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The places we call home

January 24, 2012 - Art Smith

The places we call home come with many names. Marietta, Belpre, Germantown, New Matamoras to name a few.

Even though we write and speak the names on nearly a daily basis, few of us pause to think about where the names came from in the first place.

The Times has recently started a series about where area communities got their names. Etymology, the study of the origin of words, always has fascinated me. Studying how cities, towns and villages got their names is even more interesting, of course, because we actually live in and around the communities.

Marietta, for instance, was named for Marie Antoinette, the Queen of France and the daughter of Maria Theresa, for whom she was likely named. Hundreds of years later, Marietta and, of course, this newspaper; still honor the name of the queen who was executed in 1793. At least 16 other Mariettas also dot the map in other states, with the largest being a suburb of Atlanta. All, I presume, are named after the one founded on the banks of the Ohio River by settlers from Massachusetts in 1788.

If you think about where you live, there is likely an interesting story there as well, although maybe not as interesting as an executed queen of France.

I live in an area between Churchtown and Watertown. There is a church in Churchtown; St. John’s Catholic Church has graced the hilltop since the late 1800s. There is water in Watertown, a branch of Wolf Creek flows through the community and once powered a mill. Neither community, though, is a town. Watertown does have a couple of streets, but is not even a village in the government sense. Churchtown is pretty much any location from where you can see the church, but it was never a town in the urban sense.

The articles have been made part of a special page in the community section of this site. It will continue to grow, as additional communities are profiled. Check the page to learn how some of the areas we call home got their names.


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