Where did the baby name Abilene come from in 1964?

The George Hamilton IV album "Abilene" (1963)
George Hamilton IV album

The place-name Abilene appeared for the first time in the U.S. baby name data in 1964:

  • 1966: unlisted
  • 1965: unlisted
  • 1964: 5 baby girls named Abilene
  • 1963: unlisted
  • 1962: unlisted

What put it there?

A country song.

“Abilene” by George Hamilton IV was released in May of 1963. In August, the song reached #15 on Billboard‘s Hot 100 chart. Soon after that, it began a four-week run atop the Hot Country Singles chart.

Here’s Hamilton’s recording of the song (which starts, Abilene, Abilene/Prettiest town I’ve ever seen):

Primary songwriter Bob Gibson was inspired to compose “Abilene” in the late 1950s after watching the 1946 western Abilene Town. The movie is set in Abilene, Kansas, but here’s what Gibson had to say about the location being referred to in the song:

People had always asked me, “Bob, did you write that song about Abilene, Kansas or Abilene, Texas?” I’d always have to say, “I don’t know.” I didn’t know! Like all good Americans, I learned all of my history from the movies, and I knew that Abilene was this great railhead. I started going down to Kerrville for the folk festival there in 1978, and the first time I got on that stage at Kerrville and sang Abilene, and 5,000 Texans stood up and put their hands of their hearts, I knew right away I’d written it about Abilene, Texas!

The city in Texas was named (in 1881) after the town in Kansas. The town in Kansas, in turn, was named (in the early 1860s) by Eliza Hersey, wife of the town’s first settler, Timothy Hersey. Eliza chose the biblical place-name Abilene (found in Luke 3:1).

What are your thoughts on Abilene as a first name?


  • George Hamilton IV – Billboard
  • Gibson, Bob and Carole Bender. Bob Gibson: I Come For To Sing. Naperville, IL: Kingston Korner, 1999.
  • Bearce, Stephanie and the Dickinson County Historical Society. Abilene. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2012.
  • SSA

3 thoughts on “Where did the baby name Abilene come from in 1964?

  1. Ooooh … I love Abilene. What a sweet song and sweet name. I did not realize it was Biblical. I would totally use this name with its sassy country vibe!

  2. I think it’s pretty, although I would be pretty surprised to meet anyone under age 70 named Abilene. I also like the similar-sounding Adaleen, the name of Mary Kay Place’s character on the tv show Big Love. In fact, I love the names of everyone in their immediate family — Roman, Adaleen, Nicolette (Nicki), and Albert (Albie).

    I wonder if -een/-ene names will make a big comeback soon. I have noticed more interest in the names Kathleen, Darlene, and Eileen in baby name subreddits lately.

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