Author Topic: Upola--the Name  (Read 245 times)

Offline W. Gray

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Upola--the Name
« on: April 30, 2017, 11:06:16 am »
In a previous year’s post, Marcia Moore provided information about the Upola toponym from the book Kansas Place Names. That book mentioned Upola, Kansas, being named as follows:

“The story of the naming of a town in Elk County concerns a girl who owned a pony named Polo. She was riding Polo when the pony stopped at a railroad crossing. The railway workers heard the girl's exclamation or appeal: "You - Polo!" From this, it was said, the town of Upola was named.”

What are the chances of this being true? Sounds a little thin.

While searching for information about Upola, I have come up with another theory, i.e., Upola, Kansas, was named for an island in the South Pacific.

Sound farfetched? Maybe. Maybe not.

Specifically, the island is in Samoa and is called Upola. Upola island also has a river named Upola.

The Upola Town Company charter was announced in the February 5, 1887, Topeka Commonwealth.

Around that same time Upola in the South Pacific was all over the newspapers in the United States. For instance, one site for old newspapers had 2,476 hits for the South Pacific Upola between 1880 and 1890. All the newspaper accounts of that time use the spelling “Upola.” Today’s map shows the spelling as “Upolu.” Although not a large place, the natives seemed to be always at war thus gaining American and worldwide press attention probably because the US was one of the islands administrators.

I think the Upola, Kansas, name was derived from this island being in the news so often. Other towns are often named in the same manner, that is for a place that was frequently in the news.

Sedan, Kansas, is one example.

Cecil Whig, Elkton, Maryland, February 16, 1889

« Last Edit: April 30, 2017, 11:21:13 am by W. Gray »
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