On November 3, 2008, we are publishing Place Names of Illinois by Edward Callary. Every weekday since October 1 we have posted one of the book’s nearly 3,000 entries. Today is a two-fer:
LaSalle. LaSalle. City (1852, 1876). Platted about 1838 for the Illinois and Michigan Canal Commission. The sale of building lots helped finance construction of the I&M (City of LaSalle, 1, 8). Post office established Feb. 10, 1836, as Peru; changed to LaSalle Jan. 10, 1838.
Peru. LaSalle. City (1845, 1890). Established by the commissioners of the Illinois and Michigan Canal in 1835. The source of the name is uncertain; several writers claim it was derived from “an Indian word” meaning “plenty of everything, wealth.” Others say the name was taken directly from the country in South
America, which had gained independence from Spain in 1824 and was therefore looked upon sympathetically by many Americans. A more likely immediate source, however, is Peru in Clinton County, N.Y., near Plattsburgh. The Illinois and Michigan Canal, when it was begun in the mid-1830s, attracted a large number of engineers, executives, and laborers who had worked on the Erie Canal in New York and brought a number of New York place names with them, including Utica and Seneca, which were laid out along the path of the I&M. Peru may have been another. Peru Township was organized about 1850 as Salisbury, named by Theron D. Brewster, the first mayor of Peru, for his former home, Salisbury, Conn. (Hansen, ed., Illinois, 494; Gannett, The Origin of Certain Place Names; Rasmusen, LaSalle County Lore, 197; Vogel, Indian Place Names in Illinois). Post office established Feb. 10, 1836.