The Baby Name Buff: Places I’ve Lived—Susquehanna County, PA (Part II)

Last week’s blog was about names inspired by place locations in Susquehanna County, PA. But my dear friend Kristen Shipsky—a Susquehanna County native—pointed out a host of great names I missed! So, here’s a Part II post, courtesy of Kristen’s personal knowledge and research efforts. Enjoy!

This name means “old river crossing” (The Name Meaning, Alford), which makes Alford (Al-ferd) a great name choice if you hope for a son who will always be able to stop and take a look at things from multiple angles before moving forward with a decision or a life path. Alford is a distinguished alternative to the more common boys’ name Alfred. I love Ford as a nickname option, though the more traditional Al is also a possibility.   

For anyone who has read the Bible, the Torah, or the Quran, this name likely conjures an image of Mr. Ararat, the mountain peak that Noah’s Ark landed on after the flood receded (, Ararat). Translated variously as “hill,” “mountain,” “sacred land,” or “high land,” naming your son Ararat (Ah-ruh-rat) can help give him an elevated presence in the world from the get-go. My top nickname choice for Ararat is Arrow.     

I really like the meaning of the boys’ name Brackney (Brack-nee): “wild or uncultivated land” (, Brackney). A newcomer to the surnames-as-first-names club, Brackney offers a variety of cute nickname options, including Brock, Brick, Rocco, and Ace.

Before 1990, the girls’ name Brooklyn (Brook-lin) would have been considered very unique, as it was not even in the U.S. top 1,000. But this name was #47 in 2018 and even got as high as #21 in 2011, so it is much more popular than the names I typically include on my blog. Still, because Brooklyn, PA is such a cute little place, and because I have a cousin named Brooklyn who is dear to my heart, this name makes the cut. While Brook and Lynn are obvious nickname options, I actually really like some of the boys-names-on-girls nickname possibilities for this Brooklyn, like Brody, Bo / Beau, Oak, or Oaklyn.  

As a teen, I loved attending the Harford Fair each year. I therefore like the boys’ name Harford (Har-ferd or Hart-ferd) for the nostalgia factor. Like Alford, my favorite nickname for Harford is Ford, but Harry would work as a more commonplace option.

I like the sound of the boys’ name Herrick (Heh-rick), but the meaning is what really sold me: “peaceful power” or “peace as power” (, Herrick). For me, the only downside of this name is that all the nicknames I’ve brainstormed are not very unique: Harry, Eric / Erick, and Rick. Even so, Herrick’s meaning trumps that potential issue in my mind, and I suppose Era could work as a fun, atypical nickname choice.

Oakland and Oakley
While the boys’ name Oakland (Oak-lind) has yet to breach the U.S. top 1,000, the gender-neutral name Oakley (Oak-lee) has been popular for quite some time now; in 2018, it was #388 for girls and #459 for boys. Both of these names bring to mind a forest full of towering oak trees, which is a beautiful image. And the nickname Oak is a popular choice for either of these full name options. (Fun side note: my father-in-law wanted to name my husband’s brother Oak, which would have been totally bad ass. Instead, they went with a much more mainstream name: Kevin.)

When I first encountered this name on Kristen’s list of Susquehanna County locations, I really liked it. I thought it was short, spunky, and definitely unique. But imagine my surprise when I found out that the name Royal (Roi-uhl) has made many appearances on the U.S. top 1,000, for both boys and girls! For girls, Royal only entered the scene in 2015 at #745, peaked at #632 in 2016, and still remained in the top 1,000 as of 2018 (#805). But the history of Royal on the boys’ top 1,000 list is much more interesting (and puzzling); Royal made the list every year from 1900 until 1971 and then resurfaced again in 2013. An obviously regal name for boys or girls, I like the nickname Ro (for either gender).

While Kristen notes that Starucca township is technically in Wayne County, she included the (girls’) name Starucca (Stuh-roo-kuh) on her list because it has ties to Susquehanna County in a couple of ways. First, the Starucca Creek runs into Susquehanna County. Second, Starucca House—a defunct hotel that is now a historic landmark in the area—is located in Susquehanna, PA (which is, as you might guess, in Susquehanna County) (Susquehanna Station). One of the most unique and interesting names on this list, Starucca reminds me of the more well-known girls name Verruca, which I’ve always kind of liked. And any name with the nickname Star as an option is cool by me.  

According to Kristen, Tirzah is the name of a road in the township of Union Dale in Susquehanna County. By far my favorite name on this list, the girls’ name Tirzah (Tear-zuh) means “delight” or “she is my delight” (Nameberry, Tirzah). I really like Terra, Tira, or Tara as nickname options, though Zo or Zoey would also be very cute.  

Photo Credit: Nicholas A. Tonelli

The Baby Name Buff: Places I’ve Lived–Susquehanna County, PA

As a teen, I lived in Susquehanna County, slightly north of my previous home in Tunkhannock. The two main towns I lived in were Springville and Lawton, both of which are very rural places. Here are a few of my favorite names inspired by this county.

Probably my favorite name on this list, the township of Auburn is a beautiful country locale with a population of less than 2,000 people. Not only do I love the sound of the gender-neutral name Auburn (Awe-burn), but the color auburn puts me in mind of the changing leaves during my favorite season—fall! Auburn is a unique alternative to more well-known names like Autumn and Arbor.

Dimock is the location of the middle school and high school I attended—Elk Lake. The name Dimock (Dim-ick) is a succinct and sophisticated boys’ name, and Mick or Mickey would be adorable nickname options.

Gibson is one of those nearby townships that I drove past a lot but which I never visited or had a personal tie to. That said, the boys’ name Gibson (Gib-sin) would be a fun choice for musicians, both because of Gibson guitars and singer Debbie Gibson. Gibson is also a fresh addition to today’s innumerable popular boys’ names ending in –son. Gibson has been at the outer edges of the U.S. top 1,000 since 2010, hovering between 850 and 1,000 during that time period.

My Dad lived in Hallstead briefly, but I was young enough that I don’t remember this location too well. As a boys’ name, Hallstead (Hall-sted) somehow has both a preppy and a hipster feel, and it is a unique alternative to other surname-based baby names that start with the –hall sound, like Holland or Hollister.

I am not actually familiar at all with the location Hickory Grove, but it is somewhere in Susquehanna County, which allows me to include the name Hickory (Hick-uh-ree) on this list. I’m a sucker for just about any baby name inspired by a tree. And I love Huck or Cory / Kory as possible nicknames.  

I lived in Lawton with my Mom for two years, from the time I was 16 to 18 years old. This time period was probably one of the best in my life. In particular, the move to Lawton not only allowed me to spend more time with Mom, but it also put me in much closer proximity to my two closest friends—Jen and Cortney. Lawton (Law-tin) is another very stately boys’ name that joins a host of similar L names, such as Lawson, Landon, Langdon, and Lochlan.

Another tiny township of less than 2,000 people, Lenox is on the periphery of the places I frequented as a teen. But the gender-neutral name Lennox (Len-ix) has long been a favorite of mine. (Casper Lennox was in my final top ten list when we were naming Felix.) My favorite nickname for a girl named Lennox is Lena, and my favorite nickname for a boy named Lennox is Knox. But while this name may seem unique to those unfamiliar with baby name trends, Lennox is actually getting very popular; for 2018, Lennox was #371 on the boys’ top 1,000 and #651 on the girls’ top 1,000.  

“Camp Archibald, hats off to thee!” Kingsley is the site of northeastern PA’s gorgeous Girl Scout camp, Camp Archibald. I have so many amazing memories of this place! From collecting and identifying leaves while on hikes to singing so many fun songs to swimming to making friends, Camp Archibald will always hold a special place in my heart. The gender-neutral name Kingsley (Kings-lee) entered the U.S. top 1,000 in 2010 and peaked at #584 in 2016. I also love this name because it makes me think of the badass Harry Potter character Kingsley Shacklebolt.

I don’t actually even know where in Susquehanna County Melrose is! But I really like the girls’ name Melrose. (And no, I’m not a Melrose Place fan, though that could be a cool connection for some parents.) While this name has never been in the U.S. top 1,000, Melrose has been trending on baby name forums over the last few years. Mel and Rose are obvious nickname choices, though Elle, Ella, Elra, Ro, and Cia are other possibilities.  

The county seat of Susquehanna County, Montrose is a quaint and quiet little town. One of my favorite memories from my teen years is of driving with my friends to get Pina Colada slushies at Antol’s in South Montrose. As a name, Montrose is yet another sophisticated (and borderline pretentious) boys’ name, though the nickname Monty could add a more down-to-earth feel.

Photo credit: Nicholas A. Tonelli

The Baby Name Buff: Places I’ve Lived–Tunkhannock, PA

When my siblings and I were still very young, my family moved from the suburbs of New Jersey to a tiny hamlet in Pennsylvania called Tunkhannock. Nestled in the beautiful Endless Mountains, Tunkhannock is bursting with small-town charm. I lived in Tunkhannock from the time I was three or four until I was twelve, so I have a wealth of positive childhood memories of living there.    

Two of my siblings still live in Tunkhannock, and I am actually visiting them there this weekend as we celebrate my Mom’s 60th birthday that’s coming up on August 5th. (Happy Birthday, Momma!)

Here are a few of my favorite names associated with the Tunkhannock area.  
Beaumont is one of those places I’ve driven past a million times but never actually visited. But I’ve always wanted to see the inside of the quaint Beaumont Inn, so I hope I’ll actually do that someday. Though I’m not a Francophile by any means, I’ve been kind of obsessed lately with all the Beau-related names, including Beaumont (Bow-mont) and Beauregard, in large part because I love the nickname Beau itself. Or, if you don’t like the nickname Beau, Monty is another cute option for Beaumont.  

Growing up in Tunkhannock, my family lived in a residential development called Rivercrest. This community is aptly named, since it is perched atop a hill above the nearby Susquehanna River. Within this development, we lived on Birch Drive, so the unisex name Birch (Burch) is an homage to this homey little lane. Tree names are a staple of new-wave, nature-inspired baby names, with Birch joining a forest of other popular tree names like Cedar, Ash, Oak, and Hawthorne for boys and Laurel, Elowen, and Hazel for girls.

Dixon is so small that it is pretty much considered a part of Tunkhannock rather than a separate location of its own. But one of my favorite (and probably one of the only) features in Dixon is Lazy Brook Park, which features multiple playgrounds, some small hiking trails along a creek, and several pavilions for events. I recall many fun outings where we took some of my nieces and nephews to this park, and I’ve also attended a couple of great baby showers hosted at this park. The other noticeable landmark in Dixon is Deer Park Lumber, right across from Lazy Brook Park. This lumber mill often gives off an appealing aroma of cut or burning wood, a smell that I’ve always been a fan of. Besides these positive associations with Dixon, PA, I really like the boys’ name Dixon (Dick-sin) because it reminds me of Captain Jean-Luc Picard’s crime-solving holodeck alter ego, Dixon Hill, on Start Trek: TNG. I like Sonny as a possible nickname for Dixon, though I guess you could also use Dick as a nickname (you know, if you hate your child).

In my previous blog in this series about my birthplace (in Bergen County, NJ), I discussed some of the good times I had at my Granny and Grampy’s home in Bergenfield. But when my nuclear family moved from New Jersey to Pennsylvania, Granny and Grampy followed shortly after so they could be closer to us kids. They bought a home in nearby Jenningsville, a place so rural that there are likely more cows than people there. This change was a dream for Grampy, who loved rural places and enjoyed tending his garden, fruit trees, and grape vines at his Jenningsville home. But poor Granny—a suburban Jersey girl through-and-through, was less than thrilled with the move. You’d never know that, though, from the happy, welcoming environment Granny created for us whenever we visited. From sledding in the wintertime to eating Granny’s famous pancakes on a Sunday morning to opening Christmas presents in front of a roaring fire to chilling on the sunporch in the summertime to taking leisurely evening walks down a dirt road, I am filled with joy whenever I think about all the good times I’ve had at the Jenningsville house. The boys’ name Jennings (Jen-ings) is a unique alternative to similar but more popular names like Jensen and Jenner.

When Granny and Grampy lived in Jenningsville, the closest place with a grocery store and a post office was the nearby “town” of Laceyville. I put the word “town” in parentheses because Laceyville has less than 400 residents, so I’m not sure if that even formally qualifies as a town. My Granny is not normally a complainer by any means, but she often loved to gripe about how small Laceyville was. Despite its tiny size, or perhaps because of it, I think Laceyville is actually quite charming. I’ve always really liked the girls’ name Lacey (Lay-see), though it is quite a bit more common than most of the names I love; Lacey has been in the U.S. top 1,000 since 1975, having peaked at #116 in 1984.

When I was about 16, I lived in Lemon with my mom for a hot minute. Since we weren’t there long, I don’t have an abundance of memories of my time there. But I do remember that it was during the time I lived in Lemon that I began watching one of my favorite shows of all time: the angsty, admittedly-trashy teen soap, Dawson’s Creek. I remember hunkering down every Wednesday night to find out what kind of hijinks Dawson, Joey, Pacey, Jen, and their family and friends would get into, and it is a testament to my mom’s love for me that she watched this show with me every week (even though it probably seemed utterly ridiculous to her). Like the tree names discussed above and many other nature-themed names, fruit names are definitely trending more and more each day, including names like Apple, Plum, Kiwi, and (one of my personal favorites) Huckleberry. On a personal note, the girls’ name Lemon (Leh-min) happens to be a favorite of my sister-in-law, Carrie.

The Nicholson Bridge (also known as the Tunkhannock Creek Viaduct) is one of the most well-known landmarks in the Tunkhannock area. This historic bridge turned 100 in 2015, and its classic, multi-arched structure is a sight to behold. Nicholson (Nick-uhl-sin) is a distinguished boys’ name that is especially appropriate for anyone who is a fan of actor Jack Nicholson (so, everyone, since Jack Nicholson is awesome). Nicholson also has ample and terrific nickname options, including Nick, Nico / Niko, Cole, and (my favorite) Colson.

Perhaps a bit of a stretch, but I included the boys’ name Miller (Mill-uhr) on this list to honor the elementary school I attended, Mill City Elementary. Sadly, this school recently closed, since there were not enough kids among the multiple elementary schools in the Tunkhannock area to justify keeping them all open, and Mill City was unfortunately one that did not make the cut. I also chose this name as a nod to the town of Mill City itself and especially to one of my all-time favorite eateries in the area, the Mill City Dairy Bar. As a kid, I loved the Dairy Bar for its ice cream, the coin-operated horse mom let us ride when we went there, and the Qbert arcade machine that used to be there. As an adult, I still love the ice cream, but this small-town establishment surprisingly has some of the best vegetarian food around, with innovative and delicious items that rival some of the best big-city vegetarian creations I’ve tried. (And, as you’ll see as this series on where I’ve lived continues, I’ve lived in many a big city in my time.)

Lake Winola is a lovely lake community just outside of Tunkhannock proper. I’ve always enjoyed driving past Lake Winola on my way to various places (like Mill City and Scranton) so I could see all the beautiful lakeside homes and dream about someday living in a place like that. (Unlikely, but a girl can dream, right?) I have several happy memories of Lake Winola, including going to the annual Lake Winola carnvial and attending the yearly candlelight Christmas Eve mass at our local Catholic Church. I’m not a Catholic / Christian now, but there was always something beautiful and moving about those candlelit holiday services. In particular, there was one Christmas mass when my sister Katie, who was probably about eight at the time, sang a version of “Oh Holy Night” that was simply breathtaking. I’ve sadly never swum in Lake Winola, since it is a private lake community, but maybe someday! I think Winola (Wih-no-luh) could work well for a boy or girl, though I tend to like it slightly better for a girl. Possible nicknames for a girl are Wynn, Winnie, or Nola, and nickname options for a boy include Wynn, Eno, and Ollie.  

Tunkhannock is located in Wyoming County. When I think of Wyoming County as a whole, I am most put in mind of the annual Wyoming County Fair, which I always loved attending as a child. In particular, I remember dancing around to an oldies cover band that played at the fair each year, The Poets. As an adult, I am much less enamored of county fairs, with their sub-par food and over-priced rides. #Jaded. While only a few state names are considered classics (like Georgia and Virginia), Wyoming (Why-oh-ming) fits in well with more modern, trending state names like Alaska, Arizona, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, Montana, and Tennessee. I’m a fan of the gender-neutral name Wyoming not only because I lived in Wyoming County but because I’ve always idealized the state of Wyoming in my imagination, in part because of its open land and lack of people, as well as in part because my Grampy always wanted to visit it and never got the chance. I actually did have the opportunity to visit Wyoming a few years back, and it was definitely as awesome as I had hoped (visually and in terms of hiking; Wyoming is less of a fit for me in terms of the people / culture). My only regret is that I didn’t see a moose while I was there!