter all the time because he always come up with that intelligent street knowledge.. he could tell when a deal about to go bad before them two niggas even exchange pleasantries.
I feel that I have a very similar talent in forseeing the outcome of mergers between major multi-national pharmecutical conglomerates. Pfizer and Bayer? Would never work. It sounds like your friend and I have a lot in common.
no doubt. you'd roll with this nigga for sure
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I (me) like words. And even more than liking words I like to know where they come from and how they ended up in my mouth. It's called 'Etymology,' and I hope you like words as much as me do. If you have a word or phrase you've been pondering send it to me at with 'Me Like Words' as the subject.

Location: New York City, New York, United States
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