Meany, Edmond S. Origin of Washington Place Names. University of Washington Press (Seattle), 1923.
Edmond Meany was a Professor of History at the University of Washington in the late 1800s and early 1900s. He wrote several books on Washington history and geography. I have transcribed all of the entries for Lewis County locations from his book, "Origin of Washington Place Names." There are a number of typographical errors in the text, which are reproduced verbatim here. All of the sources listed in parentheses are Meany's own footnotes. The titles are self-explanatory, except for "Names MSS." This manuscript was actually a collection of all of the letters Meany received in response to requests for information on specific place-names. He had all of the letters bound in book-form. All of the sources mentioned by Meany are still held at the Universtiy of Washington library, in their rare manuscripts and Pacific Northwest collections.
BENNIGHT, a town in Lewis County. On December 11, 1913, the town was named in honor of J. E. Bennight, manager of the Washington Coal and Mining Company, whose mines at the place so named are on the line of the Eastern Railway & Lumber Company's line to Kopiah.
BOISFORT, a town in Lewis County. Boisfort Prairie received its name at the hands of the French-Canadian employes of the Hudson's Bay Company. Pierre Charles, a Canadian half-breed, is reputed to have been the first settler there. The first American settler was C. F. White in 1852.
CENTRALIA, a city in Lewis County. George Washington, a colored man, founded a village and called it "Centerville," in the early fifties. Confusion of mail resulted because a town near Goldendale in Eastern Washington bore the same name. When a replat was planned, David Fouts suggested the name of Centralia after the Illinois town in which he had formerlly [sic] lived. Many deeds still read "according to the plat of Centerville, now Centralia." (Henry A. Dunckley, in "Names MSS., Letter 54.)
CHEHALIS CITY and RiVER. The river rises in Pacific County and flows through Lewis, Thurston and Grays Harbor Counties into Grays Harbor. George Gibbs, an early authority, says the word means "sand" and was at first applied to a single Indian village at the entrace of Grays Harbor. ("Handbook of American Indians," Volume I., page 241.) Rev. Myron Eells gives the same definition and says that the early settlers gave the same name to the river and the upper Indian tribes, though originally neither was called by that name. ("American Anthropologist," January, 1892.) The name was spelled in a great variety of ways by the early explorers and writers. The city that now bears the name was laid off on the donation claim of S. S. S Saunders and wife in 1873, and was first called "Saundersville." In the winter of 1850 John Butler Chapman began a city on Grays Harbor under the name of Chehalish City. It failed, and he moved to Steilacoom. Grays Harbor County was until a few years ago known as Chehalis County. there is a Chehalis Indian Reservation in Thurston County.
CLARKE COUNTY, oldest county in the State of Washington. It was named in honor of Captain Clark of the Lewis and Clark Expedition of 1803 to 1806. The addition of the letter "e" to the name has given rise to much inquiry and discussion. The blunder is one of ignorance, but is probably now too deeply imbedded in law, literature and custom to be completely corrected. The question was ably discussed by Frderick V. Holman in his presidential address before the Oregon Historical Society, December 18, 1909. ("Oregon Historical Quarterly," Volume XI., pages 3-6.) On August 20, 1845, Governor George Abernethy approved a law by the Provisional Legislature of the Territory of Oregon creating Vancouver District out of that part of Oregon lying north of the Columbia River. The same authoriy, on December 21, 1845, subdivided the vast area by creating the western portion into Lewis County. Vancouver District was then changed to Vancouver County. On September 3, 1849, the Oregon Territorial Legislature passed a law, Section I of which briefly enacted "That the name of the county of Vancouver be and hereby is, changed to 'Clark.'" In the law as printed the name is in italics and is without the final "e." Washington Territory was created by an Act of Congress, dated March 2, 1853. The Oregon Territorial Legislature on January 3, 1854, passed an act to release Clark County from the payment of certain taxes due to the Territory of Oregon. This legal farewell used the name without the final "e." The new Territory of Washington began the blunder at once. No law was passed changing the name, but the journals of the first legislative session, 1854, always referred to Clarke County. The first newspapers, such as the "Columbian," "Pioneer," and "Pioneer and Democrat," all used the final "e" in Clarke County. Territorial laws on mentioning the name of this county used the final "e." While attention has often been called to the blunder in late years no effort at legal correction has apparently been made.
COWLITZ FARM, one of the early homes of white men in Lewis County. Retired employes of the Hudson's Bay Company settled there. It is indicated on the maps of the Wilkes Expedition, 1841, and also on Preston's "Map of Oregon and Washington West of the Cascade Mountains," 1856. In 1858 the Legislature passed an act to locate the proposed Territorial University of Washington at that place. ("University of Washington Catalogue" for 1910-1911, page 37.)
COWLITZ LANDING, near the present location of Toledo in Lewis County. Boats were used on the Cowlitz River up to this point, from which passengers would proceed overland to Puget Sound. The name appears on early Territorial maps.
COWLITZ PASS, through the Cascade Mountains between Lewis and Yakima Counties. The Cowlitz River has its main source in Mount Rainier Glacier of the same name. One branch of the river, however, rises near this pass, which accounts for the name.
COWLITZ RIVER. Of all the geographic uses of the word Cowlitz, the name of the river is the oldest and most important. Lewis and Clark, 1803-1806, say the Indians called the river "Coweliske." ("Journal," Cones Edition, Volume II., page 698.) Subsequent writers made various attempts at spelling. Dr. W. Fraser Tolmie, 1833, wrote it "Tawallitch." ("Washington Historical Quarterly," Volume III., page 233.) The word is said to mean "capturing the medicine spirit," from the fact that the young Indians of the tribe were sent to a small prairie to commune with the spiritis to get "medicine" or "power." (Henry C. Sicade to John L. Harris, in "Names MSS.," Letter 483.) The River's early importance was its use as a highway between the Columbia River and Puget Sound.
DONAHUE, a former town in Lewis County. See Meskill.
DOTY, a town on the Chehalis River in the western part of Lewis County. It was named in honor of Mr. C. A. Doty, who established a sawmill there about 1900. (T. B. Stidham, in "Names MSS.," Letter 502.)
DRYAD, a town on the Chehalis River, in the western part of Lewis County. It was named by the Northern Pacific Railroad Company about 1890. The name means "nymph of the woods." (N. W. Benson, in "Names MSS.," Letter 72.)
EARITS, Preston's Map of Oregon and Washington West of the Cascade Mountains, 1856, shows a town of that name on the Chehalis River, three miles below the junction of the Skookum Chuck, near the boundary between Lewis and Thurston Counties.
ETHEL, a town in the west central part of Lewis County. It was named on January 12, 1886, by Postmaster-General William F. Vilas. (Postmaster at Ethel, in "Names MSS.," Letter 211.) There is no record in the Post Office Department as to the origin of the name. (First Assistant Postmaster-General, in "Names MSS.," Letter 212.)
EVELINE, a town in the west central portion of Lewis County. When the Northern Pacific Railroad Company put in a loading spur at that place it was named Evaline in honor of Evaline A. Porter, wife of Sedate W. Porter. When a postoffice was secured the same name was used but in a misspelled form. The railroad station still has it spelled correctly. (Sedate W. Porter, postmaster at Eveline, in "Names MSS.," Letter 32.)
FORD'S PRAIRIE, a well-known pioneer name in the vicinity of the present Centralia, Lewis County. James G. Swan in his "Northwest Coast," pages 355-356, says: "Judge Sidney Ford lived on the Chehalis River, near the Skookum Chuck Creek. The judge - or, as he was more familiarly called, Uncle Sid - kept a public house on the Cowlitz road, which was the regulat mail-route from Olympia to the Columbia River."
FOREST, a postoffice in Lewis County, was established and named by W. R. Monroe in March, 1897. On October 1, 1897, it was moved a mile and a half southeast to its present location by the postmaster, Joseph Grenner. The place is usually called Newaukum Prairie. (Joseph Grenner, postmaster, in "Names MSS.," Letter 18.)
FORON, a new town on the Willapa Harbor branch of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railroad. It was named in honor of the Foron brothers, who have a coal mine and sawmill near the place. (Henry A. Dunckley, in "Names MSS.," Letter 54.)
FORT BORST, at the junction of the Skookumchuck and Chehalis Rivers near Centralia, Lewis County. The blockhouse fort was built during the Indian war in 1856 on the claim of Joseph Borst. His widow presented the old fort to Centralia and that city proposed to creat for it Fort Borst Park.
GLENAVON, see Lindberg, Lewis County.
GLENOMA, a town in Lewis County. "I do not know the exact date of the establishment of the postoffice at Glenoma. I was asked to send them a name suitable for that particular location. I chose Glen, 'a valley,' and oma, an old Hebrew word meaning 'a measure of grain.' A liberal translation is 'fruitful valley.'" (Mrs. Beverly W. Coiner of Tacoma, in "Names MSS.," LEtter 576.)
GOLDSBORO LAKE, see Mineral Lake.
JACKSON PRAIRIE, a prairie four miles southeast of Napavine, in the central part of Lewis County, on which John R. Jackson settled in 1845. His cabin was on the main road from Puget Sound to the Cowlitz River. In it the first courts of Lewis County were held. The Daughters of the American Revolution have reconstructed the old cabin so intimately assocated with the history of the early days. It is mentioned by Theodore Winthrop in "The Canoe and the Saddle."
KLICKITAT CREEK, three widely separated streams bear this name: a tributary of Klickitat River, in the central part of Klickitat County; a tributary of the Cowlitz River, in the central part of Lewis County, near Mayfield; a tributary of White River in the Central part of Pierce County. (Henry Landes, "A Geographic Dictionary of Washington," page 175.)
KLICKITAT PRAIRIE, in Lewis County, see Mossy Rock.
LEWIS, a town on the Cowlitz River, in the west central part of Lewis County. A postoffice was secured in August, 1896, and named Sulphur Springs for a small spring nearby. After being moved to the present site the name was changed on June 1, 1911 to Lewis for John Lewis, a member of the Mitchell, Lewis & Staver Company, of Portland, Ore., and also president of the Valley Development Company then doing much development work on the Packwood power project. (Walter Combs, Lewis, in "Names MSS.," Letter 150.)
LEWIS COUNTY, the second unit of government established north of the Columbia River by the Provisional Government of Oregon, December 21, 1845. It embraced the land west of the Cowlitz River and northward to "fifty-four forty" until the treaty of 1846 limited it to the forty-ninth parallel. The name was an honor for Captain Meriwether Lewis. See Clarke County for further information. (Edmond S. Meany, "History of the State of Washington," Appendix I.)
LINCOLN CREEK, a small tributary of Chehalis River near Centralia. The Indian name was "Natchel" meaning a place where camas grows. Frank M. Rhodes took up a homestead on the creek. He was a staunch Republican and Lincoln being President at the time, he declared the change of the creek's name in the presence of the following pioneers: George Gibson, Samuel Taylor, J. W. Ingalls and W. W. Ingalls. (Henry A. Dunckley, in "Names MSS.," Letter 54.)
LINDBERG, a town in Lewis County, named for Gustaf Lindberg, of Tacoma, who owned the sawmill and logging camps which made up the town. (Hugo Lindberg, assistant postmaster, in "Names MSS.," Letter 20.)
LITTLE FALLS, see Vader, Lews Conty.
MENDOTA, a town in the northwestern part of Lewis County, named in 1908 by the Mendota Coal and Coke Company, who had a mining company in Missouri with the same name. (P. L. Hansen, in "Names MSS.," Letter 74.)
MESKILL, a town on the Northern Pacific Railway in the west central part of Lewis County. It was formerly called "Donahue" or "Donahue Spur" in honor of Francis Donahue, of Chehalis, who owned the land.
MINERAL, a town, creek and lake in the northeastern part of Lewis County. The town is on the south shore from the lake from which it derived its name. (Postmaster at Mineral, in "Names MSS." Letter 397.) The Surveyor General of Washington Territory in 1857 charted the lake as "Goldsboro Lake." ("United States Public Documents," Serial No. 877.)
MOSSY ROCK, a town on the Cowlitz River in the central part of Lewis County. It was named in 1852 by Mr. Halland after a point of moss-covered rock about 200 feet high at the east end of Klickitat Prairie. The local Indians had called the prairie "Coulph" but the Klickitat Indians came and drove out the white settlers one of whom, Henry Busie, killed himself. Since then the prairie is called Klickittat. (N M. Kjesbin, in "Names MSS." Letter 22.)
NAPAVINE, a town in the west central part of Lewis County, named by James Urquhart on December 17, 1883. The name is derived from the Indian word "Napavoon," meaning small prairie. Mr. Urquhart, a native of Scotland, who ame to New York in 1851 and migrated to Oregon in 1852, settled first on Eden Prairie. When his family came by way of Cape Horn he settled at Napavine in 1855. ("History of the Pacific Northwest: Oregon and Washington," Volume II., page 611.)
NEWAUKUM, a tributary of the Chehalis River in the west central part of Lewis County, a prairie and a town near Chehalis have the same name. Prior to the American regime, the Puget Sound Agricultural Company had a farmsite there which they called Nawakum ("Nisqually Journal," October 25, 1849, in "Washington Historical Quarterly," Volume XI., page 63.) George Gibbs, on March 1, 1854, mentioned the river as "Nawaukum River." ("Pacific Railroad Reports," Volume I., page 468.) The present name was charted in 1856. (Prestoon's "Map of Oregon and Washington West of the Cascade Mountains.") The Seattle Intelligencer for September 30, 1872, says: "General Tilton, of the Northern Pacific Railroad, has been engaged for a few weeks past in laying off the new railroad town of Newaukum, which in the Indian vernacular means the 'gently flowing waters.' It is located about two miles southeast of Claquato, and one and a half miles from Judge McFadden's farm in Lews County. The railroad company will without delay erect the many depot buildings and make such other improvements as is usual to railroads of this character." That prophecy was not fulfilled.
PACKWOOD, name of a lake and formerly of a pass through the Cascades, in the east central part of Lewis County. They were honors for William Packwood, a Virginian, who was a pioneer and explorer in Oregon and Washington. He arrived in Oregon in 1844 and three years later settled on Nisqually Flats. Much of his explorations were done in the mountains. (H. K. Hines: "History of Washington," pages 889-890, and "Olympia Pioneer and Democrat," April 19, 1861.)
PE ELL, a town in the southwestern part of Lewis County. Edward S. Curtis says white men adopted the name with the mistaken idea that it was an Indian word. "In fact it is an Indian pronunciation of the name of a one-eyed French halfbreed, Pierre, who used to pasture horses in this prairie." The real Indiana name of the place, he says, is "Tsachwasin. ("The North American Indiana," Volume IX., page 153, note.)
SALZER VALLEY, in the northwestern part of Lewis County, named for a pioneer family. Joseph Salzer filed on the first homestead in the valley. His son Gottlieb lived on the claim to hold it for the father and during that time the valley was named. (C. Ellington, of Chehalis, in "Names MSS." Letter 21.)
SAUNDERSONVILLE, see Chehalis.
SILVER CREEK, a town in the west central part of Lewis County, named on April 28, 1868 by John Tucker for a small stream by that name. (G. H. Tucker, in "Names MSS." Letter 398.) Six other small streams in the State have the same name.
SWOFFORD, a town in the central part of Lewis County, named in honor of T. F. Swofford, who settled in the valley in 1887 and had the postoffice established in 1890. He was postmaster there for several years and later moved to Mossy Rock. (T. M. Hill, in "Names MSS." Letter 99.)
TOLEDO, a town on the Cowlitz River, in the south central part of Lewis County, was named for a steamboat. August Rochon and his wife, Celeste Rochon owned the land. The Kellogg Transportation Company operated on the river a boat named "Toledo." In 1879, Orrin Kellogg arrived from Portland on the boat and bought one acre of land on which to build a warehouse and docks. The Rochons game [sic] a dinner at which Mr. Kellogg, Mr. Caples and Mr. Hillaire Nallette were guests. Mr. Kellogg asked Mrs. Rochon to name the new town and she promptly chose the name of the boat. (R. W. Bell, in "Names MSS." Letter 373.)
VADER, a town in the southwestern part of Lewis County, was named by act of the Legislature, dated March 25, 1913. ("Laws of Washington, 1913," page 662.) George T. Reed, of Tacoma, Assistant to the President of the Northern Pacific Railway Company gives an interesting account of this name as follows: "There is some humor connected with the naming of Vader. The town formerly had the name of Little Falls. Our company had another town of the same name on its line in Minnesota, and because of the frequent miscarriage of express and freight matter, we changed the name of the station to Sopenah, so that the town had the name of Little Falls and the station the name of Sopenah. The citizens were not satisfied with this and finally asked me to confer with them on the subject. I visited the town and met many of the citizens. I refuesd to change the name of the station to Little Falls and suggested that if they would change the name of the town I would change the name of the station to conform to it, with only one limitation, namely, that it should not be the name of any other station along our line of road or that of the Great Northern or Oregon-Washington Railroad & Navigation Co. They then got up a petition to the Legislature to change the name to Toronto. There was a faction of 'standpatters' in the town who objected to changing the name of the town at all and they appeared before the committee of the Legislature and among other arguments objected to Toronto because there were five other post offices in the United States bearing that name. The Legislative committee finally told us that they favored changing the name but asked us to select a name that would not be a duplicate of any other post office in the United States. We held a consultation in the hall and I asked them if they could not find the name of some citizen that would be suitable. After canvassing the matter briefly, one of the gentlemen mentioned the name of an old German by the name of Vader and we finally recommended his name to the committee and that name was inserted in the bill and it became a law. The humor of the matter is that we supposed the old gentleman would be highly flattered in having the town named after him but instead of that he took it as a personal indignity and immediately moved to Florida." (In "Names MSS." Letter 94.)
VANCE, a postoffice in the east central part of Lewis County, was named for Zebulon Baird Vance, United States Senator from North Carolina, "who, in the fall of 1886, secured for us the extension of the mail route running east from Mossy Rock into the Big Bottom country, a distance of thirty miles, being the first post office east of Mossy Rock in eastern Lewis County." (J. S. Siler, in "Names MSS." Letter 409.)
WALVILLE, a town in the southwestern part of Lewis County, received its name in 1903 by using the first syllable from one and the last of another of the names of a firm, Walworth and Neville Company, in business there. Prior to 1903, the name had been Rock Creek. (In "Names MSS." Letter 19.)
WILDWOOD, a town in the southeastern part of Lewis County, was named by Thomas C. Naylor, the first postmaster on August 24, 1889, because it was appropriate to the locality. (Mrs. Ella Hildesheim, in "Names MSS." Letter 488.)
WINLOCK, a town in the south central part of Lewis County, was named in honor of General Winlock W. Miller, one of the first Federal officers in the Territory of Washington, an officer in the Indian wars of 1855-1856 and a close personal friend of Governor Isaac I. Stevens. He was a successful business man and owned land where the town now stands. General Miller died in Olympia on January 24, 1876, at the age of 54 years. (H. H. Bancroft, "Works," Volume XXXI., page 118.)
[The above information was transcribed by Jenny Tenlen.]