INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — To wrap up our month of visiting towns with interesting names, we’re covering a lot of ground in one day instead of focusing on one place.
To do that, we found a woman who knows her stuff when it comes to Indiana’s town naming history.
Kate Scott has answers right at her fingertips at the Indiana Historical Society Library.
“The thing I love most about my job is that I’m one of the people who gets to answer the incredibly random, often fun and weird questions that our patrons send us,” said Kate.
So she didn’t think our question about Indiana’s odd town names was that odd!
“Strange town names is something that I’ve gotten lots of questions on before!”
“Leisure is one of my favorites,” said Kate. “So are Economy and Progress. And one that sounds very strange to most people, but would make sense to geologists, is Oolitic.”
Oolitic, pronounced “Oh-litic,” is named after the type of limestone found in the town.
“French Lick is called French Lick because there was a salt lick in the area, like the kind deer like to come to for minerals they need, and there were a lot of French settlers in the area, so it fell into place like that.”
“One of my favorites is Santa Claus, Indiana,” said Kate. “There are all these stories, these legends about why it’s named Santa Claus. There was a good omen that appeared on Christmas Eve or something about men in Santa Claus suits, but actually it was a practical decision by the townspeople. When they settled there, they first named it Santa Fe.”
But there was already another Santa Fe.
“And they said, well, what’s something similar? And Santa Claus was the name they gave their post office.”
“In my experience, Indiana doesn’t have any stranger place names than anywhere else. I just think that when people move from one place to another, they’re used to the place names where they lived and they say, oh, Hole in the Wall, that’s not a strange name, but Floyds Knobs, that’s weird!”
The infamous Floyds Knobs is on the outskirts of New Albany.
“People always want to know about Floyds Knobs because they have all sorts of ideas about what it might mean, but it’s named after Colonel David Floyd and the knobs that it refers to are the hills in the area.”
Do you have a question about a town we didn’t answer? Contact the Indiana Historical Society Library and Kate is happy to help!
If you’d like Lindy to visit your town, click here to let her know!