When our ancestors landed on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico a century or more ago, they brought traditionally Western first names to Texas. Very few immigrants had names like Vratislav, Borivoj and Premysl, but a lot of Jans (John), Josefs (Joseph) and Frantiseks (Frank) got off the boats. As the Texas Czechs gradually became Americanized they broadened their choices for names, but Joseph, John and Frank were still the most popular.
At least this was the case with men’s names. And this was the picture drawn from evidence copied off the tombstones of Ammannsville’s, Dubina’s and Hostyn’s Catholic cemeteries in Fayette County.
Let us now see which names were the most common among the wives and daughters of these immigrants, and let us see how the popularity of these names fared over the ensuing years.
Was the most common female name Libuse, the name of the legendary Czech princess who chose the plowman Premysl for her husband? No. Was the name most commonly brought to Texas by Czech women Ludmila, the name of the first native saint of all Slavic lands? No. The most common female name the Czechs brought to Texas was Marie. In fact, the name Marie was found twice as often as any other name on Ammannsville, Dubina and Hostyn tombstones that record birthdates from 1800 to 1879.
The tombstones in these three Fayettre County Texas cemeteries record the birthdates of some 330 women born between 1800 and 1879. These women bore 40 different names. (In this study the various forms of a name, such as Marie, Maria and Mary, are treated as one name.) Of these 330 women, 80 (24.2%) were named Marie.
The nine most common female names found on Ammannsville, Dubina and Hostytn tombstones for the 1800 to 1879 period were:
Name: Occurrences: Percentage:
Marie 80 24.2%
Anna 34 10.3%
Rosalie 27 8.2%
Aneska 25 7.6%
Terezie 23 7.0%
Johana 16 4.8%
Veronika 15 4.5%
Frantiska 13 3.9%
Magdalena 11 3.3%
Only 261 women with recorded birthdates were found for the birth period 1880 to 1979. Fewer women were buried in this period, but now they had 69 different names as opposed to the 40 before. (An identical phenomenon was found with the men’s names.) Marie was still the most common name for women, but now it was found in only 41 instances (15.7% as opposed to the earlier 24.2%). (The most common men’s names similarly declined in popularity in the birth period 1880 to 1979.) Anna was still the second most common female name; otherwise, the choices of names changed a great deal.
The most common first names for women in these three cemeteries for the 1880 to 1979 birth period were:
Name: Occurrences: Percentage:
Marie 41 15.7%
Anna 26 10.0%
Aneska 17 6.5%
Frantiska 12 4.6%
Marcella 9 3.4%
Albina 8 3.1%
Ludmila 8 3.1%
Filomena 6 2.3%
Rozalie 6 2.3%
What do these figures tell us? First let us understand that they are based on a relatively small sample – some 591 women. In the second place we must remember that all of these women were Roman Catholic, and that Roman Catholics venerate the Holy Virgin more than Protestants do. Keeping this in mind we might draw the following conclusions:
1. As in the case of men’s names, Czech immigrants brought traditionally Western female first names to Texas.
2. Marie (or Mary) was by far the most common female first name for both immigrants and their descendants (at least among Roman Catholics). The second most common name was Anna.
3. As in the case of man’s names Texas Czechs broadened their choices for female names as they became Americanized.
- Robert Janak
“Common Female Czech First Names in Texas,” Naše Dějiny (Magazine of Czech Genealogy and Culture published in Hallettsville, Texas, by Doug Kubicek from 1982 to 1989), January-February 1985, pages 2-3, 20.