Name-spotting: Malancthon

sign, colorado, names
Sign inside Garden of the Gods

We visited the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs recently and, inside this park, we spotted a “What’s In a Name?” sign that described how the park got its name back in the 1850s:

As they looked over this area of cathedral-like rock spires, one man, Malancthon Beach, commented that the spot would be a great place for a beer garden someday. His friend, a poetic young man named Rufous Cable, replied that it was a place “fit for the Gods.”

It’s a cool story, but, to me, that first name “Malancthon” is way more interesting than the origin of the park name. Where did it come from?

My best guess is that Malancthon is a tribute to 16th-century German theologian Philipp Melanchthon, one of the leaders of the Protestant Reformation. His surname at birth was Schwartzerd (“black earth” in German), but as a young man he Latinized his name to the classical equivalent Melanchthon (“black earth” in Greek).

CCC Company 1848, Camp SP-13-C, Morrison, Colorado

We also saw some names at Red Rocks, which is both a park and a famous amphitheater.

The amphitheater was constructed from 1936 to 1941 by men in the Civilian Conservation Corps, a work relief program that existed during the Great Depression. One display included a photo of 124 of the men in the local CCC. Here are their first names, sorted by frequency:

  • 5: Joe, Raymond
  • 4: Charles
  • 3: Arthur, Clarence, Edward
  • 2: Bill, Byron, Carl, David, Earnest, Edwin, Everett, Jack, James, Leo, Maurice, William
  • 1: Aaron, Albert, Aldine, Alfonso, Allen, Alva, Amos, Ancelmo, Arleigh, Aubrey, Audrey, Barnett, Blaine, Calvin, Celestino, Charley, Claud, Claude, Clayton, Cleston, Dale, Damas, Dan, Darold, Dick, Don, Donald, Ed, Elden, Elias, Elipio, Emerson, Emilio, Eric, Ernest, Eston, Fares, Frank, Fred, Glenn, Grant, Gust, Guy, Horace, Hubert, Irvin, Jake, Jasper, Jesse, Jim, John, Jose, Kenneth, Lawrence, Leland, Leonard, Lester, Louis, Lyman, Manual, Marvin, Max, Merce, Noah, Norman, Orval, Pasqual, Paul, Pete, Richard, Rowland, Rudolfo, Russel, Russell, Sandeford, Trenton, Willard

…What interesting names have you spotted while out and about recently?

9 thoughts on “Name-spotting: Malancthon

  1. All I have to do is look at my family tree. I think the mothers were given booze for the pain and then asked to name the kids. Theodosina, Ormond Bolus, Euphrasina, Vitus, Mararetha, Analsum, Williamianna Francine (after her father William Franklin- I thank God I was the second child from the second marriage and got Christa)

  2. Not sure with Analsum. It is from 1515 in Germany. All my family’s weird names are from Germany. I am only 3rd generation American on my mother’s side.

  3. My husband’s Great-Grandfather was George Melancthon D___.

    He lived his whole life in the US and the family had been here since pre-revolution in early 1600s.

  4. Analsum does not look like a German given name to me (not even for the year 1515). Are you sure that it is a real given name (it could well be a Northern German or Dutch place name, the ending “-um” coming from “-heim”)? Or was it recorded in Latin with a foreign ending (still the stem Anals- will be a riddle)?

  5. A few of the more unique names I’ve come across lately include Cloyd, Lawndale, Render & Estin.

    I was looking at some baseball stats from the 50s and the name Cloyd Boyer popped up. He was one of 14 siblings and his younger brothers Cletis & Ken also played in the majors.
    Lawndale was the first name of a man mentioned in passing in a news article I was reading.
    Render & Estin were the parents of Millard Fuller, the founder of Habitat for Humanity.

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