Where did the baby name Hobby come from in 1918?

Texas politician William P. Hobby (1878-1964)
William P. Hobby

The curious name Hobby first appeared in the U.S. baby name data in 1918:

  • 1920: unlisted
  • 1919: unlisted
  • 1918: 9 baby boys named Hobby [debut]
    • All 9 born in Texas
  • 1917: unlisted
  • 1916: unlisted

After that, the name never returned — making it a one-hit wonder. (In fact, it was one of the top one-hit wonders of 1918.)

For comparison, here’s data from the Social Security Death Index:

  • 1920: 1 person with the first name Hobby
  • 1919: 4 people with the first name Hobby
  • 1918: 8 people with the first name Hobby
  • 1917: 1 person with the first name Hobby
  • 1916: 1 person with the first name Hobby

So, why were Texas parents naming their sons Hobby in the late 1910s?

Because of Texas politician William Pettus Hobby.

In mid-1917 — while Hobby was serving his second term as lieutenant governor of Texas — Governor James Edward Ferguson was impeached and convicted. Upon Ferguson’s removal from office, Hobby succeeded him as governor.

The following November, Hobby was elected governor in his own right. He served a full two-year term from January of 1919 until January of 1921.

Before and after his political career, Hobby was employed in the newspapers business — working his way up from circulation clerk in the 1890s to chairman of the board of the Houston Post Company in the 1950s.

What are your thoughts on the name Hobby? (Do you like it more or less than Hoby?)

P.S. Another early 20th-century Texas governor two influenced baby names was Oscar Branch Colquitt.

Sources: William P. Hobby – Wikipedia, William Pettus Hobby – Texas State Historical Association, SSA

Image: W. P. Hobby (LOC)

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