The Story Behind My Children’s Unique Baby Names
Landing on the perfect unique baby name can be a fun yet intimidating or slightly stressful process. It’s one of the first questions commonly asked after announcing a pregnancy, “do you have baby names picked out?”. You have to consider all the possible nicknames and ways your child could be teased based on name alone. This identity sticks with them for the rest of their lives. There’s a lot of thought that goes into it. No pressure.
My husband and I had a few philosophies for each of our four pregnancies that we stood by. First, we chose not to learn the gender before each one was born. Second, we wanted their first names to be old classic names that weren’t particularly popular. And we wanted their middle names to come from our family history. We spent a lot of time checking baby name trends on NameTrends.net to steer away from any current or increasingly popular names.
I absolutely adore the names we’ve given our children and have no regrets. They are each growing into their name’s personality more and more every day. Although, because they are each such unique names, we often are asked how we came up with them. It’s a fair and honest question. I’m happy to walk you through our thought process for each one.
A lot of people think our oldest son, Herschel, is named after Herschel Walker, former running back for the University of Georgia. That is not the case. Others guess he’s named after Herschel Greene, a character from the popular TV show, The Walking Dead. Those guesses are a bit closer.
One evening my husband and I were watching a TV show starring Scott Wilson. We were both trying to recall his character’s name from The Walking Dead. Once we realized it was Herschel, we both looked at each other and agreed we really liked that as a potential baby name for a boy! Thank goodness because that took my husband’s top choice of Virgil off the table, for now. So, we do have The Walking Dead to thank for getting the name Herschel on our radar.
As we continued to look into the name Herschel, we learned of a British astronomer named William Herschel. William discovered our 7th planet, Uranus, in 1781. Another fun fact that sold us on the name Herschel was that it was John Glenn’s middle name. John Glenn was a Senator of Ohio and also an astronaut, engineer, and aviator in the United States Marine Corps throughout his life.
The name Herschel was old, classic, not popular, and had a few prestigious historical figures related to it. It was perfect for our first boy.
Herschel gets his middle name from Caleb’s 7th great-grandfather, Frederick Reinhart Waltz. He traveled to the United States from Switzerland in the 1730s or maybe the 1740s. Frederick was the first Waltz to come over to America and we are proud to give our oldest son the same middle name.
A few other name options that didn’t make the cut were Virgil, as I mentioned was my husband’s favorite, but I was not a fan. And also Gareth, which we thought was a little too popular. If our first child were a girl, we would have named her Mildred Lynn.
Nearly 21 months later we would be welcoming a second baby boy into our family. Remember, we didn’t find out the gender prior to any of the births, so we had to come up with a fresh list of baby boy names.
The name Clive made the list after my husband heard the actor Clive Owen’s name. We don’t remember what we were watching at the time, but he’s known for his roles in Children of Men, Closer, and Inside Man, among many others. Anyway, the actor’s name sparked our interest and so it made the list and eventually stuck.
Clive’s middle name is Milo, which comes from my great-grandfather, Howard Milo Fallis. Initially, I wanted Milo to be his first name, but that was gaining in popularity at the time. When we first told friends and family we had picked “Clive Milo” if we had another boy, so many asked if we were going to call him “Milo”. That tends to be the reaction you get when you pick old, less popular names. But, he’s turned out to be a Clive through-and-through.
Clive is an old English name meaning “cliff dweller”. It was first used for someone who was living near a cliff. Another classic name that wasn’t currently popular, so it was exactly what we were going for.
If our second child had been a girl, we were still going to stick with Mildred. However, we had changed the middle name to Josephine at this point. Another top contender for a boy name with this pregnancy was Myron.
Boy names are hard! It just seems more challenging to come up with strong, old, classic boy names over and over again, and we were certainly struggling on pregnancy #3. Not to mention, the pressure was on at this point after the unique names we had given our first two children had become so beloved by our family and friends.
The name “Luther” made its way onto our list after watching the British thriller, called Luther. It was the name of the main character played by Idris Elba. At this point, you’re probably starting to think we are quite the movie buffs here in our home. I assure you nowadays it’s a lot more PJ Masks and Dragon shows than British thrillers.
Luther has an old English meaning of “army of the people”. This could not be more fitting for this child! He is fearless and a tank! We’re taking bets that he will be the first one we take to the emergency room. He’s had the most scrapes and bruises so far, but he always gets back up and keeps on going. You could certainly say that he is an army in one man.
Clarence comes from my great-great-grandfather, John Clarence Hey. That is where Luther’s middle name comes from. Clarence is believed to be of Latin origin, meaning “one who lives near the River Clare”.
We also strongly considered Reginald as the first name for our third baby boy. And Mildred Josephine was still the top contender for a girl.
The running joke for pregnancy #4 was that I going to be the lone female amongst our strong boy clan! Side note, my brother had recently welcomed his third baby boy and there were currently no girls in that generation among our immediate family! But alas! We have rounded out our perfect little family with a sweet baby girl. And you guessed it, the name we gave her, the one we had been hanging on to for years, was Mildred Josephine.
It wasn’t 100% certain that we were going to name her Mildred. There is always room for second-guessing. Gertrude was the other strong contender for our girl name. At the time, I liked “Milly” more so than “Mildred” and I liked “Gertrude” but was not a fan of “Gertie”. All the things you have to consider when landing on the perfect, classic, unique baby name!
On the (seemingly strong) chance we had a fourth boy, the top baby boy names were Eugene and Melvin. While in labor we asked the hospital staff to vote on the two names and Eugene won by one vote. Therefore, had Milly been a boy the name would have been Eugene Welton. Eugene was a name we found on some old letters in our current house. He was a previous owner of our home. Welton is a name from Caleb’s mother’s side of the family. Also, a fun connection, we learned that the guy who built our house had a daughter named Mildred Josephine!
Josephine comes from my great-great-grandmother whose name was Stella Josephine McGuire. The name Stella was also a very pretty name I liked, but again, was quite popular at the time. Plus, a distant cousin of mine had just recently named their daughter Stella, so we went with Josephine for Mildred’s middle name.
Since Mildred has been born she’s already had many names. Most commonly we call her “Milly”. There’s also “Milly Jo” and “MJ”. But the cutest has to be when we first brought her home, Clive would measure her ears with his little fingers and call her “Tiny” because her ears were so tiny. One of those moments that just melts this Momma’s heart.
One of my favorite compliments on our names came from a cousin of mine. After we announced Luther’s birth and name on social media, he commented “…you guys have chosen some of the best names!!! That old school mobster vibe is rollin!”
It cracks me up that these old names are considered “old-school mob vibes” but the four of them have turned into their own little mob, so it fits.