Detail: Historical research reveals the name “Tooele” comes from the Goshute Indian word “bear.” There are several families with the last name “Bear” — descendants of the Goshute Indians who signed a treaty with early Tooele Valley Mormons.
Tooele County, Utah was originally known as Tuilla County. The spelling was changed to Tooele in 1852, when boundaries of the State of Deseret were extended to the California border.
Detail: When James Cook (British explorer) first encountered the villagers at Yuquot in 1778, they directed him to “come around” (in their language “nootka”) with his ship to the harbour. Cook interpreted this as the name of their tribe. In 1981 the term Nuu-Chah-Nulth (meaning “all along the mountains”) was chosen as the new name of the tribe.
Detail: At the end of the 16th century, Queen Elizabeth I of England (1533-1603), who was known as the “Virgin Queen” because she never married, gave the name Virginia to the whole area explored by the 1584 expedition of Sir Walter Raleigh along the coast of North America.
Virginia Eliza Clemm Poe was the wife of American writer Edgar Allan Poe.
Detail: The state of Iowa was named for the Native Americans living in that territory at the time, the Iowa. Despite the report of the 1879 General Assembly of Iowa, which proclaimed that this word means “the beautiful land”, it is actually a Dakota Sioux word given to the Iowas in jest meaning “sleepy ones”.
Detail: This state has one of the most obvious names in the US with the rather ironic meaning, “the land of Indians.” It was given to the Indiana Territory by the United States Congress when Indiana was created from the Northwest Territory in 1800.
Detail: Arizona was inherited from the Spanish Arizonac, a word virtually identical to Basque arizonac “good oak”. However, it isn’t clear why the Spanish would choose a Basque word for (at the time) a Mexican territory. The name of this state is most probably a Native American word, possibly an O’odham (Pima) word meaning “having a little spring” made up of ali “little” + sona-g “spring-having”—plus a little corruption from the Spanish.
Detail: Alaska came from an Aleut (Yupik) word alaxsxaq (ah-LOCK-shock) “the mainland, the land facing the sea”. The Russians were the first Europeans in Alaska and they pronounced the word (al-YA-ska). When the US purchased Alaska from the Russians the name was only slightly modified to what it is today.
Title character in John Green’s Looking for Alaska.
Detail: Alabama was named after the Alabama River. The river was named for the Alabama Indians originally living in region of that river. It is possible that Alabama originated as a compound noun bases on Choctaw, alba “vegetation, plants, herbs” + amo “gatherer, picker”. “Plant gatherers” would be an apt description of the Alabama Indians of that time since they did clear land for farming.
Detail: In Roman legend Romulus and his twin Remus were the founders of the city of Rome. As soon as they were born, they were abandoned in a remote location. They were found by a she-wolf, who instead of killing them, looked after them and fed them with her milk.