By Bruce Stambaugh
It’s funny how much consternation a name can cause.
Take the name of the township in which I live and serve. Saltcreek Township, Holmes County, Ohio, United States of America.
It’s a simple, earthy enough name. Just why would such a straightforward title create confusion? That’s easy. It’s because of the way the township name is spelled, Saltcreek, not Salt Creek.
How do I know that it is one word and not two? Because, like my mother used to say, “I said so.” I should know. I am one of three duly elected trustees in Saltcreek Township.
The sign over the door to our office says Saltcreek Township. That is the official name we use.
Now, I know what you are thinking. Salt describes Creek. Two words. And you would be correct. Furthermore, there is precedence for spelling it that way. Southeast of us in our rural county is Walnut Creek Township.
Yet, go further east and you run into Sugarcreek in Sugarcreek Township, Tuscarawas County. Given these inconsistencies, we choose to use Saltcreek, as in a compound word like “something” instead of “some thing.”
Doubters might think “something” is fishy in Saltcreek if it is one word. But really, the intentional singular spelling is uncompromisingly pragmatic.
The insistence on Saltcreek may sound more rigid than practical. But it’s not intended to be. Nor are we trying to be obstinate or cute in the use of the Saltcreek moniker.
It just so happens that the entire northern boundary line of Saltcreek Township, Holmes County abuts the entire southern boundary line of Salt Creek Township, Wayne County. Can you see the conflict coming?
The common boundary is no coincidence. The two townships were actually one until Wayne County was downsized and Holmes County was born in the early part of the 19th century. For whatever reasons the deep thinkers used way back then, the adjoining townships kept the same name.
Paint Township, Wayne County, also was halved then, and the people in charge must have loved that name as well. The adjoining township in Holmes County was labeled Paint Township.
That all probably seemed perfectly clear to our forefathers. But in today’s complicated world, having a pair of identically named townships with shared boundary lines can be problematic.
Witness the fact that Saltcreek Township, Holmes County occasionally gets correspondence intended for Salt Creek Township, Wayne County. And vice versa.
So, to help differentiate the two governmental agencies, Saltcreek Township, Holmes County has chosen historically to be referred to as Saltcreek. In other words, Saltcreek is Saltcreek and Salt Creek is Salt Creek. That should clear up everything.
Of course, it doesn’t. Confusion still exists. Road signs ordered “Saltcreek” come labeled “Salt Creek.” We use them anyhow.
In fact, there isn’t even any uniformity among the various Holmes County governmental offices as to how to spell the township’s name. The recorder might use Salt Creek, while the board of elections prints Saltcreek.
Even the county engineer, the official we deal with the most, shows it both ways. It just depends which record is being used.
Clearly, then, we try to be as sensible as we are principled. We respond to and sign documents with the township’s name spelled either way.
So there you have it. We prefer Saltcreek, but if you insist on Salt Creek, we’ll still answer the call, unless it’s our neighboring namesake you really want.
Nov. 16, 2006