“It’s like an entire century decided to find a name funnier than Seymour Butts.”
~American Historians Looking at Goofy American Names
In the past, when we spent time looking into baseball players of the 19th century to find some really goofy names, it was primarily to talk about how silly, yet delightful, the Wild Wild West days of early Major League Baseball truly was.
But the more we thought about it, the more we wondered—what if it wasn’t just baseball players that had strange, laughable names back then? What if the era was responsible for ridiculous names more than just the sport of baseball?
It seemed plausible, and so we did a little digging (read as—we found a list on tumblr and did some googling to make sure the names weren’t just made up). And because very little gives us more joy in life than making fun of people whose parents really should not have tried to get “creative” coming up with a word to describe a human for their whole fucking life, we’re going to make fun of some names that are goofier than your name.
Except for you, Brandalynn. Your name is white trash garbage.
6 of the Goofiest American Names From the 19th Century
Oh for fuck’s sake, it’s a gender neutral name too?
Before we dive into this, it’s important you know that we did not make any of these names up. And we didn’t even do that much in the way of internet sleuthing—this was not the work of anyone digging around for old tombstones to find titter-worthy names.
Most, if not all, of these Americans were not only Americans with goofy names, but wildly successful and important Americans with goofy names. We think that just serves to make the names even better. So let’s get on with it.
Ebenezer Rockwood Hoar
Phonetics are a bitch, man. You could live a long, fruitful life including a term in the House of Representatives and a brief stint as Ulysses S. Grant’s Attorney General. But still, people will giggle at the fact that your name sounds exactly like someone saying “Rock wood whore.”
Heh. Rock. Wood. Hoar. Now, there isn’t any actual historical record of him getting a hard (heh, get it?) time over his name. Well, there wasn’t. Then we added a section about it to his Wikipedia page.
Our staff is comprised of children. And we spelled “out loud” about as wrong as you can possibly spell it.
Speed Fry was a lawyer, judge, and Brigadier General from Kentucky who just happened to have a name that sounded like a Fast Food restaurant in the 70s. Honestly, we’re shocked any parent would think it’s a good idea to name their kid “Speed.” That’s a horrendous call. No one named “Speed” actually grows up to be fast, it’s genetically impossible.
If you name your child “Speed,” and this is true of any race, creed, gender, or ethnicity, you will end up with a slightly chubby bearded white dude as your son. We’re not trying to pile on poor Speed Fry here, but…look at him. That is not a fast man. That is a man who looks like he knows more about the “Fry” part of his name than the “Speed.” And we place the blame for that 100% on his parents’ shoulders.
Alexander Cummings McWhorter Pennington, Jr.
Holy shit, this dude’s dad was the biggest asshole. The biggest. Who spends their entire life having to deal with actually writing down, “My name is Alexander Cumming McWhorter Pennington, and no I don’t want to leave those two middle names out, why do you ask?” and his first thought at having a son, an heir, enter this world was, “Ha, fuck you baby, you have my name now.”
We’re so astonished that he grew up to become a Brigadier General, serving in the American Civil War and the Spanish Civil War,as opposed to spending his life in jail for justifyingly murdering his father for giving him his name, that we went to his father’s Wikipedia page and changed his listed cause of death.
No, we call bullshit. There’s no way that Galusha Pennypacker is the name of a real person. That is the name of a love interest in an early black-and-white Popeye the Sailorman cartoon from the 30s, not a Union soldier who was made the youngest Brigadier General in American History when he was 20 years old.
Nope. It’s definitely the Popeye character. We remember, Olive Oyl got super jealous of Galusha Pennypacker, and went on a date with Bluto, and Popeye ate some spinach and beat him up, and then some racist shit happened.
Wheeler Hazard Peckham
On a list of people not to fuck with, someone whose first two names are “Wheeler Hazard” is only surpassed by a person who only goes by the name “Knife.” Hazard is the most metal middle name in existence, so we’re totally on board with this guy.
Now he didn’t really do nearly as much ass-kicking or name-taking as you might assume—he is best known for being a failed nominee to the Supreme Court, if that’s the sort of thing you can actually become known for. Still, that’s not his fault—he was stuck in a political tug-of-war between Grover Cleveland and a New York senator that somehow was strong enough for the Senate to ignore that they had a chance to have a justice named fucking Wheeler Hazard.
Instead, his brother, Rufus Wheeler Peckham, would go on to take a different Supreme Court seat, which frankly upsets us. We can’t speak to his legal prowess, but as far as names go, America definitely went with the lesser Peckham. For shame.
Preserved Fish was the actual name of a prominent New York City shipping merchant, which honestly seems to apply to his name better than any other person on this list. Now, Preserved Fish has a name that you might recognize as something that makes you ball up your fists and shout, “FOOD AND PEOPLE HAVE DIFFERENT NAMES DAMN IT” but it’s not his fault.
He was given the name Preserved Fish, just as his father was given before him. Oh, no, you’re reading that right—he had the same name as both his father and his grandfather. They didn’t even jr. or III the name, they just said, “Preserved Fish is a fine name, no frills to it, that’s just a thing men in this family are called I suppose.”
We don’t know if Preserved Fish went on to have any children of his own so he could continue that tradition, but for his hypothetical child’s sake, we’re gonna hope he didn’t. Because that is just a silly, silly name. Oh 19th century, you so crazy.