Friday, October 15, 2010

Washington County was once Charlotte County

Charlotte, Princess Royal- 1769
Some of you out there may know that Washington County used to be part of a larger area called Charlotte County, which grew out of Albany County in 1772 while we were still under British rule. I've always heard that the "Charlotte" was Queen Charlotte, wife of King George III who ruled the British Empire while we struggled to gain independence. However, recently I have read that the "Charlotte" is in fact the daughter of the afore mentioned king & queen. Two books about Rensselaer County, which was also once part of Charlotte County, state that eldest daughter Charlotte Augusta Matilda, Princess Royal was the inspiration for the county name.

This got me thinking about whether there were ever, or still are, any other Charlotte counties in the US. According to Wikipedia there are no other defunct Charlotte counties, but there are two current ones. Charlotte County, Virginia is aparently named after Queen Charlotte, wife of King George III. So is Charlotte County, Florida... but in a round-about way. Carlos Bay was renamed Charlotte Harbor by the British. The county was named after the harbor, which was named after the queen... Confused yet?

So... How many counties are named after George Washington you might ask?

Washington is the most popular county name in the country. Thirty-one states have a county named after our first president. (Louisianna has one though it is called a "parish". Alaska does not, but it would be called a borough.) The next closest is Jefferson County with 26. All of them appear to be named after our third president. Then it gets complicated...

There are 25 counties named Franklin, 24 named Jackson & 24 more named Lincoln. They are obviously named after Benjaimn Franklin, Andrew Jackson & Abraham Lincoln. Right? Not exactly. Franklin County, Idaho is named after Mormon apostle Franklin D. Richards. Franklin County, Texas is named after Judge Benjamin Cromwell Franklin. (Doesn't it sound like he was at least named after the founding father?) Jackson County, Georgia was named after Revolutionary War veteran & govenor James Jackson. So, it looks like Ben & Andy are tied for third.

What about Abe? Out of twenty-four Lincoln counties only 17 are named for our 16th president. Five Lincoln counties in Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina and Tennessee are named for Major General Benjamin Lincoln who accepted the surrender of Cornwallis after the Battle of Yorktown. Lincoln County, South Dakota is named after Lincoln County, Maine which is named after a city in England.

Who, if anyone, beat out Honest Abe for fourth place...
(James) Madison County- 20
(Henry) Clay County- 18
(Richard) Montgomery County- 18
(James) Monroe County- 17
(Francis) Marion County- 17

I'll let you know when I figure it out.

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