In late December, not long after a short stay in New Orleans, my husband and I took a road trip through several states. Along the way I spotted some interesting place-names, mostly in Utah:
Little America, Wyoming – named after a local hotel whose name was inspired by the “Little America” exploration base in Antarctica.
Jackpot, Nevada – a casino town cleverly named to attract business.
Pahranagat Valley, Nevada – named for the local Native American tribe. Theories about the meaning include: “watermelon,” “squash,” “people of the marshy spring,” “put their feet in the water.”
Hurricane, Utah – named by an early settler whose buggy-top was blown off by a gust of wind. Locals pronounce it hurrakin.
Browse, Utah – possibly named for a 1930s Forest Service research study of local plants used as food by browsing animals.
Kolob Canyons, Utah – named after LDS star/planet Kolob.
Kanarraville, Utah – named after Piute chief Canarrah (or Quanarrah).
Farr West, Utah – named after Mormon pioneers Lorin Farr and Chauncey West. It was also reminiscent of the name of an earlier Mormon town: Far West, Missouri.
Elsinore, Utah – named after Helsingør, Denmark (known as Elsinore in English).
Loa, Utah – named after Mauna Loa, the volcano in Hawaii.
Elsinore caught my eye because it seemed like a mashup of the names Elsie and Eleanor. Even though it’s never appeared in the SSA data, records suggest that several hundred people in the U.S. have been named Elsinore. (Here are the graves of various Elsinores buried in California, Florida, Pennsylvania, Washington, Minnesota, and, yes, Utah.) The usage might be attributable to Shakespeare, who set Hamlet in a castle in Elsinore.
Source: Carlson, Helen S. Nevada Place Names: A Geographical Dictionary. Reno: University of Nevada Press, 1974.
Mifanwy was a character name in multiple films, including Mifanwy: A Tragedy (1913) and A Welsh Singer (1916).
Mignon Anderson was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1920s. She was born in Maryland in 1892. Mignon was also a character name in multiple films, including The Drive for a Life (short, 1909) and Mignon (short, 1912).
Milada Mladova was an actress who appeared in films from the 1940s to the 1950s. She was born Oklahoma in 1921. Her birth name was Annabel Milada Mraz. Milada was also a character played by actress Luise Rainer in the film Hostages (1943).
Minna Grey was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1920s. She was born in England in 1877. Minna Gombell was an actress who appeared in films from the 1920s to the 1950s. She was born in Maryland in 1892. Minna was also a character name in multiple films, including Perils of the Secret Service (1917) and The Oath (1921).
Moyna MacGill was an actress who appeared in films from the 1920s to the 1960s. She was born in Ireland in 1895. Her birth name was Charlotte Lillian McIldowie. Moyna was also a character played by actress Colleen Moore in the film Come on Over (1922).
Moyra was a character played by actress Alice Hollister in the short film The Shaughraun (1912).
Myrna Myrna Loy was an actress who appeared in films from the 1920s to the 1980s. She was born in Montana in 1905. Myrna Dell was an actress who appeared in films from the 1940s to the 1980s. She was born in California in 1924. Her birth name was Marilyn Adele Dunlap. Myrna was also a character name in multiple films, including The Face or the Voice (short, 1912) and Broadway to Cheyenne (1932).
Myrta Bonillas was an actress who appeared in films from the 1920s to the 1930s. She was born in Massachusetts in 1890. Myrta was also a character played by actress Ollie Kirby in the short film The Trap (1917).
Myrtle Gonzalez was an actress who appeared in films in the 1910s. She was born in California in 1891. Myrtle Stedman was an actress who appeared in films from the 1910s to the 1930s. She was born in Illinois in 1885. Myrtle was also a character name in multiple films, including Salvation Nell (1931) and Rackateers in Exile (1937).
A few weeks ago, I got an email from a reader looking for lists of old-fashioned double names. She was aiming for names like Thelma Dean, Eula Mae, and Gaynell — names that would have sounded trendy in the early 1900s. She also mentioned that she’d started a list of her own.
So I began scouring the interwebs. I tracked down lists of old-fashioned names, and lists of double names…but I couldn’t find a decent list of double names that were also old-fashioned.
I loved the idea of such a list, though, so I suggested that we work together to create one. She generously sent me the pairings she’d collected so far, and I used several different records databases to find many more.
I restricted my search to names given to girls born in the U.S. from 1890 to 1930. I also stuck to double names that I found written as single names, because it’s very likely that these pairings were used together in real life (i.e., that they were true double names and not merely first-middle pairings).
Pairings that seemed too timeless, like Maria Mae and Julia Rose, were omitted. I also took out many of the pairings that feature now-trendy names — think Ella, Emma, and Lucy — because they just don’t sound old-fashioned anymore (though they would have a few decades ago).
The result isn’t exhaustive, but it’s a decent sampling of real-life, old-fashioned double names. I’ve organized them by second name, and I also added links to popularity graphs for names that were in the SSA data during the correct time period (early 1900s).
In the girls’ top 10, Ella replaces Chloe (now 11th).
In the boys’ top 10, Lucas, Henry and Charlie replace Alexander (11th), Mason (14th) and Max (now 16th).
According to a survey of birth notices in The Warrnambool Standard, the top baby names in the Victorian city of Warrnambool were Georgia/Grace/Evelyn/Elsie (4-way tie) for girls and Lenny (!) for boys.
Welcome to Five Name Friday! Here’s today’s baby name request:
I’ve always loved cute names like Elsie, Ellie and Nellie, but DH says these sound like farm animal names and wants something more mature for our daughter. Our last name starts with A so we prefer names that do not end with A, but we’re open to good ones.
Can you come up with five great baby name suggestions for this person?
Here are the rules:
Be independent. Decide on your five names before looking at anybody else’s five names.
Be sincere. Would you honestly suggest your five names to somebody in real life?
Five names only please! All names beyond the first five in your comment will be deleted.