Back in 1886, writers at the New York newspaper The Sun spotted the name “Mellie Butterfield” in the Omaha Herald and it piqued their curiosity.
In the same column…we found Nellies and Minnies, Gussies and Lizzies, Mollies and Sadies, Tillies and Sallies, Bessies, Maggies, Jennies, Tudies [sic], and the whole run of nursery names, but we were able to infer the real and dignified names of these lovely young women.
They couldn’t figure out Mellie, though. So they asked the Herald editor for the details. He said Mellie’s real name was Mellona after the Roman goddess Mellona. (Mellona is based on the Latin word mel, meaning “honey.”)
It seems that the young lady’s grandfather was a Presbyterian minister [Rev. Josiah Moulton], and that he gave the name to her mother at the suggestion of a classically inclined brother clergyman, and that Mellona was therefore handed down to the daughter.
The anonymous Sun writers were not keen on the name Mellona:
- “Mellona? We cannot say that we like the name suggested by the clergyman”
- “it is so unusual as to be odd”
- “why did he not call her Melissa”
- “A very odd name for a girl is objectionable rather than otherwise”
- “surely there is nothing peculiarly beautiful in Mellona to call for its selection”
- “the Moulton family have a monopoly of its use — and they are likely to keep it”
Their final comment — “Mellona is a much more suitable name for a young lady than Mellie” — was vaguely complimentary, but it doesn’t quite make up for the string of criticisms that preceded it.
Do you agree with them about the name Mellona?
Source: “Mellie.” Sun [New York] 19 Jul. 1886: 2.
(That post about women’s pet names from a few months ago was also based on a Sun essay.)