Friday, October 17, 2008

Do Location Names Matter?

While visiting in Springfield, Illinois this past week, several of the locals were surprised to learn that I live in Springfield, Tennessee. At dinner one evening, I learned that one of the hotel staff had family from Springfield, Kentucky. Someone brought up the Simpsons movie promotion last year looking for the hometown of those characters.

Is it worthwhile to investigate the history of a city with the same name as the city from which our ancestors moved? I know that the community of Neosho in middle Tennessee was the home of many folks who moved to Neosho, Missouri; Nutbush, Tennessee was named for Nutbush, North Carolina in Granville county.

How could the city of Springfield, Missouri have anything to do with the city of Springfield, Tennessee except having the same name? Springfield, Missouri has a population of 5.6 million folks while Springfield, Tennessee has a population of only about 16,000 people. The cities are both the county seat of government: Greene County, Missouri and Robertson County, Tennessee.
Springfield, Missouri was established around 1835, while Springfield, Tennessee was established about 40 years earlier in 1796.

J.G. Newbill in his paper, Springfield [Missouri] Express, 11 November, 1881, says: "It has been stated that this city got its name from the fact of a spring and field being near by just west of town. But such is not a correct version. When the authorized persons met and adopted the title of the "Future Great" of the Southwest, several of the earliest settlers had handed in their favorite names, among whom was Kindred Rose, who presented the winning name, Springfield, in honor of his former home town, Springfield, Robertson county, Tennessee. Mr. Rose still lives on his old homestead, 3½ miles southwest of the city, where he has continuously resided for nearly fifty years."

This connection provides a proven migration trail for at least one family. Is it possible that other neighbors of Mr. Rose in Missouri also came from this area of Tennessee? Check it out and keep the story alive.

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J. Mark Lowe
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