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Waterloo - How it was named

Page history last edited by Teresa D. 11 years, 7 months ago

A combination of legend, fact and fancy surrounds the naming of Waterloo in December, 1851, when the town was awarded a post office and a permanent title. The facts are that Charlie Mullan managed to secure seven signatures on a petition asking the federal government to establish a post office here. The settlement had a descriptive name, Prairie Rapids Crossing, but Mullan thought the title too cumbersome for a mailing address. He later related he happened on the name Waterloo after thumbing through a U.S. Post Office Guide of the time. There were Waterloos in other states.


Legend has it that Mullan had an earlier suggestion for the name Waterloo from the first woman settler, Mary Melrose Hanna, who is said to have remarked on the resemblance of the river banks of the future townsite to the low water-soaked battleground of Napolean's Waterloo, about which she had been reading.


More fanciful yet is the recollection by some historians that early settlers first referred to future Waterloo as "the Water-low" because it offered one of the few fording places on the Cedar River.


Yet another tale is as follows...

The Hanna family has been one of the outstanding families in the history of this place, Phil Hanna being the latest to close a distinguished career. Squire Hanna, in partnership with Charles Mullan, laid out the village of waterloo in 1854, and sold Mill square for $1 to a Mr. Eggers in return for his building a dam and saw mill. Mr. Hanna said they named it Waterloo because they expected a great victory in the county seat fight with Cedar Falls, which they saw was inevitable.


See also:


R977.7 VA, page 176


R917.77 FE  Federal Writers Project, page 313



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