Almost anyone who has done an internet search for something in Lebanon has faced the problem that many of the resulting entries are for cities and towns in the US also called Lebanon.
Where are the Lebanons in America?
It is easier to list the 15 states that apparently never had a Lebanon: Alaska, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming. There are records of 88 Lebanons in the other 35 states. While some have ceased to exist or have been incorporated into other towns, the remaining 53, use many variations of the name: Lebanon (22), Lebanon Township (7), Mount Lebanon and West Lebanon (4 each), South Lebanon (3), New Lebanon, Lebanon Heights, and Lebanon Junction (2 each) and Center Lebanon, East Lebanon, Lebanon Church, Lebanon Springs, Mount Lebanon Township, and Rising Sun-Lebanon (1 each).
Population of the Lebanons
According to their latest census information, the populations of these Lebanons range from 47 for Lebanon, South Dakota to 33,137 for Mt. Lebanon Township, Pennsylvania. Nine have populations of less than 1000, while another 9 have populations of over 10,000, and the total combined population of all these Lebanons is 230,959.
Reasons they were named Lebanon
Considering the number of emigrants from Lebanon to the US, one would think that some of them would have been named in honor of the homeland of those emigrants. But this does not seem to have been the case for any of them. The names of most of these Lebanons refer to nearby forests of cedars, hickory, juniper or other trees that reminded people of the cedars of Lebanon, mentioned many times in the Bible. A few were named after other Lebanons in America where many of their early settlers came from: The Lebanon of South Dakota was apparently named after the Lebanon of New York; Lebanon, New Hampshire after Lebanon, Connecticut; and both Lebanon, Missouri and Lebanon, Texas after Lebanon, Tennessee. The case of Illinois, however, is quite different. The southern third of Illinois is referred to as Little Egypt, and its towns not only include Lebanon, but also Cairo, Thebes, Palestine, and Karnak, as well as a number of Greek names.
Some of their Special Histories
The Lebanons of American have special histories totally disconnected from Lebanon the country. Lebanon, Connecticut is best known for its role in the American Revolution. Lebanon, Oregon is the home of the World’s Largest Strawberry Shortcake, which is part of the annual Strawberry Festival that began in 1909. New Lebanon, New York was the spiritual home of the Shakers, a religious sect that branched off from the Quakers. Lebanon, Oklahoma was settled in the late 19th century as part of the Chickasaw Indian Nation. And Lebanon, Kansas was the closest town to the geographical center of the US until Hawaii and Alaska became states.
Responses From Two Lebanons
Mayor Lyle Anderson of Lebanon, Missouri responded to an enquiry from HOME Magazine, noting that the town was settled by Scotch/Irish immigrants from Tennessee and Kentucky, that it was hotly contested during the Civil War, and that it is located in the Missouri Ozarks with the gentle beauty of dogwoods, red buds and oak forests. And Joe LePage, a municipal official of Lebanon, Indiana, responded as well, noting that the Boone County Courthouse, located in Lebanon, boasts its single-piece vertical Ionic order limestone columns that were at one time the largest single-piece limestone columns in the world.
Mr. LePage identified the one resident of the town of Lebanese heritage as Roye Gaha (Riyad Jeha) who moved to Lebanon, Indiana from Australia where his family had emigrated when he was 10. Mr. Gaha who is from Bishmizzine in Kourah, did not settle in Lebanon, Indiana because of its name, but because of a few very special coincidences during his family’s trip around the US in 1978. He did, however, create at least one connection between his two Lebanons by leading the effort for the Rotary Club of Lebanon, Indiana to support the sending of 32 dialysis machines to Lebanon. It would be wonderful if he and other Lebanese in America could help to establish further connections between the Lebanons of America and the country of Lebanon.
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