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People With Place Names

We come across interesting names as we do our genealogy. Parents name their children for all sorts of reasons. I have encountered a couple of people in my family tree who seem to have been named for someplace special to their families:

  1. Nevada Dorcas Walton (1857-1946). She was my great-grandfather’s cousin on his father’s side.
  2. Alice Missouri Carter (1861-1931). She was another of my great-grandfather’s cousins but on his mother’s side. Whether her legal name was Alice Missouri or Missouri Alice remains unclear. The name Alice is engraved on her cemetery marker. A county history and her father’s will refer to her as Missouri.

Both these women were born and lived their lives in Coles County, Illinois, the same place where my great-grandfather Samuel H. Reed (1845-1928) grew up. He must have known them even though he was over a decade older. I wonder whether he knew how they got their names.

The practice of naming people for places has continued in our own day. I think of people like Paris Hilton, Dakota Fanning, and Ireland Baldwin.

Some place names like Cody and Austin have become commonplace. Yet individuals bearing these names may not have been named intentionally for towns in Wyoming and Texas. Perhaps they are named after the people who inspired the place names, William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody and Stephen H. Austin, the father of Texas.

In my genealogical research, I have not run across people with place names in more recent generations. Even our cousins Nevada and Missouri did not follow this practice when naming their own children.

Much thought goes into the decision for a child’s name. A place name can be an unusual, meaningful choice for some parents.

A unique place name for a person’s name can distinguish a person. People tend to remember the names of persons with place names.

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