Dr. Cleveland Evans writes about names for the Omaha World-Herald. In his November 6th column, he looks at the history of the name Ethan.
Ethan is the English form of Hebrew Eitan, “solid, enduring.” Four Ethans are mentioned in the Old Testament. The most famous, Ethan the Ezrahite, wrote Psalm 89, beginning “I will sing of your steadfast love, O LORD, forever.” Ethan was one of the obscure biblical names New England Puritans adopted. Ethan Allen (1738-1789), Vermonter who led the “Green Mountain Boys” at Fort Ticonderoga’s capture from the British in 1775, is the most famous example.
When Edith Wharton published classic novel “Ethan Frome” in 1911, the name was a good choice for a downtrodden New England farmer born around 1860.
In 1956, director John Ford adapted a novel by Alan LeMay into the Western “The Searchers.” John Wayne played Ethan Edwards, a Civil War veteran searching for his niece, who’s been kidnapped by Comanche raiders. In the novel, the character was “Amos.” Ford changed that to Ethan because Amos was too identified with the comic character from “Amos ’n’ Andy.”
Want to know more? Read on to find out more about Ethans in American history!