Thursday, February 27, 2014


by Johnny Kilgore

What’s in a name?  That is a question which has been asked down through the years.  Certainly, a name represents more than the utterance of it.  Mental imagines of real things or people and intrinsic emotions and thoughts arise when uttering a name, or come to mind when hearing  a name uttered.   We bear the name Kilgore.  What comes to mind?

As a young child, I did not care for my name.  I did not know anyone else who carried our name.  In my mind, I thought the name made me an outsider.  Of course, my relatives had to carry that same stigma.  My world view was limited, and I felt that my name made us different, a less than desirable trait for a young child.  Even the sound of our name was repulsive to me.  The first syllable, “kill” evoked the image of murder and someone dying.  I was  a sensitive, peace loving kid, and was not comfortable with the thought of killing.  And then there was the second syllable— “gore.”  That too evoked a negative image--much like a big bull goring a human being.  The name, “Kilgore” was heavy and hard sounding.  During the last 50’s and 60’s in Junior high and Senior high school, all the boys in my grade called each other only by last names. Although I didn’t like that practice, I became acclimated to being called Kilgore. I always preferred to be called by my first name.

In “googling” my last name on the internet, I found some information that some others have researched in regards to the ancestry of the name, Kilgore.  I found out there are are variations of my name.  Those variations are  Kilgour, Kilgoure, Kilgor, Kilgo, Killgowr, Killgour, Killgoure, Killgoar, Killgore and Kilgore.  The spelling of our name is the most commonly used in America today.  

The internet source, (written by Darrell Brock) states the following about our name: 
The name seems to be Gaelic in origin, probably from the ancient name of a parish in Fife Shire Scotland.  Kilgour means “wooded hill”.  From the Celtic word for hill we get kill and from the Gaelic prefix kil which meaning often denoted a church, we get the idea that kil could mean a “church hill”.  Another explanation is a hill of goats, kil meaning hill and gour meaning goat.  Whatever the origin of the name we know that it came from the Gaelic language which is a branch of the Indo-European family of languages.  The Gauls carried it with them on their conquest to Ireland from Europe and and later the Irish carried it to Scotland about the year 500 A.D.

The same web site also disclosed the following history:

The name Kilgour is found all over Fife and Aberdeen Scotland. The oldest Kilgour on record seems to be Sir Thomas Kilgour who was chaplain of St. Thomas Church in Falkland Palace of Fife Scotland. This palace was a favorite hang out of Scottish royalty. James the V, Mary Queen of Scots, Charles the I and Charles the II all paid visits to the palace.

I link you now to additional historical information concerning our ancestry and another tradition concerning our name. Just click on the link below.

Since coming of age (meaning I know better now), I consider my name wonderfully special.  First, it is the name of loved ones I hold so dear — specially, John Wesley Kilgore and Sarah Noles Kilgore-- My father, Cecil W. Kilgore and mother, Beatrice Manasco Kilgore.  It is the name that both my son, Dr. John McCoy Kilgore and my daughter, Lee Elizabeth Kilgore, bear. It is the name of cousins and uncles, nephews and nieces.  It is the name of origin of my aunts whose families bear different last names through marriage—McKleroy, McKeever, Chadwick, Sherer, Gordon, Spain, and Romans.  Kilgore is the name that my dear wife, legally acquired and accepted when we married in January 1967.    

Second, the name is not as obscure as I believed as a child.  There is Kilgore College and the Kilgore Rangerettes.  There are three place in the U.S. that bear the name: Kilgore, Texas,  Kilgore, Nebraska, and Kilgore, Idaho.  There are politicians from the state of Virginia who are Kilgores.  There is the entertainer, Merle Kilgore.  Sometime while watching  T.V. shows (old Perry Mason shows and Sgt. Preston of the Yukon), I’ve heard our name used in the story line. It is a name not common like "Jones" or "Smith" which is an added plus in my eyes. 

But we need no justification to be proud of our name and our heritage.  We are a hardy, keen-minded and energetic family.  Our family displays both creativity, beauty,  and intellectual ability with the strongest work ethnic.  At the same time we are a  loving family who remembers our roots.  We are a patriotic group and most of all— a God-fearing one.   Need I say more.  I think not!  There is much is a name, and we have much to be grateful. It’s great to be a KILGORE!


  1. I too, am a Kilgore, and grew up like you thinking what a morbid name. And as I've discovered more and more about my roots, the more I enjoy bearing the name, Kilgore. The name itself has taken me to Derry to understand more about who I am … and is now going a bit deeper this summer as I head to Fife. It's lovely, isn't it!

  2. I am a daughter of Opal Killgore har mother is Gladys Louise caver Kilgore and her f
    father is Orville Glenn Kilgore ..from Georgia

  3. I'm a Kilgore and always been Proud of the name it means Strenth to me , Enjoy

  4. Been trying to find more info on our surname. Where the Kilgore's came from, who I'm directly related too, but I'm a Kilgore from northern ky.

  5. Im from San Antonio Texas my dad is Wesley killgore and my grandfather is Victor Lee killgore

  6. My grandfather is Charles Kilgore of San Antonio, TX. My great grandfather was James Smead Kilgore from Arkansas. And his father was Mirium Charles Kilgore. They had all girls in the 50's so the name is no longer our surname, but I am a proud Kilgore by blood.