10 Centenarian Baby Names: Hester, Tressa & Lessie

Some unusual female names from a century ago.

posted by: Tiana Putric View all posts by this author

By Tiana Putric

The following ten people have four things in common: all are women, all are American-born, all have uncommon appellations, and all are living super-centenarians. Super-centenarians, or Super-C’s, are very rare people: they have lived to be 110 years old or more. Meet ten women who have reached super-centenarian status:

Susannah Mushatt Jones (DOB July 6, 1899) “Miss Susie” doesn’t believe in smoking or alcohol but does “Believe in the Lord” and plenty of shut-eye.

Susannah, a Biblical name meaning ‘lily’, has not appeared on the U.S. Top 1000 since 1978. Rarer than Susan but more on trend, Susannah’s nicknames include Susa, Susie, Annie, and Zanna.

Delphine Gibson (DOB August 17, 1903) When Delphine celebrated her 112th birthday, the town’s mayor declared the week “Delphine Gibson Week”.

This French nature name embodies both flora, the flowering delphinium, and fauna, the highly sociable and intelligent dolphin.

Ila Jones (DOB August 21, 1903) Ila’s secret to a long life, “I just have fun.”

Ila, a variation of the Scottish appellation Isla, is the name of actress Emma Watson’s character in the 2014 film Noah.

Lessie Brown (DOB September 22, 1904) Lots of people love Lessie: five children, 24 grandchildren, 44 great-grandchildren, and 26 great-great-grandchildren.

Lessie, from ‘leas celyn’ and Celtic for ‘garden of hollies’, originally Lesslyn, is a feminine diminutive of the unisex name Leslie.

Leta Nolen (DOB February 17, 1905) Leta loves to dance and she was driving until the age of 101.

Leta, pronounced Lee-tuh, is Latin for ‘glad and joyful’ and like the names Cora, Lena, and Maya, it exudes simplicity.

Tressa Bartholomew (DOB March 30, 1905) Tressa’s words of wisdom, “I think it’s good to have a good family that are agreeable with one another. No fighting and fussing.”

While Tess and Tessa are both well-loved variants of the name Theresa, Tressa is a much rarer one.

Alelia Murphy (DOB July 6, 1905) Alelia’s motto is “There’s no time to sleep . . . sleep when you’re dead!”

Alelia, also spelt A’Lelia, is a variation of the graceful name Eulalia and means ‘well spoken’. Alelia is pronounced ‘ah-leel-ya’ and can be shortened to Allie, Eli, or Lia.

Armida Brunson Sholar (DOB August 9, 1905) Armida enjoys a variety of things: musical performances, Bingo, Swiss cake rolls, and watching television.

Some believe the name Armida, meaning ‘warrior’, emerged from Italian poet Torquato Tasso’s poem Jerusalem Delivered. In his poem Armida is an enchantress who possesses immense power and beauty.

Hester Ford (DOB August 15, 1905) Hester is the mother of 12 children.

Hester is Persian for ‘star’ and is an anagram of Esther. Endearing nicknames for Hester include Hettie and Ettie. The rise in -er ending names like Asher, Harper, and Piper may lead to the return of Hester.

Mamie Johnson (DOB Jan 13, 1906) Mamie walks everywhere or takes the bus; in fact, she has never driven a car.

Mamie is a vintage appellation and a diminutive of Mary and Margaret, long associated with First Lady Eisenhower and now with one of Meryl Streep’s actress daughters, Mamie Gummer (born MAry Willa). Mamie fell from the U.S. Top 1000 long ago but the rise of vintage nicknames like Sadie, Maisie, and Hattie may bring Mamie back.

Ollie Roberts (DOB Jan 17, 1906) Ollie credits her long life to two things: hard work and a deep faith in God.

Ollie is a unisex diminutive of Olivia, Olive, and Olive, all of which have roots in the lovely word ‘oliva’, Latin for olive tree.


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9 Responses to “10 Centenarian Baby Names: Hester, Tressa & Lessie”

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lesliemarion Says:

February 15th, 2016 at 1:25 pm

Great blog! Unusual and inspiring.

Tiana Putric Says:

February 15th, 2016 at 4:49 pm

Awww, thanks for your kind words lesliemarion!

Haids1987 Says:

February 16th, 2016 at 10:36 am

Lesslyn is lovely. How come it’s not a name here but Onngelle and Aleeceea are?

Tiana Putric Says:

February 16th, 2016 at 4:54 pm

I like Lesslyn too Haids1987; it is such a sweet-sounding name. Hopefully the name will be added to Namberry’s database.

Bobcat108 Says:

February 16th, 2016 at 5:34 pm

Tressa is probably my favorite of these…Lesslyn is intriguing. I really like Delphine as well. My favorite form of Susannah is Shoshana/Shoshanna, but I love Zanna both as a nn & on its own.

mill1020 Says:

February 16th, 2016 at 10:58 pm

Cool! I like Ila, Leta, and especially Tressa. Leta’s already had a boost due to Dooce, probably.

Tiana Putric Says:

February 17th, 2016 at 11:24 am

Thank you for adding Shoshana & Shoshanna Bobcat108.

Tiana Putric Says:

February 17th, 2016 at 11:28 am

Great point about the name Leta, mill1020. I’m hoping to read the book titled “Dear Daughter: The Best of the Dear Leta Letters” written by Leta’s mother (Dooce).

Shamra Says:

May 26th, 2019 at 10:43 pm

My grandmother’s name was Ila.
I have always wanted to use it once
I had a little girl… Unfortunately my dude face dislikes that name along with the other one I favor, which is Faraday.

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