09/27/2012 04:00 PM
BATON ROUGE – From Aansel to Zwolle, with Mamou in between, researcher Clare D’Artois
Leeper offers an alphabet of Louisiana place names, both past and present in “Louisiana
Place Names,” released in October by LSU Press.
Leeper includes 893 entries that reveal a distinct view of the state’s history. Her
unique blend of documented fact and traditional wisdom results in an entertaining
guide to Louisiana’s place name lore.
Leeper considers the origins of each place as well as each name, drawing attention
to the individuals who transformed Louisiana from an uninhabited wilderness into a
populated state. Not surprising for a region that has existed under 10 flags, “Louisiana
Place Names” reflects a mixture of several languages and points to other locales across
the country and around the world. Even the state’s name, Leeper points out, combines
the French “Louis” and the Spanish “iana,” meaning “belonging to” Louis XIV. Name
origins trace back to geography, flora, fauna, religion, weather, people, and occasionally,
a flood, a favorite book or a popular local dish.
Leeper conducted numerous interviews, visited courthouses, museums, and libraries
and used the Geographic Names Information System to create this fascinating collection
of Louisiana history and folklore.
Leeper (1932-2012) wrote the newspaper column “Louisiana Places: Those Strange Sounding
Names” from 1960 to 1979, and again from 2004 to 2006. She received her degree in
library science and owned Legacy Publishing Company. She lived in Baton Rouge, named
for the “red stick” that marked the hunting boundaries of the Bayougoulas and the
Posted on Thursday, September 27, 2012