ZEBULON — First, a Jewish tribe. Later, a Tar Heel town. Now, a trending baby name?
Thats right, Zebulon home to more than 4,000 and a minor league baseball team is one of the 14 hottest baby names of the year, according to Nameberry.com, an online database for such information.
We measure interest in baby names by tracking the number of views on each of our 50,000 baby name pages, said Pam Satran, co-founder of the website and author of 10 books on baby names.
Last year, the Zebulon page had been viewed 420 times by June. By the same time this year, it was viewed 2,128 times, Satran said.
The jump comes as a surprise to Satran, as the name has reached the Social Security Administrations list of top 1,000 a total of four years 1891, 1978, 1979 and 1980. It peaked in 1978 as the 776th most popular baby name that year.
Likely because of Grandpa Zebulon on The Waltons, Satran said, referring to the 1970s television show.
Zebulon isnt the only eastern Wake town to make the list of popular baby names. The name Wendell peaked at 114th most popular in 1940 the year Republican candidate Wendell Lewis Willkie lost the Presidential election to Franklin D. Roosevelt. The name has not made the top 1,000 most popular names since then.
Since 1980, Zebulon hasnt had much play either. Only 25 boys in the U.S. were named Zebulon in 2011, according to the Social Security Administration. The governments list of most popular U.S. names in 2012 wont come out until May 2013.
But Satran says her website could indicate Zebulons resurgence, and she has a theory on its cause.
Parents these days are drilling deeper into the genre of Biblical baby names, she said.
Zebulon, according to the Old Testament, was the sixth son of Jacob and Leah.
And the name Jacob really took off in the late 60s and early 70s, Satran said. It became one of Americas top 100 most popular names in 1974 and has stayed there ever since.
So now, roughly 40 years after thousands of Jacobs were born, those men perhaps want to continue the Biblical parallel by naming their child Zebulon, she said.
Its unclear whether those interested in the name are from North Carolina home to a town named after Zebulon B. Vance, former U.S. senator, House representative and governor of this state during the Civil War. Satran says theres no way of knowing whether the people viewing her website are from this eastern Wake County town.
But local historian Jenny Privette wouldnt be surprised if Zebulonites were padding their hometown pride.
After all, when the town was first recognized in 1907, the first boy born was named Zebulon: Zebulon Whitley Chamblee, she said.