The "Long Man of Wilmington, Sussex, UK", photo courtesy of my friend the Hudster.
I wrote my friend Hud, author of West of Soho to tell him that I would be spending the weekend in Wilmington before I left home on Friday. He wrote back that he had no idea where Wilmington is located, but that there is a Wilmington in Sussex that is home to the Long Man of Wilmington, an image carved into the chalk on a hillside there.
Tonight at dinner, my niece was sad to say that one of her friends was moving from Wilmington soon. When I asked where she would be living, my niece replied that the friend would be moving back to Wilmington, Delaware. I thought how confusing that would become for the friend who would have to constantly explain that she meant North Carolina or Delaware when talking about her location. I was reminded as well of Wilmington, California, located in the Los Angeles metro area, near Long Beach. I am sure there are others, but I just don't know where they are. Despite that, I suspect that Wilmington in Sussex was probably the original source of the place name.
I used to think that the town of Lisbon, the former county seat of Sampson County in North Carolina was named after Lisbon, Portugal. As it turned out, it was actually named after the Irish town of Lisburne. Situated near the confluence of the Six Runs River and the Black River, the town of Lisbon had twenty-seven stores along the banks of the river at the turn of the 20th century. By 1927, a railroad that was built into Clinton, NC, spelled the death of river trade and Lisbon literally disappeared from the face of the earth. There is little to no evidence left that it ever existed. Even those who live in Sampson County know of Lisbon Street, but few know that Clinton replaced Lisbon as the seat of county government and trade in the early 1900's.
Place names and linguistic quirks are favorite interests for me. About the only thing that catches my ear more quickly is a personal name that has been corrupted by linguistic quirks. As an example, my dad's uncle was named Alfonsal, a variation of Alfonso. He was called Fonsal by the people who knew him.
I find this pretty interesting, but it can be that not everyone would agree. Strange how local color can take many forms, "itnit"?
Categories: Wilmington North+Carolina Delaware California Sussex UK The+Long+Man+of+Wilmington linguistics placenames local+color