Washtenaw County Historical Society :: Ann Arbor: What's in a Name?
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The Naming of Ann Arbor

The name Ann Arbor was chosen by John Allen, one of its founders, in honor of his wife, Ann. In his book, Ann Arbor's First Lady: Events in the Life of Ann I. Allen, Dr. Russell Bidlack gives the following:

"Named in her honor five months before Ann's arrival, his having rejected 'Allensville' and 'Annapolis' as possibilities, John Allen, the town's principal founder, had chosen the word 'arbour' to follow his wife's first name, it being commonly used in Virginia for a bower of trees. In Michigan Territory, arbour seemed appropriate to describe the setting of sunshine and shadow produced by the scattered oaks in the 'opening.' In so doing, he created a place name that would remain unique. Recorded officially for the first time in a plat map of the village on May 25, 1824, the name was written 'Annarbour,' but thereafter it appeared as two words. The Allens insisted throughout their lives, however, on the pre-Webster spelling of arbor." (p. vi)

Reproduced here by permission of the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan.

 

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