Throwback Thursday: Unusual Names

Willennar Genealogy Center’s collection is full of Throwback Thursday potential, so let’s get our #TBT on!

Every now and then, you might hear a name you find a little bit . . . different.

Maybe it’s a celebrity’s baby, maybe it’s someone you know, but whether you think their name is odd or amazing, it’s most certainly memorable.

We aren’t the first couple of generations to pick out unusual names, however. While there have certainly been plenty of Marys and Johns and other classics, DeKalb County has also seen its share of unique ones


Sheridan Mott

Egbert Mott Sr. had children named Sheridan and Grenville, both uncommon English names, while circus owner M. K. Houlton named his son Jink after a song that was probably popular when he was a teenager. Jane Brooks Hine, DeKalb County resident and “Bird Woman of Indiana,” decided to name her youngest son Lemon.

Of course, not everyone with a notable name is well-known in our county’s history. If you take a look through a few old documents (particularly programs), you’ll come across a number of interesting names that have been forgotten (or simply never caught on).

A 1909 program for Waterloo’s Knights of Pythias lists a number of interesting men’s names: Edson, Orrin, Alonzo, Murl, Ellis, Arna, Daunt. . . .

A 1914 program, also from Waterloo, contains women’s names like Zella, Diantha, Lona, and Espy.

The best and longest lists, however, are probably in commencement programs, where you can get a better idea of historic name trends, since the students listed are all around the same age.

Names listed in the 1916 commencement program for the DeKalb District Schools were all over the map, including everything from Scudder, Marine, and Ancil, to Vonell, Loula, and Celestian, names that you’ve probably never heard used today.

Of course, they do say that trends tend to come back around. . . .

Want to see more local history? Stop by the Genealogy to check out our yearbooks, directories and other resources, or click here to search our online photo database. Feel free to check out the Genealogy Center’s official Facebook page, too!


About Chelsea

I've been working at Willennar Genealogy Center for over two years now, and I've loved every minute of getting to learn more about the stories of DeKalb County and the surrounding area. I'm interested in all kinds of history, but I'm especially fond of the early film industry, old letters and journals, the DeKalb County Fair, and the Interurban line.
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