Years ago I posted about Livonia, a baby both born on and named after a Pullman car. Recently I wondered: What other Pullman car names would have made good baby names?
So I downloaded a big spreadsheet of over 12,000 Pullman car names from The Pullman Project and was slightly surprised to see that thousands of them could have been baby names, if we allow for the splitting of compound car names (like Fort Miley, Glen Norman, Meredith College, and West Willow).
Here are a handful of examples. On the left are relatively common/familiar names, and on the right are some unexpected choices.
It said that a “correspondent of leisure” had kept track of all the female names that appeared in the Marriages and Deaths column of the Glasgow Herald during the second half of 1913. He spotted a total of 208 different names (shared among 3,500 women) during that time. The two most popular? Margaret and Mary. The next-most-popular were Elizabeth, Agnes, Janet and Isabella. The least popular were the 73 that appeared only once, including:
My favorite baby name stories tend to be those that I find most memorable. Several of them (e.g., Aku, Karina, Maitland) even taught me something new. In a few cases, it’s not the original story I like so much as something that happened later on in the tale (as with Georgia, Salida, Speaker).
In April of 1913, a woman gave birth to a baby girl while riding a train in California.
The baby was born in the drawing room of a Pullman car called the “Livonia,” so she was named Livonia Potter.
Did you know that Pullman cars even had names? I didn’t.
A 1924 Popular Mechanics article reveals that “[n]ames of countries were first employed” as the names of Pullman cars, followed by the names of towns and villages, then by “birds, flowers, lakes, rivers, and poets and statesmen of note.” For the dining cars they used the names of historical chefs and prominent hotels.
So the Pullman car “Livonia” would have been named either after the historical region in Europe called Livonia (on the eastern shores of the Baltic Sea) or after any of the U.S. towns named for the region.
“Baby Born in Pullman.” Los Angeles Times 27 Apr. 1913: I10.
“How Pullman Cars Are Named.” Popular Mechanics Dec. 1924: 943.