History-inspired baby names found via other sources, such as the U.S. Census, the SSDI, birth records, and so forth. These are either from before 1880 (pre-SSA), or they were too rare overall to show up in the SSA data (sub-SSA).
Gen. Zachary Taylor acquired the nickname “Old Rough and Ready” during the Second Seminole War (1835-1842) in Florida. He garnered even more national attention a few years later, during the Mexican-American War (1846-1848).
He rode his popularity all the way to the White House, though he was only in office for sixteen months (March 1849 to July 1850) before unexpectedly dying of a gastrointestinal illness on July 9th.
According to the 1850 U.S. Census, many baby boys were named Zachary Taylor (and, less often, Zachariah Taylor) in the late 1840s. Even more interesting, though, is the fact that about a dozen boys were listed as “Rough & Ready” (or some variation thereof):
Rough & Ready Hickey, a 3-year-old in Alabama.
Rough & Ready Reece, a newborn in Tennessee.
Rough & Ready Saunders, a 3-year-old in Virginia.
Rough & Ready Watson, a 2-year-old in Mississippi.
Rough & Readdy Worthington, a 5-year-old in Maryland.
In some cases, “Rough & Ready” was just a nickname for Zachary/Zachariah Taylor. In other cases, though, “Rough and Ready” really was the name — though, over time, “Rough &” often morphed into “Ruffin.”
Eisenhower, John S. D. Zachary Taylor. New York, Henry Holt and Co., 2008.
The Eiffel Tower was created by civil engineer Gustave Eiffel for the Paris Exposition of 1889 (which marked the 100th anniversary of the French Revolution). It took more than two years to construct and was the tallest man-made structure in the world until 1930.
We’ve already talked about one person named Eiffel Tower, and, since then, I’ve found a second Eiffel Tower. If we do a records search for the name Eiffel, though, we find dozens more. “Eiffel” was never common enough in the U.S. to appear in the SSA data, but I see Eiffels as early as 1889 in the SSDI, and as early as 1887 (the year construction began*) in vital records.
Here are the best-documented, U.S.-born Eiffels I found from the last years of the 1880s and the first years of the 1890s. Two-thirds of them are female.
Did you know that Gustave Eiffel’s surname at birth was actually Bönickhausen?
In the early 1700s, Gustave’s ancestor Jean-Rene Bönickhausen relocated from a town in the mountainous Eifel region of Germany to the capital of France and began going by Eiffel (perhaps because it was easier to pronounce than Bönickhausen). So the official surname of this branch of the family tree became “Bönickhausen, dit Eiffel.” Gustave didn’t legally shorten it to Eiffel until 1879.
The word “Eifel” can be traced back to the Early Middle Ages, but the etymology is unknown.
What are your thoughts on Eiffel as a first name? Would you use it?
*The Eiffel Tower was being mentioned in the newspapers was early as mid-1886, but the name wasn’t set yet; it was being called things like “the Great Tower,” “the Tower of Paris,” and “the Eiffel Tall Tower.”
I got curious about “Hopalong” after writing the Topper post, which mentions famous fictional cowboy Hopalong Cassidy.
Hopalong Cassidy, always portrayed by actor William Boyd, appeared in 66 low-budget movies in the ’30s and ’40s. (In fact, Boyd is in The Guinness Book of World Records for making the most film performances in the same role.)
But the character was most popular during the 1950s, after Boyd bought the television rights to Hopalong and the movies began airing on TV (the first in mid-1949). This made Hopalong Cassidy the very first TV cowboy. In 1950, Life magazine detailed the financial success of the character/brand: “Hopalong has become an economic colossus, born of television’s desperate need for ready-made programs.”
So far, I’ve tracked down three real people with the name Hopalong. The earliest was born in Texas in 1943. The next was born in Micronesia in 1959. And the most recent, for whom “Hopalong” was a middle name, was born in Texas in 1979. (The name was also used for the puppet “Hop Along Wong” in the 1950s kid’s TV show Time for Beany.)
The character William “Hopalong” Cassidy originated in stories written in the early 1900s by Clarence E. Mulford. Originally Hopalong was a much rougher man, and he had limp — hence the nickname.
Yesterday I mentioned that Korla Pandit leaving Snader Telescriptions circa 1951 opened the door for a Vegas pianist named W?adziu Valentino Liberace to have a shot at television.
And the rest is history: Liberace’s energetic live performances quickly made him famous. He went on to become one of highest-paid entertainers ever.
He was known as “Lee” to family and friends, but as a showman he preferred to go by his Italian surname, pronounced lib-er-AH-chee. It can probably be traced back to the Latin word liber, meaning “free.”
And while the baby name Liberace has never been popular enough to appear in the SSA’s baby name data — I would have told you a long time ago if it had! — it has been used as a given name before. As you’d expect, most Liberaces were born in the early-to-mid ’50s. Here are some examples: