Tuesday, July 1, 2008

What's in a Name?

Given what we've heard, you'd think the name of the town would be Lawrence -- or maybe just Larry. But as a little town began around the university, Amos Lawrence coined the name Appleton.

It's not for the apples. (Are there apples in Appleton?) It's also not for Samuel Appleton, the Boston merchant who donated $10000 to build the university's library -- though don't tell him that. Supposedly, in order to get him to give the money, Lawrence told him they'd named the town after him. And thus began the work of university advancement. (Just kidding, Julie.) Appleton spent the rest of his life, in fact, telling people the town was named for him.

But according to historical record, Reeder Smith named the town Appleton, in honor of Lawrence's wife, Sarah. (Her last name was Appleton -- she was Samuel's cousin. She was actually the first American woman on record to keep her own name. Why Smith would name the town after her remains a bit of a mystery...)

In 1850 there were 619 people in the town. None of the women took their husband's names. Today there are 77000.

Famous Appletonians

Title: Very Nice to Meet You. I'm Your Daughter's New Boyfriend. Where Do You Keep the Liquor?

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