In the 1800’s it was common for people to name their children after famous people, friends, and neighbors, in addition to family members. Sheshequin Universalist Society member W. H. H. Gore, born in 1835, was named after military hero and future (1840) president William Henry Harrison. Orrin Day Kinney, a grandson of Joseph Kinney, was probably named after Orrin Day, a merchant from Catskill, N. Y., who supplied goods to innkeepers in the Valley in the early 1800s.
Local children were named after Sheshequin Society members Orson Rickey (Orson Rickey Forbes), Obadiah Gore (Obadiah Gore Spalding), Newcomb Kinney (Newcomb Kinney Spalding), and Avery Gore (Avery Gore Kinney).
One of the few Sheshequin Society women honored with a namesake who was not related to her (at least not closely related – almost everyone was related by blood or marriage!) was the Rev. Myra Kingsbury.
Myra Kingsbury was the daughter of Lemuel and Sallie Kingsbury, and a granddaughter of Joseph and Anna Kingsbury. She was born in 1847 and grew up on the family farm in Sheshequin. In 1879 she was the superintendent of the Sunday school at the church. She was encouraged to enter the ministry by the Rev. Dr. William Taylor, the minister at the Towanda Universalist Church.
In the spring of 1880, Sheshequin’s half-time minister resigned, and Myra Kingsbury agreed to fill in, preaching every other Sunday. By the end of that year, she had accepted a call to a congregation in Vermont. She was ordained in 1881 and served congregations in Vermont and Maine until 1896, when failing health led her to return home to Sheshequin.
Her namesake, Myra Kingsbury Fish, was born in 1880, the year that Myra Kingsbury began preaching in Sheshequin. Myra Fish was the youngest child of Lloyd and Lucy Fish. Lloyd and Lucy were third-generation Sheshequin Universalists: Lloyd was a grandson of the Rev. Moses and Mary Park, and Lucy was a granddaughter of Avery and Lucy Gore.
Myra Fish served as Secretary of the Society’s “Young People’s Organization” in 1898 and 1899. In 1899 she married Richard VanDuzer, Jr.; they eventually settled in Los Angeles.
By all accounts, the Rev. Myra Kingsbury was respected by the congregations she served. The naming of a child after her is evidence of the high esteem in which she was held by her parishioners.