I don’t normally watch television, but I’m visiting my Dad right now and he’s got his TV on all the time, so I haven’t been able to help it lately. :)
The other day I was walking past the TV set and heard the word ‘Alaska’ — a place I’ve long wanted to visit. So I stopped to see what was on. Soon I was hearing names like Atz, Atz Lee and Otto.
Who were these people? Where did they get such interesting names?
Turns out it was a reality show called Alaska: The Last Frontier, and the cast members were part of the locally famous Kilcher family.
Atz and Otto are the sons of homesteaders Yule Farenorth Kilcher (b. 1913) and Ruth Kilcher (b. 1920). Yule and Ruth left Switzerland for Alaska in the early 1940s. Yule went on to serve in the Alaska State Senate during the 1960s.
Yule wasn’t born “Yule Farenorth.” He was originally Julius Jakob [YOO-lee-us YAH-kob] but he changed his first and middle names after immigrating.
Yule and Ruth had a total of eight children — two boys and six girls. Here are the names:
- Wurtila Dora (Wurzy)
- Linda Fay
- Attila Kuno (Atz)
- Sunrise Diana Irene
- Edwin Otto
- Stella Vera Septina (Bonnie)
- Catkin Melody
Many of the above also gave their own children distinctive names, such as Cornelius, Davin, Ecaterina, Gawan, Olga and Saskia.
One of Atz’s children is pop singer Jewel Kilcher, a.k.a. Jewel. Her popularity in the mid-1990s helped push the baby name Jewel back into the U.S. top 1,000 in 1997:
- 1999: 453 baby girls named Jewel [ranked 557th]
- 1998: 490 baby girls named Jewel [ranked 516th]
- 1997: 330 baby girls named Jewel [ranked 665th]
- 1996: 168 baby girls named Jewel [ranked 1,098th]
- 1995: 154 baby girls named Jewel [ranked 1,141st]
And, moving forward another generation, one of Wurzy’s grandchildren is actress Q’orianka Kilcher, whose appearance in the movie The New World (2005) made Qorianka a one-hit wonder on the baby name charts in 2006.
(Q’orianka told the press that her name means “golden eagle” in Quechua, and it does seem to be based on the Quechua words for “gold,” quri, and “eagle,” anca, but I’m not sure whether it’s a legit Quechua name or a modern invention.)
So do any of you guys watch Alaska: The Last Frontier regularly? Have I missed any other good Kilcher names?