The Herald Bulletin

Afternoon Update


September 28, 2013

Humor, classics come into play in the names of area towns


In 1837, a post office was established in New Columbus, but the postal station was named Ovid so that it would not be confused with the new city of Columbus, Ind., in Bartholomew County. The name Ovid is for the classical Roman poet who lived 2,000 years ago and who was studied extensively in previous ages. The little town supported the two names even through 1901 when maps from that year show both labels.

Orestes in Pipe Creek Township has an even more obscure classical literary reference. Like Anderson, the site of Orestes actually began as a Delaware village. After the removal of the Native Americans, the location became part of the many acres of farm ground purchased by settler Nathan Lowry. Before 1876, he established a station at the former Delaware village site for the Lake Erie & Western Railroad. At first, he named it Lowry Station, and it appears as such on the 1876 plat map.

Sometime after that, though, he changed the name to Orestes, honoring the character in Aeschylus’s play “Oresteia” in early Greek literature. In mythology, Orestes was the son of King Agamemnon who commanded the Achaeans during the Trojan War. Evidently, there were a number of early settlers in Madison County who had read the ancient classics.

And speaking of education, Alexandria also has an ancient Greek reference. In 1836, land owners John Stephenson and William Conner authorized Col. Nineveh Berry to survey a town site on Pipe Creek in what was to become Monroe Township. Col. Berry was not just the county surveyor. He was a leader in early county government and a local businessman.

Col. Berry completed his survey on June 3, 1836, and the following day he sold a large number of lots in the new town for $10 to $53 — an above-average price for that time period. He then erected a log cabin on the corner of what is now Harrison and Berry streets, stocked it with general merchandise, and so opened one of the first stores in the area.

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