Sunday, January 20, 2008

Yes, Virginia, You Are a Hamm

I'm not sure I wanted to get into this, but, oh, well . . . . One of the books mentioned on my recent reading list is Bertha Venation by Larry Ashmead, who's spent decades collecting funny names of real people. The post prompted this comment from Thomas MacEntee of Destination: Austin Family, in which he lists quite a few funny names. Just for the heck of it, I decided to try and find some of them . . . . and,

1. There are more "Rosie Cheeks" in America than you'd care to know.

2. Up until 1930, "Charity Cases" were widespread around the country. On the first census of the Depression [1930], there's just one!

3. The 190 census shows "Della Ware" from coast to coast.

4. Emma Grate came from Germany in 1865 [true!].

5. Just five "Emma Grants" applied for U.S. passports between 1873 and 1925, while approximately 65 "Emma Grants" entered the United States. One "Emmy Grant" came from Canada in 1931.

6. For decency's sake, I'll just note that the name "Eileen Dover" is way more popular than it ought to be.

7. The 1910 census shows two women in Manhattan who are "Helen Bedd" [a mother and daughter, no less!].

8. I couldn't find "Ida Slapter," but there are numerous people named "Ida Kister."

9. California and Texas each have six women who are "Robyn Banks."

10. And census records report at least 32 Virginia Hamms!

Check out Thomas' s comment for more names.


Chery said...

For years I'd heard that someone was actually named Ima Pig, and now I believe it...

A genealogist who taught a class I was in told us of a hilarious misunderstanding she learned of from a client. The client was determined to do family research, but was afraid the family would be embarrassed because Grandma had been a prostitute.

"Why do you think that?" the genealogist asked on the phone.

"Because it shows on the census record that she lived in Brothel on Brothel Way," lamented the client.

The genealogist could hardly catch her breath from laughing.

"What are you laughing for? It's not funny at all!" The client was clearly upset.

"Oh, you'd have to live out here to understand. That was only a typo. It's actually "Bothell Way, in Bothell."

So much for accuracy in spelling, as well as geography. ;)

Terry Thornton said...

Craig, Your list and the one from Thomas are making me laugh out loud! All you lack is my favorite name from a marquee in SE Alabama years ago advertising the appearance of a 350 pound stripper named "Marsha Mello."


Thomas MacEntee said...

Chery - I believe the actual names were for a well-known Texan called Ima Hogg. Contrary to urban legend, she did not have a sister named Ura Hogg.

Craig - I have a more extensive lists with names that would make most people blush, but I posted an expurgated version since most genea-blogs, like mine, are "family shows." If anyone wants the full list including some off-the-wall names from "Agnes of Gosh" to "Tallulah Bunkbed" let me know and I'll email to you. In a plain brown wrapper of course.

Nikki-ann said...

You might also be interested in this book by Russell Ash - Potty, Fartwell and Knob: From Luke Warm to Minty Badger - Extraordinary But True Names of British People!

Janice said...


You have way too much time on your hands! lol

Just kidding! I loved this article and was falling off my chair at these names.