Sunday, December 10, 2000

Northern Kentucky towns' handles rooted in history

By Gene Franzen
Enquirer Contributor

        The names weave in and out of our daily conversations: Florence, Independence, Newport. Town names are derived from many sources, some common, some not so common, some fact and some fantasy.

        For years the town of Florence was known as “Polecat,” referring to the furs the Indians traded there for store goods with the early settlers. In 1830 the town was officially named Florence, possibly by Jacob Conner, one of the town leaders, in honor of his wife, Florence. The town's named changed but its main economic anchor, retail business, has not.

        When Kenton County was carved out of Campbell County in 1840, the new county was named in honor of the famous Indian fighter, Simon Kenton. A new town was established as the county seat and named Independence, presumably proclaiming its severance from Campbell County.

        Newport was named in honor of British Admiral Christopher Newport, who brought the first English settlers to Jamestown, Va. Many of those settlers later migrated to Northern Kentucky.

        Erlanger stemmed from German-born Baron Frederic Emile D'Erlanger, a land developer in this area, while Elsmere was simply named by a builder who lived on Elsmere Street in Cincinnati.

        Dayton? An 1867 newspaper article states the town was named after Dayton, Ohio, but some historians attribute the name to the Day ton Mill that operated in the area.

        Latonia evolved from the old Lettonia Springs Hotel and Health Spa. Ralph Letton owned and operated the spa, which was located at a mineral spring along Banklick Creek.

        One freshwater spring, still in existence today, assured there would be no “S” at the end of Cold Spring.

        And finally, Charles Collick, a businessman from Bromley, England, had good reason to give Bromley its name. He often stated “I was born in Bromley and I expect to die in Bromley.”

        Now and Then, a look at historic places in Northern Kentucky, is published on Sundays in The Kentucky Enquirer. If there is a place you would like to see featured, call 578-5555.


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