Heroes and villains, famous and infamous, real life, big and small screen characters and the actors who played them—there’s a whole genre of cowboy names that have a certain swagger and western twang all their own.
Here are a dozen of the best: who they were and why we like their names.
Beau(regard) Maverick was one of the B-named Maverick brothers in the long-running TV series, along with Bret, Bart and Brent. Beau was played by future James Bond, Roger Moore, and the name Beau has retained both a southern drawl and a western twang.
Cole Younger (born Thomas Coleman) was a real-life Confederate guerilla during the Civil War, who then became an outlaw with the James-Younger gang. Cole has been in the Top 100 since 1997 and makes a strong but sensitive choice
Cheyenne Bodie was the lead character in the 1950s western TV series, Cheyenne, set right after the Civil War. A place name in many old cowboy movies, it became a legitimate first name with this show, and became a cowgirl name beginning in the eighties, reaching a high of 72 in 1998 and now ranking at Number 184.
Emmett Dalton was another bad boy—an outlaw member of the Dalton gang. Nowadays the name is associated with a character in the popular Twilight series, which helped propel Emmett up more than 200 spots in the past year, but it still has something of a far west feel.
Flint McCullough was a co-starring character on the seminal TV oater, Wagon Train. Flint is the kind of heavy-metal macho moniker being considered by some parents today, along with cousins Steel and Stone.
Jedediah Smith was a trailblazing nineteenth century western Mountain Man and explorer. Short forms Jed and Jeb have long been seen as cowboy names, but now some adventurous baby namers are choosing full names Jedidiah/Jedediah (as seen on The West Wing) and Jebediah.
Kit Carson (born Christopher) was a legendary Western explorer and Native American rights activist. Kit is a longstanding nickname for both Christopher and Katherine; Jodie Foster put it on her son’s birth certificate.
Tex Ritter was an early pioneer of Country Western music. His birth name was Woodward Maurice, but he was born in the state of Texas. Western state and city names and nicknames are pure cowboy, as in Nevada, Laredo, Laramie, Montana, Austin, Reno, and Dallas
Wyatt Earp—the renowned real-life frontier lawman of the American Old West produced many namesakes. Wyatt, now at Number 60, is the highest it’s ever been as a baby name, and was actually the top boys’ name in the state of Wyoming last year, thanks to its Western charm. Sheryl Crow used it for her son.
Yancy Derringer was the eponymous hero of a late 1950s TV western series, a former Confederate Army officer who carried a—yes—Derringer gun in his hat. Even though Yancy has a certain swagger, it has never caught on—perhaps because it rhymes with ‘fancy.’
Zane Grey was the quintessential writer of romanticized Western novels such as Riders of the Purple Sage, and a buckaroo flavor has clung to his name, which has been in the Top 300 since 1996, and is now at a high of Number 235. This would not have happened if he had stuck with his birth name—Pearl; Zane was his mother’s maiden name and his middle.