Alas, state’s place names lack polish

Alas, state's place names lack polish by Bob Karolevitz Phyllis and I were discussing all of the towns and counties in South Dakota named after an individual.

That's when she interjected: "One thing is certain. There'll never be a burg named Karolevitz in this state of ours!"

(She really knows how to hurt a guy.)

"I don't care," I retorted. "All of the men and women who have had something named for them are dead, and I don't want to be honored posthumously. Or even posthumorously, for that matter."

To show her that everybody so enshrined was long gone, I got out the huge tome titled South Dakota Place Names, which was a WPA project before World War II, and began reciting a litany of deceased people.

For instance, if you wanted a county named for you, it was better to be in the Territorial legislature.

The list goes on and on: Alfred Brown, Norman B. Campbell, Rev. G.S.S. Codington, John Shaw Gregory, Maj. Joseph R. Hanson, J.A. Harding, Alexander Hughes, James Hyde, H.A. Jerauld, Col. John Lawrence, Maj. W.P. Lyman, Col. Gideon C. Moody, Dr. Joel E. Potter and Frank J. Washabaugh.

There were others, too, like Bartlett Tripp and Peter B. Shannon, both chief justices of the Territorial Supreme Court; Judge Wilmot W. Brookings, who also had a city and a town named for him; Brig. Gen. William Henry Harrison Beadle, pioneer educator, lawyer, legislator and soldier; William P. Dewey, the Territorial surveyor-general; George H. Hand, attorney general of Dakota Territory; John S. Hutchinson and Gen. Edwin S. McCook, both Territorial secretaries; and Gen. John Blair Smith Todd, a cousin of the wife of Abraham Lincoln and the first Territorial Delegate to Congress.

Territorial governors Newton Edmunds, John L. Pennington, Andrew J. Faulk and Arthur C. Mellette were memorialized in county names, as was Frank M. Ziebach, the "squatter governor" who never had the real title. Henry C. Davison, a pioneer merchant; Jacob S. Deuel, a sawmill operator; Brig. Gen. James B. McPherson and William W. Marshall, Civil War Heroes; and Haakon VII, king of Norway (because there were so many Scandinavians involved there), were also honored.

Of course there were Abraham Lincoln; his vice-president, Hannibal Hamlin; Pres. Ulysses S. Grant; Lincoln's adversary, Stephen A. Douglas; Henry Clay, statesman extraordinary; and others.

When it came to towns, railroad officials and depot agents � like J.B. Stickney, Harrold R. McCullough, Jeremiah Milbank, Alexander Mitchell, J.B. Redfield, Julius Rosholt, John E. Blunt, Hugh Spencer, Jones S. Meckling, Col. Isaac Britton and Elkanah Gay (after whom Gayville was named) � were permanently recognized.

So were governors John A. Burbank, Charles N. Herreid, Nehemiah G. Ordway and Peter Norbeck. Also remembered on the state map were A.S. Garretson, a Sioux City banker; J.S. Presho, a pioneer ferryboat operator; cattlemen Murdo McKenzie and James "Scotty" Philip; Philip D. Armour, meat packer; John Hetland, a murdered homesteader; R.S. Parke, who owned the townsite of Parkston; and Judge Charles Flandrau, before the "e" was added.

There were foreigners, too, like Admiral Lord Charles Beresford of England; Antonio Canova, the Italian sculptor; Dante, author of the Inferno; Count Cavour (Carriello Benno), father of the railroad system in Italy; and John Tyndall, a British scientist.

Historic figures included Father Pierre Jean De Smet, Bishop Martin Marty, Thomas Jefferson, Ethan Allen of Revolutionary War fame, and, of course, Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer.

There were also lesser known characters like T.H. Peever, a pioneer land owner; Newton Clark, a Territorial legislator; Charles H. Agar, a county commissioner; J.B. Webster and Herst Gann (Gann Valley), early settlers; and Fred Dupris, and Indian trader after whom Dupree was named.

Oh yes, and there were women, too, who lent their first names to towns like Irene, Isabel, Marion, Maurine, Mina and Winfred. Louise Holabird was likewise remembered.

Sorry to say, there wasn't a Polish name among them, so I guess Phyllis was right after all. I'll just have to be satisfied with the Robert F. Karolevitz Memorial Cattle Chute, built on our farm out of used lumber, for my lasting shrine.

© 2002 Robert F. Karolevitz

Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>