I was thrilled that Brittany shared her great-grandmother’s unusual name.
Here is how Brittany remembers her great-grandmother Ocie:
My great-grandmother’s name was Ocie (OH-see). I never knew her, but she was an amazingly strong woman born in 1905 from an illegitimate union between a Scots-Irish settler and a Cherokee woman, and raised by her biological father and stepmother.
She went on to have 12 children of her own, 11 girls and finally one little boy. So much of my idea of my great-grandmother has been formed by one single black-and-white photo of her sitting on a rugged front porch in a simple apron peeling potatoes, her high cheekbones accentuated by the light on her face as she focuses on the potato in her lap.
One of the most intriguing things about this ancestor is her name. It’s not short for anything, and I’ve never heard it anywhere else. Ocie=strong, wild, but also sweet and nurturing.
Always excited to discover a new-to-me name, I did some research.
From what I learned, many name sites consider Ocie a boy name, but based on comments from people named Ocie (or have relatives named Ocie) at Baby Names Hub, Ocie is a unisex name.
On Baby Names Hub, of 37 commenters (or commenters’ relatives) named Ocie, 17 were female. Of the remaining commenters, there were four (4) who did not identify their gender, one (1) that was a commenter’s dog, and the rest (15) were male.
Of the six (6) user submitted photos on Baby Names Hub, all were male. Five (5) looked like modern photos of black or African men and one (1) was a vintage photo of a caucasian man.
While user-submitted data on Baby Name Hub may not be completely representative of all people named Ocie, this site gave some information about people with the name, which is a small group to begin with.
In the US there were 2,878 people named Ocie as of 2011. The majority (92%) of these people were over 55 and there were almost none (0%) under 12.
In 2012 nine (9) newborn girls and zero (0) newborn boys were named Ocie.
This is one of those names that never became extremely popular but was in the bottom of the US top 1000 from the 1880s – 1930s on both genders.
When the name was in the top 1000, it was always slightly more popular on girls.
Ocie can be found on Nameberry’s post, The Lost Names of 1880.
Information on Ocie’s meaning is hard to come by. Some participants on name forums have speculated that Ocie could be short for other names like Oceanus. One Baby Names Hub commenter was named Ocielia (oh-SEE-lee-yuh), and was named after her grandmother who was named Ocie.
I don’t usually advocate made up names, and I suspect Ocielia might be invented (or extremely rare). Because I like similar names (such as Cecilia and Ophelia), I like the sound of Ocielia and would hate to discourage anyone from using it.
My only hesitation would be that Ocielia might get confused with similar, better known, names—a possible drawback. But the 40-something commenter never mentioned any practical problems and said she loves her name.
Thank you Brittany for sharing your great-grandmother’s fascinating name.
Readers: If you would like to share the story behind your great-grandparent’s name, please feel free to contact us.
Your submission could be featured as guest post on Upswing Baby Names. We are thrilled to receive photos, but please note that we will not publish recent photos of living great-grandparents for privacy reasons. For living great-grandparents we suggest childhood or young adulthood photos. If a photo is not submitted, we will search Flickr for a photo relevant to the name.
Photo credit: Brittany’s personal photo