My husband Keith and I have a game we play when traveling. We think though you will have fun playing this at home. Pick a town and try to decide how the town got its name. One of us will ask, “Do you want to know how the town got its name?”
Then that person will tell the story. This is a great way to get creative, learn a bit of geography and history at the same time. Here are some of the fun examples that we have done over the years. Keep in mind there is not a bit of truth to any of our stories! Also note some of these may be lost on those younger than 60!
The story goes, “The name Annawan was actually given to the town because one of its most famous citizens was Lawrence Welk. However, the original name, was too long so they shortened it to Annawan the original name was Anna One, Anna Two, Anna Three!”
Note that Lawrence Welk was really born on March 11, 1903, in the small, heavily German town of Strasburg, North Dakota.
The story goes, “The job of naming the town went to an individual who had a slight speech impediment. He was constantly asked if he had found the name of the town yet. He responded, ‘I’ll shink and I’ll shink until I come up with shumway to name the town.’ The rest of the town council said, ‘Hmm, Shumway, I like it!”
Shumway is really a town in Effingham County with a population of around 200! The lovely Thompson Mill Covered Bridge is not far from this lovely area!
The story goes, “Hooppole is the town where basketball was invented. It all began because a family raised pumpkins. The son would take the rotted pumpkins and throw them into a hollow tree. He got very good at hitting the hole with the pumpkin. Everyone started to join in and some were better at hitting the hole with the pumpkin than others. Soon the tree filled up and their sport was over. The young man used a basket that the bottom had rotted out of and placed it on a pole. Soon the town was called Hooppole and that was the original name for the sport of basketball!”
The town of Hooppole really is a small town in Henry County, Illinois of less than 200. We also need to credit that basketball was developed in 1891 in Springfield, Massachusetts by Canadian physical education instructor James Naismit. He developed this as a less injury-prone sport than football.
Forgiveness and tell us your story!
Please forgive us the towns of Annawan, Shumway and Hooppole for taking such liberties! As for you the readers, send us some of your fun stories we would love to share them!