You reminded me of my own story. Tangentially related, in a serendipitous way.
A quarter of me is from unknown ancestry. My maternal grandfather was adopted.
When my parents divorced, my mother reclaimed her maiden name, and since my father was nowhere to be found, found a lawyer and a loophole that put that last name on me as well. So, I was raised with my mother’s maiden name as my last name.
It’s unusual, so I won’t mention it. Experience shows me that it pops up about maybe once out of every few hundred thousand families. Suffice to say that it’s root appears to be Scottish.
Years and years ago, when I got curious about it, and having been the only one of me that I had ever met all the way up through college graduation, started to look around a bit to see if I could find any other “me’s”.
Well, imagine my surprise when I found that most of the “me’s” that I found were African American (I’m half Irish and half Arabic, personally).
So, evidently (and this is anecdotal from one of the Af-Am “me’s” that I found) there was a plantation owner in Georgia with my name. On Emancipation, the slaves who previously had only a first name all took last names; names of Presidents like Washington and Jefferson were popular selections.
However, the slaves who worked on this particular plantation were evidently well-treated by the owner, and he was very much liked by them. So, they took his name.
As I said, that’s anecdotal, and I have no way of proving any of it. But your story reminded me of it.