Western History & Genealogy Blog

A Rose by Any Other Name..

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Names are more than just meanings they are identities.

I was pondering the other day what exactly makes up a name.  We all know the quote from Romeo and Juliet “A Rose by any other name would smell as sweet”.  However, I beg to differ.  Names are more than just meanings they are identities.  We all have concepts of what a name means or signifies.  We have become accustomed to certain names for certain things or people.  Names become descriptors, almost like a label.  We each have several names, ranging from our given names, to nicknames, to relational names (such as Mom, Dad, Uncle, Aunt and so forth), to professional names, and to even some that shouldn’t be repeated.  I know this is going to sound stereotypical, but have you ever known of a high school cheerleader named Mildred?  What about a cowboy with the name Melvin?  Names even become permanent labels when repeated enough.  Imagine a rose being called a funphengoober.  I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t like to get a bouquet of a dozen funphengoobers on Valentines Day.  It sounds more like a bodily function than a beautiful flower.   What got me started on this little topic?  Well, as promised I have another little snippet from the Story of Denver by Jerome C. Smiley.  This one is how the Great State of Colorado got its name.  I thought this topic was only fitting as we are coming up on the anniversary of Colorado’s Statehood.  Apparently, in 1859 when being considered for Territorial status “Jefferson Territory” as it was called by all its residents, was the favored name.  Due to political and social reasons it was “objected to at Washington because it was the name of a man, and it was held that, aside from that of the first President, the name of no man should be given to any sub-division of the Nation; and, furthermore, it was pointed out that if a beginning of that kind were made it would lead to dissatisfaction, as there would not be anywhere near enough new Territories to go around and honor all the equally deserving great men.” (Smiley, 492.)   I can’t seem to imagine saying that I’m a Jeffersonian.  It sounds more like the name for a philosophical movement rather than for a citizen.  Apparently this wasn’t the only other name suggested.  Names such as Arapahoe, Idaho, Tula, Montana, Nemara, San Juan, Tampa, Wapola Tahosa, Lafayette, Colona, Columbus, and Franklin were also suggested.  Thankfully Governor Gilpin was one of who insisted on Colorado.  So here is my question, and I’m not suggesting putting this on any ballots or anything... what do you think should have been the name for Colorado?

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