Unexpected names from Alaska

My husband and I recently visited Alaska (which was awesome). Even though we kept busy, I couldn’t help but notice a ton of interesting names — human names, animal names, place names, boat names, etc. Many of these names (like Juneau, Sitka, Klondike, and Denali) were ones that many of us already associate with Alaska, so for this post I chose five Alaska-related names that I encountered unexpectedly during the trip:


Ladd Macaulay (1942-2000) was “a pioneer in establishing private non-profit hatcheries in Alaska,” according to the plaque at the Macaulay Salmon Hatchery in Juneau. I’m not sure how Ladd got his name, but it matches up with the English occupational surname Ladd (denoting a “servant”), so it may have been a surname in his family tree.

The baby name Ladd is not common, but sees enough usage to appear in the SSA data regularly.


Margerie glacier is a tidewater glacier in Glacier Bay National Park. “It is about 1-mile wide, with an ice face that is about 250 feet high above the waterline, but with its base about 100 feet below sea level.” It was named after French geographer and geologist Emmanuel de Margerie (1862-1953).

In the data, the baby name Margerie represents a (rare) respelling of the more common name Marjorie.

Patsy Ann

English bull terrier Patsy Ann (1929-1942) became famous in Juneau in the ’30s for greeting ships. “Although deaf from birth, she somehow sensed when an incoming ship was about a half-mile away. She also had an uncanny ability to determine the dock where it would moor.” In 1934, the mayor of the city dubbed her “Official Greeter of Juneau, Alaska.”

The combination Patsy Ann has only ever popped up once in the data.


Peniel missionaries from California came to Alaska in the 1890s. “They ministered to both the religious and practical needs of primarily transient people in these communities.” The Hebrew place name Peniel, meaning “face of God,” is mentioned in the Book of Genesis. The NPS website notes that the pronunciation was “pen-aisle.”

The baby name Peniel started appearing in the data in the late ’90s. So far, it’s been given to baby girls and baby boys in equal measure.


Tuliaan is one of the black bears at Fortress of the Bears, a bear sanctuary in Sitka. She was orphaned in Seward, Alaska, in October of 2013. Her name means “calm” in the Tlingit language.

Neither Tuliaan nor “Tuli” (her nickname) has ever appeared in the SSA data.


Which of the above names do you like best?

4 thoughts on “Unexpected names from Alaska

  1. Tuli grabbed me by the hand and is now currently dragging me to the word doc that has sat for two years with a MC who has remained nameless except for MC-h lol She has just been christened Tuli Anna Rayne. YAY!!!
    I feel like I sound like a broken record, but, thank you yet again for a name I’d’ve never have found on my own.
    This may sound funny, but a little bit of ‘stress’ that I had no idea was even there is gone with that character now having a name. I think I need a life hahaha

  2. Tuli reminds me of the Dutch writer Multatuli. His pen name comes from the Latin phrase ‘multa tuli’ “I suffered a lot”.

  3. @Christa – Yay for resurrected manuscripts! I’m glad that name works for the character. I think a similar thing happens for me, too, with creative projects — sometimes one last puzzle piece needs to be put into place before things really start to flow.

  4. @elbowin – Oh wow, what a heavy name he chose for himself. Though I guess it’s very much in keeping with the themes he was exploring in his writing.

    Here’s the Wikipedia page for Multatuli (Eduard Douwes Dekker) in case anyone wants to learn more about him.

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