An Elgin Movement for Blaney
Blaney residents voted 61-16 Tuesday in favor of changing their town’s name to Elgin, honoring the new Elgin Watch Company plant rising nearby. Mayor E. C. Potter stands beside his town’s limit holding a watch as time winds down on the election. The watch? It’s not a Blaney. (Staff Photo by Richard Taylor)
By Mont Morton
Staff Writer for The State
BLANEY – In this town’s biggest election since the invention of ballot boxes, Blaney residents gave an open-arms Tuesday to the new Elgin Watch Company plant by voting 61-16 to change the community name to Elgin.
As votes ticked off, there was little doubt that a record turnout was honoring the plant rising one mile north of the town limits. Seventy-seven votes were case, or about 95 per cent of the electorate in this Kershaw County hamlet.
Mayor E. C. Potter predicted the outcome. He watched and listened with dozen of townspeople as the ballots were tabulated in the magistrate’s office fronting U. S. Highway 1.
By the time the count climbed to 45-15 in favor of “Elgin”, several citizens stepped outside, shook their heads and began trying the new word on their tongues.
Before the change becomes official, the referendum results will have to be approved by the secretary of State and ratified by the General Assembly.
This means that Blaney will remain Blaney until at least January, when the legislature convenes.
Several townmens stood outside long after the results were announced.
“They might put Elgin down,” one remarked, “but we’ll still be Blaney in our hearts.”
He conceded he didn’t expect the balloting to be so one-sided, and added, “I’m 100 percent in favor of the plant coming here, and proud of the work done by (Kershaw County) Sen. (John) West in bringing the plant here . . .”
Another minority leader said, “It’s like somebody being taken out of your family. If Blaney had been the name of a Confederate general, we’d lave licked them. . .”
But he also praised the plant’s coming.
A leader in the honor Elgin movement was E. T. Bowen, who’s lived in Blaney for 44 years. Bowen expressed sympathy for his neighbors who, as himself, attended the Blaney School, brought drugs from the Blaney Drug Store and marked moths on a calendar advertising the Blaney Hardware Store.
But the name “Blaney” has no outstanding historic sentiment and is not a local family name. Bowen explained. It was the name of a railroad executive given to the community when the railroad line was built nearby.
“The old names around here are the Rosses and Roses and Nelson and Jeffers and Goffs,” Bowen said. “None of them ever told of meeting Mr. Blaney.”
Blaney residents, some still rolling the new name on their tongues, bandied abaout the issue created Monday when a delegation from the Elgin community in Lancaster County came wit a petition opposing the change.
Situated 45 miles away, the other Elgin is applying for incorporation. It has no post office. “It’s a confusing tale of two towns,” one offered. Maybe we should have changed ours to Elgin 21.”
“What’s so confusing?” Demanded another, “There’s a Blaney in Kansas.”
But the change was approved by a thumping margin Tuesday. Barring unexpected movements, Blaney becomes Elgin in January.