How popular is the baby name Edna in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Find out using the graph below! Plus, check out all the blog posts that mention the name Edna.

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Popularity of the Baby Name Edna


Posts that Mention the Name Edna

Popular baby names in Providence, RI, 1868

19th-century Providence, Rhode Island
19th-century Providence

Years ago, I discovered three documents with relatively complete lists of births for the city of Providence, Rhode Island, for the years 1866, 1867, and 1868. I’ve already created Providence’s baby name rankings for 1866 and 1867 using the first two documents, and today (finally!) I’ve got the third set of rankings for you.

Let’s start with some stats:

  • 1,762 babies were born in Providence in 1868, by my count. According to the introduction of the document I’m using a source, however, the total number is 1,866. I don’t know how to account for this discrepancy.
  • 1,617 of these babies (791 girls and 826 boys) had names that were known at the time of publication. The other 145 babies got blank spaces. Either their names hadn’t been registered yet, or they hadn’t been named yet, or perhaps these babies died young and never received a name.
  • 284 unique names (143 girl names and 141 boy names) were shared among these 1,617 babies.

And now, on to the names!

Top 5

A quick look at the top 5 girl names and boy names in Providence in 1868:

Top baby girl namesTop baby boy names
1. Mary
2. Catherine
3. Sarah
4. Ellen
5. Margaret
1. John
2. William
3. James
4. Charles
5. George

All Girl Names

  1. Mary, 149 baby girls
  2. Catherine, 39
  3. Sarah, 38
  4. Ellen, 31
  5. Margaret, 28
  6. Elizabeth, 25
  7. Alice, 24
  8. Anna, 20
  9. Ann, 16
  10. Emma, 14
  11. Eliza, 13
  12. Clara & Martha, 11 each (tie)
  13. Hannah & Lucy, 10 each (tie)
  14. Bridget, Grace, Jennie, Julia & Maria, 9 each (5-way tie)
  15. Annie, Florence, Jane, Minnie & Susan, 8 each (5-way tie)
  16. Agnes, Caroline, Cora, Ella & Harriet, 7 each (5-way tie)
  17. Anne, Carrie, Hattie, Ida, Mabel & Nellie, 6 each (6-way tie)
  18. Eva, Joanna, Lydia & Rosanna, 5 each (4-way tie)
  19. Abby, Charlotte, Emily, Jessie, Josephine, Lillian, Lizzie, Louisa, Louise, Marion, Phebe, Rosella & Theresa, 4 each (13-way tie)
  20. Anastasia, Bertha, Edith, Gertrude, Isabella, Nettie, Pearl, Rebecca & Susanna, 3 each (9-way tie)
  21. Ada, Almira, Edna, Fannie, Flora, Frances, Helen, Henrietta, Inez, Laura, Lelia, Lillie, Lottie, Maud, Priscilla & Virginia, 2 each (16-way tie)
  22. Addie, Adelaide, Adelicia, Adeline, Agatha, Allene, Amanda, Amy, Angelica, Antoinette, Arabella, Augusta, Aurelia, B.*, Belle, Bessie, Betsey, Catharine, Celia, Claudia, Della, Eleanor, Eleanora, Estella, Estelle, Esther, Eudavelia, Eulalie, Evelyn, Francenia, Genevieve, Georgia, Honora, Imogene, Jesse, Juliette, Kate, Leonora, Lilla, Lillias, Lorena, Luella, Luetta, Magdalena, Marian, Marietta, Matilda, Mercy, Minerva, Miriam, Myra, Myrtis, Nanoan, Nora, Pauline, Reberta, Rhoda, Roberta, Rosa, Rose, Ruth, Sabrina, Sophia, Stella & Winifred, 1 each (65-way tie)

*What do you think the “B.” might have stood for?

All Boy Names

  1. John, 112 baby boys
  2. William, 68
  3. James, 64
  4. Charles, 52
  5. George, 45
  6. Thomas, 37
  7. Frederick, 25
  8. Henry, 23
  9. Joseph, 22
  10. Edward, 19
  11. Daniel & Patrick, 18 each (tie)
  12. Robert, 17
  13. Frank, 16
  14. Francis, 15
  15. Walter, 13
  16. Michael, 11
  17. Albert, 10
  18. Arthur, 9
  19. Benjamin, Peter & Samuel, 7 each (3-way tie)
  20. Freddie, Harry, Herbert & Stephen, 6 each (4-way tie)
  21. Edwin, Lawrence, Lewis, Martin & Timothy, 5 each (5-way tie)
  22. Bernard, Edmund, Eugene, Louis, Philip & Richard, 4 each (6-way tie)
  23. Alfred, Augustus, Christopher, Eben, Horace, Howard, Hugh, Jeremiah, Matthew & Willard, 3 each (10-way tie)
  24. Abel, Barney, Byron, Dennis, Edgar, Ferdinand, Gilbert, Luke, Max, Nathaniel, Owen, Roger, Solomon & Victor, 2 each (14-way tie)
  25. Alden, Alexis, Allen, Alrick, Amos, Andrew, Ansel, Anson, Archibald, Asa, Ashby, Bartholomew, Calvin, Carlos, Clarence, Clark, Clarke, Clement, Clifford, Collyer, Crolander, Darius, David, Earl, Elisha, Ellis, Eri, Ernest, Erwin, Eusebe, Everett, Felix, Forrest, Foster, Franklin, Fred, Gardner, Jacob, Jason, Jerome, Jireh, Joaneto, Josiah, Jubal, Justin, Lawson, Lodovic, Louis, Lucien, Lyman, Major, Malachi, Manuel, Melbourne, Monroe, Morey, Morris, Myron, Nelson, Nicholas, Olney, Orville, Oscar, Pendleton, Ralph, Reuben, Rolfe, Rowland, Rufus, Simeon, Simon, Steven, Stewart, Theodore, Ulysses*, Volney, Warren, Whiting, Willie & Winchester, 1 each (80-way tie)

*Ulysses was likely named in honor of Ulysses S. Grant, who was elected president in 1868.

Twins

Finally, nineteen sets of twins were born in Providence in 1868. (All of these twin names are accounted for in the rankings above.)

Girl-girl twinsGirl-boy twinsBoy-boy twins
Caroline & Harriet
Lucy & Lydia
Mary & Rosanna
Margaret & Mary
Lizzie & Martha
(blank) & (blank)
Anne & Thomas
Emma & Charles
Florence & William
Hannah & Josiah
Ida & John
Isabella & John
Jennie & Horace
Charles & William
Francis & Robert
George & John
James & John
James & Stephen
(blank) & (blank)

Have any thoughts about these rankings, or any of the specific names above?

Source: Snow, Edwin M. Alphabetical Lists of the Names of Persons Deceased, Born and Married in the City of Providence. Number three. Providence: Millard & Harker, 1870.

What gave the baby name Veva a boost in 1899?

Enthusiastic sub-headlines about Elvia Bell

From 1898 to 1899, the baby name Veva saw a pronounced increase in usage:

  • 1901: 19 baby girls named Veva [rank: 769th]
  • 1900: 30 baby girls named Veva [rank: 654th]
  • 1899: 51 baby girls named Veva [rank: 413th]
  • 1898: 14 baby girls named Veva [rank: 962nd]
  • 1897: 20 baby girls named Veva [rank: 714th]

Compared to other girl names that rose in usage that year, Veva’s leap amounted to the second-largest relative increase (after Tula) and the seventh-largest raw-number increase.

We can see a similar pattern reflected in the SSDI data:

  • 1901: 48 people with the first name Veva
  • 1900: 51 people with the first name Veva
  • 1899: 91 people with the first name Veva
  • 1898: 41 people with the first name Veva
  • 1897: 30 people with the first name Veva

What caused this sudden interest in the name Veva?

The answer might be a news story.

In the spring of 1899, sisters Evern Case (6) and Veva Case (4), who lived with their mother in Greensboro, North Carolina, went to visit their father in Mississippi for several months.

When their father refused to send them home, their mother’s sister, Elvia Bell (“a brunette of distinguished appearance” in her mid-20s), took it upon herself to travel to Mississippi and retrieve her nieces.

On June 10th, Elvia boarded a train bound for Ocean Springs, MS. Once she got there, she

…took lodging at the hotel to study the situation and mature her plans. She carried a letter of introduction to some lawyers there and soon had the sympathy of the hotel keeper and Mr. Martin Turnbull, a reporter of the Times-Democrat, enlisted in her cause. After fruitless interviews, of not too friendly nature, Mr. Case finally agreed that one child could return Monday, the 26th, but the other must remain with him. This concession did not satisfy Miss Bell. She had gone for both and both she must have.

So, with the help of her new friends, she concocted a plan and was able to gain access to both of her nieces ahead of the 26th. “[A]nd here the excitement begins.”

Here’s the full account of Elvia’s adventure as it appeared in the papers back in 1899:

When the children came Saturday morning it had been planned by the Times-Democrat reporter that Miss Bell and the children should go down the river in a boat toward New Orleans, but this miscarried and, to escape unnoticed, they took a carriage for Fontainbleau, a station several miles distant on the L. & N. Railroad, to take the northbound train from New Orleans. It was a fast drive through Mississippi mud and water, and the little party were much bespattered. A smallpox quarantine was encountered and after considerable difficulty was passed. Fortunately the train was an hour late. As it pulled in Miss Bell discovered a man, whom she recognized as the Times-Democrat reporter, on the rear of the train waving to her frantically. She made for him at once, when the conductor and porter lifted her and the children bodily on the train. She learned that the grandfather of the children had caught on to the racket who, as well as the reporter, had boarded the train lower down the road and was now in quest of her.

The irate old gentleman soon put in an appearance, upbraided Miss Bell, taunted her with “trying to do something smart” and informed her that they would get off at Scranton (the next station) intimating that she would be arrested there. Not having a Pullman car ticket this disturbing factor was soon removed from the scene by the porter, and Miss Bell locked herself and the children inside one of the departments of the Pullman car. At Scranton the grandfather alighted from the train and the officers got on, who failing in their search got off at the next station. In the meanwhile the grandfather at Scranton had a warrant issued for Miss Bell on the charge of kidnapping and telegraphed the Mobile, Ala., authorities to have her arrested. The reporter anticipated this and used all his influence with the railroad men in her behalf. It was decided that she and the children should be locked up and the conductor would immediately leave the train.

When the train arrived at Mobile, 1:30, two of the city’s detectives and a crowd, over which hovered an air of suspicion, were there to greet it. The officers at once began their search and one of the trainsmen treacherously gave the scheme away. They demanded admittance, which being refused, the door was battered open. Miss Bell was clutching both children in her arms and boldly demanded their authority for attempting her arrest. Failing to produce any she resisted them and took refuge behind every seat of the car. Reaching the door she kicked it shut, which locking fast, the same tedious process was necessary to reach the other end of the car. Her arms were bruised and blackened in the struggle.

She and the children were now hastened to the police station but the faithful reporter of the Times-Democrat did not desert her. He at once secured the service of Gregory L. Smith, one of the most prominent attorneys of Mobile, who immediately went to her and hearing her story, told her to leave the station. The chief of police objected promptly, saying he had a warrant for her detention, which charged her with being a fugitive from justice on the evidence of being concealed on the train. Mr. Smith then went before Judge Semmer and secured a writ of habeas corpus returnable instanter, and the case was tried in the city court, Mr. Smith representing Miss Bell and the city attorney the chief of police.

The trial was quick, thanks to the fact that Elvia could produce the contract signed by the girls’ parents regarding the details of the trip to Mississippi. The judge ruled in her favor, and she was released — free to return to Greensboro with her nieces.

But the action doesn’t quite end yet. She planned to leave town via train at midnight, but:

…it was suspected by the reporter, and suspected rightly, that the grandfather and officers would come from Scranton on the very train upon which she was to leave. How to evade them was now the problem. It seemed a difficult one, but nothing is too much for reporters and railroad men. It conjunction they planned that Miss Bell an the children should be on the opposite side of the train from which the passengers get off and that a door be opened on that side for her reception. Accordingly when the train came the grandfather and the officers, who had been wired of the arrest, alighted on the side with the throng, while Miss Bell and the children quietly entered from the other.

And the trio made it safely back to Greensboro.

The papers declared Elvia “a heroine” who, “through the whole trying adventure was as cool, unflinching and incisive as a surgeon’s knife.”


Usage of the baby name Elvia increased in 1899 as well — not as impressively as Veva did, but enough to boost Elvia into the girls’ top 1,000 for the first time.

All this said…I’m not 100% sure about this theory. The rise of Veva didn’t occur primarily in North Carolina, even though that’s where most of the news coverage was. And I think the rise of Elvia should have been more significant, given Elvia Bell’s starring role in the story.

In any case…what are your impressions of the baby names Veva and Elvia? Which one do you like more?

Sources:

Maine Family with 22 Children

children

Charles and Effie Dickey of Maine married in 1881 and went on to welcome 22 children — 14 girls, 8 boys — from the 1880s until the 1910s.

Here are the names of all the kids:

  1. Emma Mae (b. 1882)
  2. Ada Alice (b. 1883)
  3. Arthur Earness (b. 1884)
  4. Everlena Maude (b. 1885)
  5. Fannie Blossom (b. 1886)
  6. Nina Eudora (b. 1887)
  7. George Elwin (b. 1888)
  8. Fay Edna (b. 1889)
  9. Everett Onward (b. 1890)
  10. Merritt Carnot (b. 1891)
  11. Lema Inez (b. 1894)
  12. Margaret Ellen (b. 1896)
  13. Charles Loring (b. 1897)
  14. Effie Etta (b. 1898)
  15. Mildred Hortense (b. 1900)
  16. Ivan Thomas Nye (b. 1901)
  17. Floyd Merton (b. 1903)
  18. Arline Beatrice (b. 1904)
  19. Theodore Rayden (b. 1906)
  20. Jessie Alberta (b. 1908)
  21. Ila Pearl (b. 1909)
  22. Hilda Bernice (b. 1911)

I think it’s funny that they decided to name two of the children after themselves only after already having a dozen. Maybe they were running out of ideas at that point. :)

Which of the above is your favorite? (I’d have to go with #8’s middle, “Onward.” What an interesting choice.)

Sources: Descendants of 22 siblings plan Maine reunion, Effie Etta Estes Dickey (1866-1950) – Find a Grave

How did “Giant” influence baby names?

The characters Bick and Leslie Benedict from the movie "Giant" (1956).
Bick and Leslie from “Giant

One of last week’s post featured Glenna Lee McCarthy, whose father was famous Texas oil prospector and entrepreneur Glenn McCarthy (1907-1988).

Writer Edna Ferber fictionalized Glenn’s rags-to-riches life story in her novel Giant (1952) with the character Jett Rink.

The book was later made into a movie, which came out in October of 1956. Jett was played by James Dean, who had died in a car accident a month before the film premiered.

The other two main characters were Jordan “Bick” Benedict (played by Rock Hudson) and his wife Leslie Benedict (Elizabeth Taylor). Secondary characters included the Benedicts’ son Jordan, or “Jordy” (Dennis Hopper) and a neighbor named Vashti (Jane Withers).

The movie did well at the box office and was nominated for various Academy Awards, including a posthumous Best Actor nomination for Dean. It also gave a boost to several baby names:

Name1955195619571958
Leslie
(girl name)
4,401 babies
[rank: 99th]
4,386 babies
[rank: 104th]
6,100 babies
[rank: 77th]
6,008 babies
[rank: 79th]
Jett
(boy name)
5 babies14 babies24 babies17 babies
Jordan
(boy name)
105 babies
[rank: 713th]
101 babies
[rank: 734th]
207 babies
[rank: 540th]
184 babies
[rank: 568th]
Jordy
(boy name)
..5 babies
[debut]
.
Vashti
(girl name)
8 babies7 babies16 babies10 babies

Interestingly, the name Luz — which, like Jordan, was used for two different characters in the movie — saw a slight decline from 1956 to 1957.

Source: Giant (1956) – Wikipedia

Where did the baby name Glenalee come from in 1951?

glenna lee mccarthy, glenalee, baby name, 1950s

The baby name Glenalee was a one-hit wonder in the U.S. data in 1951. (In fact, it was tied for 1951’s top one-hit wonders of the year.)

  • 1953: unlisted
  • 1952: unlisted
  • 1951: 9 baby girls named Glenalee [debut]
  • 1950: unlisted
  • 1949: unlisted

Where did it come from?

An oil heiress who eloped with a cobbler’s son!

The bride was 17-year-old Glenna Lee McCarthy, daughter of famous Texas oilman Glenn McCarthy. She was a student at Lamar High School in Houston at the time.

(Glenn McCarthy was one of the men who inspired Edna Ferber to write the novel Giant in 1952. It was later made into a film starring James Dean, Elizabeth Taylor, and Rock Hudson.)

The groom was 19-year-old George Pontikes, son of a Greek cobbler. He had graduated from Lamar and was now attending Rice University, where he played football.

In early December, 1950, the pair ran off to Waco to be married by a justice of the peace. News of their elopement broke toward the end of the month — right around the time that Glenna’s older sister, Mary Margaret, was getting married in a much more traditional manner. (Which…could have been awkward.)

Glenna and George were in the news for several days straight at the very end of 1950. Many papers, including the New York Times, mistakenly called the bride “Glenalee McCarthy.” (Not all did, though, and the baby name Glenna saw peak usage in 1951 as a result.)

Papa Glenn McCarthy was unhappy about the elopement at first, but one paper reported that “trigger-tempered McCarthy” had “calmed down after [the] initial outburst of anger.” Perhaps he was quick to forgive because the situation was eerily familiar: He’d eloped with his own wife, the 16-year-old daughter of a wealthy oilman, back when he was a 23-year-old gas station attendant in 1930.

Do you like the name Glenalee (…even if it started out as a typo)?

Sources: