The Baby Name Ortrude

Ortrude is one of the many girl names tied for top one-hit wonder of 1916.

  • 1918: unlisted
  • 1917: unlisted
  • 1916: 6 baby girls named Ortrude [debut]
  • 1915: unlisted
  • 1914: unlisted

Where did it come from?

A serialized story called Marrying for Money by Mrs. Eva Leonard. It ran in various U.S. newspapers during the first half of 1916.

In the story, Ortrude was a self-centered woman who married a wealthy older man with two adolescent children (Marian and Dudley). Ortrude’s bad behavior did not endear her to anyone in her new family, husband included. By the end of the tale, she’d had an epiphany and changed her ways.

Do you like the name Ortrude? Do you like it more or less than the similar name Gertrude?

The Baby Name Trudis

Trudis Calgour, character
Trudis Calgour

Trudis was a one hit wonder in the U.S. baby name data in 1916:

  • 1918: unlisted
  • 1917: unlisted
  • 1916: 5 baby girls named Trudis
  • 1915: unlisted
  • 1914: unlisted

What put it in the data?

A character from various stories (e.g., “The Camps of Chaos,” “The Teeth of Famine”) by Canadian author Samuel Alexander White. The tales were initially serialized in Collier’s during the first half of 1915, then reprinted in at least one newspaper (the St. Louis Post-Dispatch) in 1916.

The stories were set in the Yukon, and the two main characters were siblings Thorpe Calgour and Trudis “Tru” Calgour of Dawson City. Thorpe worked as a gold-miner, and his sister Trudis “kept his cabin and encouraged all his efforts.”

What are your thoughts on the name Trudis?

Sources:

  • The FictionMags Index
  • White, Samuel Alexander. “The Fasle Stampede.” Collier’s 16 Jan. 1915: 10-12, 24.

Transient Tessibel

secret of storm country, 1917, movieTessibel appeared only once in the Social Security Administration’s baby name data, way back in 1917:

  • 1919: unlisted
  • 1918: unlisted
  • 1917: 7 baby girls named Tessibel [debut]
  • 1916: unlisted
  • 1915: unlisted

For a better picture of what usage looked like around this time, though, let’s check out data from the Social Security Death Index:

  • 1921: 2 people named Tessibel
  • 1920: 1 people named Tessibel
  • 1919: 2 people named Tessibel
  • 1918: 2 people named Tessibel
  • 1917: 6 people named Tessibel
  • 1916: 3 people named Tessibel
  • 1900-1915: zero people named Tessibel

So where did the name Tessibel come from in the 1910s, and why were there extra Tessibels in 1917?

The inspiration was fictional character Tessibel Skinner, invented by author Grace Miller White and first introduced in the 1909 book Tess of the Storm Country. A second book featuring Tess, The Secret of the Storm Country, came out in 1917.

The first book was made into four different films (in 1914, 1922, 1932, and 1960) and the second was made into a single film the same year it was published.

My guess is that the name got a nudge in 1917 thanks to the release of the new story, which was also serialized in the now-defunct magazine Woman’s World. The marketing for the movie — which featured popular actress Norma Talmadge (who went on to star in The Heart of Wetona and Smilin’ Through) — could have been a factor as well.

Do you like the name Tessibel? Do you think it’s a good alternative to names like Isabel and Annabel?

The Vivacious Name Viviette

Illustration from book Viviette (1910) by W. J. LockeThe rare name Viviette first appeared in the U.S. baby name data in 1919:

  • 1920: unlisted
  • 1919: 6 baby girls named Viviette [debut]
  • 1918: unlisted

After 1919, it fell off the charts for nearly a century before reappearing in 2014 (and hence being knocked off the one-hit wonder list).

The SSDI also reveals a slight uptick in usage in 1919:

  • 1921: 0 people named Viviette
  • 1920: 1 people named Viviette
  • 1919: 3 people named Viviette
  • 1918: 1 people named Viviette
  • 1917: 1 people named Viviette

So what was the cause? The silent film Viviette, released way back in 1918.

Coincidentally, the character Viviette was played by an actress with a very similar name: Vivian Martin. Both names can be traced back to the Latin word vivus, which means “alive, living.”

The movie was based on the book Viviette (1910) by William J. Locke. Here’s a synopsis:

Viviette is a girl of many lovers, but for the purpose of this story the number narrows down to two, the brothers, Austin and Dick Ware. Austin is the brilliant successful one of the two, Dick, hot tempered and passionate, is the failure. Viviette plays one off against the other and carries the flirtation to dangerous lengths. But in the end she makes her choice.

Which name do you like better, Viviette or Vivian?

Sources:

The Baby Name Wetona

heart of wetona, norma talmadge, silent film, 1919

Here’s a curious one: Wetona. The name started appearing in the baby name data during the second half of the 1910s:

  • 1922: 10 baby girls named Wetona
  • 1921: 6 baby girls named Wetona
  • 1920: 12 baby girls named Wetona [peak]
  • 1919: 9 baby girls named Wetona
  • 1918: unlisted
  • 1917: unlisted
  • 1916: 5 baby girls named Wetona [debut]
  • 1915: unlisted

The SSA data from that far back isn’t terribly reliable, though, so here’s SSDI data for the same time period:

  • 1922: 6 Wetonas
  • 1921: 4 Wetonas
  • 1920: 9 Wetonas and 1 Wetonah
  • 1919: 10 Wetonas, 1 Wetonah, and 1 person with the middle name Wetona
  • 1918: 1 Wetona
  • 1917: 1 Wetona
  • 1916: 1 Wetona and 1 Wetonah
  • 1915: none

What put Wetona (and Wetonah) on the map in 1916? The play The Heart of Wetona, which was written by George Scarborough and performed on Broadway from February to May, 1916. It starred actress Lenore Ulric as the “Indian princess” Wetona.

How did Scarborough come up with the name Wetona? I’m not sure that he did. “The play was originally called Oklahoma and focused on problems of religious leaders in the new state.” It was then rewritten by theatrical producer/playwright David Belasco, who “changed some of the characters to Indians and the locale to a reservation.”

A few years later, in 1919, two things happened. First, the play was turned into a silent film starring Norma Talmadge. Second, the song “Heart of Wetona” — which was “inspired by and dedicated to Norma Talmadge” — was published. These two things together account for the increased usage of the name Wetona that year.

Do you like the name Wetona? Do you think it’s usable nowadays?

Sources: