Mystery Monday: Nydra

Here’s a mystery baby name for you: Nydra. It was a one-hit wonder in the SSA data in 1981, registering with 14 baby girls. Fourteen wasn’t quite high enough to boost Nydra onto the list of most popular one-hit wonder girl names, but it’s an impressive showing nonetheless.

  • 1983: unlisted
  • 1982: unlisted
  • 1981: 14 baby girls named Nydra [debut]
  • 1980: unlisted
  • 1979: unlisted

My only guess so far has to do with an infant named Nydra Chi Vonne Pettaway, who was kidnapped* from a hospital in Houston, Texas, a few days after she was born in April of 1981. She was recovered several days later (and her 18-year-old kidnapper was sentenced to 10 years probation). But I’ve only seen baby Nydra mentioned in one Texas newspaper so far, so I’m not sure if the news item was widespread/impactful enough to account for the name’s debut.

Do you have any clues/guesses?

Source: “Baby Thief Sentenced.” Port Arthur News 11 Oct. 1981: 14.

*Speaking of kidnapped babies, here’s the post on Chaneta.

Mystery Monday: Sujey

In 1976 and 1977, several names like Sujey, Sugey and Suhey popped up in the national baby name dataset:

197519761977
Sujey35*36
Sugey13*29
Suehay11**
Sujei10*6
Suhey8*7
Sugei6**
Zujey5*
Sujeiry6*
Sugeiri5**

*Debut; **One-hit wonder

The fact that the letters J, G, and H were used interchangeably — plus the fact that usage was concentrated in states with large Spanish-speaking populations (like California and Texas) — suggested right away to me that these names were being used by Spanish-speaking families.

In fact, I was already thinking “telenovela” when I happened to spot this intriguing Instagram post by sassysugey:

Life always gives you surprises…met another “Sugey” that was named because of the same telenovela! #sugey #telenovela #unamuchachallamadamilagros

That third hashtag pointed me to the 1974 Venezuelan telenovela Una Muchacha Llamada Milagros (A Girl Called Milagros/Miracles), which was indeed airing in the U.S. in 1976.

Everything seemed to be lining up pretty well…until I checked the list of actors and characters in Una Muchacha Llamada Milagros. None of them had a name similar to “Sujey.”

So: either the name was used in the storyline somewhere (and I’m unaware of it), or this is the wrong telenovela, or the answer isn’t a telenovela at all.

Does anyone out there have any information on the name Sujey, or on its possible connection to Una Muchacha Llamada Milagros? If so, please leave a comment!

Sources: Una muchacha llamada Milagros – Wikipedia, Una muchacha llamada Milagros – IMDb

Mystery Monday: Elwanda

Ready for another baby name mystery? I present to you Elwanda, which saw a sharp increase in usage in 1921:

  • 1923: 54 baby girls named Elwanda
    • 61% in 4 states: 14 TX, 7 WV, 6 AR, 6 KY
  • 1922: 85 baby girls named Elwanda [rank: 791st]
    • 66% in 5 states: 17 TX, 15 AR, 8 MO, 8 TN, 6 OK
  • 1921: 98 baby girls named Elwanda [rank: 739th]
    • 72% in 6 states: 25 TX, 18 AR, 9 OK, 7 MO, 6 KY, 6 WV
  • 1920: 5 baby girls named Elwanda [debut]
  • 1919: unlisted

So far, I can’t explain that spike (which was the steepest rise overall that year). But I can tell you that most of that 1921 usage took place in an interesting grouping of Southern states:

On the one hand, higher usage of Wanda-based names in the early 1920s makes sense because that’s when name Wanda itself was very trendy. (Wanda entered the top 100 in 1922.)

On the other hand, when you compare the usage of Elwanda to that of the other Wanda-variants (like Wandalee and Lawanda), it’s clear that something else must have happened in Elwanda’s case for the rise to be that steep — not to mention so regionally specific.

Any ideas about what influenced Elwanda?

P.S. Other names that saw movement during the 1920s were influenced by things like movies, music (but not radio), literature (particularly serialized stories), and news stories.

Mystery Monday: Versie

According to the SSA data, one of the fastest rising baby names of 1894 was the girl name Versie. The SSDI similarly indicates a spike in Versies in 1894:

Versie (SSA)Versie (SSDI)
189616 baby girls16 baby girls
18957 baby girls14 baby girls
189421 baby girls21 baby girls
18935 baby girls11 baby girls
1892unlisted7 baby girls

What caused it?

I’m not sure! I’ve tried searching for an explanation, but so far I’ve come up short.

The 1894 spike isn’t related to the usage of the similar name Versa (which disappeared from the data that year, in fact). And I haven’t found any news stories or pop culture from that era that would have spotlighted the name.

All I can tell you is that, according to the records I’ve seen, usage was primarily in the South (in states like Texas, Georgia, Arkansas, and Tennessee). Also, usage was primarily in white families, though I did find Versies in African-American families as well.

Any ideas on this one?

P.S. Incidentally, versie means “version” in Dutch.