I’ve spent quite a while searching online starting with the wikipedia list and looking at individual town websites. It doesn’t look like any of the towns named Alexandria in the US are named for Alexander the Great? They’re all named for some settler, or others are named for Alexandria VA. Anyone have any clues on this?
Well, it seems unlikely Alexander the Great would be a big hero to Americans during the heydey of exploration and founding of cities. You don’t find many cities named after Napoleon or Caesar, either. At the time, the country was very strongly republican.
That said, surely many of the people named Alexander, particularly as a family name, are themselves named at some point in their family history as a tribute to the ancient scourge. If nothing else, “Alexander” is a Greek name, and would be expected to be uncommon in Northern European families except for its original holder’s fame as a conqueror.
One reason I was a bit surprised at not finding a town directly named for Alexander was knowing about the importance of Greek and Roman culture in education in the 1700s and early 1800s, evidenced in NY towns like Ithaca, Troy, Marathon, Cicero. But looking at these names, many of them have associations with ancient legend and democratic ideals rather than with conquest and empire.
I think you’ll find every Alexandria in the U.S. was named after Alexandria, Egypt, which was named after (and founded by) Alexander the Great. (So were several other cities in what was Alexander’s empire, but I’m pretty sure every American Alexandria was named after the Egyptian one, which was and remains the most famous, deservedly.)
This is what I thought initially. But when I looked at almost every town on the list on wikipedia, the articles brought up the name of a founder whose first or last name was Alexander. For example, Alexandria VA: “It has been said that in order to avoid a predicament the petitioners offered to name the new town Alexandria, in honor of Captain Philip Alexander’s family. As a result, Philip and his cousin Captain John Alexander (1711–1763) gave land to assist in the development of Alexandria, and are thus listed as the founders.”
Other towns are named after Alexandria VA. For some towns I can’t find a name origin but that doesn’t mean we can assume they were named for Alexander the Great. Maybe they were but maybe not.
As for Alexandria NY which I thought might be part of the classical NY names:
“The town is named after Alexander LeRay, the son of an early developer.”
I can’t find the sources for these contradictory statements in the wikipedia article:
*Alexandria is a city in Clark County, Missouri, USA. The population was 166 at the 2000 census. The city was founded in 1848 and is named after Alexandria, in Egypt.
Alexandria is part of the Fort Madison–Keokuk, IA-MO Micropolitan Statistical Area.
Alexandria was not named after Egypt but after the settler John Alexander.*
Why can’t it be both? You have a guy called Alexander, and you honor him by naming the town after a classical city that bears his name. It’s like how Saint Petersburg (in Russia) was named after St. Peter, in honor of Peter the Great.
True, there may be multiple reasons for a town to be named Alexandria, but what I’m looking for is any reference that says that a city was named directly for Alexander the Great himself, and not for Alexandria in Egypt and not for a person with a name like John Alexander or Alexander Jones (who might happen to have been named for Alexander the Great, but who knows).
Can’t help you but I was in Agra, India (to see the Taj) a few years ago. Was talking to a young man and he mentioned Iksander as though he’d just romped through with his armies yesterday. I was gobsmacked. History runs thousands of years deep in many parts of the world.
If people did not also have the Egyptian metropolis in mind, but only “John Alexander or Alexander Jones” (or whoever), wouldn’t they be at least, or more, likely to have chosen something like Alexanderville, or Alexander City, Alextown, or some such? Most cities in America named after people do not get the ia ending.
Also, there are a number of place names in the US that derive from British royalty and nobility, and I’d imagine that many, if not most, of these place names were in use before the Revolution. In Virginia we have several obviously royally-inspired counties, including Prince William County, Prince Edward County, and Prince George County. There are also places like Fairfax that are named after British nobles.