Kenmare ND - Upside Down Under

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Upside Down Under

By Marvin Baker, a new weekly column in The Kenmare News


Carpio lore takes center stage ...

Posted 7/21/15 (Tue)

Many of us have heard the stories about Carpio getting its name after the Soo Line Railroad plotted its tracks across North Dakota in the 1880s.

The first post office was established in July 1898 in a box car and, apparently, settlers from the area went to said box car to get their mail identified by the letters “P.O.” painted on the side.

So supposedly, the village started out without a name but soon chose Carpio and incorporated as a city in 1906.

OK! That’s one theory of how this Ward County community got its name.

Theory No. 2 is that it was named after Carpio de Vaga, a Spanish poet and dramatist who wrote more than 1,800 plays.

3.) There are stories and entries in historical documents that suggest Carpio was named after Spanish explorer Bernardo de Carpio.

Still a fourth story is that Carpio is a Spanish word that means “city of tents.”

So three of four theories are tied to the Spanish!

While searching for names and the meaning of names and so on, we ran across two people named Ricardo Carpio, one is from the Philippines and the other from Mexico, both Spanish speaking nations.

Hold that thought!

There is also La Carpio, which may be Costa Rica’s worst ghetto. Costa Rica is also a Spanish speaking nation.

La Carpio is a remote section of San Jose between two polluted rivers and a garbage dump. It seems odd that few people in Costa Rica, or San Jose for that matter have heard of La Carpio.

But it makes sense because most of the 35,000 inhabitants fled Nicaragua during its civil war in the 1980s. It’s almost a certainty that Nicaraguans, who speak Spanish, named La Carpio.

OK! Back to Ricardo Carpio. We also found reference to another Ricardo Carpio who was an Italian immigrant who came to the United States in 1923.

One of the first Italian immigrants to the United States was Alonso Del Carpio. He came to the United States in 1828.

So, apparently the surname Carpio began in Italy as early as 962 A.D.

It’s a family name from the Papal States of Italy and it is derived from a place name where the original bearer lived or held property. Carpio is actually short for Eucarpio to signify Europe.

We took this a step further to see if there are any 20th or 21st Century Carpios living in the United States from Italy or of Italian descent.

We found Guido Del Carpio, an artist of Italian ancestory who is currently living in Miami.

It seems odd that with all the Spanish names and places, Carpio would be found in Italian history  almost 500 years before the first historical Spanish entry.

One thing we couldn’t find is information of how this Italian name, which has its own crest and coat of arms, became part of Spain.

It’s most likely impossible to find anyone who was alive in the Carpio area on July 7, 1898, let alone remember the box car with the letters P.O painted on the side.

A book called “Origin of Place Names in North Dakota” refers to the first four entries listed in this article.

Unfortunately, there isn’t a finite explanation of how Carpio, North Dakota got its name. A check with the North Dakota State Historical Society turned up some confusing clues.

According to Margaret Tonneson who wrote a thesis at UND in 1959, Carpio and the Carpio post office are two separate things. In fact, Tonneson explains that Carpio was founded in 1886 and incorporated as a village in 1906.

The Carpio post office, according to Tonneson, was established in 1899 and is named after the town.

Tonneson says the most likely theory is No. 2; being named after Bernardo del Carpio “the first to explore the Des Lacs River.”

That too, is either incorrect or doesn’t exist. A search of Canadian history indicates that Pierre La Verendrye was the first European explorer in what is now North Dakota.

That happened in August 1738 and is well documented. He crossed the Des Lacs River near what is now Carpio and reached the Missouri at Crow Flies High Butte near New Town.

The only reference found for Bernardo del Carpio is in Philippine mythology. So, either he didn’t exist or he was here before La Verendrye and didn’t document it.

Let’s just be happy Carpio isn’t named after the worst ghetto in Costa Rica.