Categories Writing articles
Choosing a road name in American civil war era Virginia
Selecting a name for a road or street in Virginia during the American civil war created a pretty interesting problem.
It might have been possible to use the grid system of naming streets and choose something like ‘6th. street,’ or ‘120th. street’ etc., but there’s a problem with this.
The setting is a seaport in Virginia in 1863 and I’m not sure if there was a grid system in use during this period in rural Virginia.
In any case streets which are named after numbers in the grid system aren’t very colourful or evocative.
They are efficient, though, it’s easier to navigate them.
It took a while but finally the solution came to me.
Like much of Virginia, the seaport was founded by English settlers during the colonial era.
The colonists often named settlements after the places they had left behind.
For example, the place name Hampton, Virginia, and its variants, is probably derived from the village of Hampton, England.
I needed a name that had a colourful, evocative, 17th century English feel to it, that the English settlers might have used in colonial Virginia. and which might have still been in use two hundred years later during the civil war.
Finally I chose the word ‘Pudding,’ and as I’m describing a road that has a hill on it, called the road ‘Pudding Hill road.’
I’m pretty sure that this is safe, historically accurate, because according to some historians the Great Fire of London started in a Pudding Lane, London, in 1666.
The early English settlers would almost certainly have heard of the fire, and of Pudding Lane, and might have taken the name with them to the Virginia colony.