Category Archives: Town Names

Towns Named London

There are several Londons. But there are only 2 real cities that bear this name. One is in England and the other is in Canada. London has not taken off as the name for world cities despite England’s Empire. There are many Moscows but few Londons.

The confusion gets complicated because there are actually 2 Londons in London. There is the City of London, which is a limited area, and London itself. They are not the same thing. Greater London is a major world capital and the second city in the world to reach a population of 1 million inhabitants. The first was Rome in 133 BC. London, England, achieved this population in 1810. The city of London in England now contains 32 boroughs. One of its boroughs is the old city of London that was a fortified Roman settlement about 2,000 years ago. It was called Londinium, was about one square mile behind a wall, and stretched from the Tower of London to Chancery Lane and Liverpool Street. It had about 10,000 residents, its own Lord Mayor, and was England’s financial capital. How Brexit will affect this historical London is yet to be determined.

There are 15 London’s in the United States. Only 3 of them, the ones in Ohio, Kentucky, and Arkansas, are of any size. The rest are unincorporated communities even though a few of them have thousands of citizens living in them like the Londons in California and Michigan. Most of them have the word New before theirs names. For example, the London in Missouri is New London and is in the Hannibal area. London, Arkansas, has a population over 1,000 and is actually called London. London, Kentucky, is known as a racing capital and has a population over 8,000. London, Ohio, is southwest of Columbus, its capital, and has a population of more than 10,000.

London, Ontario, is a large city in Canada. It’s home to more than half a million Canadians and is on the Thames River. We used to love going to this new London and sampling its restaurants and attractions. It’s the 2nd largest city in the world with this name.

There’s a London Island in South America’s Chile, and the capital of the Pacific Island Nation of Kiribati is London. There are said to be several Londons in Africa, but many of them were colonial cities and London is now their 2nd name. There’s a town called Jakobstad in Finland with a population of more than 20,000 that has a suburb called London. The Australian island called Christmas has a settlement named London.

Then there’s New London, Connecticut. This once upon a time whaling port on the American Thames River is an important city in this Original Colony. New London was named after London, England, and received this name long before The Revolutionary War.

Hank


Towns Named Clay

Writing about towns named Clay is complex. Most of them were named for Henry Clay, the most powerful man of his time. He was the Joe Biden of his era. Henry Clay was a lawyer who won most of his cases. He was both a US Senator and Representative, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Secretary of State, and almost President.

His main home was in Lexington, Kentucky, and it was called Ashland. It is still opened for tours. Ruth & I have been inside it. Almost every town with the name Ashland was named after Henry Clay’s home. During his lifetime and afterwards, many towns were named Clay or Clayton or Claysville. Almost all of them were named for Henry Clay. His fame began about 1803 and he was active in politics for about 40 years. During that time about 15 states entered the Union. Among them were Ohio, Illinois, and Texas. There are 18 Clay Counties in the United States. Many of them were named for Henry Clay. Can you see and appreciate this problem?

All you can do is research towns named Clay knowing in advance that most of them can be traced back to Henry. There’s a Clay Center in Nebraska. It’s a town of less than a thousand people. It was named for Henry Clay, but Claymont, DE, Joe Biden’s adopted state, was named after a plantation called Claymont Court. Claypool Hill, a Virginia town of about 2,000, was probably not named for Henry Clay.

The towns that were named for Henry Clay include Clay, NY, a suburb of Syracuse, and Clayville in the same state. There’s a Clay, KY that was named after Henry. It’s a town of more than 1,000. There’s a Clay, WV that was named after this politician. Clay City, IN, Claysburg, PA, Clayville, IL, and Clay, Al, a town up the road from Birmingham and the largest Clay of all with almost 10,000 people, were all named after Henry Clay.

If you want to research towns named Ashland, you’re on your own.

Hank


Towns Named Lewis Don’t Exist

I am reading the current bestseller called Lincoln Highway. On page 52 the author talks about the “city” of Lewis, Nebraska, on the Lincoln Highway. It does not exist. This must be dramatic license. Amor Towles says on this page, “When I was about your age, I lived for a stretch on the outskirts of a little city called Lewis.” He goes on to identify Lewis as being on the Lincoln Highway between here and Omaha. Here is never explained.

There is a Lewiston in Nebraska. It is a tiny town near the much larger town of Beatrice. There are, in fact, 16 towns named Lewiston in the US. The largest Lewiston is in the state of Maine. There are more than 36,000 people living there north of Portland, ME. The 2nd largest Lewiston is in Idaho closer to where I live. I have been to this Lewiston several times. Ruth had a relative named Aunt Ollie who lived in the state of Washington not too far from Lewiston. Aunt Ollie had 13 children and lived to be over 100. She gave up her driver’s license when she became 100-years-old and climbed onto a motorcycle. Many of the Lewistons are now unincorporated. The Lewiston in Vermont has gone completely out of business. It is listed as a “former” village.

There are said to be Lewistons in Cuba, Australia, and the United Kingdom. But there are no Lewises in these 3 countries. You would think over time that someone would name their town “Lewis” after a famous or accomplished local, but that has never happened. There is a Lewisdale in Maryland. It is a town of more than 3,000. In the United States, 7 states have named counties Lewis. They are Idaho, Kentucky, Missouri, New York, Tennessee, Washington, and West Virginia. There are Lewistowns in Illinois, Montana, and Pennsylvania. The largest of these is the Lewistown in Pennsylvania. There are Lewisvilles in Texas that is a suburb of Dallas and another in North Carolina near Winston-Salem. There are 2 town named Lewisburg. One is in Ohio and the other is in Pennsylvania. This original colony could have been the only state with 2 towns named Lewis, but that never happened except in fiction.

Perhaps the problem is that there has never been a famous enough Lewis. The Lewiston in New York was named for Morgan Lewis, a former Governor of this state. Lewiston, ID, was named for Meriwether Lewis of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

The Lincoln Highway was the first major road to cross America. This transcontinental route stretched from New York City to San Francisco and went through important cities like Chicago, Pittsburgh, Salt Lake City, and Reno long before Interstates happened.

Hank


Towns Named Warsaw

Between 1820 and 1914, 2.2 million people of Polish descent came to the USA. Some say that as many as a quarter of a million Poles crossed the Atlantic to settle in cities like New York. Many had lived in its capital Warsaw, which is a must-visit city, and settled in small towns named Warsaw in many states. Many of the new USA immigrants from Poland settled in Texas, Michigan, and Illinois. They tended to favor the Northeast. Because Poles decided to live in cities like Chicago, which still has a large Polish population, there are few towns in this country named after their capital Warsaw. So the roughly 10,000,000 people of Polish descent now living in the USA do not live in towns named Warsaw.

The internet folks that track this kind of thing tell you that there are 17 towns named Warsaw, but most of them are unincorporated. The Warsaw in the state of Georgia has gone completely out of business. The Warsaw in Texas is now classified as unincorporated. Part of this is because the Poles who came to Texas lived in a community known as Panna Maria, which today is also said to be unincorporated. There has never been a major Warsaw in Michigan. The Warsaw in Illinois has declined to about 1,600 people southwest of Keokuk, Iowa. Its glory days when it opposed Mormons in nearby Nauvoo are long gone. Most former Poles in Illinois now live in Chicago.

Early on Poland produced notable Poles who seriously influenced US history. Tadeusz Kosciuszko and Casimir Pulaski became Revolutionary War heroes. The Warsaw in Indiana produced 2 writers, Ambrose Bierce and Theodore Dreiser, who developed national reputations. This Midwest Warsaw remains the largest Warsaw in this nation. It is a stand-alone community of about 13,500 people south of Elkhart and Goshen, IN and is known as the “orthopedic capital of the world”.

The other viable Warsaws in America are in places like Virginia, western Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and Missouri. The Warsaw in New York State is a town near Buffalo with close to 5,000 people. Sleepy Warsaw, KY is a town of about 1,800 on the Ohio River not too far from Louisville. Ruth & I were close to Warsaw, OH when we visited Cuyahoga National Park last week. Many of the immigrant Poles who have left small Warsaws for large cities have left behind impressive churches and other cultural identifiers. They emigrated to our country in 3 waves for almost 100 years.

The main Warsaw in Poland is a city of close to 2 million. It has many fine tourist attractions worth seeing. Much of it had to be rebuilt after World War II.

Hank


Towns Named Irving

There are several towns named Irving in America. At one time there were many more of them. A surprising number of Irvings were named after a writer named Washington Irving. His most famous stories were “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and Rip Van Winkle”. A sometimes traveler, Washington Irving toured the prairie states in 1832 including Oklahoma before it became a state, and he published a book about his experiences. There was once an Irving town in Oklahoma. It was named after this writer. There was also an Irving in Kansas where The Wizard of Oz was based. It’s possible that the main character in this famous tale by L. Frank Baum, Dorothy Gale, was named for someone who lived in Irving, Kansas. We will never know for sure because Irving has become a ghost town in the land of grasshoppers and tornadoes. Its demise is attributed to something called the “Big Dam Foolishness”.

The largest Irving, the city now part of Dallas, Texas, with a population nearing a quarter of a million people, was probably named for Washington Irving too. This town’s 2 founders surely named it after this writer because one of them was a member of the Washington Irving Literary Society and was said to be partial to the name Irving. Irving, Texas, is now a Dallas ring community and thought to be one of the most racially diverse communities in the United States.

There were at one tine probably 19 communities named Irving in the US. Like the writer, many of them have gone out of existence like the Irving in California that was once in Marin County and is not to be confused with the thriving town of Irvine California. This former settlement in Marin was on maps as late as 1914. There is an Irving in the state of Wisconsin. It’s a very small town of less than 800 people in the west central part of the state. The Irving in nearby Michigan is 106 miles from Lake Michigan and has about 3,400 people living in it. The Irving in Iowa was clearly named for this once famous writer. The Irving in Oregon is now part of the city of Eugene. The Irving in Minnesota is about the size of the one in Wisconsin, is near Green Lake in a state with 10,000 of these, and was named for Washington Irving.

The Irving in Illinois, a town of about 400 residents, is not too far from St. Louis. A musician by the name of Buddy Cole was born there. Buddy went to California, made several recordings, and worked with celebrities like Bing Crosby and Henry Mancini. There is a fairly large Irving in the state of New York, Washington Irving’s home state. Irving, New York, is near the town of Hanover. The Irving in South Dakota is said to have a population of 10. There are now or once were Irvings in Nevada, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania.

There are a number of towns named Irvington too. Some of them began life as Washington Irving namesakes also.

Hank