Mark_Mandel at DRAGONSYS.COM Mark_Mandel at DRAGONSYS.COM
Wed Jun 28 13:27:10 UTC 2000

This was posted to ANS-L, the American Name Society list, by Dennis McClendon
(address below). Please reply to ans-l at, not to me.

---------------------- Forwarded by Mark Mandel/Dragon Systems USA on 06/28/2000
09:24 AM ---------------------------

>Jane Messenger wrote:
>> I have had a gentleman request the definition/origin of the name "Agatite."
>> There is a road in Illinois and was a town in Texas named this.

No one seems to know the origin of the Chicago streetname "Agatite."

Don Hayner and Tom McNamee in their 1986 book _ Streetwise Chicago: A
History of Chicago Street Names,_ write "This street's name is a mystery.
'Agatite' apparently is not a word, and there seems to be no famous,
infamous, or obscure person by that name in Chicago history. It may be a
misspelling of 'apatite,' a calcium phosphate found in teeth and bones. Or,
it may be a layman's variation on the mineral name 'agate.'  One common
explanation, that agatite is a type of tree, appears to be false.

The preface goes even further:

"Nobody in Chicago, at least nobody we know, knows how Agatite Street got
its name. Heaven knows, we tried to find out.

"We began our search at City Hall, where the Department of Maps and Plats
maintains an index card file on street names. According to the index card
for Agatite Street, agatite is a type of tree, more commonly called the
'pea tree,' indigenous to the West Indies. . . the Chicago Historical
Society . . . card file . . . offered the same explanation, word for word.
. . A taxonomist [at the Morton Arboretum], after digging through several
authoritative volumes, assured us that agatite is in no way a type of tree.
'Sounds more like a rock to me,' he said.

"Good enough. We phoned the Department of Geology at the University of
Chicago. A geologist there, who himself had often wondered about the origin
of the street name Agatite, said, no, agatite is neither a rock or mineral,
although agate is.  Maybe, our geologist speculated, some non-scientitst in
naming the street had added the common Latin suffix 'ite' to agate. Or
maybe, he ventured further, that same layman had misspelled the word
_apatite_, a calcium phosphate found in teeth and bones."

Dennis McClendon, Chicago CartoGraphics
dmcclendon at

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