Wyoming etym

Frank Abate abatefr at EARTHLINK.NET
Tue Dec 5 18:08:24 UTC 2000


Further on the following, adding to what Don Lance has posted:

"I read somewhere once that Wyoming migrated to the state name from a
valley in Pennsylvania. I also remember an elegantly bound book of
poetry my grandparents had, which contained a long poem entitled
_Gertrude of Wyoming_ (the poet I don't completely remember; I think it
was a certain Campbell: a FAST search says it's Thomas Campbell,
apparently a Scot, which moves the toponym further east). No, I am not
making this up. The title was deliciously funny, but the poem was a
total bore, and I remember nothing whatsoever of it."
--

***************

As Don said, the above is basically right.  In Kelsie Harder's "Illustrated Dictionary of Place Names: United States and Canada (1976), he says:

"From Delaware Indian _maughwauwame_ "large meadows," applied to a valley in NE Pa.  The narrative poem "Gertrude of Wyoming" (1809) by the British poet Thomas Campbell (1777-1844), concerning an Indian attack on the Wyoming Valley, became extremely popular and led to the use of the name in various localities. . . . When the Wyoming Territory was organized in 1868 from a portion of the old Nebraska Territory, the name _Wyoming_, suggested by Rep. James M.Ashley of Ohio, was chosen over _Cheyenne_.

The valley is the "original" Wyoming.  All other uses derive from that, with help from the poem.

Frank Abate


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