What's the most common surname in all the land...here in Texas? in the USA? Has it changed since the days of the old west?

Almost 140 years ago in 1880, here in Texas the most common last name in Texas and across the country was Smith. (The top 20 most common surnames, put my last name Miller at #11!)

In the year 1880 Surname Incidence according to Forbears.com
1 Smith 21,628
2 Williams 18,044
3 Johnson 16,778
4 Jones 14,948
5 Brown 12,286 1: 130
6 Davis 10,786
7 Jackson 8,738
8 Moore 7,736
9 Taylor 7,497
10 Wilson 7,402
11 Miller 6,620
12 Harris 6,539
13 White 6,268
14 Thompson 6,253
15 Thomas 6,044
16 Walker 6,031
17 Anderson 5,559
18 Allen 5,195
19 Martin 5,047
20 Green 4,895

The forbears website, is chock full of other interesting facts, by the way....but not to stray too far off topic, lets fast forward to this century.

In the year 2014 Surname Incidence according to Forbears.com

1 Smith 222,267
2 Garcia 184,744
3 Johnson 172,098
4 Martinez 166,064
5 Williams 163,196
6 Rodriguez 162,411
7 Jones 146,106
8 Hernandez 141,861
9 Brown 126,106
10 Davis 118,391
11 Gonzalez 110,774
12 Lopez 105,668
13 Garza 90,506
14 Perez 89,745
15 Flores 87,339
16 Ramirez 85,308
17 Sanchez 82,789
18 Miller 81,995
19 Jackson 78,254
20 Moore 77,966

What's changed? Smith is still number one! With an additional 200,000 or so people. My name hung in there in the top 20 but Taylor and Wilson, who held the 9th and 10th spot fell out of the top 20 and more than half the names are of Hispanic heritage currently.

I can't help but wonder how Smith has managed to hold the number one spot for so long, both here in Texas and nationally, and so I investigated. The answer is obvious and not as obvious as you might think. But definitely an interesting history lesson!

Reddit has a nice little roundup with some good references. In summary, throughout history, our last names were chosen, based on occupation. Since popular jobs, dating back through history, were copper smiths, shoe smiths, iron smiths and of course blacksmiths, smith became a natural name choice. Smiths were often  esteemed. members of society.

In the 1600's the first settlers to New England were Smith's. Additionally, historically, here in the U.S., Native Americans adopted the name and slave owners gave the name to African slaves. Also Germans named Schmidt often changed their name to Smith.

It seems hard to imagine a world where there were no surnames, but a last name is a relatively modern practice.

And did you know that ,  'In Hungary, Hong Kong, Cambodia, China, Japan, Korea, Madagascar, Taiwan, Vietnam, and parts of India, the family name is placed before a person's given name.' according to Wikipedia.