Baby name story: Edwarda

bonus marchers 1932
Bonus Marchers vs. Police, Washington, D.C., July of 1932

In the spring and summer of 1932, tens of thousands of unemployed World War I veterans and their families set up camp in Washington, DC.

Each carried a military service certificate. These certificates weren’t redeemable until 1945, but the Great Depression was underway, and the group — which called itself the Bonus Expeditionary Force — was demanding that the government redeem the certificates immediately, in cash.

Toward the end of July, Mayor Edward McCloskey of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, visited the B.E.F. and (perhaps inadvertently) invited the group to Johnstown in the event of an eviction. So, when President Hoover kicked the B.E.F. out of Washington a week later, Johnstown is where everyone headed, to the chagrin of Johnstown residents.

The first B.E.F. baby born at the new Johnstown location arrived on July 31. She was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Leroy Herendeen of Jackson, Michigan, and was named Edwarda in honor of Edward McCloskey.

(The bonus army didn’t stay long in Johnstown, though. After a few days of negotiation, Eddie McCloskey was able to convince the group to disband. The last of the army left on August 7.)


  • HEROES: B. E. F.’s End.” Time 15 Aug. 1932.
  • “Late Michigan News.” Ludington Daily News 17 Aug. 1932: 5.
  • “McCloskey Disbands Bonus Army Where Hoover Failed.” Pittsburgh Press 4 Aug. 1932: 2.
  • Whittle, Randy. Johnstown, Pennsylvania: 1895-1936. Charleston, SC: The History Press, 2005.

Image: Bonus Marchers, National Archives

3 thoughts on “Baby name story: Edwarda

  1. A woman named Edwarda O’Bara, who recently passed away after spending 42 years in a diabetic coma, has been in the news lately.

    An article from 1995 reveals that she, too, was named Edwarda for Edward McCloskey–who happened to be her grandfather.

    Since then, Kaye, now 68, has cared for Edwarda full time. She says she tries to do things the 16-year-old, named for Kaye’s father, Eddie McCloskey, a 1930s mayor of Johnstown, Pa., liked. She reads to her and plays her favorite music.

    Source: “Mom stays by comatose daughter.” Sarasota Herald-Tribune 25 Dec. 1995: 11B.

  2. The first B.E.F baby born in July 31, 1932.

    Named Edwarda Ann Herendeen to Mr. and Mrs. Leroy Herendeen of Jackson, Michigan passed away on January 27, 2016 at the age of 83.

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