Another Mystery Solved

July 24, 2009

About a week ago I mentioned that I was trying to learn the origin of the names of two towns. One was Laboratory, Pennsylvania, and the other was Forks of Ivy, North Carolina.

A basic search of the Internet told me that Laboratory, PA was originally known as Pancake, PA because a man named George Pancake ran a tavern there. I guessed that the name had to be changed in order to get a Post Office; at the time, Pennsylvania had two towns named Pancake.

I sent a request for information to the Washington County Historical Society in Pennsylvania. Here is the response sent me by Janet Wareham.

Earle Forrest wrote about this area in his 1926 History of Washington County, Pennsylvania in the chapter on South Strabane Township.  He discusses first George Pancake, then Jonathan Martin and adds this paragraph:

“About thirty years ago the late Dr. Byron Clark, who resided near the end of East Maiden Street, Washington, established a chemical laboratory for the manufacture of patent medicine, which he sold throughout the country.  He had a post office established and named the place Laboratory, by which it is still known, although the original name of Pancake still sticks.”

The only part I had right was that the U.S. Post Office was involved.

Now, let’s see if we can solve the mystery of Forks of Ivy. Maybe a member of the Forks of Ivy Baptist Church can help us.

Town Names

July 17, 2009

On our recent trip to Pittsburgh, we passed by two towns that caught my attention. Laboratory, Pennsylvania and Forks of Ivy, North Carolina.

We also passed by Eighty-four, Pennsylvania and, as I was telling my bride how that town got its name, I began to wonder about the two towns that had aroused my curiosity.

When we arrived home, I started searching the Internet for some answers. The only thing I learned was that Laboratory was once known as Pancake.

The Pancake name came from George Pancake who ran a tavern there back in the early 1800’s. My guess is that, similar to many towns across America, the name had to be changed when a post office was being built; there was another Pancake, Pennsylvania near State College. The other Pancake may have already built a post office. But why did they change the name to Laboratory?

I have no idea and I’m hoping that someone who reads this will supply an answer.

The same goes for Forks of Ivy, North Carolina. There is a Forks of Ivy Baptist Church nearby, but I could not find any explanation for the naming of the church or the town.

So, let’s see what our readers can tell us.