Most Common County Names in the US

County government in the United States

As most of us know, a county is a political and geographic subdivision of a state. As a result of the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution, the specific rights and powers granted to counties is a matter of State control. In practice, this means that the responsibilities of county government differ from state to state. Some duties of counties include courts, public safety (police and fire), transportation and roads, and administrative duties related to property taxes. We tend to think of counties as being fairly “static” and unchanging, but in reality they are not. I will address issues of local government in another post. For today, I give you some fun trivia about the most common county names.

Where do counties get their names?

As a practical matter, the state assigns the name at the time the county is created. It should come as no surprise that many counties were named for “famous” people. Often these were political or military figures. This is by far the most common source for county names. Other sources include geographical features and Indian tribes. In some cases they are derived from place names from other countries (usually with meaning to the inhabitants of the county).

Where have I seen that before?

You’ve probably noticed that many states have counties with the same names as other states. Well, I started wondering, “Which is the most common county name in the US?” Luckily, Wikipedia had the answer! And so, with credit to the people who did the hard work for us, I present the top 10 (OK, actually 11) most common county names:

Rank Name of county Count (including parishes in Louisiana)
1 Washington County 31
2 Jefferson County 26
3 Franklin County 24
3 Jackson County 24
3 Lincoln County 24
6 Madison County 20
7 Clay County 18
7 Montgomery County 18
7 Union County 18
10 Marion County 17
10 Monroe County 17

Will the real Mr. Lincoln please step forward?

So who were counties named after? The first four seem pretty obvious. Washington County is named for George Washington. Jefferson County is named for Thomas Jefferson. Benjamin Franklin lent his name to 24 counties, and 24 counties were named for Andrew Jackson. One would naturally assume that the 24 Lincoln counties were named for our beloved 16th president, Abraham Lincoln. However, you would be wrong. A full 25% of the Lincoln counties were actually named for a different historical figure: Benjamin Lincoln. Benjamin Lincoln was a career military officer that served in the Continental Army in the Revolutionary War. He went on to have a career in politics following the founding of the United States of America.

Most common US Counties

By self – GNU map Image:Map of USA with county outlines (black & white).png, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2139999

Here is your challenge: Using the map above comment below which states are the least original and have ALL 5 of the most common county names?

 

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