I recently wrote about some of the oddities in the naming of Ohio cities, towns and villages. As I mentioned previously; creativity appears not to have been a forte of early Ohio settlers. I can understand how, over time, as a state’s map becomes more dotted with named places, providing a unique name for one’s town would become more difficult. That’s probably why so many towns seem to be named for the obvious.
The Ohio towns of Catawba, Sycamore, Magnolia and Hemlock are obviously named for trees.
There are several towns that are named after other states, or what were, in some cases, territories at the time. Florida, Wyoming, Kansas, Texas and Idaho are all represented in the names of Ohio towns. I checked to see if any of these other states had a town named after Ohio—they don’t.
To their credit, Kansas has an Ohio township, and I learned that in Texas there is a ghost town named Ohio (whatever that means). When the post office in Ohio, Texas closed in 1920, they moved it to Cowhouse Creek. It doesn’t say much for the leadership of a town when a place called “Cowhouse Creek” survives you.
There are loads of Ohio towns that are named after famous persons of their time. Certainly some towns were named after the proprietor of the general store or tavern that lay along a popular trail where a town eventually grew. No doubt, too, there were those vain individuals who named a town after themselves. I would start an Ohio town and name it after myself, but Coolville is already taken.
Many positive sentiments are expressed in the names of Ohio towns. We’ve got Unity, Blissfield, Charm, Friendsville, Tranquility and Brilliant. Who wouldn’t want to live where they could enjoy the good view from either of the two towns named Buena Vista. Or why not live in a town where everyone is willing to lend a hand—a place like Pitchin, Ohio.
Biblical references in the names of Ohio towns are also popular. It’s probably a good idea to live in a town with a biblical name—improves one’s odds, I should think, when the Four Horsemen arrive. Towns like Canaan, Goshen, Hebron or Hiram would be alright places to live. I’d rather not have to go to the effort of writing out Mesopotamia, Ohio, every time I had to write my address.
Naturally, there are towns whose names might put-off the potential traveler. I wonder if Getaway is a recreational destination or a warning. I’m pretty sure I will avoid Crooksville when I travel. I might go through Bevis, Gomer, Meeker or Funk, but I’ve spent a lifetime trying to stay out of Bellevue!
Gnadenhutten is an Ohio town whose name makes me a little nervous. I don’t know what it means, Gnadenhutten. Sounds scary!
I could drive through Gore, I just wouldn’t look around too much. I’d have to watch my wallet if I stopped in Shadyside or Panhandle. People in those towns are probably down on their luck.
Hicksville is one of my favorite names for an Ohio town. It surprises me that there's only one town that took the name Hicksville... so many qualify.
Read Part Three