Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Well, as all my fellow Americans know, Independence Day is coming up! And I'm feeling a little patriotic. So I'm going to do a week of strange American names! To the Australian and British readers, consider this a unique glimpse into American culture and history!

Missouri (pronounced "mis-SOOR-ee") is the 24th state in the union. It's moniker is derived from the name of a Native American tribe. This tribe was known as the Ouemessourita, which means "those who have dugout canoes." The indigenous people inhabited Missouri for thousands of years before the Europeans came, and recent archaeological excavations have uncovered evidence of a complex society.

Between 1000 and 1400 A.D., there were large Native American cities in this region. Thanks to the river system they had a trading network that stretched from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico. Their large earth mound structures have survived. No one is sure what happened to them, and all of the descendants of these groups left the area ages ago.

The first White settlers in this region were mostly French Canadians, who used this area to trade fur with the Native Americans. It was the French who founded St. Louis, which remains the capital city of Missouri. In 1803, Missouri was part of the Louisiana Purchase, which expanded America's territory. This state would later earn the nickname "The Gateway to the West" because it was a major departure point for settlers.

Aside from the state being prone to earthquakes, there have been other struggles in the region as well. Conflicts between the "old settlers" (who were from the south) and the Mormons (who came from northern states and Canada) arose due to religious differences and slavery. Missouri also sided with the Confederate army during the American Civil War.

State names have always served as inspirations for baby names in America, but which states those are have changed throughout the years. Nowadays, Dakota and Montana are popular for both genders. And Virginia, Georgia, and Carolina have always been classics, never leaving the charts completely. But back in the 1880s, Missouri and Nevada were well used options for girls. Missouri ranked at #400.

The one thing I'm noticing about all those names is that they're all Confederate states except for Nevada. Which might make at least half of the country uncomfortable with them. Still, I would find it interesting to see of Missouri makes a comeback. I'm the child of immigrants myself, and I have to admit that it's kind of cool.


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  1. I guess part of the problem is that a lot of the union states haven't got what some people would dub 'name appeal' - the likes of Massachusetts and Wisconsin don't slip all that easily off the tongue! I wonder to what extent the popularity of using the name of a state as a given name in the 19th C was a reflection of that old Confederacy-Union divide, or simply that Virginia, Georgia, Carolina, Dakota and Montana make the transition from place to personal names quite painlessly?

  2. This is also the name of a psychic on the show Supernatural, which is not the most correct show out there for pagans or witches.

  3. I'm sorry to be a stickler, but, as a proud Missourian I have to correct this. Jefferson City is Missouri's capital city, not St, Louis. Also, even though Missouri legally allowed slavery, it sided with the Union during the Civil War, along with Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia, and Kentucky.


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