Valdosta Daily Times


October 12, 2009

What does Valdosta mean?

VALDOSTA — Lowndes County Historical Society’s planned theme of “Valle d’Aosta; Valdosta” for this week’s Annual History 100 Dinner brings to the surface a long-running debate: What is the meaning of the town’s name?

Well, really, the actual meaning isn’t debatable. The meaning, insist linguistic experts, is clear. What isn’t clear is how the city’s history has long given a different meaning to Valle d’Aosta, which was modified to Valdosta.

Jane Twitty Shelton raises the issue in her 1975 book, “Pine and Pioneers: A History of Lowndes County, Georgia 1825-1900,” a tour-de-force history of the region.

“Throughout the years, Valdostans have maintained that the phrase (Valle d’Aosta) meant Vale of Beauty,” Shelton writes. “More probably it was the Italianized version of Augusta Pretorium Salisorum (or Salassorum) the town built by the Roman emperor Augustus Caesar for his palace guard who had defeated the tribe of Salisi (Salassi).”

Shelton balances a gracious tip of the hat to the popular local lore that the name means “vale of beauty” while pointing to the real meaning.

Since 1973, Lee Bradley, now retired from Valdosta State as a professor of modern foreign language, has been instructing Valdostans on the true meaning of the town’s name.

Just because generations have claimed the meaning as “vale of beauty,” he has said, doesn’t make it right.


If not for trains, the debate over the name of Lowndes County’s central city may be whether it should be spelled Troupville, with no “e” in the middle, or Troupeville, with a silent “e” in the middle. To digress briefly, that actually is another point of contention throughout the region’s history and maps, but this story will spell it Troupville since it was named for Georgia Gov. George M. Troup.

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