I'm not sure why they are so important to me (and not just me).
As a way of confirming you have the right John A. Smith? Or in may case, the right Robert N. Scott?
But I'm still pleased as punch to have found that he is Robert Newton Scott. The only place he admitted it was an application to the Missouri Confederate Home that specifically said you could not abbreviate names on the application.
I also have the ancestor that we all thought was named Robert Walker Jackson, until a family bible turned up showing he was named Robert William Jackson. I'm still not sure when the idea that Walker was his middle name crept in. He was a man who liked to use R.W. Jackson for most everything he signed.
And then there's Martha A. Davison. One researcher's uncle said the middle name was Avarilla and she used it to mark her work (so she could see who was using her research unattributed) although she thought he was a pretty unreliable source. I had seen a family note that it was Ann, but now I can't find it again, so for now I leave it "A.".
Now, if only someone made my Elmer J. Gilbreath admit what his middle name was, maybe I can relax.