How did these Tri-State cities get their names?

Have you ever wondered how cities were named so long ago?

Check out how these Tri-State cities got their names!


The name of the Tri-State’s most populous city goes back to 1812, when Hugh McGary, Jr. purchased around 441 acres of land where the River City now sits. He originally called the village “McGary’s Landing” but changed the name in 1814 to attract more people to the area. He named it Evansville, in honor of Colonel Robert Morgan Evans, a founding member of the settlement and a war hero who served as an officer in the War of 1812.

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The first settler in The Big O was William Smeathers, or Bill Smothers, who built a cabin along the Ohio River in 1797. The site was originally called Yellow Banks, because of the color of the banks along the river. In 1817, Yellow Banks was established as Owensborough, in honor of Colonel Abraham Owen, who was killed at the Battle of Tippecanoe in 1811. The spelling was shortened to the current spelling of Owensboro in 1893.

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Henderson’s namesake goes way back to 1778, when 200,000 acres of land was deeded to the Richard Henderson Land Company by the state of Virginia. Henderson County was eventually formed out of part of Christian County in 1799, and the town of Henderson was incorporated in 1810. The county and town were named after Colonel Richard Henderson, an American pioneer and one of the original founders of Kentucky.

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The Enlow family were the first known settlers in the Jasper area. The settlement was to initially be named Eleanor, after the wife of settler Joseph Enlow. It is believed that Eleanor herself suggested that it be called ‘Jasper’ instead, after a passage in the Bible. “The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every kind of jewel. The first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald;” Revelation 21:19

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Santa Claus

Perhaps one of the Tri-State’s most intriguing names, the name ‘Santa Claus’ wasn’t the first choice for this unique town. In 1856, the town once called Santa Fe applied to set up a post office, but the application was rejected because there was already a ‘Santa Fe’. This left the community in a debate of what to rename the town, and there are various stories behind the reason of why the town settled on the name Santa Claus. One of the more magical tales that was formed describes a town discussion at a small church on Christmas Eve. New names for the town were being discussed and nothing was sticking, until a gust of wind blew the doors open and the sound of sleigh bells rang through the church. The children inside shouted “Santa Claus! It’s Santa Claus!” And the town of Santa Claus, Indiana was born.

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