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H.L. Mencken (1880–1956). The American Language. 1921.

Page 351

monly call their town Jax. Some of the most mellifluous of American place-names are in the areas once held by the Spaniards. It would be hard to match the beauty of Santa Margarita, San Anselmo, Alamogordo, Terra Amarilla, Sabinoso, Las Palomas, Ensenada, Nogales, San Patricio and Bernalillo. But they are under a severe and double assault. Not only do the present lords of the soil debase them in speaking them; in many cases they are formally displaced by native names of the utmost harshness and banality. Thus, one finds in New Mexico such absurdly-named towns as Sugarite, Shoemaker, Newhope, Lordsburg, Eastview and Central; in Arizona such places as Old Glory, Springville, Wickenburg and Congress Junction, and even in California such abominations as Oakhurst, Ben Hur, Drytown, Skidoo, Susanville, Uno and Ono.
  The early Spaniards were prodigal with place-names testifying to their piety, but these names, in the overwhelming main, were those of saints. Add Salvador, Trinidad and Concepcion, and their repertoire is almost exhausted. If they ever named a town Jesus the name has been obliterated by Anglo-Saxon prudery; even their use of the name as a personal appellation violates American notions of the fitting. The names of the Jewish patriarchs and those of the holy places in Palestine do not appear among their place-names; their Christianity seems to have been exclusively of the New Testament. But the Americans who displaced them were intimately familiar with both books of the Bible, and one finds copious proofs of it on the map of the United States. There are no less than eleven Beulahs, nine Canaans, eleven Jordans and twenty-one Sharons. Adam is sponsor for a town in West Virginia and an island in the Chesapeake, and Eve for a village in Kentucky. There are five postoffices named Aaron, two named Abraham, two named Job, and a town and a lake names Moses. Most of the St. Pauls and St. Josephs of the country were inherited from the French, but the two St. Patricks show a later influence. Eight Wesleys and Wesleyvilles, eight Asburys and twelve names embodying Luther indicate the general theological trend of the plain people. There is a village in Maryland, too small to have a postoffice, named Gott, and I find Gotts Island in Maine (in the French days, Petite Plaisance) and Gottville in California, but no doubt these were named after German settlers of that awful