On October 6, 1947, a 20-year-old Los Angeles County resident named Dolores Del Real went into labor. She wasn’t going to make it to the hospital on time, so she stopped at the El Monte police station for help.
The on-duty policeman, Joseph V. Ervin, “acted as midwife” and “delivered the boy in a rear room of the station.” In honor of Officer Ervin, Dolores named her baby Joseph.
(And records show that the baby’s middle name was Virgil — this may have come from Ervin as well.)
Source: “Infant Born in Station Named After Policeman.” Los Angeles Times 7 Oct. 1947: A1.
On the morning of October 2, 2006, a gunman took ten girls (aged 6 to 13) hostage in a one-room Amish schoolhouse in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania. He shot the girls, killing five and wounding the other five, before committing suicide.
One of the victims was 7-year-old Naomi Rose Ebersol. Earlier during the incident — before the gunman had ordered the adult women and the boys to leave — Naomi had been comforted by a pregnant woman named Lydia Mae Zook:
[Lydia] reached over and patted the frightened child on the back.
“It’s going to be all right,” she assured the little girl.
On October 10, Lydia gave birth to her baby girl three weeks early. She named the baby Naomi Rose.
(The other little girls who lost their lives were named Anna, Lena, Marian, and Mary.)
That recent post about Altruria reminded me of a similar-sounding name: Etruria.
In early January, 1907, the Cunard ocean liner RMS Etruria encountered rough seas while crossing the Atlantic. Two of the crewmembers were killed, several others were injured, and passengers were forced to wait out the storm below deck.
During that time, a baby girl was born in steerage to Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Goldstein. Her name? Etruria Rachel Goldstein.
And records reveal that the ship had at least one other namesake: Thomas Etruria Walter, born at sea aboard the Etruria in November of 1887.
The ship was in service from 1885 to 1908. It was named after the ancient civilization that lived in what is today central Italy. The earliest inhabitants of Etruria (that we know of) spoke Etruscan — the presumed origin of a handful of modern baby names including Anthony/Antonio, Camille/Camilla, Horatio, Ignatius, Lavinia, Minerva, and Sergey/Sergio.
Source: “Seaman Killed as Waves Swept Decks of Ocean Liner.” Daily True American [Trenton, NJ] 7 Jan. 1907: 1.
When the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq began in March of 2003, tens of thousands of Kurds in northern Iraq fled from their cities and villages and took shelter in the hills.
One of these displaced Kurdish families included a boy named Awara, which means “refugee.” His older brother said Awara’s name would be changed to Azad, or “freedom,” once it was safe for the family to return to their home village.
And along with the change in regime came a change in baby naming trends. The name “Saddam” and the names of Saddam Hussein’s children (e.g., Udai, Kusai, Rajad, Halla), which had been trendy up to that point, quickly fell out of favor. An employee of Iraq’s National Registry in Baghdad said in late 2003, “We haven’t had even one Saddam since the fall of the regime on April 9th.”
Instead, Iraqi parents started opting for other namesakes. The director of the National Registry mentioned that more than 20 babies had been named for religious leader (and Hussein enemy) Ayatollah Mohammad Baqir al-Hakim after he was assassinated in August, for example.
I couldn’t find any follow-up articles about Awara’s family, though, so I don’t know if they ever made it back to their village, or whether Awara’s name was finally changed from “refugee” to “freedom.”
On July 9, 1943, the Allies invaded the island of Sicily. Within six weeks they had expelled the Axis entirely, opening up Mediterranean sea lanes for Allied ships and setting the stage for the invasion of mainland Italy.
But before the battle was over, in early August, two American servicemen — 1st Lt. Lawrence Taylor (who was a doctor) and Sgt. Milton Spelman — helped a Sicilian woman give birth a baby boy amid the chaos.
As a thank-you to the American doctor, she decided to name the baby Sam after Uncle Sam.
“The shells were landing all about,” Taylor recalled, “but we got through the delivery okay. The mother, who lived in New York once, told us her husband was with an Italian combat unit near Rome and believed in fascism. But she didn’t. Spelman and I became little Sam’s god-fathers.”
So how did Uncle Sam get his name? The Library of Congress says that the origin of the term “Uncle Sam” is obscure, but “[h]istorical sources attribute the name to a meat packer who supplied meat to the army during the War of 1812” — Samuel Wilson (1766-1854) of Troy, New York. According to the story, the soldiers who knew of “Uncle Sam” Wilson began to associate his nickname with the “U.S.” stamp on packaged meats, and over time the nickname simply became associated with anything marked “U.S.”
The name Samuel comes from the Hebrew name Shemuel/Shmuel and is typically defined as “name of God” (shem + el). Another possible definition is “heard of God” (shama + el).