When you think about it, the US state of Ohio and the continent of Europe aren't much different. Both have a Columbus to their credit (one an explorer, one the state capital named for the explorer), a sea to the north and a lot of the same town names. Admittedly, it isn’t quite a coincidence that Ohio has the same name as some European centres. They often stole names for new cities when they couldn’t think of something original, or couldn't find something or someone to name it after.
However, this doesn’t mean that Ohioans were entirely without new names as they gradually drew up their maps. Take for example, the proud towns of Ohio City, Forest, and Farmer. Sometimes they added a 'New' in front of the European city name (hence New Paris in Preble County), and once named a city the Latin word for 'new' (Nova in Ashland County).
One reason why some cities were named for geographic areas is the Canals built in Ohio during the early part of the 19th century. An enormous workforce was required to build the canals, so immigrants were brought in from Europe. Apparently, towns wanted to attract these immigrants to live in their towns to sell lots and stimulate economic growth. In order to do this, some towns were named for the places they came from and for where immigrants were brought to from particular lands. Berlin (now Ft Loramie) and Minster were supposed to appeal to the large German population, Versailles and Russia2 were where French immigrants were sent towards and St Patrick was for the Irish.
The UK and Ireland
There’s a good reason why the British and Irish city names are represented in Ohio - colonisation of what would become the United States of America did originate from those isles after all.
London, the county seat of Madison, is west of the city Columbus with a population around 8,500 - slightly more than a thousandth the size of the European urban area. There is also a town named Whitehall, just outside of Columbus and the core of the state government, whereas in Britain, Whitehall is the core of the government.
Bedford, Ohio is in the northeastern end of the state, near Cleveland in Cuyahoga County. Bedford, England is Bedfordshire's county town. Bedford, Ohio doesn't stand much of a chance of becoming the county seat, though, being greatly overshadowed by Cleveland.
Dublin is the home of the fast food chain Wendy’s and its corporate headquarters. A St Patrick's Day Parade and an Irish Festival are held annually in Ohio's most Irish sounding city. It is in Franklin County, near Columbus in the centre of the state.
Dover, Ohio in Tuscarawas is close to New Philadelphia and Cleveland. Its population is around 10,000 - about one tenth the size of its British name sister.
The name Manchester is present in the maps of about half of the US states. However, this particular one is the only one in Adams County, Ohio.
Portsmouth perhaps has the most legitimate claim of originality in its name - despite the large British city having the name first. The county seat of Scioto, it is where the Scioto and Ohio Rivers meet - both extremely important for the economy of the state. Therefore, it was obviously destined to be a port city (a destiny which manifested itself when the Ohio and Erie Canal was built through it) at the mouth of the Scioto.
East Liverpool is in fact west of the UK's Liverpool, but about as far east in Ohio as you can get without running into West Virginia4.
Aberdeen, Ohio is in Brown County, in the southwest, sitting on the Ohio River. Aberdeen, Scotland stands in the northeast, on the Dee River.
Derby, Ohio is in the southern part of Ohio, under Columbus but well above the Kentucky (which has a nice little Derby of its own) border.
Dundee, Ohio is in Tuscarawas County in the east of the state. Europe's Dundee is on the eastern side of Scotland.
Bath, Ohio is in the northeast of the state, next to the Cuyahoga River and the National Park around it in Summit County. Bath, England also made good use of water, and has been well known since ancient times for its spa waters.
Hinckley, Ohio is known for one thing - the buzzards which arrive each year - in a sort of Midwestern version of the swallows returning to Capistrano. The UK's Hinckley is a small market town in South West Leicestershire.
Sheffield, Ohio is in Lorain County, near Lake Erie and Sheffield Lake. Sheffield, England is famed for its steel and cutlery industries.
Lancaster is the county seat of Fairfield, east of Columbus. It is also a city in Lancashire, and the name of one of the houses which fought in the Wars of the Roses.
Windsor, Ohio is a small town in Ashtabula County in the northeast corner of the state. Windsor, England is where Windsor Castle stands proudly.
Norwich, Ohio is in Muskingum County, and as of the 2000 Census, had a population of 113. As you can imagine, there is not much to say about this town. However, there is a bit more to be said about Norwich, England. The administrative centre of Norfolk, it is known for castles, cathedrals and canaries.
Peebles, Ohio is in Adams County is home to the Serpent Mound State Memorial, which is about ten miles outside of town. The Serpent Mound is one of Ohio's prehistoric treasures. Stretching about a fourth of a mile, it is thought to be a burial mound of the Adena people. Peebles in the UK is a smallish town on the Scottish border.
Plymouth used to be a town known for building locomotives in Ohio, but no longer. It is located in Huron county, and is home to about 2,000 Ohioans. Plymouth, England is an important southern port from which the famed Pilgrims fled to America and named a rock in Massachusetts after.
Reading, Ohio is in the southwest of the state, in Hamilton County, which is also home to Cincinnati. Reading, England is in Berkshire in between London and Oxford and hosts a major rock festival each year.
Greece, one of the oldest and greatest civilisations, has some interesting names for its cities. Of all the ancient civilisations, the contribution of Greece is perhaps the most significant. Greek culture can be noticed everywhere - even in the subject upon which this entry is based.
Athens, Ohio sits on the Hocking River and is the county seat of Athens County.
Sparta is famed throughout ancient history for producing the incredibly determined, tough Spartan warriors who fought against Athens in the Peloponnesian War. No conflict has been reported between Athens, Ohio and Sparta, Ohio yet. Additionally, East Sparta sits in Stark County. In stark contrast, no East Sparta exists in Greece.
Although the mythical city of Troy may never have existed5, the name still has Greek origin, from the mythology in which Achilles, Odysseus and other Greek heroes destroyed the city of Troy with the brilliant stratagem of a wooden horse. Troy, Ohio is in Miami County, and is the county seat.
Neapolis is a city in Ohio, as well as the name of several important cities in Roman times. The word means 'New City', so it is hardly surprising that it was often used. It is said Naples, Italy was originally called Neapolis, and a prominent city in Greece also has the name today.
Italy and the Roman Empire
One of the largest cities in Ohio, Cincinnati, was named for Justinean Cincinnatus6, a Roman consul who rescued the city in a time of emergency by assuming temporary dictatorship while he was retired from politics and working as a farmer. The Roman Empire’s legacy, and that of other Italian eras, can be found throughout the state.
There are two cities named Rome in Ohio. One is in Ashtabula County, which is in the Northeasternmost corner of the state. The other is in Adams County, on the Ohio River, which forms the southern border of the state. Of course, this brings into question 'When in Rome, Ohio do as which Ohioan Romans do?'
Verona and Mantua are both represented in Ohio, with the latter in Portage and the former in Preble County. What this means is that a modern version of Shakespeare’s play ‘Romeo and Juliet’ could be played out entirely in the state7. Unfortunately for Ohioan Shakespeareans, Preble and Portage counties are only close to each other alphabetically.
Syracuse was once the greatest city on the isle of Sicily, during the height of Rome’s power. Ohio’s version lies on the Ohio River, in Meigs County.
Ravenna, on the east coast of the Italian Peninsula at one point took over administrative control of the Roman government from Rome itself. It is still a proud city. Ohio’s Ravenna isn’t too bad itself, as the county seat of Portage County.
Genoa in Ottawa County is home to about 2,000 Ohioans. It’s not too far from Toledo in the Northwest. Christopher Columbus was born in Genoa, Italy in the mid-1400s.
Parma sits in Ohio’s largest urban area around Cleveland. It is also the home of Drew Carey in the sitcom 'The Drew Carey Show'.
Milan, Ohio was the birthplace of one of America's greatest and most prolific inventors - Thomas Edison. Milan, Italy is one of the major fashion centres in the world.
France has long been an ally of the US - helping to win American independence at the battle of Yorktown and providing the Statue of Liberty for New York Harbor. Ohio remembers one of the prouder periods of French nationalism with the town of Napoleon as the county seat in Henry County.
Lyons is a city in Fulton County, in the northwestern corner of the state and a stone’s throw from the state of Michigan to the north.
Marseilles, in Wyandot County, is a small village with about 100 people, while its French counterpart has about 800,000 people.
Versailles, which sits in Darke County, is unlike its somewhat more proud French twin in that the -sailles part is pronounced more like something you hang on a ship than a sound you make when unhappy.
The Iberian Peninsula
The Iberian Peninsula is separated from France by the Pyrénées Mountains, and includes Spain and Portugal. Spain sent out Christopher Columbus to find a path to the east when he bumped into the Americas... important in the history of the world and especially the continent on which Ohio sits.
Toledo is one of Ohio’s largest cities, sitting on the westernmost part of Lake Erie in Lucas County. Toledo is also one of Spain’s major cities, and the name of a region south of Madrid.
Seville is one of Spain’s largest cities, immortalised in the Opera 'The Barber of Seville'. Seville, Ohio is in Medina County. Medina is also the name of one of Saudi Arabia’s major cities... but that's in Asia, so it doesn't count.
Lisbon is the capital of Portugal and its largest city. It is quite natural that Portugal be remembered in the US, as it started the Age of Discovery. Lisbon, Ohio is in Columbiana County - which is of course named for the Explorer.
Cadiz is a city in southern Spain - just a hop, skip and a jump from Gibraltar and Morocco. It is also the city where Sir Francis Drake raided the King of Spain's navy in the 1500s. In Ohio, Cadiz is the county seat of Harrison and nearby Amsterdam and New Athens.
Though America fought much of Eastern Europe in the Cold War, some interesting cities names were still imported into Ohio.
Moscow, made up of about 250 people, is about 200 miles south of Russia, Ohio. It is on the Ohio River, east of Cincinnati.
Warsaw, named for the Polish capital city, is in Coshocton County on the Mohican River and south of Berlin. It’s not too far from Poland, Ohio either.
Vienna is in Trumbull County, slightly north of Youngstown and east of Warren. The Reign of Napoleon was brought to an end in the Vienna, Austria, but the closest Ohio has had to a peace treaty was the Dayton Accords, which helped put an end to the 1990s conflict in Bosnia.
Germany, Holland, Belgium and Switzerland
Berlin, Ohio is situated in the east of Holmes County. It’s not too far from Warsaw and immediately north of the town of Charm. One of Ohio's most historic towns, Steubenville, is named for a Prussian General called Baron Friedrich von Steuben who helped train American soldiers during the struggle for the county's independence.
Antwerp is a city in Belgium, and also one of the towns in Paulding County, which is in northeastern Ohio. It is just south of Farmer and Hicksville - an unfortunate case of association for Belgians.
Geneva may be an important international European city, but Geneva, Ohio, populated by some 7,000 is not. It sits near Lake Erie (which helps make up the American border with Canada) in Northeastern Ohio, whereas Geneva, Switzerland sits on Lake Geneva (which helps make up the border with France).
Amsterdam is in Jefferson County, west of Toronto and not very far from Cadiz.
Brunswick is the English spelling of the German city of Braunschweig in North-Central Germany and a city in Medina County, in more or less North-Central Ohio.
Dresden, Ohio is a village in central Ohio which is the birthplace of the Longaberger basket, though it is not large enough to provide a home to the Longaberger corporate headquarters, which is in Newark, Ohio and looks like a giant hand-woven basket. Dresden, Germany is in the eastern part of the country, and large enough for a big basket.