Name History: 19th Century Mormon names

Hi! I’m here with another historical name post! I’ve been really interested in researching 19th century Mormon polygamy the last few months, and being a name nerd I’ve been collecting some of the most interesting trends and names. It’s also really interesting to see what happens with sibling names in polygamous families with anywhere between forty to sixty kids: you see a lot of siblings with repeated names (sometimes because a child died in infancy, but also you might literally have three living brothers with the same name), and sometimes there’s a really wide variation in styles (often with different mothers in a polygamous family having identifiable styles, but sometimes it’s really just all over the place).

Some intriguing name themes or trends I’ve noticed:

Mormon Religious Names!
These are names honoring either figures from the Book of Mormon or Mormon historical leaders. I’m not Mormon and don’t live in an area with a high Mormon population so these were really unfamiliar to me at first. Not sure if these names have much usage in the modern era even in the Mormon community, because a lot of them are very distinctive.

Examples:
Hyrum (variant of Hiram that took off to the exclusion of the more common spelling in Mormon communities because that’s how Joseph Smith’s brother Hyrum spelled his name)
Don Carlos (Joseph Smith also had a brother named Don Carlos, it’s unclear to me why their parents named him that, but it seems to have taken off among Mormons)
Heber (after prominent early Mormon leader Heber Kimball)
Moroni (Angel Moroni)
Mahonri Moriancumer (Book of Mormon figure, I have found two examples of children named this)
Nephi (Book of Mormon)
Helaman (Book of Mormon)
Lehi (Book of Mormon)
Teancum (Book of Mormon)
Alma (Book of Mormon, this is a male name in Mormon use though I was more familiar with it for women)

For girls, you see a lot of really frilly or celestial-feeling names, which seems to have been a 19th century trend in general. I’ve seen Parinthia, Celestia, and Flora Bell Birdie as sisters (one of their brothers was Orion!) Also Sophronia, Prescendia, and Minerva.

Lots of matchy twin names, especially same initial (Alva & Alma probably the matchiest I’ve seen). While these were all singletons, I also saw one woman who had Alvin, Alfred, and Albert.

Also including a list of all Brigham Young’s children, so you can get a look at what a (particularly large) polygamist family’s sibset might look like. This list is in birth order, ranging from 1826 to 1870, and includes children from eighteen different mothers. I included a couple notes about more unusual names.

Elizabeth, Vilate (this is a girl, I think it’s a variant of Violet), Joseph, twins Brigham & Mary Ann, Alice, Luna, John, Brigham Heber (went by Heber), Edward, Oscar, twins Hyrum & Joseph, Moroni, Mary Eliza, Ella, twins Alva & Alma, Fanny, Emily, Marinda, Clarissa Maria (went by Maria), Jeanette, Zina, Evelyn, Hyrum, Caroline, Ernest, Nabby (female), Willard, Eudora, Mahonri Moriancumer, Emmeline, Chemira/Shamira/Shimara (she seems to have used all three spelling variants at different points, no idea where this name came from), Julia, Alfales (male), Brigham Morris (went by Morris), Phoebe, Jedidiah, Artie, Joseph Don Carlos (went by Carlos), Louisa, Susa, Lorenzo, Miriam, Albert, Feramorz (male, no idea where this name came from), Alonzo, Josephine, Clarissa, Ida, Charlotte, Ruth, Phineas, Laura, Daniel, Rhoda, Ardelle, and Fanny.

Anyway, I hope other people found this as interesting as I did!

13 Likes

Thanks for sharing!

1 Like

Very interesting, thank you for sharing!
So many great names, but i’m especially intrigued by Feramorz. I’ve heard the name before in a poem by [name_m]Thomas[/name_m] [name_m]Moore[/name_m], but I didn’t give it much thought at the time.

2 Likes

Wow, that’s so interesting! I will check that out, I was very intrigued by Feramorz and was unable to determine its origin.

I have Mormon family on one side. One of the great things about that is that my Mormon “line” of genealogy is incredibly well documented. (Something I’m especially thankful for as the other side of my family has very little genealogical documentation)

Some interesting names I’ve seen (some repeat your list):
[name_m]Avon[/name_m]
[name_m]Bayard[/name_m]
[name_m]Ebenezer[/name_m]
[name_m]Enos[/name_m]
[name_f]Erminie[/name_f]
[name_m]Granite[/name_m]
[name_m]Heber[/name_m]
[name_m]Hyrum[/name_m]
[name_u]Moses[/name_u]
Nephi
Presocia

They also had a tradition of the mother’s maiden name as the middle name to decipher the families through polygamy.

4 Likes

I’ve been so grateful for Mormon commitment to genealogy when I’ve been doing my research, it is so easy to find stuff compared to other periods I’ve studied. I’ve seen families doing the maiden name as middle thing too! [name_m]Granite[/name_m] and [name_f]Erminie[/name_f] are fascinating!

1 Like

I’m surprised at [name_f]Minerva[/name_f] as that’s a [name_m]Roman[/name_m] [name_f]Goddess[/name_f] name and I wouldn’t have thought that they would have used the name from a different religion like that. It’s a lovely name though and does fit the ~vibe~ of the others.
Interesting in BY’s names he has two [name_f]Marys[/name_f], two Joseph’s, 3 Brigham’s, 2 Fannys, and 2 Hyrums. I wonder if [name_f]Fanny[/name_f] was a family name somewhere or was a repeat after a child died as it seems like the only repeated name that wasn’t double barreled and/or a family name.

@TeaJay The older [name_f]Fanny[/name_f] was still alive when the younger [name_f]Fanny[/name_f] was born, but I’m presuming both of them were named after their father’s older sister who he was apparently close to. So your family name prediction was right. I think [name_f]Fanny[/name_f] was the only name that had two children who actually both went by that name: two of the Brighams went by their middle names, the [name_f]Marys[/name_f] were double-barreled, one of the Josephs and one of the Hyrums died in infancy. [name_m]Just[/name_m] to satisfy your curiosity :slight_smile:

2 Likes

This was really interesting, thank you!