Where did the baby name Vergean come from in 1931?

Vergean Allen featured in a 1931 newspaper advertisement for cod-liver oil.
Vergean Allen in newspaper ad

The uncommon name Vergean first appeared in the U.S. baby name data way back in 1931:

  • 1933: unlisted
  • 1932: unlisted
  • 1931: 7 baby girls named Vergean [debut]
  • 1930: unlisted
  • 1929: unlisted

And it was never in the data again, making it a one-hit wonder. In fact, Vergean was one of the top one-hit wonder names of 1931 (along with Dixianna and Leroyce).

So, what gave the name a boost that year?

A simple newspaper ad, believe it or not.

It was an advertisement for a product called “Scott’s Emulsion of Cod-Liver Oil,” which had been on the market since the 1870s. Here’s the text from the first half of the ad, which was the part that featured Vergean:

A real, little girl — a real story — and real proof that children like cod-liver oil this emulsified way.

You mothers who know what marvels cod-liver oil can do for youngsters, but can’t get yours to take it without a lot of coaxing and trouble, listen to this! Vergean Allen, the merry-faced child above, has a wonderful hint for you. Vergean, you see, has never liked plain cod-liver oil. So when we called at her home recently, at 16 Livingston Ave., Yonkers, N. Y., Mrs. Allen gladly agreed to let Vergean try some Scott’s Emulsion of Cod-Liver Oil. Vergean took a spoonful. Then her worried eyes started to twinkle. “It tastes good!” she smiled. “I wouldn’t mind taking more.”

The ad ran in newspapers across America in January of 1931. (And I did find a single instance of it appearing in February, in the San Francisco Examiner.)

So…did young Vergean Allen really exist?

Yes! She was 6 years old at the time of the 1930 U.S. Census, which noted that she was indeed from Yonkers, New York.

Vergean in 1930 U.S. Census
Vergean in the 1930 U.S. Census

And she was 16 at the time of the 1940 U.S. Census. Her name was misspelled “Verjean” this time around.

Vergean in 1940 U.S. Census
Vergean in the 1940 U.S. Census

What are your thoughts on the name Vergean? Would you use it for a modern-day baby?

Source: Scott’s Emulsion of Cod-Liver Oil [Advertisement]. Hagerstown Daily Mail 7 Jan. 1931: 4.

3 thoughts on “Where did the baby name Vergean come from in 1931?

  1. I had the same thought as Elise, especially after seeing that Verjean appeared in the data a handful of times.

  2. Oh I hadn’t even thought about that — I was too attached to the spelling in the advertisement to consider that it might not be the actual spelling of her name. Thank you for the correction, you guys! (And I really appreciate you tracking down that wedding announcement, elise!)

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