ENID, Okla. —
Next time you hear that backward rumor of how Enid was named, take a stab at this fact: Enid has its roots in Arthurian legend.
According to the Oklahoma Historical Society, the town was originally known as Skeleton Station. M.A. Low, an official with the Rock Island and Pacific Railway, renamed it Enid after a character in “Idylls of the King,” written by English poet Alfred Lord Tennyson.
“When visiting the construction site in the summer of 1889, (Low) asked the name of its local station,” according to the Oklahoma Historical Society’s “Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture” by Gary L. Brown. “When told it was called Skeleton Station, he proclaimed that that name would never do; nobody would want to live in a town named Skeleton.”
Idylls of the King” is based on “Geraint and Enid,” a Welsh romance involving one of King Arthur’s knights and his beautiful bride. Here is some text from Tennyson’s poem:
“The brave Geraint, a knight of Arthur’s court, A tributary prince of Devon, one. Of that great Order of the Table Round, Had married Enid, Yniol’s only child, And loved her, as he loved the light of Heaven.”
The Online Etymology Dictionary sources Enid this way: “fem. proper name, from Middle Welsh eneit, ‘purity,’ lit. ‘soul, from PIE *ane-tyo-, from root *ane- ‘to breathe.’”
Welsh is a member of the Brythonic branch of Celtic languages.
“The name Enid is of Celtic origin, meaning the soul in its broader sense,” J.H. McKiddy of the Enid Chamber of Commerce wrote in a 1924 article titled “Enid: One of Oklahoma’s Fairest and Most Progressive Cities.”
A number of stories persist regarding the origin of Enid’s name, according to George H. Shirk’s book, “Oklahoma Place Names.” However, the author has no doubt Tennyson’s poem is the source.
Still, many claim the moniker came from a restaurant’s “dine” sign that got turned upside down.
How many of you have heard that story? That one is significantly less literary, isn’t it?
Which story do you believe and why? Write us and go to enidnews.com to vote online.