Early this morning I was paying attention to a talk show and the uniqueness of the host names popped up on my radar as to how unique their names are and began wondering how unique their names were. This made me wonder how unique my own last name, and my wife’s last name, actually are. I mean, how would you like to grow up with the name of “Gurley”? So many jokes, so many name callings, so many questioning looks, and so many misspellings. It’s some what like that Johnny Cash song, “A Boy Called Sue…” You have to grow up quickly and learn how to take all of these things in stride, and if you are successful then you are a stronger personality because you have weathered the many storms of being unique… Of having an uncommon name.
I began looking for the ranking of common to uncommon last names. The Baby Name sites are numerous and we can look for the names we are easily able to give to our children. Yet we are “stuck” with our family name. We can proudly (or not) track our names meanings and historical background and be uniquely proud of where we came from (or not..!). After all, there are some Gurley’s in history that are special to me:
1. Phineas Gurley was Abraham Lincoln’s pastor and preached his funeral.
2. Helen Gurley Brown is a relative of some level and was over the Cosmopolitan Magazine for many years.
3. A.D. Gurley, another relative, was an early Apostolic Preacher and even traveled with C.P. Kilgore. He settled in Corinth, MS, and started a church.
4. Towns and cities: Gurley Hollow, TN; Gurley, AL; Gurley, TX (absorbed into Waco); Gurley, NE – It is my goal to be pictured in each of these locations – Nebraska and Alabama are checked off. Of course, I will need to go to Australia and visit Gurley, located north of Sydney.
So, finally, my search led me to this information from the Census Bureau.
Here are the top ten names… Smith, Johnson, Williams, Jones, Brown, Davis, Miller, Wilson, Moore, Taylor. Surprisingly, or not, I know people with these last names and could call and chat with them today!
Here are the bottom ten names… Abbatiello, Abajian, Abaja, Aarsvold, Aarhus, Aardema, Aarant, Aanderud, Aalund, Aalderink. Not so surprising, I know of No One with these names.
From the total list of 88,799 names, where does my unique name show up? I’m only down the list sitting at number 2,808… My wife’s maiden name (Foshee) is sitting at number 10,085. My mom’s maiden name (Simmons) is 92.
And then I found an error – my daughter-in-law’s maiden name (Kalsch) doesn’t even show up on the list! Nor does my son-in-law (von Ehrenkrook)… What gives? Is this a complete list or not?
All of a sudden, I do not feel so uncommon …
The list - http://www.census.gov/genealogy/names/dist.all.last The methodology - http://www.census.gov/genealogy/names/nam_meth.txt