Where did the baby name Shenandoah come from in 1965?

The title character from the TV series "A Man Called Shenandoah" (1965-1966)
Shenandoah from “A Man Called Shenandoah

The unusual name Shenandoah first popped up (as a boy name) in the U.S. baby name data in the middle of the 1960s:

  • 1967: unlisted
  • 1966: 12 baby boys named Shenandoah
  • 1965: 15 baby boys named Shenandoah [debut]
  • 1964: unlisted
  • 1963: unlisted


Mainly because of television…though a movie may have helped.

The TV western A Man Called Shenandoah ran from September of 1965 to September of 1966. It starred Robert Horton as a man who, after recovering from a gunshot, forgot his identity. He adopted the name Shenandoah and spent the series wandering the West, searching for clues about himself.

Title of the TV show "A Man Called Shenandoah" (1965-1966)

I’d say this was the main cause, as the title so strongly suggested that “Shenandoah” could be a name (just like A Girl Named Sooner a decade later).

But a secondary cause could have been the film Shenandoah, released in June of 1965. It starred actor Jimmy Stewart as a widowed Virginia farmer who tried unsuccessfully to remain neutral and keep his family together during the Civil War.

The word “Shenandoah” refers to the river, which runs mainly through Virginia. The origin of the name of the river isn’t known for sure, but one theory is that it’s a form of “Senedo,” the name of a Native American group that once existed in that region.

Do you like Shenandoah as a baby name? If so, do you think it works better for boys or for girls?

Source: Do You Remember… “A Man Called Shenandoah”
Image: Screenshot of A Man Called Shenandoah

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.