Where In Ohio Is Stringtown?


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Where In Ohio Is Stringtown?
Written March 16, 2004

 

It's a simple question.  Somebody claims to come from a very small place.  He says it's a hamlet with only a few houses, and it's called Stringtown, Ohio.  So you ask your Midwestern geography expert, "Where in Ohio is Stringtown?"

Unlikely as it may seem, there's no easy answer to that question, because there's more than one Stringtown, Ohio.  In fact, there are ten of them scattered across the map!

Here are their locations.  The northernmost is near the town of Shreve, the southernmost outside the town of Ripley, and the westernmost in the suburbs of Dayton.

How can this be?  How can a single state have multiple places with the same name?  And how are we supposed to tell them apart?

I didn't become aware of the problem until I moved out of state and had to make the drive to Pennsylvania.  Just 12 miles east of my old hometown, I turned at a familiar crossroads called Norton.  But then a hundred miles later, near Akron, I passed the exit for a city also called Norton.  Apparently there's one Norton, Ohio, in Delaware County and a larger one in Stark County.

I next encountered the phenomenon in 1990, when Nat Brandt published The Town that Started the Civil War.  This book recalls the abolitionist history of Oberlin, Ohio, where I went to college.  Oberlin was a center for the Underground Railroad, an informal organization that helped escaped slaves reach safety in Canada.  Nowadays, the town's role is memorialized by this sculpture on South Professor Street.

2001 photo
Click here for another angle and another memorial.

Relating an 1859 incident, Brandt wrote, “. . . Anson Dayton intercepted the two Kentuckians on their way to Cleveland at a train stop outside the city and took them into custody on the basis of the federal warrant . . . .”  But in a note he observed, “In an odd mistake, Dayton noted that Jennings and Mitchell were served the warrant ‘at the Rail-Road Station of Orange, on the C.C. and C. Rail-Road in the County of Delaware in the Northern District of Ohio.’  Orange is in Cuyahoga County, but Delaware County is north of Columbus in Central Ohio.”

Obviously Brandt wasn't aware that there were Oranges in both Cuyahoga and Delaware Counties.  His source was likely correct.  The warrant was served at Orange in southern Delaware County, nine miles north of the state capitol, where Orange Road crosses the tracks opened in 1851 as the C., C. & C. (for Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati).  My father and I found the spot.  Trains still go through, but there's no railroad station there now, and no town.

Nor is there much of a town at a place about three miles away called Africa.  Writing in the Cleveland Plain Dealer in 1996, John Switzer noted that Africa was mentioned in a new book called Ohio Place Names.  “What's left of it is near Alum Creek Dam.  The settlement was first known as East Orange.  ‘During the Civil War, the hamlet played a role in the Underground Railroad, since most residents were abolitionists and offered refuge to freed slaves, many of whom took up residence there,’ the book says.  ‘An anti-abolitionist derisively referred to the community as Africa because of the many blacks there, and the label caught on.’”

Then a few years ago, while driving through northeast Ohio, I heard a Chagrin Falls radio station identify its location as Bainbridge-Cleveland.  Bainbridge?  I know where that is.  That was the hometown of Sally Flowers.  It's in southern Ohio, 60 miles east of Cincinnati.  How could a radio station serve both Bainbridge and Cleveland, on opposite ends of the state?  Is there another Bainbridge near Chagrin Falls? 

So I got out the 1987 edition of the DeLorme Mapping Company's Ohio Atlas & Gazetteer.  This book has 64 pages of highly detailed maps at a scale of 1:150,000, or less than 2.4 miles to the inch, and it also has an index.

I was amazed to discover that not only are there two Nortons, two Bainbridges, and three Oranges, but the state has a total of 295 duplicate place names that are used by 701 different locations!

Here are the 232 names that appear twice.  Ready?

Adamsville
Alexis
Allentown
Amanda
Amsterdam
Antioch
Auburn Center
Bainbridge
Bay View
Beechwood
Belfast
Bellevue
Benton
Bethel
Birmingham
Bloom Center
Booth
Brentwood
Brighton
Bristol
Brookside
Brookville
Brownstown
Brownsville
Buffalo
Burlington
Cairo
Camden
Carey
Carlisle
Centerpoint
Chase
Chatham
Cherry Valley
Cheshire
Claridon
Clark
Clarksville
Clover Hill
Cloverdale
Columbia
Columbia Center
Comet
Crabapple
Crawford
Cuba
Darlington
Dublin
Dungannon
Durbin
Duvall
Eagleville
East Union
Easton
Eckley
Edgefield
Egypt
Elizabethtown

Enterprise
Etna
Eureka
Evanston
Fairfax
Fairfield
Fairplay
Farmington
Five Forks
Forest Park
Forestdale
Frankfort
Frederick
Fredericksburg
Fredericktown
Frenchtown
Fryburg 
Garden
Garfield
Geneva
Genoa
Gettysburg
Glasgow
Glendale
Glenwood
Goodwin
Goshen
Gould
Grandview Heights
Greenbush
Greentown
Hamburg
Hamer
Hamilton
Hanover
Hardscrabble
Harper     
Hartford
Hopewell
Horton
Huntsville
Independence
Jackson
Jacobsburg
Jimtown
Johnston
Jonesboro
Jonestown
Kansas Corners
Kenwood
Kerr
Kinsman
Knox
Lakeland
Lakeside
Lakeview
Lebanon
Leesville

Lexington
Lima
Linnville
Lisbon
London
Londonderry
Louisville
Lowell
Luray
Lynchburg
Macedonia
Manchester
Mantua
Martinsville
McDonald
Mechanicsville
Meeker
Meigs
Middleton
Millers Corners
Millport
Mills
Millville
Monroeville
Monterey
Morgan Center
Morgantown
Morristown
Mount Carmel
Mount Holly
Mount Sterling
Needmore
New Albany
New Baltimore
New Burlington
New Castle
New Haven
New Hope
New Lexington
New Pittsburg
New Rochester
Newtown
Northridge
Northwood
Norton
Norwood
Oak Hill
Oakfield
Olive Green
Oneida
Otsego
Otterbein
Owensville
Palmyra
Peoria
Perrysville
Petersburg
Pine Grove

Pinhook
Pleasant Hill
Pleasant View
Plymouth
Pricetown
Rathbone
Rays Corners
Reading
Reynolds
Ringgold
Riverside
Rochester
Rock Camp
Rosedale
Rossburg
Rushville
Russell
Salem
Saltillo
Sand Hill
Shannon
Sharon
Sharpsburg
Shawnee Hills
Shawtown
Sheffield
Smithville
Springville
St. Johns
St. Joseph
Staunton
Stony Ridge
Sulphur Springs
Sunbury
Sundale
Sycamore
Taylorsville
Taylortown
Uniontown
Unity
Utica
Vinton
Wainwright
Wakefield
Walhonding
Walnut Grove
Waterford
Wayne
Waynesburg
West Chester
West Jefferson
West Point
Westville
Westwood
Winchester
Woodville
Yale
Zoar

 

The following 40 names appear three times each.

Amity
Arlington
Berlin
Bridgeport
Buena Vista
Bunker Hill
Clayton
Clifton
Clinton
College Hill

Danville
East Liberty
Germantown
Harrisburg
Jacksonville
Jefferson
Jericho
Lafayette
Lincoln Heights
Locust Grove

Maple Grove
Mechanicsburg
Middleburg
Middletown
Monroe
Nashville
Oakland
Oakwood
Orange
Pekin

Pleasant Grove
Pleasant Valley
Riverview
Six Corners
Waterloo
West Liberty
White Oak
Williamsport
Windsor
Yankeetown

 

There are 14 that appear four times.

Boston
Center
Concord
Florence

Hillcrest
Maysville
Mount Pleasant
Newport

Shiloh
Smith Corners
Spring Valley
Sugar Grove

Unionville
Valley View

 

Two names appear five times.

Bloomfield

Rome

 

Four names appear six times.

Avondale

Fairview

Georgetown

Midway

 

One name appears seven times.

Centerville

 

And the co-champions are two names that each appear ten times.

Five Points

Stringtown

 

Now I'm not claiming that all of these are major cities.  At some time in the past, they acquired place names which have been passed on to DeLorme's cartographers, but no more than one of the duplicates has been incorporated as an official city or village.  Any other places that share the name do so unofficially, because they aren't incorporated.

Comparing DeLorme's list to the census data of Ohio municipalities, I find that about a third of the shared names belong to one official municipality plus one or more unincorporated places.  The other two-thirds are not listed in the census, as they are used only by unincorporated places.

I remember driving through one of the six Midways, the one in southern Madison County, and seeing the sign "Midway (Sedalia P.O.)."  Apparently to avoid postal confusion, those Midwayians have to use the address Sedalia, OH 43151. 

Not all of the names that I found may be in current use.  The map shows these six other places within 5½ miles of the village of Richwood, where I grew up:

Centerville
Claibourne
Essex
Gast Corner
Kerr Corner
Woodland

When I lived there, I could have told you where Claibourne and Essex were, but not the others.  Four of them are, at best, crossroads.  Only Centerville and Essex actually have an additional street.

In more remote areas, many locations named on the map are even less than crossroads.  They're what my mother used to call “a wide spot in the road.”

But at one time each of them must have had at least a couple of houses, or a one-room schoolhouse, or a general store — something that led the local folks to bestow a name.  And not infrequently, it was a name that had already been used by some other folks a few counties over.

 

TBT

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