Idaho’s most common last name is the same across much of America.  The name Smith tops the list in 40 states!  Idaho’s second most popular name is Johnson and its third is Anderson.  Neighboring Utah, Montana and Washington have the same top three, which says a lot about migration patterns.  Smith has an advantage over many other surnames.  It was common in several European countries and the German Schmidt was often anglicized.  Anderson is also a common name in more than one European nation.

Along the southern border, we see the Hispanic influence.  Texas, California, New Mexico, Nevada, and Arizona all show a strong influence.

There are regional influences in Idaho.  The panhandle offers a wider variety of names.  A tour guide at a silver mine once shared with me that his ancestors were primarily from Norway.  Among his fellow miners, there was a heavy concentration of Scandinavian and German names.

Anecdotally, I’ve also encountered more names of French, Italian and Irish origin in north Idaho.

Unlike other places I’ve lived, Idaho appears to have had more success as a melting pot.  I don’t hear the old ethnic jokes I heard in other parts of the country.  Much of the east pride itself on being “enlightened” but I heard some of the worst jokes and ethnic slurs when I lived on that side of the country.

In Twin Falls County there’s a slight alteration in the order of most common surnames.  One of my coworkers wrote about the county’s most common names in 2017.  With the growth in the area, we’ll probably see the list evolve.

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