How popular is the baby name Cochise in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Find out using the graph below! Plus, see baby names similar to Cochise and check out all the blog posts that mention the name Cochise.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Cochise

Number of Babies Named Cochise

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name Cochise

The Coming of Cochise

cochise, apache, oak

The name Cochise started appearing in the U.S. baby name data in the 1950s:

  • 1958: unlisted
  • 1957: 8 baby boys named Cochise
  • 1956: unlisted
  • 1955: unlisted
  • 1954: 5 baby boys named Cochise [debut]
  • 1953: unlisted

Ultimately we know of this name through Cochise, the leader of the Chokonen Chiricahua Apaches during the 1860s and early 1870s.

His Apache name was Cheis or Chees. White men called him Chees, Kachise, Cachees, Cochil, and Cochise. There were other forms, spellings, and pronunciations but they all described one man — one of the fiercest guerrilla fighters who ever lived.

His name was derived from the Apache word for “oak,” but it “invok[ed] not the tree or the wood itself so much as the strength and quality of oak.”

So why were babies being named Cochise in the 1950s? Because Cochise had been turned into a character for various movies and television shows during that time:

  • 1961 – TV show Bonanza (1 episode)
  • 1956, 1957, 1958, 1959, 1960 – TV show Broken Arrow (main character)
  • 1956 – TV show TV Reader’s Digest (1 episode)
  • 1955, 1956 – TV show The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin (3 episodes)
  • 1954 – movie Taza, Son of Cochise
  • 1953 – movie Conquest of Cochise
  • 1952 – movie The Battle at Apache Pass
  • 1951 – movie The Last Outpost
  • 1950 – movie Broken Arrow
  • 1948 – movie Fort Apache

And the name was used in the title of yet another TV show, Sheriff of Cochise, which aired from 1956 to 1958. (It was set in Cochise County, Arizona.)

Because a fictionalized version of Cochise could be seen in something during every year of the decade, it’s hard to attribute the emergence of Cochise in the ’50s to one specific piece of media.

What are your thoughts on the name Cochise?

Sources:

  • Cochise – Wikipedia
  • Livingston, Stoney. “Cochise (Cheis).” The Settlement of America: An Encyclopedia of Westward Expansion from Jamestown to the Closing of the Frontier, ed. by James A. Crutchfield. New York: Routledge, 2015.
  • Roberts, David. Once They Moved Like the Wind: Cochise, Geronimo, And The Apache Wars. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1993.

“Broken Arrow” Baby Names

Broken Arrow movie poster

Elliott Arnold’s 1947 novel Blood Brother was a fictionalized account of the adventures of Old West historical figures Cochise, a Chiricahua Apache chief, and Tom Jeffords, a U.S. Indian agent.

The book was later adapted into a movie and a TV series, and both of these things ended up influencing U.S. baby names.

Sonseeahray & Debralee

The movie Broken Arrow was released in the summer of 1950. It starred Jeff Chandler as Cochise and James Stewart as Tom Jeffords. But the two baby names that debuted in the data thanks to the movie were associated with a different character: Sonseeahray, played by teenage actress Debra Paget.

Broken Arrow wasn’t Debra Paget’s first movie, but it was her first big hit, and it helped her achieve a new level of fame. And in 1951, her birth name Debralee debuted in the data. In fact, it was that year’s top debut name.

  • 1955: 7 baby girls named Debralee
  • 1954: 6 baby girls named Debralee
  • 1953: 11 baby girls named Debralee
  • 1952: 9 baby girls named Debralee
  • 1951: 19 baby girls named Debralee [debut]
  • 1950: unlisted

The public had become aware that Debra Paget was born “Debralee Griffin” in mid-1950, thanks to a newspaper article by AP journalist Hubbard Keavy, who called Debra’s birth name “improbable” (a curious comment, coming from guy named Hubbard Keavy). He quoted Debra’s mother, Margaret Griffin, as saying:

I christened her Debra. Her father’s people were Pagets. I used to call her Debra Lee, thinking that would be a good professional name. But Paget is more unusual and there are no Pagets in the movies.

Debra’s sister, Marcia Eloise Griffin, also acted under a stage name: Teala Loring.

The name of the character Sonseeahray also debuted in 1951:

  • 1952: unlisted
  • 1951: 7 baby girls named Sonseeahray [debut]
  • 1950: unlisted

Sonseeahray, defined in the novel as “morning star,” seems to be legitimate Apache name; it was included and defined in the book Life Among the Apaches (1868) by John C. Cremony.

Two real-life Sonseeahrays are Fox News reporter Sonseeahray Tonsall and German actress Sonsee Neu, born Sonsee Ahray Natascha Floethmann-Neu.

Marsheela & Ansara

The TV series Broken Arrow first aired on ABC from 1956 to 1958. (Reruns aired in 1959 and 1960.) The show starred Michael Ansara as Cochise and John Lupton as Tom Jeffords. While it did not include the character Sonseeahray, an early episode did feature a Sonseeahray-like character named Marsheela.

Marsheela, played by actress Donna Martell, appeared in the episode “Apache Girl” in mid-1957. The same year, the name Marsheela was a one-hit wonder in the baby name data:

  • 1958: unlisted
  • 1957: 11 baby girls named Marsheela [debut]
  • 1956: unlisted

I figured out the source of this one only after posting about Marsheila, which was the most-used spelling of Marsheela that year (no doubt because of the familiarity of the Irish name Sheila, which was a top-100 girl name in the U.S. throughout the ’50s and ’60s).

Another one-hit wonder was the surname of Arab-American actor Michael Ansara. Five baby boys were named Ansara in 1960:

  • 1961: unlisted
  • 1960: 5 baby boys named Ansara [debut]
  • 1959: unlisted

Though Broken Arrow had made Michael Ansara a household name, this debut lines up more cleanly with a later TV Western that Ansara also starred in: Law of the Plainsman, which lasted from 1959 to 1960.

His surname may be based on the Arabic term al-ansar, meaning “the helpers.”

Sources:

Mystery Monday: The Baby Name Marsheila (Solved!)

Here’s a triple-name mystery from 1957.

The most popular of the three names was Marsheila:

  • 1961: 5 baby girls named Marsheila
  • 1960: 22 baby girls named Marsheila
  • 1959: 6 baby girls named Marsheila
  • 1958: 10 baby girls named Marsheila
  • 1957: 32 baby girls named Marsheila [debut]
  • 1956: unlisted

While it wasn’t the top girl-name debut of the year — that was Tierney — it did come in second.

Lower down on the debut list we see Marshelia:

  • 1961: unlisted
  • 1960: 6 baby girls named Marshelia
  • 1959: unlisted
  • 1958: 6 baby girls named Marshelia
  • 1957: 18 baby girls named Marshelia [debut]
  • 1956: unlisted

And below that is one-hit wonder Marsheela:

  • 1958: unlisted
  • 1957: 11 baby girls named Marsheela [debut]
  • 1956: unlisted

All told, over 60 baby girls got one of these three names in 1957.

Multiple spellings often point to an audio source (e.g., radio, TV) as opposed to a visual source (e.g., book, magazine). Beyond that, though, I don’t have any good theories about where these names came from.

Anyone know?

marsheela, broken arrow, 1957
Marsheela
UPDATE, 8/10/15: Frank made quick work of this one! See the first comment below.

Turns out Marsheela was a character from the “Apache Girl” episode of the TV show Broken Arrow. The episode aired in mid-1957, and the character was played by actress Donna Martell.

In the episode, Apache chief Cochise tries to arrange a marriage for his niece Marsheela. In the end, though, he lets her pick a husband for herself.

Pope Benedict Talks Baby Names

Pope Benedict XVI mentioned baby names over the weekend. Well, maybe not baby names–baptismal names is more precise. In any case, here’s what he said while baptizing a 21 infants in the Sistine Chapel on Sunday:

Every baptism should ensure that the child is given a Christian name, an unmistakable sign that the Holy Spirit will allow the person to blossom in the bosom of the Church. Do not give your children names that are not in the Christian calendar.

I’ve seen other church officials comment on this issue, but never the Pope himself. I wonder what sort of impact it will have on Catholic parents.

BONUS: Here are some interesting quotes I collected from news articles covering this story.

The first little examples of Mela (Italian for Apple) and Pesche (Peaches) are already up and walking, say the Italian newspapers, thanks to the decisions of Gwyneth Paltrow and Bob Geldof to pick names at the greengrocer.

Celebrity baby names in translation. Trippy.

Even leading politicians have chosen unusual names. The pugnacious Defence Minister Ignazio La Russa christened his three sons Geronimo, Lorenzo Cochis and Leonardo Apache.

Geronimo and Cochise were both Apache leaders.

[Names] banned in Portugal include Lolita, Maradona and Mona Lisa.

Diego Maradona (b. 1960) is a former pro soccer player from Argentina.

Another source mentioned something about a Sue Ellen trend in Italy during the 1980s, thanks to the popularity of American TV show Dallas, but I can’t locate the original article/link.

Sources: For heaven’s sake, Pope hopes to end trend for exotic names, Pope makes a plea to parents to give their children traditional names

P.S. Here’s more on the Catholic Church’s stance on names.