Popular Names

Today’s post comes from Jacque.

Recently I scrolled through the Social Security Administration list of popular names.   I found a lot of Liams, Michaels, Benjamins, Emmas, Avas, and Fridas.  Brittany and Tiffany are now parenting Liam and Ava.  It is so interesting how names run from generation to generation.    I found this in my own family tree during 3 generations of naming that stretched from 1718-1750’s.

During the early part of the pandemic, when we were socially distanced at home without end,  sorted and scanned  family history information which I have inherited from my mother and my grandfather’s cousin, Muriel, who gathered together some Civil War letters from her grandfather who fought in Sherman’s March to the Sea.  She, at age 92 years, is his only living grandchild.

In her things I found a letter and application to join the DAR under the Patriot Christian Hamaker.  A polite response from the DAR points out that there was no documentation for a Christian Hamaker.  This must have been disappointing for Muriel, who wanted badly to join the DAR.  Only a John was documented.  HMMM, I thought, logging on to Ancestry.com to clarify.  Yes, indeed, Christian fought, but with a name complication.    Here is what I found.  Johannes Adamus Hammacher emigrated to America in 1740, marrying Eva Marie Licht upon arriving.  They produced 12 living children from 1743-1764. They were as follows:

Johannes Adam Hamaker

Anna Maria Hamaker

Maria Salome Hamaker

Maria Eve Hamaker

Elizabeth Hamaker

Johannes Henry Hamaker

Johannes David Hamaker

Johannes Abraham Hamaker

***Johannes Christian Hamaker –my direct ancestor

Johannes Isaac Hamaker

Johannes Samuel Hamaker

Johannes Phillip Hamaker

Do you see patterns here? Poor Elizabeth with no “Maria” listed must have felt left out.  All eight sons fought, all were recorded as “Johannes” or “John” from in the same Pennsylvania Regiment from 1776-1783.  It appears from the records that after one of them married and started farming or running a sawmill, the next brother would report for duty when the call was issued because the practice was that they travelled back and forth from home to the front as needed. I suspect that the oldest, Adam, fought the most since there were four daughters between him and the next son.  Poor Muriel did not know this.  I called her several years ago to discuss it, but she could no longer follow the conversation, which was sad.  She did the family such a service by preserving a great deal of important family history.

In subsequent generations the last name is recorded as  Hamaker, Hammaker, Haymaker, Hammacher, Hamacher.  My three greats grandmother is listed as Nancy Ann Hammacher in an Iowa census.  She then married Martin Klein.  Kline.  Cline.  Only George Foreman who named all his children, George Forman, including the daughters, created more confusion.

Got some interesting family names?  What names would you like to see come back into fashion? What names are you tired of?

102 thoughts on “Popular Names”

  1. I don’t know why Johann was used as a first name for all the males in a German family. The Bach’ s are a good example, with Johann Sebastian, Johann Christoph, etc.

    I have written before about the naming system in Friesland in which a man’s last name was often his father’s first name. For example, my ancestor Heike Dirks was the son of Dirk Heikes. It makes tracing a family tree difficult.

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      1. While in Norway 6 years ago, we discovered that many Norwegian- Americans took the name of their farm. Lou’s family name here was Amdahl, which was the name of their farm near Stavanger. My Norwegian family name here would have been Jorgensen, which some of the emigrants did take. The rest must have taken the name of the farm which was Grubhoel, and they shortened it to Hoel.

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        1. You need to read, at the very least, the first chapter of The Overstory by Richard Powers. It’s titled Nicolas Hoel and its about an immigrant and his family that end up on a farm in Iowa.

          Liked by 2 people

        2. The whole book is excellent but I was especially captivated with the story in the first chapter about the Hoel chestnut, a tree planted from seed in Iowa and isolated enough that it survived the chestnut blight. The Hoel family (in the story) had a tradition of taking a photo of the tree from the same spot on the same day every year.

          Liked by 3 people

  2. The Dutch people in the area I grew up in favored the name Cornelius for some reason.

    Because my Great Grandmother Boomgaarden had some money, many of her 12 children named one of their sons Jake, after Great Grandfather Boomgarden, who died young. My dad was one of about six Jake Boomgaardens , most of whom lived within 30 miles of each other. They were often identified as Albert ‘s Jake, Louie’s Jake, Martin’s Jake, etc.

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  3. When I was grad assistant at the University of Manitoba in the 1980’s, there were lots of Chinese students from Hong Kong in the psychology classes I helped with, and they chose western names to be identified by in class rolls. I thought so funny that the names they chose were ones like Stanley. I guess those names sounded real nice to their ears, but they didn’t seem to know how old fashioned they were.

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  4. Rise and Shine Baboons,

    The confusion about Johannes Hammacher was actually even worse than that created by the names of these 12 people. All the uncles (4) in the father’s generation in Germany were also named Johannes, and some of the sons of all 8 of these Johannes were named John or Johannes. Because of the large number of children in each family, the family trees are correspondingly large and difficult to sort out. Someone in the early 1900s had written a book about the first 4 generations of this family which was posted in Ancestry.com. I could not find my grandmother 4 generations back, Nancy, for a long time. There was a small family in Iowa or Illinois with two daughters. I finally realized that the one listed as “Annie” was Nancy because the age and other data matched her, and I finally discovered Annie’s full name was Nancy Ann.

    Lately I have heard of babies named Emmett, Mabel, and Frida. I don’t care for those names—they seem like the elderly people I used to know or take care of when I worked in a nursing home. Some of the older names are beautiful—I think Evelyn has made a come back. I like that one.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Wait a few years and the elderly people in the nursing homes will be the Tiffanys and Brittanys.
      Nineteenth century census takers were alarmingly casual in the information they recorded. Not only did they not, apparently, ask anyone how their name should be spelled, but they made no effort to ascertain the legal name of the persons recorded. Often where the father and a son had the same first name, the son would be called by his middle name. Then, when the son established his own home, he would revert to his given name.
      I had one circumstance where one of the daughters was named either Annie or Sophia and she showed up either way in various records. I finally concluded that she was Annie Sophia but called Sophia because a cousin of the same age on the neighboring farm was Annie Julia and went by Annie.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My mother’s name is like that. She was told they recorded her name as Ann but then later decided to call her Adeline, a name I used to find old fashioned but now find charming in little girls. So she signed her name Ann A. in records and formal writing. And A. Adeline otherwise. When she got her birth certificate for retirement it said Anna Helen. Social Security in those years had to be loose about such records. My father’s certificate says Lewis Radtke (without his middle name Fred). Radtke was his mother’s name. His certificate had the word illegitimate printed across it. Radtke was his mother’s name. Railroad retirement and social security accepted it without question.
        A few ladies of our era have changed their names ending in -y or -ie to end in -i.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Alarmingly casual is a mild description. But then, those census takers were on horseback, carrying large books, bottles of ink, and pen points to dip in the ink. Some of those pages I have encountered, scanned into systems, are nearly unreadable, stained, and torn. Before Lincoln signed the education act in the 1860s, people were often illiterate, so a lot of them could not even spell their names. The Puritans and Quakers were detailed record-keepers, but literacy floundered with the expansion into the Louisiana Purchase. It is telling in the written records, which are spotty and slap-dash.

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        1. The difficulty is compounded by the questionable interpretations of those transcribing from the written records.

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      3. One of my aunts was called Emmy. She was born Martha Emmy, but she had an aunt named Martha, who lived next door, and that Martha also had a daughter named Martha, so too many Marthas. Emmy married a man named Adolph, but he always went by Jack. His legal name is the one that appears on his grave marker, but hers says Emmy.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Our family tree has been traced back to 1534 and the area of Holstein which is now Germany but was controlled by Denmark. The family back then served as keepers of the Danish royal family’s cattle hence the name Bullock, their occupation.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I knew a couple who named their first son after the place he was conceived. Since they experienced a moment of passion on the bank of a river, they called him Streamer. Their second son happened because they were a bit drunk and naked in a steamy bathhouse, but Sauna didn’t appeal to them as a name.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ron Howard named his children for where they were conceived. Since he was on the go a lot, one of them is named for a hotel.

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      1. Why do people doubt me? He had a conventional name for official use, but I lived with him two summers and never heard him called anything but Streamer or Streamside.

        This is a naming convention with obvious drawbacks that we don’t need to discuss in detail.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I visited Mom yesterday and found myself visiting a little with the other ladies she was sitting with. One was called Muriel. I was thinking there aren’t too many Muriels anymore.

    I was also noticing that many of the entry-level aides who care for the people there are Brittanys, Tiffanys, and Ashleys, etc. At one point there were two Ashleys, two Tracys, and three Brittanys. I much prefer the return to older, more traditional names like Emma, Ava, Rachel, and Ann. At one time there were so many Barbaras and Loises that they formed clubs. My mom is a Barbara and so was my paternal aunt.

    I never liked my own name. I think I should have been an Ann. My middle name is Ann, so I guess I’ll just settle for what I’ve got.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A class somewhere in the 70’s had six Lorries in it, who all spelled their name differently. None of them were Lori. Later I had a girl whose name was LLorree.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. When I worked in CD treatment in the 90s with teens and young adults, the names in vogue were Jason and Christopher. When those names were called over the audio system you could get 6 or 7 guys responding at any time.

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  8. I can only think that the Hammacher parents must have called their kids by their middle names – can you imagine yelling something at Johannes or Maria and having a whole slew of kids respond? What in the world were they thinking??

    I am one of the millions of Barbara s that Krista referred to – there are a lot of us my age, also Cathy/Kathy. In my 1970s classes, multiples of Michael, Jennifer, Lisa, Kevin. By the late 70s/early 80s there were nature names like Sunshine.

    I like a lot of the unusual names that kids have these days, but a little boy being foster-parented by an acquaintance was named Rifle, and that seems sad to me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Rifle, Gauge, and Colt are some of the names that indicate a father’s membership in the NRA, signaling political leanings. There is a Guage Johnson in husband’s family.

      Everyone loves Barbie Dahl.

      Liked by 2 people

    2. Did I ever tell you that Mrs. McCave
      Had twenty-three sons, and she named them all Dave?

      Well, she did. And that wasn’t a smart thing to do.
      You see, when she wants one, and calls out “Yoo-Hoo!
      Come into the house, Dave!” she doesn’t get one.
      All twenty-three Daves of hers come on the run!

      This makes things quite difficult at the McCaves’
      As you can imagine, with so many Daves.
      And often she wishes that, when they were born,
      She had named one of them Bodkin Van Horn.
      And one of them Hoos-Foos. And one of them Snimm.
      And one of them Hot-Shot. And one Sunny Jim.
      Another one Putt-Putt. Another one Moon Face.
      Another one Marvin O’Gravel Balloon Face.
      And one of them Zanzibar Buck-Buck McFate…

      But she didn’t do it. And now it’s too late.

      Dr. Seuss

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I just noticed that was an abridged version:

        Did I ever tell you that Mrs. McCave
        Had twenty-three sons and she named them all Dave?
        Well, she did. And that wasn’t a smart thing to do.
        You see, when she wants one and calls out, “Yoo-Hoo!
        Come into the house, Dave!” she doesn’t get one.
        All twenty-three Daves of hers come on the run!
        This makes things quite difficult at the McCaves’
        As you can imagine, with so many Daves.
        And often she wishes that, when they were born,
        She had named one of them Bodkin Van Horn
        And one of them Hoos-Foos. And one of them Snimm.
        And one of them Hot-Shot. And one Sunny Jim.
        And one of them Shadrack. And one of them Blinkey.
        And one of them Stuffy. And one of them Stinkey.
        Another one Putt-Putt. Another one Moon Face.
        Another one Marvin O’Gravel Balloon Face.
        And one of them Ziggy. And one Soggy Muff.
        One Buffalo Bill. And one Biffalo Buff.
        And one of them Sneepy. And one Weepy Weed.
        And one Paris Garters. And one Harris Tweed.
        And one of them Sir Michael Carmichael Zutt
        And one of them Oliver Boliver Butt
        And one of them Zanzibar Buck-Buck McFate …
        But she didn’t do it. And now it’s too late.

        Liked by 5 people

  9. Way back in high school there was a girl two years behind me who had the unfortunate name of Crystal Ball. And in my class we teased Candy J. that if she married T. Baar she would become Candy Baar. Working in the NICU for over 25 years, I came across many unusual names or unusual ways of spelling common names. There were names made up of part of each parents first name or just plain made up – I guess the parents were trying to be unconventional. There were a bunch of Nevaehs (heaven spelled backward). Native American names often pertained to nature – Snowflake, White Cloud, Skybird, Blue, Star, etc. I’m not necessarily fond of old fashioned names – many remind me of people I knew while growing up. A daughter of one friend has boys named Oscar, Everett, and August. For a long time I didn’t like Anna or Emma because of associations with very elderly ladies from my home town. However, those names have grown on me and I like them now.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Our tortie cat is named Millie, an old fashioned name. She became suddenly ill yesterday, and now we find she has lymphoma. We shall see what happens.

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      1. In the space of 36 hours she became weak, dehydrated, and lethargic. Steroids could place her into remission for 2 years. She could be dead in a month. I will know more tomorrow morning.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. During the 1980s there were lots of kids I dealt with as a social worker. Many little Elvises, Star, Circle, Infinity, and the ever famous Placenta.

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  12. My grandmother wanted to name my mother Iowa “because that’s the most beautiful word I ever heard.” But she thought that might be confusing, so my mom was named Charmion. Which confused everybody she met and was a source of injured pride.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. And I’d appreciate it if you would promptly forget it, too, BiR.

        I have no idea how my mother came up with Lorna, Renee, but I know Margaret was after her best friend at the time of my birth.

        The Danish version of the name is Margrethe, and the English version is difficult for Danes to pronounce, so during my entire childhood and youth, it was always pronounced in a decidedly Danish way. After arriving in Minnesota and joining the Danish American Center, most of the old Danes assume that my name is Margrethe, and that’s what they call me, no matter how much I protest that that’s not my name.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I bet it was Lorna Doone, the literary heroine, not the cookie. The Canadian mom of a grad school friend was named Lorna Doone Adkins. She hated it.

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  13. Two sisters named Patience and Prudence. Patience got married right out of high school and left town. Prudence demonstrated her lack of prudence in a variety infamous ways, to the delight of a pipeline crew that was in town for a summer.

    Liked by 5 people

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