Origins of the Name Chili

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"The first settlers of the Town of Chili were by and large Yankees, that is New Englanders of pronounced type. They brought with them the customs and manners peculiar to all inhabitants of New England. Many of these settlers were educated and could read and write. Many were also veterans of the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812. They had fought for independence, democracy and freedom from Great Britain's monarchy. They were well aware of world politics by reading newspapers and letters from friends and relatives from New England.

News articles in the Rochester Telegraph and the Rochester Advertiser contained articles about Chili, South America's fight for independence during 1818-1829. Two addresses to Congress, by President James Monroe referred to the country of Chili in South America and its fight for freedom. The country of what is now spelled Chile, South America was spelled "Chili" in these early articles, as well as President Monroe's Addresses, geography books, etc. The New England settlers in Chili, New York would certainly have spelled the name "Chili" as most Americans at the time.

While Monroe County was petitioning the State of New York to be a new county separate from Genesee and Ontario, the people in Chili were also petitioning the state to become a separate town from the Town of Riga. Along with Chili, the Town of Greece was another town petitioning the state to become separated from the Town of Gates. Greece is another example of naming a town after a country's fight for freedom and it was also formed in 1822.

Having a distinct accent, the early settlers could have easily pronounced the name of their new town using the long "i's" as had been done with Riga, Lima and Castile. It is this pronunciation of Riga, Lima, and Castile that had lasted until this very day. The original pronunciations are "Ree-ga," "Lee-ma" and "Cas-teel."

More concrete evidence, such as the book, Rochester : A Story Historical by Jenny Marsh Parker, published in 1884. In a Chapter titled, "The Old Files," p.214 she notes, "The township of Greece is also named at this time, as was Chili at another to commemorate the Chilean strike for freedom." In addition, an article by Rear Admiral Franklin Hanford, USN (Ret.) in the Rochester Historical Society Publication, Volume V. p.50, published in 1926, and an article titled, "Stagecoach Towns," written by Arch Merrill, and reprinted from the Democrat and Chronicle, Rochester, New York, both bolster the view that Chili was, indeed, named after the country of Chile in South America."

Copyright © by Town of Chili, New York All Right Reserved.

(taken with no regard for copyright from the [WWW]Town of Chili website from the historian's page.)