How did Coleman Blease influence baby names?

South Carolina politician Coleman Blease.
South Carolina politician Coleman Blease

South Carolina politician (and “unrepentant white supremacist”) Coleman “Coley” Blease held various public offices from the 1890s to the 1930s. The year he had the biggest impact on baby names, though, was the year he became governor of the state: 1911.

That year, he was behind not one but two debuts in the U.S. baby name data.

First, there’s Blease (rhymes with “please”):

  • 1913: 20 baby boys named Blease – 19 born in S.C.
  • 1912: 12 baby boys named Blease – all born in S.C.
  • 1911: 8 baby boys named Blease [debut] – all born in S.C.
  • 1910: unlisted
  • 1909: unlisted

The surname Blease is likely a variant of Blaise, which can be traced back to the Latin name Blasius, meaning “lisping.”

Second, there’s Colie:

  • 1913: 16 baby boys named Colie – 8 born in S.C.
  • 1912: 23 baby boys named Colie – 21 born in S.C.
  • 1911: 16 baby boys named Colie [debut] – 8 born in S.C.
  • 1910: unlisted
  • 1909: unlisted

This alternate spelling of the Coley was the top debut name of the year, in fact.

The names Coley and Coleman also saw higher usage — particularly in South Carolina — during the early 1910s.

Finally, a number of babies were given first-middle combos that referred unmistakably to Coley Blease. Some examples:

What are your thoughts on these names?

Sources:

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