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Why do they call it that? Valrico and Bartow | Community Spirit

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Why do they call it that? Valrico and Bartow
Why do they call it that? Valrico and Bartow

How did a city that promotes its Southern charm get its name from a seriously Southern dead man? And it may sound Spanish, but this town's name was invented by a university professor.

Why do they call it Valrico?

Even plenty of folks who live in this east Hillsborough County area don't know about one section of town.

It's a sleepy grid of oak-lined streets laid out more than a hundred years ago. This is the original town of Valrico.

It's not far from a picturesque pond -- the place that gave the area its original name.

"The original name was Long Pond," said Rodney Kite-Powell, the curator of history at the Tampa Bay History Center. "And Long Pond was really a pre-Civil War settlement. There were a lot of plantations there."

Kite-Powell says this new town was being laid out, but needed a name.

William Tousey -- a professor visiting from what's now Tufts University near Boston -- dreamed up Valrico.

It's an invented Spanish word. The "rico" means "rich," and the "Val" means "valley" -- together, Valrico means "Rich Valley."

There's really no valley here.

There's also no other town quite like it.

"It's the only Valrico in the entire country. It's the only town with that name. And people of Valrico, at least used to take pride in that," Kite-Powell said.

Why do they call it Bartow?

This city poetically calls itself the "City of Oaks and Azaleas" and plays up its Southern charm.

But at first, this town did not have a name to match its graceful style.

Early on, it was called Peace Creek. It also picked up the name Fort Blount, after cattle rancher Redding Blount. That name's still hanging around, through Fort Blount Park in downtown Bartow.

Finally, just after the Civil War, around the time Polk County's county seat was moved to the town, the Deep South inspired the name that would stick.

Colonel Francis Bartow, from Georgia, got famous the hard way.

He died.

Specifically, he was the first high-ranking Confederate officer killed during the Civil War. The city of Bartow was named to honor his sacrifice to the Southern cause.

Why do they call it that? Now you know.

There are a lot more places out there with names that could use explaining. If you want to ask "Why do they call it that?" send an e-mail with a name that has you curious to Grayson Kamm using this link.

We'll be featuring new places and stories each Wednesday on The Morning Show from 5-7 a.m. on 10 Connects.

Connect with 10 Connects multi-media journalist Grayson Kamm on Twitter as @graysonkamm, on his Facebook page, or by e-mail at this link.

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