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Popularity of the Baby Name John

Number of Babies Named John

Born in the U.S. Since 1880

Posts that Mention the Name John

The 24 Children of Isaac Singer

isaac singer
Isaac Singer: businessman & baby-daddy
A reader got in touch recently to ask about several unusual names. One of them was “Vouletti,” which belonged to a daughter of Isaac Merritt Singer (1811-1875).

Isaac Singer is best remembered for his successful sewing machine manufacturing company, founded in 1851 and still going strong today. Also notable, though, is the fact that he had a total of 24 children with five different wives and mistresses.

With Maria Haley, he had two children:

  • William Adam (b. 1834)
  • Lillian C. (b. 1837)

With Mary Ann Sponsler, he had ten children:

  • Isaac Augustus (b. 1837)
  • Vouletti Theresa (b. 1840)
  • Fanny Elizabeth (b. 1841)
  • John Albert (b. circa 1843)
  • Jasper Hamet (b. 1846)
  • Julia Ann (b. circa 1847)
  • Mary Olivia (b. 1848)
  • Charles Alexander (1850-1852)
  • Caroline Virginia (b. 1857)
  • …plus one more

With Mary McGonigal, he had five children:

  • Ruth
  • Clara
  • Florence
  • Margaret
  • Charles Alexander (b. 1859)

With Mary E. Walters, he had one child:

  • Alice Eastwood (b. 1852)

With Isabella Eugenie Boyer (of France), he had six children:

  • Adam Mortimer (b. 1863)
  • Winnaretta Eugenie (b. 1865)
  • Washington Merritt Grant (b. 1866)
  • Paris Eugene (b. 1867) – Palm Beach developer, namesake of Singer Island
  • Isabelle Blanche (b. 1869)
  • Franklin Morse (b. 1870)

These are traditional names for the most part, which makes “Vouletti” all the more intriguing.

Vouletti Singer was born in 1840, married William Proctor in 1862, had three children, and died in 1913. Though her name was definitely spelled Vouletti — that’s the spelling passed down to various descendants, and the one used by her friend Mercedes de Acosta in the poem “To Vouletti” — I found it misspelled a lot: “Voulitti” on the 1855 New York State Census, “Voulettie” on the 1900 U.S. Census, “Voulettie” again in a Saturday Evening Post article from 1951.

So…where does it come from?

I have no clue. I can’t find a single person with the given name Vouletti who predates Vouletti Singer. I also can’t find anyone with the surname Vouletti. (There was a vaudevillian with the stage name “Eva Vouletti,” but she doesn’t pop up until the early 1900s.)

Theater could be a possibility, as Isaac Singer was an actor in his younger days. Perhaps Vouletti was a character name he was familiar with?

My only other idea is the Italian word violetti, which means “violet.” Her parents might have coined the name with this word in mind.

Do you have any thoughts/theories about the unusual name Vouletti?


Ten Animals with Interesting Names

nipper, dog,
The “Victor” dog is named Nipper (not Victor).

Here are ten interestingly named animals to start the week:

  • Canuck, crow. He was hand-raised in Vancouver, Canada, and his ongoing crazy behavior is being chronicled via Facebook, naturally.
  • John L Sullivan, elephant. He was a circus elephant trained to “box” (standing on hind legs and wearing boxing gloves). He was named for boxing’s first heavyweight champion.
  • Mattie, donkey. He was the baby of a mama donkey rescued from the floodwaters of Hurricane Matthew last year.
  • Mrs. Chippy, (male) cat. He sailed with Ernest Shackleton aboard the Endurance. He was owned by the ship’s carpenter, whose nickname was Chippy.
  • Nipper, terrier mix. He was the model for the famous “His Master’s Voice” ads used originally by the Victor Talking Machine Company. He was named for the fact that he nipped at people’s legs.
  • Owney, border terrier. He was a stray dog who became the unofficial mascot of the Railway Mail Service in the late 1800s. He was named after an Albany postal worker called Owen.
  • Pot-8-os (or Potoooooooos), horse. He was a successful 18th-century racehorse. He “gained his extraordinary name by the stable-boy writing the word potatoes on his box, “potoooooooos.”” Other versions of the story spell the name other ways.
  • Tajiri, giraffe. He’s April’s calf, and his live birth was broadcast on YouTube [vid] earlier this year. His name was chosen via contest.
  • Uno, bear. She’s a bear at Katmai National Park whose missing part of one of her ears, hence the name Uno.
  • Wojtek, bear. He was adopted by members of the Polish II Corps during WWII. He was named by the soldiers.

Some previous animal names I’ve posted about include Dolly (sheep) and Mike Bison (buffalo).

Sources:

Korla, the “Godfather of Exotica” Baby Name

television, music, history, 1950s, korla pandit,
Korla Pandit, early 1950s

Behind today’s name is a fascinating story involving early television, exotic music, racial identity, and clever deception.

The name is Korla, which, along with variant Corla, first appeared in the SSA’s baby name data in 1951:

Year Korla usage Corla usage
1953 . .
1952 6 baby girls (5 in Calif.) .
1951 6 baby girls [debut] 8 baby girls [debut]
1950 . .

A bit of research reveals that most of these early ’50s Korlas and Corlas — mainly females, but also a few males — were born in California specifically. This location is already pretty telling, but the smoking gun is this middle name:

  • Karlo Pandit Lindsay, male, born in November, 1950, in Los Angeles
  • Korla Ponda Williams, female, born in March, 1951, in Los Angeles
  • Korla Pandit Lord, male, born in September, 1953, in San Francisco

So what’s the influence here?

Korla Pandit, the mystical musician whose Los Angeles-based TV show Adventures in Music made him famous, particularly on the West Coast, in the early ’50s.

Pandit first appeared on TV in the spring of 1949. In each episode of Adventures in Music, Pandit wore a jeweled turban and gazed hypnotically at the camera, never speaking — just playing otherworldly music on a Hammond organ. His show, which aired on KTLA, was soon picked up by other California stations.

Some early recordings of Korla prominently feature his name, but I’m not sure if the live show Adventures in Music did. (If not, this could account for why “Corla” debuted higher than “Korla” in the data.)

korla pandit, organ, 1950s, television, name

Korla Pandit was an immediate hit, particularly among suburban housewives. He received an impressive amount of fan mail.

He also started putting out albums, eventually releasing well over a dozen on various labels.

In 1951, after shooting hundreds of shows for KTLA, he left to film a series of short musical performances for Snader Telescriptions. These Snader clips introduced Pandit to a national audience.

But Pandit didn’t stay with Snader long, instead leaving to do other things (including start a new live TV show).

According to the 1952 ad below, his songs were “bringing dollars to the cash register and wild acclaim from feminine hearts.”

music, 1950s, korla pandit, advertisement
Korla Pandit ad in Billboard magazine, 1952

His music helped set the stage for the late ’50s Exotica craze. In fact, some people have since dubbed Korla the “Godfather of Exotica,” though the title has also been given to other musicians (including Les Baxter).

As the decade wore on, Pandit’s fame began to wane. But he did spend the rest of his life recording and performing — and always wearing that bejeweled turban.

He passed away in 1998, leaving behind his American wife Beryl and their two sons, Shari and Koram.

…But the story doesn’t end there.

Because, a few years after that, a Los Angeles journalist discovered that Korla Pandit was not the half-Indian, half-French man from New Delhi he had claimed to be. Instead, he was an African-American man named John Roland Redd from Columbia, Missouri.

Adopting a non-black identity had allowed Redd to have advantages that he couldn’t have had otherwise in 1950s America. He was one of the first African-Americans with a television show, but, ironically, if the public had known he was black, it’s highly unlikely that audiences (especially those entranced housewives) would have responded as enthusiastically as they did.

Redd took his adopted identity to the grave. Not even his sons were aware of their father’s true origin. (His wife must have known the secret, but she never openly admitted it.)

Notably, “Korla Pandit” was Redd’s second adopted persona. In the ’40s he had assumed the name “Juan Rolando,” which helped him get gigs during the Latin music craze of the time and, more importantly, allowed him to join the white L.A. musicians union as opposed to the black one, which afforded him more career opportunities.

It’s not hard to see how he got Juan from John, but I do wonder how he came up with Korla.

What are your thoughts on the name Korla? And on the story of Korla Pandit?

Sources:

P.S. After Pandit left Snader Telescriptions, the company found a replacement: a young Las Vegas pianist, originally from Wisconsin, by the name of Władziu Valentino Liberace

The Week of Int: Vint

vint, restless gun, western, television
Vint
The baby name Vint debuted in the baby name data in 1958:

  • 1964: unlisted
  • 1963: 5 baby boys named Vint
  • 1962: unlisted
  • 1961: 9 baby boys named Vint
  • 1960: 15 baby boys named Vint
  • 1959: 35 baby boys named Vint
  • 1958: 21 baby boys named Vint [debut]
  • 1957: unlisted

The influence? Vint Bonner, the main character of the TV Western The Restless Gun (1957-1959).

Vint was a “freelance cowpoke” who traveled alone through the post-Civil War West. The character was played by John Payne, who had starred in Miracle on 34th Street a decade earlier. Payne say of the character: “If there’s such a thing as a next-door neighbor in a Western that’s Vint Bonner.”

The series was based on a radio show (The Six Shooter, 1953-1954) in which the main character was named Britt Ponset. For TV, the character’s personality was altered slightly and his name was changed from “Britt” to “Vint” (…perhaps to make it sound more like Clint?).

Do you like the name Vint?

Sources:

  • Marill, Alvin H. Television Westerns: Six Decades of Sagebrush Sheriffs, Scalawags, and Sidewinders.. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press, 2011.
  • “TV Goes Wild Over Westerns.” LIFE 28 Oct. 1957: 99-106.

How Was Rudyard Kipling Named?

rudyard kipling, authorWhere did Bombay-born English writer Joseph Rudyard Kipling, most famous for The Jungle Book, get his memorable middle name?

His parents, John and Alice, got engaged in the summer of 1863 on the shores of Rudyard Lake in Rudyard, Staffordshire, England. Wedding planning finally started in late 1864, after John secured a job in India. The pair married in March of 1865, set off for India a month later, and welcomed Joseph Rudyard, nicknamed “Rud,” at the end of December.

Rudyard Lake had been created in 1799 by damming a brook. It was named for the surrounding settlement of Rudyard, which had existed since at least the early 11th century, when it was called Rudegeard (derived from a pair of Old English words meaning “shrub rue” and “enclosure”).

According to the SSA data, dozens of U.S. baby boys were named Rudyard during the 20th century. Do you like the name Rudyard? Would you consider giving it to a modern baby boy?

Sources: