Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Diverted by a Name: Honus

Photo via Wikipedia

Sorry... I'm on a baseball high. With the beginning of the season and then Jackie Robinson day, it's all around me right now. As I was perusing historical baseball names, I came across the best player in the dead-ball era besides Ty Cobb: Honus Wagner. I had heard of him before, but as a name lover, I was suddenly diverted. Where did Honus come from?

Johannes Peter Wagner was born in 1874 to German immigrants, Peter Johannes and Katheryn. He was called Hans as a child, but that turned into Honus, pronounced "HAH-nus". Honus is also a German term given to an awkward child, which Wagner was. Honus was also called Hans as well as John as an adult. Peter and Katheryn had nine children: Charles (Charley), Albert (Al or Butts), Louis (Ludwig or Luke), Honus, Caroline (Carrie) and William (Wilhelm?) are the only ones that survived.

Johannes is the German form of John. Pronounced "yo-HAH-nes", Johannes is one of MANY forms of John. Jan, Johan, Johann, Deshaun, Deshawn, Keshaun, Keshawn, Rashaun, Rashawn, Ioan, Ivan, Janko, Janek, Evan, Ian, Sean, Shane, Shaun, Shawn, Jean, Yanni, Yannis, Keoni, János, Eoin, Giovanni, Jonas are just some of the variants and versions of John in other languages.

Considering Honus Wagner's popularity in the early 1900s, I am a little surprised that there have not been any Honuses born as long as records have been kept. Maybe those who wanted to honor him used his full name instead of his nickname, or maybe there have been one or two throughout the years, just not enough to have been recorded by the SSA.

Other names of interest... Honus married Bessie Baine Smith and they had three daughters: Elva Katrina, who was stillborn; Betty Baine and Virginia Mae (Jennie). I'm wondering if Katrina was Katheryn's real name or if they used the German form of it to honor her. I also wonder if Mae was a family name, but I cannot find any further information. Elva is a new one to me. It could either be a variant of Alva or from the Gaelic name Ailbhe (pronounced AL-va).

What do you think of Honus? Do you have a favorite variant of John?

Thanks to for biographical information and Behind the Name.


1 comment:

  1. Hello, I'm impressed with your research abilities. I don't care for name & never heard of it until an illustrator sent me a pic of an owl he drew as an example since I am about to publish children's books. He actually named the owl Homus, but he found a much different meaning. I will have to search my emails for the meaning & send another comment later so you can read it. Interesting Homus has only been used once in hundreds of years. I'm actually going to start writing about the owl. New series, he's a detective in the animal world. I plan to name him Otis Homus. The owl is a steampunk drawing, the detail is incredible! The illustrator is so talented! I had not heard of steampunk, but the owl reminded Sherlock Holmes in 1800 era. Just have to bring him to life now! Since I've seen steampunk, I have a great respect for the artists & work that goes into each piece. Some a bit scary (not my style), but like other pieces that bring out a good conversation & imagination. For your article, Good Work! L in PA


Thank you for leaving a comment on this blog! Please remember that we are respectful of other people's opinions.