The Kansas map is dotted with colorful and intriguing place names that invite wonderment: Grenola, La Cygne, Cawker City, Wamego, Tonovay, Liberal, Nicodemus, Skiddy, and White Woman Creek. These—and 1058 others, from Abbeyville to Zurich—are described in this handy treasure trove of local history. In addition to discussing how the name originated and what changes it has undergone, McCoy and Hults provide the inquisitive with the spelling and pronunciation (of unusual names), the county where located, related anecdotes, post office dates, and population figures. The result is a fascinating mosaic of information on Kansas history, families, events, politics, settlement patterns, and local lore.
Given its geographic location at the crossroads of America, Kansas understandably boasts a diversity of place names. Native Americans, blacks, the French, Spanish, Anglo-Irish, German-Russians, and other ethnic groups have left their stamp on Kansas long with westward-moving Americans. In Kansas the majority of the place names were chosen to describe, to acknowledge origins, or to commemorate. The descriptive include Smoky Hill, Pretty Prairie, and Saline. American migrants brought Pittsburg, Erie, Oberlin, and Manhattan; foreign immigrants, Toronto, Liebenthal, Clyde, Alexanderwhol, and Smolan. But, as elsewhere in the United States, most names were chosen to commemorate; places are named for Indians, postmasters, landowners, railroad officials, military heroes, local politicians, statesmen, judges, and presidents. McCoy and Hults have included all 105 counties and their seats of government and all 629 incorporated places as listed in the 1980 U.S. Census. The remaining have been chosen because of historical geographic, or geological interest. Abundantly illustrated with humorous drawings by John Gruber, this handy place name gazetteer is both a valuable reference and a source of good fun.