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Column: Small town, big family tree

I’ve always thought of my last name as a mixed blessing.



Unless you know it or have incredible luck, chances are you wouldn’t pronounce it the “right” way the first time you saw it. As I always say, it’s like a birth-given telemarketer detection service.

The phone rings, and someone attempts to muddle through an introduction, but it’s easy to tell.

“Hello, I’m John from ACME Incorporated. Is this Miss… Hooey? Hovey? Hoo?”

Stumped ‘im!

“Nope. Sorry.” And I can hang up without guilt, because it’s the truth. There’s no one by that name here.

But, there are other times when being labeled as a Huwe ends up being somewhat more… interesting.

For example, sometimes it’s assumed that because you have the last name, you’re automatically directly related.

I’m not saying it never happens, but how often do you assume by default that two Smiths or Bakers are related?

Last week, I got an email from a local person, asking me to pass along a message to my sister, Audrey.

Except, neither of my sisters are named Audrey. The person in question is actually my second cousin.

Here’s the boring, complicated genealogical breakdown. My dad, Darwin Huwe, comes from a family of 10. His dad, Kenneth, was one of nine. My great-grandfather was Albert Senior, one of Otto Huwe’s 16 munchkins who stayed in the Perham area.

That’s a lot of Huwes floating around. I haven’t even met all of my distant relations. They just randomly pop up on occasion – like as one of the mentors for the robotics team.

When I was going to college in Fargo, I was unique. No one I met knew a Huwe. It was just another last name.

Of course, when you’re one of approximately 180,000 people in an 86 square mile metro area, it’s much easier to be an “only.”

In a way, it’s nice to be back where my ancient, gnarled family tree has already put down roots and made room for my name.