Bonus List

GEOGRAPHICAL VARIATIONS OF LAST NAMES IN THE U.S.: PART I


During the next few weeks, we will look at last names that vary substantially in frequency (relative to population) around the United States. Some of these last names are 5 to 10 times more common (per million people) in some states than others (with a few being 100 or more times more common in some states).

Even among some of the top 10 last names in the United States (Smith, Johnson, Williams, Jones, Brown, Davis, Miller, Wilson, Moore and Taylor, based on the 1990 U.S. Census) there is a lot of geographical variation. This variation becomes greater with names that are less common.

These statistics are based on Internet (white-page) phone directories. While the percentage of people with a certain last name will vary slightly from the percentage of directory entries for a certain last name, the state vs. state variations should correspond closely.


JOHNSON:

Johnson is most common in the Upper Midwest (exceeding 2% of all surnames in Minnesota and North Dakota).

STATE

1. Minnesota
2. North Dakota
3. South Dakota
4. Wisconsin
5. Nebraska

46. California
47. West Virginia
48. Pennsylvania
49. Hawaii
50. New Mexico
PHONEBOOK ENTRIES
PER MILLION
23624
23318
18652
15293
13070

6127
6097
6073
6058
5353
(National average: 7988 per million)


WILLIAMS:

Williams is most common in the Southeast and least common in the North.

STATE

1. Louisiana
2. Mississippi
3. Georgia
4. South Carolina
5. Alabama

46. Maine
47. New Hampshire
48. New Mexico
49. Minnesota
50. North Dakota
PHONEBOOK ENTRIES
PER MILLION
10147
8748
8381
8257
8256

3957
3862
3824
3379
2736
(National average: 6193 per million)

Note: The District of Columbia would rank #2 if it were a state with 8905 surnames per million being Williams.


SCHMIDT:

Due to heavy immigration of Germans in the early days of the Midwest (especially the Upper Midwest), the last name of Schmidt is strongly represented in that part of the U.S. (and rare in the Southeast).

STATE

1. North Dakota
2. Wisconsin
3. South Dakota
4. Minnesota
5. Nebraska

46. South Carolina
47. West Virginia
48. Georgia
49. Mississippi
50. Alabama
PHONEBOOK ENTRIES
PER MILLION
5817
4742
4012
3050
2540

203
199
191
139
114
(National average: 751 per million)

Note: The District of Columbia would rank #48 if it were a state with only 188 surnames per million being Schmidt.


WASHINGTON:

The frequency of this predominantly African-American last name is closely related to the percentage of the population being African-American.

STATE

1. Louisiana
2. South Carolina
3. Mississippi
4. Maryland
5. Virginia

46. Idaho
47. Montana
48. South Dakota
49. North Dakota
50. New Hampshire
PHONEBOOK ENTRIES
PER MILLION
2011
1367
1232
1028
806

43
40
37
36
32
(National average: 535 per million)

Note: The District of Columbia would rank #1 if it were a state with 2323 surnames per million being Washington.


CHRISTOPHERSON:

This is one of the names with the most skewed distribution. While it is a very rare surname across most of the country, this Swedish name is found occasionally in parts of the Upper Midwest and the Northern Rockies.

STATE

1. South Dakota
2. Minnesota
3. North Dakota
4. Wisconsin
5. Wyoming

45. Arkansas
45. Louisiana
45. Mississippi
45. New Jersey
49. Kentucky
50. West Virginia
PHONEBOOK ENTRIES
PER MILLION
603
394
338
308
157

2
2
2
2
1
0
(National average: 32 per million)


HATFIELD:

The Hatfield-McCoy feuds happened in Kentucky, the state with the second highest per capita number of Hatfields (and also the second highest per capita number of McCoys). West Virginia ranks #1 for both names per capita, and both names have a strong Appalachian and (Lower) Midwestern distribution. The Hatfields win in the skewness department with about 4 times the state-by-state variation that the McCoys have.

STATE

1. West Virginia
2. Kentucky
3. Ohio
4. Indiana
5. Kansas

46. Mississippi
47. South Dakota
48. North Dakota
49. New Jersey
50. Vermont
PHONEBOOK ENTRIES
PER MILLION
1272
666
338
304
291

54
53
52
48
47
(National average: 156 per million)

Note: The District of Columbia would rank #50 if it were a state with only 42 surnames per million being Hatfield.


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Copyright 2006 Brandt Maxwell.