Where did the baby name Alson come from in 1888?

Politician Alson J. Streeter (1823-1901)
Alson J. Streeter

The name Alson first appeared in the U.S. baby name data in 1888:

  • 1890: unlisted
  • 1889: unlisted
  • 1888: 5 baby boys named Alson [debut]
  • 1887: unlisted
  • 1886: unlisted

The Social Security Death Index (SSDI) data for the same window of time shows a similar increase in usage in 1888:

  • 1890: 7 people named Alson
  • 1889: 14 people named Alson
  • 1888: 14 people named Alson
  • 1887: 3 people named Alson
  • 1886: 4 people named Alson

What was the influence?

A third-party candidate in the 1888 U.S. presidential election named Alson J. Streeter.

In May of that year, Streeter — a former Illinois state senator — had won the nomination of the fledgling Union Labor Party (made up of both agricultural and industrial workers).

He ran against Republican candidate Benjamin Harrison, Democratic candidate Grover Cleveland, and several other third-party candidates, including Belva Lockwood.

Harrison won the electoral vote (and hence the election), but Cleveland won the popular vote. Prohibition candidate Clinton Fisk came in third with 2.2% of the popular vote, while Alson Streeter took fourth with 1.3%.

Support for Streeter was particularly high in the states of Kansas (where he won 11.4% of the vote), Texas (8.2%), Arkansas (6.8%), and Missouri (3.6%). So it doesn’t surprise me that the people I found named “Alson Streeter” specifically were also from these states:

In Streeter’s case, the name Alson may have come from a family surname. If so, it’s likely that Alson is a variant of the surname Allison, which would have originally referred to the son of someone with an Al-name like Alan, or Alexander.

Do you like the name Alson? Would you use it?

Sources: 1888 United States presidential election – Wikipedia, Alson Streeter – Wikipedia, Union Labor Party – Encyclopedia of Arkansas, SSA

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