Local History and Genealogy

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


 How Angola Received It's Name

Angola received it's name about the time the place was chosen as the county seat and it is said, before there was no other known place called Angola in this country or anywhere else, save in Africa.  The name is supposed to have been chosen simply as being new and uncommon and one that pleased the chooser of it.

The late Dr. G.W. McConnell is authority for the statement that Judge Thomas Gale selected the name, while the late Jacob Stealy contended that it was Mrs. Cornelius Gilmore who first suggested Angola as the name of the town as his (Mr Stealy's) mother did that of the township, Pleasant.

By an act of the General Assembly of Indiana dated Jan 18, 1837, Steuben was to "enjoy all the rights and jurisdictions which belong to separate and independent counties,"after the first day of May of that year.  Those were times when men entertained strong feelings pro and con and sometimes used strong expressions on the subject of "abolitionism."  There were those who did not exactly like this name, Angola, perhaps thinking that it had too much the appearance of giving an African name to a white community.

Steuben Republican  June 24, 1931

I look back to the time I arrived in Lima (Howe), October 14, 1835.  The winter after I came, Thomas Gale, then living in Lima, conceived the idea of starting a town in Steuben county.  Angola was the name selected, and some of the old settlers in Lima remarked the the name would be a good one for a dog.

J. M. Keith Ontario Indiana Aug 4, 1890 ---- taken from minutes from The Steuben County Old Settlers Meeting.

There has been much discussion about where the name of Angola came from, the most popular being that it was named for Angola, New York, because the people who founded it came from there.  The two men who founded Angola, Cornelius Gilmore and Thomas Gale were both from New York, but they came from eastern New York state, near the Hudson River.  They both lived in Ohio before coming to Indiana.  Interesting enough at the time Angola was platted Angola, New York was called Evans Station.  The following quote is from the Angola, New York village website.
 "Many years ago when the trains came through this area, it was called Evans Station. The people applied to the Federal Government to put a post office in this area. The Quakers had started a Colony this side of Gowanda in the Collins area and were known to help many in need. The same Quakers also helped people of Angola, Africa. In 1855, when the Angola Post Office located in Taylor Hollow (used by the Quakers) closed, the Federal Government offered it to this area and said “here is your post office” and authorities thought it best to move the post office to this area… hence the name “Angola” 

It seems highly unlikely that Angola was named for Angola, New York but than why was it named that?  It is commonly known that Thomas Gale was an abolitionist.  Could he have named the town after Angola, Africa?  We may never know for sure but the old story that Angola was named after Angola, New York seems to be just that, a story.   

Local History Dept