How popular is the baby name Grover in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Use the popularity graph and data table below to find out! Plus, see all the blog posts that mention the name Grover.

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Popularity of the baby name Grover

Posts that mention the name Grover

What gave the baby name Fitzhugh a boost in 1898?

Politician Fitzhugh Lee (1835-1905)
Fitzhugh Lee

The surname Fitzhugh saw peak usage as a first name in the U.S. in 1898, according to the U.S. baby name data:

  • 1900: 9 baby boys named Fitzhugh
  • 1899: 6 baby boys named Fitzhugh
  • 1898: 28 baby boys named Fitzhugh (peak usage)
  • 1897: 6 baby boys named Fitzhugh
  • 1896: unlisted

Many people born before 1937 never applied for a Social Security card, though, so the earliest decades of the SSA data tend to under-count actual usage. Data from the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) — which reveals a similar spike in 1898 — suggests that the overall popularity of Fitzhugh was a bit higher during that era:

  • 1900: 20 people named Fitzhugh
  • 1899: 30 people named Fitzhugh
  • 1898: 152 people named Fitzhugh
  • 1897: 24 people named Fitzhugh
  • 1896: 14 people named Fitzhugh

So what was drawing attention to the name Fitzhugh in 1898 specifically?

A diplomat named Fitzhugh Lee.

Fitzhugh Lee — like his uncle, Robert E. Lee — served as a Confederate general during the Civil War. Several decades later, he served as the governor of Virginia (1886-1890). Despite these high-profile roles, it wasn’t until later in his life that “he became a national hero.”

In 1896, Lee was was appointed U.S. Consul General in Havana by president Grover Cleveland.

His unabashed and well-publicized support of Cuban independence and “his vigorous defense of American citizens and business interests on the island” did not endear him to Cuba’s Spanish rulers, but did make him very popular at home.

Fitzhugh Lee newspaper illustration (April 1898)
Newspaper illustration of Lee

In February of 1898, the USS Maine exploded (under mysterious circumstances) in Havana Harbor. Fitzhugh Lee finally left the island on April 9. He was the last American to evacuate before the U.S. declared war on Spain on April 25.

The reception of General Lee, upon his return from Havana, was a spontaneous popular endorsement of his services in Cuba, and a splendid tribute to his worth and ability as a man and an American. His progress from Key West to Washington was an almost continuous ovation. All along the route the people by thousands greeted him at each stopping place, and showered upon him their congratulations and tokens of admiration.

What are your thoughts on the name Fitzhugh?


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

Where did the baby name Adlai come from in the 1890s?

Politician Adlai E. Stevenson I (1835-1914)
Adlai E. Stevenson I

The interesting name Adlai first appeared in the U.S. baby named data in the early 1890s:

  • 1893: 9 baby boys named Adlai (rank: 706th)
  • 1892: 17 baby boys named Adlai (rank: 480th)
  • 1891: 6 baby boys named Adlai (rank: 841st) [debut]
  • 1890: unlisted
  • 1889: unlisted

That 1892 spike in usage remained Adlai’s high-point until the 1950s.

But, because many people born before 1937 never applied for a Social Security card, the earliest decades of the SSA data tend to under-count actual usage. The following numbers, from the Social Security Death Index, should be more accurate:

  • 1893: 34 people named Adlai
  • 1892: 91 people named Adlai
  • 1891: 8 people named Adlai
  • 1890: 3 people named Adlai
  • 1889: 1 person named Adlai

So, what inspired this sudden interest in the name Adlai?

Adlai Ewing Stevenson, who served as the 23rd Vice President from 1893 to 1897 under President Grover Cleveland. (They were called “Cleve and Steve” during the campaign, adorably.)

He’d served as assistant postmaster general during Cleveland’s first term, and, before that, he’d served twice as a U.S. Representative from Illinois (1875-77; 1879-81).

The slightly elevated usage of “Adlai” in 1891 — a year before the campaign/election — could be due to the fact that many babies were not named at birth during that era. So, some 1891 babies likely weren’t given names until well into 1892.

Going through the records, I found dozens of people with the first-middle name combo “Adlai Stevenson.” Here are a few examples from 1892 specifically:

(The handful of older “Adlai Stevensons” I found were all born in Illinois in the 1870s and 1880s.)

Other folks got different versions of the name, such as Stevenson Adlai and Adlai Ewing.

Even better, I found a bunch of people named after the “Cleve and Steve” Democratic ticket, such as Adlai Cleveland, Adlai Grover, Cleveland Adlai, Cleveland Stevenson, Grover Adlai, and Grover Stevenson.

The name Adlai comes from the Bible, but no one knows for sure what it means. Guesses include “my witness; my ornament” (Hitchcock’s Bible Names Dictionary, 1869) and “lax, weary” (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, 1939).

What are your thoughts on the name Adlai? Would you use it?

Sources: SSA, SSDI, Adlai Stevenson I – Wikipedia, Adlai Stevenson – Britannica

How did Kenesaw Mountain Landis get his name?

Baseball commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis (1866-1944)
Kenesaw Mountain Landis

If you know Major League Baseball history, no doubt you’re familiar with Kenesaw Mountain “Ken” Landis, who served as professional baseball’s first commissioner from 1921 to 1944.

But…do you know how he got that unusual name?

In 1862 — in the middle of the Civil War — Ken’s father, Dr. Abraham Landis, left his family behind in Ohio to serve as a surgeon in the Union Army. (His family, at that time, consisted of wife Mary and five young children.)

Abraham was severely wounded at the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain in Georgia on June 27, 1864. He spent many weeks in the hospital recovering before he was finally able to return home.

His sixth child, a son, arrived on November 20, 1866 — long after the war was over.

[I]t took Dr. and Mrs. Landis some time to decide on his name. In fact, the delay in providing a name prompted both family and community members to suggest a deluge of different names. Mary Landis did not like the name Abraham, so when Dr. Landis suggested calling their son “Kenesaw,” the name and alternate spelling stuck. Clearly, the site of the doctor’s personal tragedy remained in his thoughts.

The name of the mountain is an Anglicized form of the Cherokee name Gahneesah, which means “burial ground” or “place of the dead.”

(All of Ken’s eventual six siblings had more ordinary names: Katherine, Frances, Walter, Charles, John, and Frederick.)

Ken went on to pass the bar exam and attend law school (in that order) and, by the early 1890s, was practicing law in Chicago. Within a couple of years, he was offered (and accepted) a job in the federal government:

In the Union Army, Abraham Landis was under the command of Lt. Col. Walter Quinton Gresham during Sherman’s advance through Tennessee and Georgia. […] In 1893 Gresham was appointed secretary of state by President Grover Cleveland. He needed a personal secretary and he chose a 26-year-old Chicago attorney with no knowledge of foreign affairs, Kenesaw Mountain Landis.

When Gresham unexpectedly died in 1895, Grover Cleveland offered Ken the post of minister to Venezuela. Ken declined this offer to return to private practice in Chicago and to get married to his fiancée, Winifred Reed.

A year later, Kenesaw and Winifred welcomed their first child, a son named Reed Gresham Landis — middle name in honor of Ken’s late boss (and his father’s former commander).

I have more to say about Kenesaw Mountain Landis, but I’ll save the rest for tomorrow. In the meanwhile, here’s a post about Malvern Hill — another unusual baby name inspired by a Civil War battle/location.