CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – Think you have a popular last name? A new study found most Americans have one of six surnames, almost regardless of where they live.
In the study, Ancestry.com reviewed phone book listings from across the country to determine the three most popular last names in each state. The company found Smith is far and away the most common. In fact, Smith only failed to land among the top three surnames in just five states: California, Hawaii, Minnesota, New Mexico, and North Dakota.
Ancestry explains that Smith was an occupational name, meaning a worker who specialized in metal like a blacksmith or farrier, per its English and Scottish roots. As of 2004, the average lifespan of people with the last name Smith was 73 years old, compared to the national average of 74.
Other popular surnames included Johnson, Miller, Jones, Williams and Anderson. Regionally, Ancestry found a handful of differences. For example, Andersons are more common in the Northwest—states like Washington, Idaho, Utah, and into the Dakotas—than elsewhere in the country.
Miller is most commonly found in the Midwest and the Appalachian Mountain regions—Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Indiana, and Kansas—while Garcia is popular in Southwestern states like Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Nevada. The interactive map below shows the most common surname in each state, according to Ancestry:
Hawaii was the only state in which the last names Lee, Wong, and Kim were the most popular. California also had two names—Hernandez and Lopez—that no other state had in its top three. These names were among the most common in only one state:
- Sullivan: Massachusetts
- Nelson: Minnesota
- Chavez: New Mexico
- Olson: North Dakota
You can view Ancestry’s full report here and the meanings and origins behind many common last names.