I believed for a long time that Dardanella was the first of these introduced-by-song names. It bounded onto the charts in 1920 — before the widespread usage of radio and record players, impressively. This must make it one-of-a-kind, right?
Nope. I’ve since gone back over the early name lists and discovered a musical name that debuted on the charts a whopping 17 years earlier, in 1903. That name is Anona:
- 1908: 8 baby girls named Anona
- 1907: 6 baby girls named Anona
- 1906: 12 baby girls named Anona
- 1905: 22 baby girls named Anona
- 1904: 22 baby girls named Anona
- 1903: 7 baby girls named Anona [debut]
- 1902: unlisted
The SSA’s early name lists are relatively unreliable, so here are the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) numbers for the same time-span:
- 1908: 24 baby girls named Anona (SSDI)
- 1907: 24 baby girls named Anona (SSDI)
- 1906: 38 baby girls named Anona (SSDI)
- 1905: 48 baby girls named Anona (SSDI)
- 1904: 57 baby girls named Anona (SSDI)
- 1903: 18 baby girls named Anona (SSDI)
- 1902: 1 baby girl named Anona (SSDI)
The song “Anona” was published in mid-1903. It was written by Vivian Grey, which was a pseudonym for either presidential niece Mabel McKinley or prolific songwriter Robert A. King, sources don’t agree.
The song became very popular and was recorded multiple times. (Here’s Henry Burr’s version, for instance.) This is the chorus:
My sweet Anona, in Arizona,
There is no other maid I’d serenade;
By camp-fires gleaming, of you I’m dreaming,
Anona, my sweet Indian maid.
So-called “Indian love songs” were becoming trendy around this time, thanks to the success of the song “Hiawatha” (1902). Here are a few more that, like “Anona,” have titles that were also used as female names in the songs:
- “Kick-apoo” (1904)
- “Oneonta” (1904)
- “Tammany” (1905)
- “Silverheels” (1905)
- “Iola” (1906)
- The number of babies named Iola jumped in 1907.
- “Arrah Wanna” (1906)
- Dozens of babies were named Arrahwanna, Arrah-Wanna, and Arrah Wanna after this song was published.
- “Sitka” (1909)
- “Ogalalla” (1909)
What do you think of the baby name Anona? Would you ever consider using it?