Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Place Names of Illinois by Edward Callary

As a reference librarian, I like reference books, even ones that seem fairly plain, such as a simple subject dictionary. So, I am inclined to like Place Names of Illinois by Edward Callary. It may indicate my bookishness, but I find fun browsing the brief entries about the names of rivers, lakes, towns, cities, counties, and other populated places. Most tell when names were first used, origins, the names replaced, and when post offices were established.

What have I learned from the book?

Africa was a settlement of freed slaves. Alhambra was named by Washington Irving readers. There was a grain elevator in Cereal. Custer was probably named for General George Armstrong Custer. Maud was named for a county judge's daughter. Minooka means "good land" in Algonquin. Roaches was formerly Roach Town and Roachville. There are two Vermilion Rivers. Zif might be named for the eighth month of the Hebrew calendar.

Some of my favorite names:

  • Burden Creek
  • Dog Hollow
  • Drowning Fork
  • Henpeck
  • Illiopolis
  • Joy
  • Jubilee
  • Limerick
  • Little America
  • Paradise
  • Pharaohs Garden
  • Polecat Creek
  • Wonder Lake
  • Young America

Place Names of Illinois does the job it sets out to do and should be in most Illinois libraries. We have put our copy into circulation so anyone can take it home and enjoy browsing through the curious names.

Callary, Edward. Place Names of Illinois. University of Illinois Press, 2009. ISBN 9780252033568

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