Illinois Place Name of the Day – Oct. 29, 2008

Cover for Callary: Place Names of Illinois. Click for larger imageIpava [eye PAY vuh]. Fulton. Village (1853, 1872) nine miles west-southwest of Lewistown. Platted for John Easley as Easleyburg in 1846 and apparently replatted as Pleasantville later that same year. A post office was established, also as Pleasantville, on Sept. 13, 1847, and renamed Ipava on Dec. 1, 1852. Beyond these few facts, little is certain; the namer of Ipava, the source of the name, and the circumstances surrounding the naming are unknown, although there has been no dearth of speculation. Wayne Azbell, in his History of Ipava, has the most complete account of the suggestions that have been offered to explain the name. First, that it is an adaptation of the name of Henry Pavey, who operated a hardware store in Ipava (this story persists even though Pavey did not arrive until 1869, at least seventeen years after the name had become established). Second, that it is derived from the name of the proprietor of a junkyard near the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy tracks that was announced by a sign reading “Isaac Pava.” Railroad employees supposedly said they were going to “I. Pava.” Third, that community officials sought a more distinctive name than Pleasantville and found Ipava, the name of a remote island, in a world gazetteer (unfortunately, that account does not say where the island is to be found). And, fourth, that the name was suggested by a Dr. Johnson, a world traveler who was visiting relatives in Pleasantville. He is said to have remarked, “I will give you a name that will not be found in North America” and offered Ipava, alleging it to be the name of a lake in South America. The source of the name may lie in a personal name. “Pava” is an uncommon surname, but at present there are about one hundred residential telephone listings in the United States under that name. The name may have a more exotic origin. Azbell notes that a small native community in Brazil, called Igarapava, may have been visited by the mysterious Dr. Johnson and may, in a shortened form, have provided the model for Ipava, Ill. Irwin has uncovered the variant spelling “Ipavia” in the 1871 Atlas of Fulton County, and although it is likely a transcription error, given that the post office was established earlier as Ipava, more than five hundred U.S. telephone subscribers have the surname Pavia. The source of this intriguing name remains a mystery (Azbell, A History of Ipava; Irwin, A to Z Fulton County).


From Place Names of Illinois by Edward Callary

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