A Spike in Eulalias

Infanta Eulalia

In the early 1890s, the baby name Eulalia saw a distinct spike in usage:

  • 1895: 34 baby girls named Eulalia
  • 1894: 39 baby girls named Eulalia
  • 1893: 55 baby girls named Eulalia
  • 1892: 19 baby girls named Eulalia
  • 1891: 20 baby girls named Eulalia

That’s what the SSA data indicates; here’s the spike mirrored in the SSDI data:

  • 1895: 81 people named Eulalia
  • 1894: 92 people named Eulalia
  • 1893: 156 people named Eulalia
  • 1892: 59 people named Eulalia
  • 1891: 46 people named Eulalia

What caused it?

Spain’s 29-year-old Infanta Eulalia — whose full name at birth was María Eulalia Francisca de Asís Margarita Roberta Isabel Francisca de Paula Cristina María de la Piedad. (The name Eulalia is derived from the ancient Greek word eulalos, meaning “well spoken.”)

In 1893, she visited the U.S. to attend the Chicago World’s Fair — officially the “Columbian Exposition,” held in commemoration of the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ discovery of America.

This Columbus connection made the fair’s organizers eager to host a member of the Spanish royal family as a guest of honor. So Queen Isabella II of Spain sent her youngest daughter, Eulalia, to represent the family.

Even before Eulalia appeared at the fair on June 7, she attracted U.S. media attention over the 49 days she spent traveling to various places (Puerto Rico, Cuba, Washington DC, and New York) along the way to Chicago.

Once she finally arrived, she was followed closely by the media. Newspapers like the Chicago Tribune offered daily updates on Eulalia and her various activities (e.g., parades, banquets, concerts).

However, despite the glowing reports on the front pages, the Tribune began carrying references to misunderstandings and insinuations of friction over matters of etiquette, precedence, and, especially, the Princess’ cavalier attitude toward arrangements made for her.

In fact, at the end of her “brief but not altogether satisfactory” visit, the Tribune went so far as to say the efforts put in by those who’d entertained Eulalia and her entourage were akin to “seeds flung away on barren ground.”

…All this press coverage, both positive and negative, gave the name a lot of extra exposure during 1893. And this resulted in more U.S. parents naming their babies “Eulalia” the same year.

What are your thoughts on the name Eulalia? Would you use it for a modern-day baby?

Sources:

A Whole Bunch of Hobarts

Garret A. Hobart

In 1896, people were thinking politics. We can see it in the baby names that saw the biggest relative increases in usage from 1895 to 1896: Hobart (744%), Hobert (488%), Bryan (481%), Jennings (344%), Bryant (271%), and Mckinley (256%).

I think most of us will recognize William McKinley and William Jennings Bryan as two of the influences here. But where did “Hobart” and “Hobert” come from?

Before I get to the answer, here’s some data on the usage of Hobart and Hobert for baby boys in America during the 1890s:

Year# Hobarts, SSA# Hoberts, SSA
189842 (rank: 281st)42 (rank: 282nd)
1897105 (rank: 148th)60 (rank: 216th)
1896135 (rank: 128th)47 (rank: 263rd)
189516 (rank: 515th)8 (rank: 829th)
18947 (rank: 907th)5 (not in top 1,000)

And here’s some (more reliable) data from the Social Security Death Index showing the same overall trend:

Year# Hobarts, SSDI# Hoberts, SSDI
1898229141
1897514243
1896770263
18958443
18944010

So where did Hobart (and Hobert) come from?

Garret Hobart, the corporate lawyer who became the Republican nominee for vice president in June of 1896. He and running mate McKinley were strong advocates of the Gold Standard, whereas Bryan was as supporter of Free Silver.

McKinley and Hobart won the election and were sworn into their respective offices in March of 1897. Unlike most vice presidents up to that point, Hobart “enjoyed an unusually close relationship with the president and was often consulted on major policy issues.”

But his term was cut short. He became ill in early 1899, his health declined as the year wore on, and he died of heart disease in November at age 55.

During his last summer, though, he and his wife Jennie had some fun with names while staying at their seaside New Jersey home, which featured an outdoor fountain:

This fountain we stocked with gold fish that grew so tame they followed us as we walked round it. One fish, with a huge gold spot on his back, we named McKinley; one with a big silver mark we named Bryan. The most gorgeous one of all whose coat, shot with crimson, white and gold looked like a uniform, we named General Miles.

What are your thoughts on Hobart as a first name? Is it usable these days?

Sources:

Babies Named for Kentucky’s Assassinated Governor

William Goebel, Kentucky governor
William Goebel of Kentucky

Who knew that the only U.S. governor assassinated while in office would have so many namesakes?

In 1899, the two men running for governor of Kentucky — “the most violent state in the union” at the end of the 19th century — were William Goebel (Democrat) and William S. Taylor (Republican).

Goebel — a crafty politician who had murdered one of his rivals several years earlier — was the favorite.

But, in an unexpected turn of events, Taylor ended up defeating Goebel by a narrow margin.

While Goebel was ready to accept the loss, his supporters were not, and the election results were challenged on the grounds of voter fraud.

Taylor was inaugurated on December 12, but chaos reigned in Kentucky for many weeks. In fact, “Kentucky was teetering on the brink of civil war by January 30, 1900” — the day an unseen gunman shot William Goebel in the chest while he was walking toward the State House.

The very next day, the Kentucky General Assembly decided that Goebel had indeed won the election. He was immediately sworn in as governor, but died on the evening of February 3.

Thus, Goebel became the only U.S. state governor to be assassinated while in office.

And 1899-1900 is exactly when we first see the baby name Goebel appear in the SSA’s baby name data:

  • 1901: unlisted
  • 1900: 10 baby boys named Goebel
  • 1899: 5 baby boys named Goebel [debut]
  • 1898: unlisted

The SSA data from that era is incomplete, though, so let’s also look at data from the Social Security Death Index (SSDI):

  • 1904: 2 people named Goebel
  • 1903: 5 people named Goebel
  • 1902: 8 people named Goebel
  • 1901: 10 people named Goebel
  • 1900: 73 people named Goebel
  • 1899: 54 people named Goebel
  • 1898: 5 people named Goebel
  • 1897: 2 people named Goebel
  • 1896: 1 person named Goebel
  • 1895: no one named Goebel

I don’t know for sure where all of the 1899/1900 Goebels listed in the SSDI were born, but I can tell you that most died in the state of Kentucky.

Finally, other turn-of-the-century records reveal hundreds of babies named “William Goebel” specifically. Here are a dozen of them:

  1. William Goebel Bower, 1900-1980
  2. William Goebel Darland, 1900-1923
  3. William Goebel Fowler, 1900-1924
  4. William Goebel Haley, 1899-1936
  5. William Goebel Johnson, 1899-1908
  6. William Goebel Kendall, 1900-1947
  7. William Goebel Locknane, 1900-1977
  8. William Goebel Mers, 1899-1932
  9. William Goebel Pulliam, 1899-1924
  10. William Goebel Spurlin, 1899-1964
  11. William Goebel Todd, 1900-1956
  12. William Goebel Whitney, 1899-1965

So what does the German surname Goebel mean? It’s a respelling of Göbel, a pet form of the Germanic personal name Godebert, made up of the elements g?d, “good,” or god, “god,” and berht, “bright; famous.”

Sources:

  • Hanks, Patrick. (Ed.) Dictionary of American Family Names. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.
  • Newton, Michael. Famous Assassinations in World History, vol. 1. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2014.
  • Walker, Marianne C. “The Late Governor Goebel.” Humantities Jul./Aug. 2013.
  • William Goebel – Wikipedia

Babies of Silverites Named “Silver” in 1896

“Silver Lunatics”

The baby name Silver is now a regular on the SSA’s annual baby name list. But it wasn’t quite as common back in the 1890s when it suddenly debuted with an impressive 10 baby boys:

  • 1898: unlisted
  • 1897: unlisted
  • 1896: 10 baby boys named Silver [debut]
  • 1895: unlisted
  • 1894: unlisted

If we look at SSDI data we see a similar spike in the number of people named Silver in 1896:

  • 1898: 8 people named Silver
  • 1897: 6 people named Silver
  • 1896: 18 people named Silver
  • 1895: 6 people named Silver
  • 1894: 8 people named Silver

Can you guess the cause?

I’ll give you two hints. First, look what happens to the name Bryan that year:

  • 1898: 57 baby boys named Bryan
  • 1897: 97 baby boys named Bryan
  • 1896: 157 baby boys named Bryan
  • 1895: 27 baby boys named Bryan
  • 1894: 9 baby boys named Bryan

Now check out how the name Jennings peaks a year later:

  • 1898: 28 baby boys named Jennings
  • 1897: 50 baby boys named Jennings
  • 1896: 40 baby boys named Jennings
  • 1895: 9 baby boys named Jennings
  • 1894: 5 baby boys named Jennings

No doubt you’ve pieced it together: 1896 was the year William Jennings Bryan ran for president, and the central issue for Democrats that year was Free Silver.

The U.S. was in the middle of a depression, and Free Silver supporters (the “Silverites”) thought the depression could be alleviated via the coinage of silver.

“For true believers,” the Encyclopedia Britannica states, “silver became the symbol of economic justice for the mass of the American people.”

And those “true believers” were very likely the ones naming their kids Silver back in 1896.

But Bryan’s opponent, William McKinley, was able to convince voters that Free Silver was a bad thing — that the resultant inflation would harm the economy — and won the election.

What do you think of the baby name Silver?

Sources: William Jennings Bryan – Wikipedia, Free Silver – Wikipedia, Free Silver Movement | United States history | Britannica.com
Image: A down-hill movement – LOC

P.S. Want to see other money-inspired monikers? Try Legal Tender, Depression, Cash Money, Rose Mary Echo Silver Dollar, Millionaire, Billionaire, Trillionaire, Free Silver, Gold Standard.