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Origin of the Place Names


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This book is being reprinted by the C&NWHS Archives in hopes that this fine work can again be made public. It is an example of a large corporation (C&NW) providing a public service. The primary purpose of this book was to supply authentic information as to the origin and derivation of the names of the states, counties, towns, cities and villages which are located on the Chicago & North Western and the Chicago, St.Paul, Minneapolis and Omaha Railways.

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The book lists no author, but in actuality, it was Dr. William H. Stennett of the C&NW. He calls himself the ?complier? in modest fashion, but actually he had a number of jobs and titles on the C&NW. For a while he was Auditor of Expenditures of the C&NW and the C&NW subsidiary CStPM&O. But we remember him as both the author of this book “Origin of the Place Names” (1908) as well the official history of the C&NW “Yesterday and Today” (1910).

Why was he assigned to write this book? No official reason was given, but we can assume that it was partly because of his scholarly nature and partly because he married Clara Hughitt, sister of the president of the C&NW Marvin Hughitt. Mr. Stennett was widely read and he had the ability to remember most of what he read. Additionally, he had circle of friends in many fields.
Mr. Stennett was born in Ontario Canada in 1932 and came to the United States as a youth. He decided to study medicine and went to medical school at the Medical College of Missouri and then became a practicing physician in Bloomington IL. There he met and married Clara and they had two children. A daughter Grace survived, and became Mrs. George Davidson of Oak Park IL.
He changed his career and began his railroad career with the Illinois Central in 1867 and moved to the C&NW about 1873, probably influenced by his brother-in-law. He was a hard worker on the C&NW and never took vacations. His hobbies at home were reading and flower gardening.
Stennett died at home, in his library, on July 22, 1915. His home was in Oak Park Illinois. He was buried at Rose Hill Cemetery in Chicago on July 25, 1915.
Spiral bound, 102 pages.

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