In many ways, Marion turned out to be the most interesting town name of the more than 20 I have researched. First of all, there are more Marions than anyone would expect. There are about 75 places named Marion in the United States listed on Wikipedia. Many of them are towns. All of the US towns named Marion were named in honor of Francis Marion. Only George Washington had more places named for him.
So who was Francis Marion? His nickname was The Swamp Fox. He was a General from South Carolina during the Revolutionary War. I didn’t know that South Carolina was such a big player during this important war in our nation’s history. The British hated Francis Marion during the Revolutionary War because of his slippery tactics. He was one of their biggest adversaries during this bid for independence. He was so prominent at the time that about 35 towns were named after him. Also 17 counties. All but 7 states east of the Mississippi River have a town named Marion. Three towns in Pennsylvania have “Marion” in their names.
According to geotargit, there are 40 places in the world named Marion. Two of them are in Haiti where there is also a Marion River. The locations in Haiti, to my knowledge, were not named after Francis Marion despite Haiti’s revolutionary history. There is also a city in Greece named Marion, but the largest Marion of all is in South Australia. This city south of Adelaide is home to 92,000 people and was named for Marianne Fisher, not Francis Marion. We drove through it on our way to Kangaroo Island.
Of the towns named after Francis Marion in the US, 3 of them are fairly large. The largest US Marion is in Iowa. About 40,000 people live there. It has become part of the Cedar Rapids area so it has tourist attractions. Two of the bigger ones are a historic home named Brucemore, where you will hear the story of 3 families who once lived in this mansion, and the National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library.
Marion, OH has a population of about 36,000. This Ohio stand-alone town was once the home of a US President. Our 29th President, Warren G. Harding, was born here. His home still exists, and Ruth and I have toured it. However, it is currently closed for a makeover. The #1 tourist attraction in this Ohio town, which is in Marion County, is the Harding Memorial. The #2 attraction is the Harding home. Further down the list are a popcorn museum and a Granite Revolving Ball in a local cemetery. No kidding!
Marion, IN is the 3rd largest town named Marion in the USA with about 30,000 folks living there. At least 2 Indiana Marionites have become famous. It’s the birthplace of actor James Dean. He gained everlasting fame after making only 3 movies before dying in a car crash near Cholame, CA. This town is near Paso Robles, and Ruth and I quite accidentally drove by the scene of his death late in 2019. Jim Davis, the creator of the cartoon character Garfield, also hails from Marion, IN. There is a museum in Marion devoted to James Dean, but it isn’t in a house he lived in. The biggest attraction in Marion, IN according to Tripadvisor is Matter Park and its gardens.