Jeanne d’Arc (1412-1431), known as Joan of Arc in English, was a French peasant, Christian mystic, and teenage warrior during the Hundred Years’ War (1337-1453) between France and England.
Well, she wasn’t a “warrior” exactly, as she never actually fought in battle. She was more of an “inspirational mascot, brandishing her banner in place of a weapon.”
In any case, she ended up being captured by the enemy, convicted of heresy and witchcraft (among other things), excommunicated from the church, and burned at the stake — all before the age of 20.
But a few decades later the verdict was overturned, the excommunication was invalidated, and she was declared a martyr.
And during the centuries that followed, her reputation grew — especially among the French.
Despite all this, the well-known St. Joan didn’t officially become a Roman Catholic saint until the early 20th century. She was canonized in May of 1920 by Pope Benedict XV.
The same year, the full French form of her name, Jeannedarc, debuted on the U.S. baby name charts and reappeared several more times during the same decade:
1926: 5 baby girls named Jeannedarc
1924: 6 baby girls named Jeannedarc
1923: 6 baby girls named Jeannedarc
1921: 6 baby girls named Jeannedarc
1920: 5 baby girls named Jeannedarc [debut]
And that’s not all. Records show that more than a few of the babies simply named Jeanne and Joan in the 1920s had as middle names “d’Arc” and “of Arc.” Two examples:
Jeanne D’Arc Florabel Menard, daughter of David and Georgiana Menard, born in Vermont in 1924.
Joan of Arc Mary Agnes Chabot, daughter of Thomas and Zelia Chabot, born in Vermont in 1923.
A disproportionate number of these 1920s babies named Jeanne d’Arc and Joan of Arc were born in the Northeastern U.S. to families of French (Canadian) extraction.
Interestingly, St. Joan herself only used the medieval spelling of her name, “Jehanne,” and never included the surname “d’Arc,” which was a form of her father’s surname. In fact, if she’d been forced to use a surname, she likely would have chosen her mother’s, Romée, as per hometown tradition. The surname Romée denoted someone who had made a pilgrimage (though not necessarily to Rome).
The name Monda debuted on the SSA’s baby name list nearly a century ago:
1920: 10 baby girls named Monda [debut]
The SSDI data reveals a similar spike in the number of people named Monda in 1920:
1922: 1 person named Monda
1921: 1 person named Monda
1920: 8 people named Monda
1919: 1 person named Monda
1918: 1 person named Monda
What was the cause?
A Chicago woman who led a double life!
News broke on February 3, 1920, that a 27-year-old Chicago woman named Rose Schweiburg, alias “Monda Rose,” had been apprehended in Winnipeg, Canada.
She had been a employee at Biehl & Sifferman Leather Co. in Chicago until January 24, when she disappeared.
A few days after her disappearance, her employer found a shortage in excess of $10,000 on the books.
While investigating both the missing money and the missing lady (who had been a bookkeeper earning $25 per week) a detective discovered that Rose Schweiburg had a second identity: She was also Monda Rose, a wealthy “society butterfly” who hung out with the fashionable set on the North Side of Chicago.
During the hunt for “Monda Rose” Schweiburg, the leather company had some of her property seized. This included a “$1,500 saddle horse, $2,000 automobile, and the furnishings of her luxurious apartment” on Winthrop Avenue.
She returned to the U.S., all the while telling authorities that she was not to blame — that her lifestyle and lavish expenditures “were made possible by money given her by a man.”
Here’s what else she said, according to the New York Times:
“If there’s any music,” said “Monda Rose,” “I’m willing to face it. I have profited some, but not in any illegal manner. If there’s any money missing somebody else has it. I haven’t.”
“I simply adore society,” she continued. “Long ago I used to watch the well dressed people and envy girls who rode or drove smart rigs or did any of the attractive things.
“I made up my mind then, and never have lost the vision, that some day I would be well dressed and that when the time came I would have read enough and observed enough to be able to maintain my place and be certain of myself in any company.”
By now, the books were known to be off by $25,000, and a shortage of $50,000 was expected once the audit was complete.
Detective Charles W. Haas said, “Her method of obtaining the money was simple. She had access to bank checks which she filled out, forged, and cashed. The stubs retained by the company showed the amounts she should have drawn had been written over for several times the amount.”
Meanwhile, the newspapers — all but declaring Monda Rose guilty of embezzlement — had fun with the details of the case. One brought up her “butcher boy lover” Harry Berger. Another detailed what she was wearing the day she was arrested (she was “bundled up in an expensive sealskin coat and bedecked with a small fortune in diamonds”). One even mentioned her weight (190 lbs).
Monda Rose was released from jail on bonds of $10,000. She continued to deny any wrongdoing.
Her attorney claimed that company co-owner Joseph Sifferman was behind the check raising, and that Rose had merely been following Sifferman’s instructions.
Many months later, in mid-December, the charges against Rose were finally dropped. Attention was then turned toward Sifferman, who said: “This whole thing is frame-up. Now I will have a chance to prove it.”
I’m not sure what happened after that — if Sifferman was ever charged, or if the missing money was ever located.
But I can tell you that society-loving “Monda Rose” Schweiberg went on to marry Harry the butcher boy, and that the two lived out their days in Chicago.
I can also tell you that at least 2 of the babies born in 1920 and named Monda got the middle name Rose:
Monda Rose Farmer, born Jan. 25, 1920, in Missouri
Monda Rose White, born Feb. 3, 1920, in Illinois
What do you think of the name Monda? Would you ever use it? How about the combo “Monda Rose”?
“Chicago Butterfly Dances in Her Cell.” Pittsburgh Press 10 Feb. 1920: 13.
“Chicago News in Brief” Chicago Tribune 20 Apr. 1920: 14.
Actress Dolores del Rio was the star of not one but two silent films with theme songs that influenced the baby name charts.
In 1926 she played Charmaine in What Price Glory?, and two years later she played the titular character in Ramona, which was based on the book Ramona (1884) by Helen Hunt Jackson.
The book is a tragic romance set in mid-19th century Southern California, and the protagonists are Ramona, a mixed-race Scottish–Native American orphan, and her lover Alessandro.
Like Trilby a decade later, Ramona was a bestseller that inspired many namesakes: schools, streets, freeways, even towns (such as Ramona, California). The number of human namesakes is harder to gauge, though the U.S. Census of 1900 indicates that there was a moderate increase in the number Ramonas in 1884.
Still, the book’s impact on baby names can’t compare to the impact of its most successful film adaptation, Ramona (1928)…thanks in large part to the music.
The song “Ramona” was commissioned for the film in 1927, and released later that year — long before the film came out in May of 1928, interestingly. It was a big hit with more than two million copies sold and two different versions reaching #1 on the Billboard charts in 1928: first the Paul Whiteman version for 3 weeks, then the Gene Austin version for 8 more weeks.
This song, the first to borrow a film’s title, became the most successful movie theme song of the decade, and greatly enhanced the success of the film. Its popularity gave Hollywood producers much food for thought about how to publicize movies.
Usage of the baby name Ramona, already on the rise in the late 1920s, increased so much in 1928 that the name nearly reached the top 100:
1931: 1,130 baby girls named Ramona [rank: 164th]
1930: 1,410 baby girls named Ramona [rank: 149th]
1929: 2,036 baby girls named Ramona [rank: 120th]
1928: 2,237 baby girls named Ramona [rank: 117th]
1927: 567 baby girls named Ramona [rank: 277th]
1926: 467 baby girls named Ramona [rank: 307th]
1925: 450 baby girls named Ramona [rank: 313th]
So where does the name Ramona come from?
Ramona and its masculine form, Ramón, are the Spanish versions of Raymond, which is ultimately based on the Germanic words ragin, meaning “advice, decision, counsel,” and mund, meaning “protection.”
Do you like the name Ramona? Would you use it?
Source: MacDonald, Laurence E. The Invisible Art of Film Music: A Comprehensive History. Lanham, MD: Ardsley House, 1998.
Charmaine reminds me of Cheryl — both are relatively recent inventions with hazy origins, both saw increased usage thanks to popular culture, and both sound a bit dated these days.
Charmaine never became as popular as Cheryl did, but, interestingly, the two main pop culture boosts that it got — in 1928 and in 1952 — were caused by the very same thing.
What Price Glory? (1926) was a silent, black-and-white movie set in France during World War I. It followed two U.S. Marine sergeants as they fought for the affections of Charmaine, an innkeeper’s daughter.
The movie’s theme song, “Charmaine,” was used as a leitmotif throughout the film. It went on to become a huge hit in the late 1920s. The best-selling recording, by Guy Lombardo and his orchestra, spent seven weeks at #1 on the U.S. Billboard charts in 1927.
In response to the popular song, hundreds of American baby girls were named Charmaine:
1930: 124 baby girls named Charmaine [rank: 622nd]
1929: 114 baby girls named Charmaine [rank: 653rd]
1928: 264 baby girls named Charmaine [rank: 419th]
1927: 74 baby girls named Charmaine [rank: 856th]
1926: 8 baby girls named Charmaine
A generation later, the film was remade — this time with sound and color.
The song “Charmaine” was used again for this 1952 version of the film, and again it became a hit. Multiple versions landed on the U.S. Billboard charts, including an instrumental version by the Mantovani Orchestra that peaked at #10 in 1951 and a version by the Billy May Orchestra that reached #17 in 1952.
This time around, usage of the baby name Charmaine more than tripled:
1954: 351 baby girls named Charmaine [rank: 475th]
1953: 428 baby girls named Charmaine [rank: 417th]
1952: 620 baby girls named Charmaine [rank: 331st]
1951: 192 baby girls named Charmaine [rank: 621st]
Usage has been decreasing ever since, though. In 2014, just 18 baby girls were named Charmaine.
So where does the name Charmaine come from?
Sources suggest that it’s based on either the English word “charm” or the name Charmian. Charmian is a variant of Charmion, based on the Ancient Greek word kharma, meaning “delight.” (One of Cleopatra’s servants was named Charmion.) The second syllable may have been influenced by the name Lorraine, which was fashionable in the early 1900s.
The name Garnell also debuted on the girls’ list in 1921.
Edith Mae Patterson wasn’t just a district winner, but also the grand prize winner. Her title was “The Most Beautiful Girl in the United States,” and she received an added $2,500.00.
Right on cue, the baby name Edithmae made its debut on the national list in 1921:
1923: 5 baby girls named Edithmae
1921: 5 baby girls named Edithmae [debut]
It made the list again in 1923, perhaps because Patterson remained in the public eye for several more years, “cross[ing] the country in the capacity of everything from civic-club speaker to fashion model to aspiring Hollywood actress.” She gave it all up in the mid-1920s, though, after a religious conversion.
Which name do you like more, Garnelle or Edithmae? Why?
“Egyptian Girl is Handsomest.” Marion Semi-Weekly Leader 30 Sept. 1921: 1.