What’s in a Name, New Hampshire?
Names have always fascinated me. The names of people, the names of fruits, the names of television shows starring Ted Danson, whatever. I’ve always wondered why a thing is called something, and how they got to that point. At times, you’ll get a semi-satisfying answer (not unlike my favorite example of this, the IPA), but in a lot of instances a thing is called that because of where it was founded, or what it was made from, or something else where there is a straight line from point A to point B. This is probably because naming things is hard, and once you arrive at “I call this a toaster,” it’s pretty hard to top.
The same can be said for states, countries, towns, or what have you. As we learned previously, Kansas is named after a river, which was named after a tribe. Or my home state of Pennsylvania, which was in part named after an early settler’s father plus a little bit of Latin. It’s a thing that is derived from something which was derived from another, and then another, and then another ad infinitum until we get arrive at the origin of language, which I assume was just one caveman grunting to another to get his attention so he could show him a picture of a dog.
But when it comes to this week’s state, the genesis of the name is not nearly (to me) as interesting.
New Hampshire was named after the county of Hampshire in England, which itself was a point where early settlers would start their journey across the Atlantic before disembarking in what we today know as New Hampshire. It sounds a lot like the captain of that ship, much like a put-upon dad after a long road trip, fed up and exhausted from the trek, put his toe in the sand on the beach upon arrival and said “This is New Hampshire. Deal with it, people of the future.” before taking what I hope was a wonderful nap.
And what with New York being named after a Duke in Amsterdam, and New Jersey being named after and isle in the English channel, I gotta ask: What gives, America? We traveled across thousands of miles of dangerous ocean and then fought a war to start our own thing over here, but you can’t think to be a touch more original when it comes to names? It’d be like if you and your partner bought a boat, but you named it an ex, just with “New” in front of it. Calling it “The New Suzanne” doesn’t make it any less weird. “No no, I put *new* in front so it’s cool. Wait, why are you so upset?”
As for the woodworking, New Hampshire is not unlike the other small, manically shaped east coast states, in that it was a real treat to cut out of walnut. Unlike its larger, cutting board sized cousin, the keychain version of The Granite State was tricky. The eastern and southern border are mostly just straight shots, but the rest of it is jagged and sharp and a real challenge. I know nothing of cartography, and I am sure there is a real good reason that states aren’t just squares or rectangles, but man, why couldn’t they think of me when they drew these borders hundreds of years ago? Some nerve.