How popular is the baby name Vilas in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Find out using the graph below! Plus, check out all the blog posts that mention the name Vilas.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Vilas


Posts that Mention the Name Vilas

The Baby Name Belvin

Belvin W. Maynard, pilot

The Transcontinental Air Race of 1919 began began 100 years ago today, on October 8, 1919. It was the longest airplane race ever attempted (up to that point) and was followed closely by the public via the newspapers.

It even ended up having an influence on baby names: the boy name that saw the steepest rise in usage in 1919, Belvin, was the name of the winning pilot.

  • 1921 – 13 baby boys named Belvin
  • 1920 – 10 baby boys named Belvin
    • 5 in N.C. specifically
  • 1919 – 23 baby boys named Belvin [peak]
    • 6 in N.C. specifically
  • 1918 – 5 baby boys named Belvin
  • 1917 – 5 baby boys named Belvin

Belvin Womble Maynard was born in North Carolina in 1892. He’d gone to school to become a Baptist minister in the early 1910s, but ended up discovering an aptitude for piloting airplanes while stationed in France during WWI.

Not long after returning to the U.S. in the summer of 1919, Maynard entered and won an air race from Long Island, New York, to Toronto, Canada.

Following that success, the “flying parson” (as he’d been dubbed by the press) entered an even more ambitious air race: the Army Air Service’s “Transcontinental Reliability and Endurance Test.” It required that entrants cross the nation not once, but twice.

Belvin Maynard, mechanic, dog, and airplane
Belvin is on the right.

Sixty-three planes entered. Most of them (48) started in New York and headed west, while the rest (15) started in San Francisco and headed east.

Maynard, his mechanic, and his dog (Trixie) took off from New York at the start of the contest. They were the first to reach California, on October 11.

They stayed until the 15th, then headed back toward the East Coast. On the return trip their engine failed, which could have cost them the race…but they cleverly replaced it with the engine of a wrecked plane nearby (that had been participating in the very same race). They made it back to New York on October 18 and were declared the winners.

(As for the other entrants, only about half of them completed the race. In total there were 54 accidents and seven deaths.)

For a time, Belvin Maynard was a national hero. The first commercial airfield in North Carolina, which opened in December of 1919, was named “Maynard Field” in his honor.

But sadly, in mid-1922, several weeks before his 30th birthday, Belvin was killed when his plane crashed during an air show in Vermont.

What are your thoughts on the baby name Belvin?

Sources: Belvin W. Maynard – Early Aviators, Billy Mitchell and the Great Transcontinental Air Race of 1919, Belvin Maynard – NCpedia, International Aerial Derby 1919 – General Aviation News, Transcontinental Reliability and Endurance Test – National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, The Great Transcontinental Air Race – HistoryNet
Images: from the Boston Globe (18 Oct. 1919, page 1) and St. Nicholas magazine (Dec.1919, page 173)

[More aviator-inspired baby names: Vilas, Maitland, Lindbergh.]

Mystery Baby Name: Wilba

In the early 1900s, the baby name Wilba popped up on the SSA’s baby name list for the first time:

  • 1915: 7 baby girls named Wilba
  • 1914: 7 baby girls named Wilba
  • 1913: 18 baby girls named Wilba [debut]
  • 1912: unlisted
  • 1911: unlisted

It was the top debut name of 1913, along with Vilas. But SSA numbers from the early 1900s aren’t too reliable, so let’s see how many Wilbas are in the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) for the same time period:

  • 1915: 8 people named Wilba
  • 1914: 7 people named Wilba
  • 1913: 32 people named Wilba
  • 1912: 3 people named Wilba
  • 1911: 4 people named Wilba

The SSA data shows that several wil- names were on the rise during these years, but this doesn’t explain the sudden appearance of Wilba.

Name 1911 1912 1913 1914 1915
Wilba 18 7 7
Wilberta 7 6 5 6
Wilbur (f) 7 5 8
Wilda 89 137 133 177 261
Willow 6 12 11 23
Wilma 914 1241 1469 1787 2773
Wilna 9 9 17 23 18

Neither set of data shows a strong tie to any specific location, though the SSDI data suggests that Wilba was used more often in the south than in the north.

Any idea where this one could have come from?

Babies Named for Aviator Jack Vilas

Jack VilasBack in 1913, at least two dozen baby boys in the U.S. were suddenly named Vilas, making Vilas the most popular debut name for baby boys that year:

  • 1915: 16 baby boys named Vilas
  • 1914: 13 baby boys (and 6 baby girls) named Vilas
  • 1913: 24 baby boys named Vilas [debut]
  • 1912: unlisted
  • 1911: unlisted

Many of these babies were born in Wisconsin specifically:

  • 1915: 8 babies named Vilas in Wisconsin
  • 1914: 7 babies named Vilas in Wisconsin
  • 1913: 10 babies named Vilas in Wisconsin
  • 1912: unlisted
  • 1911: unlisted

Data from the SSDI (which is more accurate than SSA data for the late 1800s and early 1900s) shows the same 1913 spike and the same high usage in Wisconsin:

  • 1915: 25 people named Vilas (7 in WI, 2 in MI)
  • 1914: 27 people named Vilas (8 in WI, 2 in IL)
  • 1913: 45 people named Vilas (15 WI, 3 in IL)
  • 1912: 25 people named Vilas (13 WI, 1 in IL, 1 in MI)
  • 1911: 24 people named Vilas (8 in WI)

So what inspired the spike?

The spike was inspired by aviation pioneer Logan Archbold “Jack” Vilas. He purchased a hydro-aeroplane from Glenn Curtiss in the spring of 1913 and, while his plane was being built, went to flight school (for just four weeks!). Soon after that, Vilas became the first person to fly across Lake Michigan, traveling west from St. Joseph, Michigan, to Chicago, Illinois, in about an hour and a half on July 1, 1913.

But this doesn’t explain why Wisconsinites liked the name so much even before Jack Vilas came along.

It seems that people in the Badger State already had an affinity for the name Vilas thanks to a pair of Wisconsin politicians: Levi Vilas (1811-1879) and his son William Vilas (1840-1908).

Jack was actually a distant cousin of Levi and William. Their closest common ancestor was Noah Vilas, born in Massachusetts in 1733. Noah’s father Peter had brought the surname over from England.

Sources:

Image: San Diego Air & Space Museum

The Top Baby Name Debuts, 1881 to Today

baby names, debut names, name list

Though vast majority of the baby names on the Social Security Administration’s yearly baby name lists are repeats, every list does contain a handful of brand-new names.

Below are the highest-charting debut names for every single year on record, after the first.

Why bother with an analysis like this? Because debut names often have cool stories behind them, and high-hitting debuts are especially likely to have intriguing pop culture explanations. So this is more than a list of names — it’s also a list of stories.

Here’s the format: “Girl name(s), number of baby girls; Boy name(s), number of baby boys.” Keep in mind that the raw numbers aren’t too trustworthy for about the first six decades, though. (More on that in a minute.)

  • 1881: Adell & Celeste, 14; Brown & Newell, 14
  • 1882: Verda, 14; Cleve, 13
  • 1883: Laurel, 12; Brady, Festus, Jewell, Odell & Rosco, 8
  • 1884: Crystal & Rubie, 11; Benjamen, Jens, Oakley & Whitney, 9
  • 1885: Clotilde, 13; Arley & Terence, 9
  • 1886: Manuelita, 10; Terrence, 10
  • 1887: Verlie, 13; Myles, 11
  • 1888: Ebba, 18; Carlisle, Hughie & Orvel, 9
  • 1889: Garnett, 12; Doyle, 9
  • 1890: Verena, 11; Eduardo & Maggie, 10
  • 1891: Gayle, Idabelle & Zenia, 9; Sheridan, 14
  • 1892: Astrid, Dallas & Jennett, 9; Corbett, 23
  • 1893: Elmyra, 12; Estel, Mayo, Shelley & Thorwald, 8
  • 1894: Beatriz, Carola & Marrie, 9; Arvel, Erby & Floy, 8
  • 1895: Trilby, 12; Roosevelt, 12
  • 1896: Lotus, 11; Hazen, 11
  • 1897: Dewey, 13; Bryon, Frankie, Mario & Rhoda, 7
  • 1898: Manilla, 35; Hobson, 38
  • 1899: Ardis & Irva, 19; Haven, 9
  • 1900: Luciel, 14; Rosevelt, 20
  • 1901: Venita, 11; Eino, 9
  • 1902: Mercie, 10; Clarnce, 9
  • 1903: Estela, 11; Lenon & Porfirio, 7
  • 1904: Magdaline, 9; Adrain, Arbie, Betty, Desmond, Domenic, Duard, Raul & Severo, 8
  • 1905: Oliver, 9; Eliot & Tyree, 9
  • 1906: Nedra, 11; Domenico & Ryan, 10
  • 1907: Theta, 20; Taft, 16
  • 1908: Pasqualina, 10; Robley, 12
  • 1909: Wilmoth, 9; Randal & Vidal, 9
  • 1910: Ellouise, 12; Halley, 12
  • 1911: Thurley, 12; Colie, 16
  • 1912: Elynor, Glennis, Mariann, 12; Woodroe, 25
  • 1913: Wilba, 18; Vilas, 24
  • 1914: Floriene, 14; Torao, 17
  • 1915: Wanza, 33; Audra, 18
  • 1916: Tatsuko, 14; Verdun, 14
  • 1917: Nerine, 43; Delwyn, 14
  • 1918: Marne, 24; Foch, 58
  • 1919: Tokie, 12; Juaquin, 11
  • 1920: Dardanella, 23; Steele, 11
  • 1921: Marilynne, 13; Norberto, 14
  • 1922: Evelean, 14; Daren, 35
  • 1923: Nalda, 15; Clinard & Dorland, 9
  • 1924: Charis, 14; Melquiades, 13
  • 1925: Irmalee, 37; Wayburn, 11
  • 1926: Narice, 13; Bibb, 14
  • 1927: Sunya, 14; Bidwell, 14
  • 1928: Joreen, 22; Alfread & Brevard, 9
  • 1929: Jeannene, 25; Donnald, Edsol, Rhys & Wolfgang, 8
  • 1930: Laquita, 68; Shogo, 11
  • 1931: Joanie, 12; Rockne, 17
  • 1932: Carolann, Delano & Jenine, 11; Alvyn, Avelardo, Elena, Mannon & Wenford, 7
  • 1933: Gayleen, 23; Skippy, 10
  • 1934: Carollee & Janean, 12; Franchot, 9
  • 1935: Treasure, 16; Haile, 11
  • 1936: Shelva, 89; Renny & Shelva, 9

This is where the numbers start becoming more accurate. Why? Because “many people born before 1937 never applied for a Social Security card, so their names are not included in our data.” (SSA)

Now back to the list:

I’ve already written about some of the names above, and I plan to write about all the others as well…eventually. In the meanwhile, if you want to beat me to it and leave a comment about why Maverick hit in 1957, or why Moesha hit in 1996, feel free!

*If you ignore the Great Baby Name Glitch of 1989, the top debut names of 1989 are actually Audreanna and Khiry.