Monday, June 12, 2006

A Mountainous Geographic Region By Any Other Name

I'm currently reading a great book, one of the classics on Appalachian history: Richard B. Drake's A History of Appalachia. I'm only about a third of the way through, still in the early stages of European settlement, but its already got me thinking about names - specifically the original names for the regions Appalachians currently inhabit. That, I was struck, would be a great blog entry. So I'm writing about it. Now. Neat, eh?


1. East Tennessee was nearly the Republic of Watauga (see the Watauga Petition here), the state of Washington, and/or the State of Frankland (later changed to Franklin) (also listen to this great NPR interview). And of course, dare we forget, had the Confederacy failed to adequately reinforce East Tennessee adequately, odds are that it would have withdrawn from Tennesse and stayed staunchly Union, just as West Virginia did in 1863.

2. West Virginia was also aflood with alternative names. Early on the region was split into Vandalia in the South and Central parts of the state (as well as parts of contemporary Virginny and Kentucky) and Indiana in the Northern reaches. Also, at the time of West Virginia's withdrawal from the Commonwealth of Virginia, there was some debate as to whether or not the state should be named West Virginia, Western Virginia, Kanawha, Columbia, Vandalia, New Virginia, Allegheny, or Augusta. (Also, if you're interested, check out this page, which lists the roots of West Virginia place names)

3. While I don't know much about it, I do know that Eastern Kentucky was originally known as Transylvania (meaning "beyond the forest") and originally settled by (in the European sense) by the proprietors of the Transylvanian Company (including Daniel Boone) - in 1776 their holdings would become Kentucky County of the Commonwealth of Virginia, who would grant its independence in 1790. The original grant, as far as I can tell, was roughly the size and shape of the current Transylvania Presbytery.

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