The baby name Junellen has appeared in the U.S. baby name data just once so far, in 1947:
1947: 12 baby girls named Junellen [debut]
Where did it come from?
A fashion model named Junellen Hawthorne.
Junellen was profiled in an article called “Model from Vermont” that was published in Parade, the nationwide Sunday newspaper magazine, in March of 1947. The issue’s cover also featured a photo of Junellen (though not her name).
According to the article, 20-year-old Junellen Hawthorne lived part-time on her family’s farm in Vermont, and the other part of the time in New York City, where she worked as a fashion model for the John Robert Powers modeling agency (believed to be the world’s first modeling agency).
Junellen’s Parade photos were shot by photographer André de Dienes, who, about a year and a half earlier, had hired a 19-year-old named Norma Jeane Baker (the future Marilyn Monroe!) for her first modeling job.
So how did Junellen come to have her unusual first name? Her parents created it by combining their own names, Junior and Ellen. (Junellen was an only child.)
What are your thoughts on the name Junellen?
“Model from Vermont.” Parade 30 Mar. 1947.
“John R. Powers Dies; Led Modeling Agency.” New York Times 22 Jul 1977: 15.
Grammy-winning singer and Oscar-winning actor Burl Ives was born in rural Illinois in 1909. His birth name? Burl Icle Ivanhoe Ives.
I don’t know the story behind his unique given names, but I do know that his parents, Levi Franklin (“Frank”) and Cordellia (“Dellie”), gave several of their six other children interesting names as well:
Audry Jane, b. 1899
Artie Morris, b. 1901
Clarence Estie, b. 1903
Argola Marie, b. 1906
Burl Icle Ivanhoe, b. 1909
Lilburn Verger, b. 1914
Norma, b. 1919
(During that area, the next-door state of Missouri had a community called Argola — I wonder if that’s where Argola Marie’s name came from…?)
Today, Burl Ives may be best remembered as the voice of Sam the Snowman in the 1964 stop-motion TV movie Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer — the longest-running Christmas special in history.
Over at The Public Domain Review, I found a collection of 51 novelty playing cards — several incomplete decks, mixed together — from 1916 that feature the images and names of popular movie actresses from that era.
Below are all the first names from those cards, plus where those names happened to rank in the 1916 baby name data. (Two-thirds of them were in the top 100, and over 95% fell inside the top 1,000.)
The unusual baby name Dewilla debuted in the baby name data in 1935:
1937: 6 baby girls named Dewilla
1935: 8 baby girls named Dewilla [debut]
What put it there initially?
A murder that began as a mystery.
On November 24, 1934, the bodies of three slain girls were discovered in the woods near Carlisle, Pennsylvania. The case was dubbed the “babes in the woods” mystery by the press.
After about a week, the police were able to identify the bodies as belonging to sisters Dewilla Noakes (age 10) and Cordelia Noakes (age 8), and their older half-sister Norma Sedgwick (age 12).
They were originally from Roseville, California, and had recently traveled east with their father, Elmo, and his teenage niece, Winifred — both of whom were later found shot to death over 100 miles away in Altoona. Contemporary sources guessed that Elmo and Winifred were on the run because they were in an illicit relationship.
That doesn’t explain how or why the three girls ended up dead in Pennsylvania, though. The assumption is that Elmo suffocated them, but his motive isn’t known for sure. (Perhaps the family was out of money and Elmo didn’t want the girls to starve.)
This sensationalized, Depression-era crime happened around the same time that Charles Lindbergh‘s baby boy was kidnapped (1932) and the boy’s murderer was captured and put on trial (1934 to 1936).
Do you like the name Dewilla? (How about the names Cordelia and Norma?)