States of the Union #8

States of the Union #8

Continuing the ten-part series covering all of the fifty States of the Union comprising the United States of America, here we are at #8. I am a proud American, particularly regarding our remarkable history, so for ten consecutive Wednesdays each blog post will spotlight FIVE States (chosen at random). There will be some trivia, facts and data, a map, occasional vocabulary lessons, and naturally a wee bit of history. Links to the previous blogs are below.

States of the Union #1 — Oklahoma, Alaska, New Hampshire, Kentucky, and Florida

States of the Union #2 — California, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Hawaii, and South Dakota

States of the Union #3 — Arizona, Maine, Vermont, Oregon, and Iowa

States of the Union #4 — Idaho, New Mexico, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Ohio

States of the Union #5 — Delaware, North Dakota, New York, South Carolina, and Michigan

States of the Union #6 — Alabama, Minnesota, Washington, Nebraska, and Utah

States of the Union #7 — Colorado, West Virginia, Georgia, Maryland, and Texas


Abbreviation — WY
Capital — Cheyenne
Statehood — July 10, 1890
State Motto — “Equal Rights”
State Nickname — The Equality State, The Cowboy State
State Bird — Western Meadowlark
State Flower — Indian Paintbrush


  • The nickname “The Equality State” was given because Wyoming was the first state to give women the right to vote, which it did while still a territory in 1869.
  • Devil’s Tower, established on September 24, 1906, was the first national monument in the United States.
  • Most of the Yellowstone National Park lies in Wyoming. Established in 1872, it is the first national park in the United States. Yellowstone has more natural geysers than any other place in the world, and Steamboat Geyser is the tallest active geyser in the world.
  • The first national forest was established in Wyoming on March 30, 1891, when President Teddy Roosevelt created the Shoshone National Forest as the Yellowstone Forest Reserve.
  • Established in 1886, the Laramie County Library System is the oldest continually operating county library system in the country.
  • James Cash Penney opened Golden Rule Store in Kemmerer in April of 1902. In time, his successful business was expanded and the name changed to J. C. Penney.
  • The ten largest coal mines in the US are located in Wyoming.
  • The nation’s first woman governor, Nellie Tayloe Ross, was elected in 1925.
  • Wyoming is the least populated of all the states.

FAMOUS WYOMINGITES: Buffalo Bill Cody (scout, frontiersman) – James Bridger (guide, trapper) – Jackson Pollock (artist).


The land now comprising the bulk of present day Wyoming was obtained from France as part of the 1803 Louisiana Purchase. In 1807, fur-trapper John Colter became the first man known to enter the territory and to explore the Yellowstone area. Further exploration was done by Robert Stuart across the Oregon Trail beginning in 1812, and in 1834 the first permanent trading post located west of the Missouri River, Fort Laramie, was built. Western portions of Wyoming were obtained in the 1846 Oregon Treaty with England, and the 1848 treaty ending the Mexican War.

Wyoming is a corruption of the Delaware Indian word mecheweami-ing or maughwauwama, which means “at the big plains” or “on the great plain.” The word went through a plethora of spellings — Wauwaumie, Wiwaume, Wiomie, Wyomen — before settling on Wyoming.

Originally the name was applied to a verdant valley in Pennsylvania where tribes of Delaware, Iroquois, and other Indians dwelt. White settlers moved in during the 1760s, and the ongoing scrimmages between the native tribes extended to the colonists in varying degrees. The serious hostilities came during the War for Independence when, in 1778, this valley suffered an attack by British forces. More than three-hundred inhabitants, natives and colonists, were massacred. The notorious event was immortalized in an acclaimed 1809 poem by Thomas Campbell titled “Gertrude of Wyoming.”

The name Wyoming was popularized, and later given to this organized territory comprised of portions from Dakota, Idaho, and Utah, which was officially declared by an Act of Congress in 1868.


Abbreviation — AR
Capital — Little Rock
Statehood — June 15, 1836
State Motto — “The people rule”
State Nickname — The Natural State
State Bird — Mockingbird
State Flower — Apple Blossom


  • In November of 1932, Hattie Caraway was elected senator in Arkansas, becoming the first woman in the US Senate.
  • Sam Walton founded and opened the first Walmart in Bentonville on July 2, 1962
  • The World Championship Duck Calling Contest is held annually in Stuttgart.
  • Alma is the Spinach Capital of the World. The town commemorated this by painting its water tower to be the “world’s biggest can of spinach.”
  • Hot Springs National Park, visited by Spanish explorer Hernando De Soto in 1541, became a Federal Reservation in 1832. More than a million gallons of hot, natural water flow from the 47 springs on a daily basis.

FAMOUS ARKANSANS: President Bill Clinton – General Douglas MacArthur – Johnny Cash (singer) – Scott Joplin (composer) – John Grisham (author) – Sam Walton (founder of Walmart) – William “Bill” Doolin (outlaw, founder of the Wild Bunch gang).


Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto was among the first Europeans to visit the Arkansas territory in the 1540s. In 1686, a Frenchman, Henri de Tonti, founded the Arkansas Post, the first permanent white settlement. In 1803 the area was acquired by the US as part of the Louisiana Purchase.

The name Arkansas comes from the Native American Quapaw word akakaze which means land of the downriver people.


Abbreviation — TN
Capital — Nashville
Statehood — June 1, 1796
State Motto — “Volunteer State”
State Nickname — Volunteer State
State Bird — Mockingbird
State Flower — Iris


  • Tennessee borders with eight other states. This makes Tennessee, along with Missouri, the state with the most neighboring states.
  • Tennessee was the last state to secede from the Union during the Civil War and the first state to be readmitted after the war.
  • Tennessee acquired the nickname The Volunteer State during the War of 1812 when volunteer soldiers from Tennessee serving under General Andrew Jackson played a prominent role in the Battle of New Orleans.
  • The Grand Ole Opry in Nashville has been live on the radio since November 28, 1925, making it the longest continuously running live radio program in the world.
  • Elvis Presley’s estate Graceland is located in Memphis.
  • From atop Lookout Mountain near Chattanooga, seven states are visible.
  • Nashville is known as “Music City” and is the country music capitol of the world.
  • Bluegrass music originated in Bristol, in northeastern Tennessee, and is considered the Birthplace of Country Music.
  • Andrew Johnson (born in North Carolina, but a resident of Tennessee from his youth) held every elective office at the local, state, and federal level. He was elected alderman, mayor, state representative, and state senator from Greeneville in Tennessee. He served as governor and military governor of Tennessee, a US congressman, senator, and vice president, all before becoming President of the United States following the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.
  • A replica of The Parthenon, the famous ancient Greek building in Athens, Greece, stands in Nashville’s Centennial Park.
  • Coca-Cola was first bottle in 1899 at a plant in Chattanooga.

FAMOUS TENNESSEANS: President Andrew Jackson – Davy Crockett (frontiersman) – Dolly Parton, Amy Grant, Aretha Franklin, Tennessee Ernie Ford, Usher (singers) – Lester Flatt (bluegrass musician) – Morgan Freeman, Kathy Bates (actors).


The Tennessee area was first visited by Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto in 1540. As a result of the 1670s and 1680s explorations of Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet, Sieur de la Salle, and James Needham and Gabriel Arthur, the territory was claimed by both France and England. Not until 1763, as a result of the French and Indian Wars, would Great Britain gain undisputed control of the area. The first settlement was established by William Bean in 1769.

Tennessee was named after a Cherokee town named Tanasi or Tanasse (two among a wide array of spellings) which has long since disappeared but is believed to have been in present-day Monroe County. Spanish explore Juan Pardo was the first to record the name (as “Tanasqui”) in 1567, however, he did not record the origin or meaning of the word. The true meaning of Tanasi remains a mystery, though it’s been said to mean “meeting place,” “wind river,” or “river of the great bend.” South Carolina Governor James Glen was the first to record the name under the current spelling, Tennessee, on an official document in 1750, and it was Andrew Jackson who proposed it as the name for the state when joining the Union in 1796.

North Carolina

Abbreviation — NC
Capital — Raleigh
Statehood — November 21, 1789
State Motto — “To be rather than to seem”
State Nickname — Tar Heel State, Old North State
State Bird — Cardinal
State Flower — Dogwood


  • The nickname Tar Heel State comes from the state once being a large producer of tar, pitch, and turpentine.
  • The nickname Old North State came about due to the regions of Carolina comprising North Carolina (after the split in 1729) were the first to be settled, and hence the “oldest.”
  • The largest home in the US is the Biltmore Estate in Ashville.
  • William and Orville Wright conducted the first successful flight of a mechanically powered airplane on December 17, 1903 in Kitty Hawk.
  • The first child born in America was Virginia Dare, born in 1587 in Roanoke.
  • In New Bern, in 1893, Caleb Bradham introduced a beverage he called “Brad’s Drink.” The beverage was renamed Pepsi in 1898, named after the digestive enzyme pepsin and kola nuts used in the recipe.
  • The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse in Buxton stands at 193 feet tall, making it the tallest lighthouse in the US.

FAMOUS NORTH CAROLINANS: Presidents Andrew Johnson and James K. Polk – Andy Griffith (actor) – Randy Travis (country singer) – Howard Cosell (sportscaster) – Billy Graham (evangalist) – Sugar Ray Leonard (boxer) – Arnold Palmer (golfer) – John Coltrane (jazz musician) – Dale Earnhardt, Richard Petty (race car drivers).


The first English colony in America was located on Roanoke Island by Walter Raleigh. The colony mysteriously vanished with no trace except for the word “Croatoan” scrawled on a nearby tree. In 1629, King Charles I of England “erected into a province” all the land from Albemarle Sound on the north to the St. John’s River on the south. In honor of his proclamation, and per his directive, the region was named Carolina, derived from Carolus, the Latin form of Charles.

As a British colony, Carolina was split into North and South in 1729 as the area was deemed too large to effectively govern.


Abbreviation — MO
Capital — Jefferson City
Statehood — August 10, 1821
State Motto — “The welfare of the people shall be the supreme law”
State Nickname — Show Me State, Cave State
State Bird — Bluebird
State Flower — Hawthorn


  • The Gateway Arch in St. Louis, standing at 630 feet tall, is the tallest man-made national monument in the US.
  • Missouri, along with Tennessee, shares a border with eight other states, making these the two states with the highest number of bordering states
  • St. Joseph was the eastern starting point of the Pony Express, and the famed Santa Fe Trail and Oregon Trail began in Independence. Due to this, Missouri was referred to as the “Gateway to the West.”
  • Iced tea was “invented” by Richard Blechyden in 1904 at the St. Louis World’s Fair when he served tea with ice. At that same World’s Fair, Dr Pepper was introduced.
  • Anheuser-Busch brewery in St. Louis is the largest beer producing plant in the nation.
  • The largest earthquake in American history, the New Madrid Earthquake, occurred in the winter of 1811-12. The quake shook more than one million square miles, and was felt as far as 1,000 miles away.
  • Missouri has over 5,500 recorded caves, earning it the nickname Cave State.

FAMOUS MISSOURIANS: President Harry S. Truman – Mark Twain, Laura Ingalls Wilder (authors) – T.S. Eliot (poet) – Yogi Berra (baseball) – George Washington Carver (scientist) – Walt Disney – Walter Cronkite (newscaster) – Vincent Price, Dick Van Dyke (actors) – Jesse James (outlaw) – Edwin Hubble (astronomer) – Rush Limbaugh (Conservative radio caster).


Father Jacques Marquette and Louis Joliet were the first white people to see the Missouri River in 1673.  In 1682, René-Robert Cavelier claimed the entire Mississippi Valley for France. This land, that included Missouri, was named Louisiana after King Louis XIV and French fur traders built trading posts all along the Missouri River. Missionaries established St. Francis Xavier —the first white settlement of Missouri— located near present-day St. Louis, but it was deserted in 1703. The first permanent settlement, St. Genevieve, was established in 1735.

The territory was obtained by the US as part of the 1803 Louisiana Purchase. Missouri was named after a tribe of Sioux Indians called the Missouris. The word “Missouri” means “wooden canoe people” or “he of the big canoe.”

Those are the five US States for this week’s blog.
Be sure to read the previous seven blogs,
and also be sure to return next Wednesday
for five more States of the Union!



Sharon Lathan

Sharon Lathan is the best-selling author of The Darcy Saga, a ten-volume sequel series to Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice.

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Fascinating! Thank you.

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