Iowa got its name from the Ioway people, a tribe of Native Americans who occupied the area before the European settlers came. According to their language, Iowa means “beautiful” or “beautiful land.” Just like our state name has a meaning behind it, so do many of our town names! Here are 11 town names in Iowa and the meaning behind them that you probably never knew:
Apparently, the name that the townspeople wanted was already taken and they couldn't agree on a different one, so they did the only thing you can do in that situation. The mayor put on blindfold, faced a map and placed his finger on Jamaica, and so the town name was born.
The name Pella is a reference to Perea (an ancient kingdom ruled by Herod the Great), where the Christians of Jerusalem found refuge during the Roman-Jewish War. The town was named Pella because the townspeople were seeking religious freedom, much like the people of Perea.
Elkader was named after the Algerian leader Abd al-Qadir al-Jaza'iri. In 1846, the founders decided to name it for the young Algerian who was leading his people in resisting the French colonial takeover of Algeria.
The story goes that the town got its name because the townspeople, who had relocated from another settlement, were unhappy that the railroad had not laid tracks by their old settlement. So because of that, the people called themselves 'defiers' and the town Defiance.
Originally the town was called Officialredrydercarbineactiontwohundredshotrangemodelairrifle, but the town was asked by the Post Office to come up with something a little shorter, hence the name "Beebeetown."
6. What Cheer
After their first choice of town names was rejected, the townspeople successfully got the town named "What Cheer," which is an old slang term similar to today's "What's up."
7. Council Bluffs
Council Bluffs was named for a meeting of the Lewis and Clark Expedition with the Otoe tribe, which took place at Council Bluff, near present day Fort Calhoun, Nebraska, which is 20 miles to the north.
Take a guess. It's a pretty tough one! It was named Fertile because of...you guessed it! The fertile soil in the area.
9. Lost Nation
There are a few different local legends about the origin of the town name. One version says a man was looking for some relatives living in the area, and when he was asked where he was going, he said that he was looking for the lost nation.
Correctionville is one that isn't as obvious to most people. The city actually gets its name from a surveying practice of making correction lines.
11. Des Moines
Our state capital was named after the Des Moines River, which is adapted from the French Rivière des Moines, which means "River of the Monks." The French phrase "des Moines" translates to either "from the monks" or "of the monks". Some think Des Moines refers to French Trappist monks, who lived in huts on top of what is now known as Monks Mound near St. Louis.
Have any more fun town name stories? Share them with us in the comments section below!