Know Ohio: What's in a Name?

If you've ever traveled across this great state of ours, you likely saw a lot of signs with interesting city names. From Dublin to Dayton, and Cleveland to Coolville, Know Ohio correspondent Mary Fecteau is up next to take you on a little field trip to learn more about the origin of some of Ohio’s city names.    

It's time for a road trip! Hop aboard the Know Ohio tour bus, and we'll play a name game of sorts to learn how Ohio's cities got their names. 

Now, if I had the chance to name a city, I'd probably name it after myself, so everyone would remember how great I am. And that's how a lot of Ohio's largest cities got their names. Early English settlers like Moses Cleaveland and John Dayton, named their cities after themselves. 

Although, some early settlers and politicians chose to name cities after figures from history that they admired.  Like Columbus, named after Christopher, and Cincinnati, named after Cincinnatus, an ancient Roman statesman.

And a lot of Ohio cities have an international flair. They're named after famous cities and countries all over the world. But because we Ohioans are a rather stubborn folk, we often add our own spin to the pronunciation. Examples include Versailles, named after Versailles, the city in France…Lima named after Lima, the city in Peru… Toledo named after Toledo in Spain, and, my personal favorite, Russia, which is actually spelled like Russia, but somehow we get ‘roo-shi’ from that. But, good news! We do pronounce our city Dublin the same as the people in Ireland, so...there's that. 

Because Ohio is a real "melting pot" of a state, you'll see names derived from several different languages and cultures. From French names like Gallipolis and Marietta, to Native American names like Chillicothe and Coshocton, to Greek names like Akron and Xenia.

But then there are some Ohio cities that, well, let's just say they march to a beat of their own drum. I’m thinking of the great city of Knockemstiff. Now a ghost town south of Chillicothe, there are many different stories that claim to explain the town's usual name. One of which is that a huge city-wide brawl broke out when the city was first established.
You know what city I always thought had nice a ring to it? Marysville. It was actually named after founder Samuel Cuthbertson's daughter, but hey - a girl can dream!
If you could name a city or town in Ohio, what would you name it and why? Let us know, and we'll share some of your responses on our next show.

Instructional Links

Website Article: Really Weird Place Names, Northern Ohio

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