It makes great intuitive sense for a state to include a component county with the same name. Imagine living in Oklahoma City. Not only do the residents live in a city named Oklahoma, they also live in a county and a state named Oklahoma. That’s not imaginative, in fact it’s rather boring. Ditto for Arkansas, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, New York, and Utah. They all contain a county with the same name. Well, maybe I’ll grant an exception for for New York. The county named New York is coterminous with Manhattan, a place that’s far from boring. Hawaii County, the Big Island, might be another exception.
Barring those, I’m much more interested in counties that bear the names of different states. I’ve compiled a quick list of examples. It’s possible that I missed a few but this should come fairly close:
- Colorado County – Texas
- Delaware County – Indiana; Iowa; New York; Ohio; Oklahoma; Pennsylvania
- Indiana County – Pennsylvania
- Iowa County – Wisconsin
- Mississippi County – Arkansas; Missouri
- Nevada County – Arkansas; California
- Ohio County – Indiana; Kentucky; West Virginia
- Oregon County – Missouri
- Texas County – Missouri; Oklahoma
- Wyoming County – New York; Pennsylvania; West Virginia
- Washington County- Alabama; Arkansas; Colorado; Florida; Georgia; Idaho; Illinois; Indiana; Iowa; Kansas; Kentucky; Louisiana; Maine; Maryland; Minnesota; Mississippi; Missouri; Nebraska; New York; North Carolina; Ohio; Oklahoma; Oregon; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; Tennessee; Texas; Utah; Vermont; Virginia; Wisconsin
A few of them actually do tie back to the outlying state, often coinciding with the approximate time a territory transitioned to a state as a commemoration of the event. That’s not the case generally. The state and county names often share a common derivation, though. Some of them have roots in rivers (Colorado, Ohio, Mississippi), mountains (Sierra Nevada), Native American tribes (Delaware, Iowa) or the first president of the United States (all those places named after George Washington).
I also developed a lits of "Also Ran" counties for states starting with New or some directional designation.
- Hampshire County – Massachusetts; West Virginia
- Jersey County – Illinois
- York County – Maine; Nebraska; Pennsylvania; South Carolina; Virginia
- Dakota County – Minnesota; Nebraska;
Each county has its own story. I selected a few that I enjoyed so I could share them with you.
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Part of Pennsylvania’s Delaware County shares a border with the Twelve Mile Circle. I have to mention that!
The string of Delaware Counties outlines the sad tale of poor treatment suffered by Native Americans in microcosm. English settlers imposed a name upon them, figuring somehow they should be tied to Lord De La Warr the governor of colonial Jamestown for perpetuity. It certainly didn’t reflect what they called themselves, the Lenni Lenape or "true people." The Lenape peoples began as an affiliation of culturally and linguistically related bands in present-day New Jersey, eastern Pennsylvania, southeastern New York and much of Delaware. The Delaware Counties in Pennsylvania, New York and of course the entire State of Delaware serve as reminders of their ancient, pre-Columbian homeland.
English colonial settlement, various treaties of dubious validity and pressure from the Iroquois tribe pushed the Lenape westward and into the Ohio River valley, now marked by Delaware County in Ohio. The push continued onward during the early, formative years of the United States, resulting in Delaware Counties in Indiana and Iowa. One band of Lenape moved north into Ontario. Those remaining in the eastern U.S. continued west towards present day Kansas City. Here they were forced down into Oklahoma by the 1860’s where there is also a Delaware County.
It’s not too difficult to follow a trail of virtual breadcrumbs between the various Delaware Counties to discern a pattern: a slow-motion forced migration that took place over a couple of hundred years.
Iowa County, Wisconsin
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Iowa County, Wisconsin has an unusual symmetry within this state-named theme. That’s because it takes the theme even one step further with a township called Wyoming. I took a closer look at the map and tried my darnedest to find another name of a state somewhere within Wyoming Twp., but the closest I could get was the Old Helena Cemetery. That’s not a state of course, but Helena is the capital of Montana!
I’m sure that renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright located his famous summer home, Taliesin, within this geo-oddity simply so he could tell everyone he lived in Wyoming Twp., Iowa Co., State of Wisconsin. Or maybe that would be something only I would do.
Ohio County, Kentucky
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Ohio County, Kentucky is named after the Ohio River, but what I love about this one is that it doesn’t actually touch the Ohio River! The reason is rather mundane after examining the situation a little more closely. Ohio County did touch the river at a time before it was split into smaller counties, with the Ohio moniker remaining with a portion that became landlocked.
I also enjoyed finding a community called Dogwalk and a summit called Whoopee Hill here.
Nevada County, Arkansas
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This one is particularly odd, which means I rather enjoy it. Regular reader Scott Schrantz will hopefully find this example somewhat amusing too. Nevada Co., Arkansas is indeed named after the state of Nevada. The county in Arkansas was formed just a few years after Nevada became a state. People noticed a similarity in the shape — if the county is viewed upside down! Go ahead. Turn your computer screen around, and notice that indeed it does bear a passing resemblance to the western state.