I have been having a difficult time knowing where I stand in the world today. I do not mean that in a metaphysical sense. I mean it in a literal sense. If you were to ask me where I am right now, I do not know if the answer I would give you would be correct.
When I got married more than 25 years ago, I moved into my wife’s childhood home that is sandwiched between the bypass and Kern Road in the area of old U.S. 31 South. Family, friends, and new neighbors all would tell me that I live in the Gilmer Park area. It made sense. A few blocks over was Gilmer Street. I take our dogs to Gilmer Park Animal Clinic.
I was content in Gilmer Park. My happy days came to an end one day when the on-air meteorologist announced that some nasty weather was going to hit the area. The announcer narrowed down the storm’s arrival time in specific neighborhoods. The storm was going to hit Gulivoire Park soon.
This is where my dilemma begins. The Gulivoire Park label on the weather map was right where my Gilmer Park label was supposed to be. What happened to Gilmer Park? I liked having my little place in this world and now it was taken away.
I began to question everything. Who was Gilmer and maybe they had no right to my neighborhood was a good place to start. According to Travis D. Childs, Director of Education/Oliver Historian/St. Joseph County Historian at The History Museum, “The only thing I’ve ever found out about the origins of Gilmer Park is that a Mr. Gilmer owned and/or farmed the land and eventually laid out the lots. The Gulivoire Park area we are still puzzled as to why it was named that.”
South Bend confirms the theory and offers the full name of Frank Gilmer as a possible namesake. In addition to being a prominent landowner, Gilmer was also a lawyer with political interests according to Adam Toering, Historic Preservation Administrator with the Department of Community Investment for the city of South Bend.
Gilmer was an actual person but there is still no basis for the origin of Gulivoire. At the time my quest began, the biggest user of Gulivoire was the television meteorologists and Google. Google would only tell me, through a Google search, that Gulivoire Park was a Census Designated Place (CDP). Google personnel did not return a message left at their Chicago office requesting information.
Mike Hoffman, now a retired meteorologist with WNDU television, did respond to an email confirming that the weather maps all come from The National Weather Service. “I zoomed WAY in on Google maps, and it shows a Gulivoire Park east of 31 and south of the U.S. 20 bypass. It does not show Gilmer Park, even though I’ve always thought of that area as such. And I swear it used to be on the maps we use here in the weather lab, but it doesn’t show up now when I looked,” Hoffman stated.
With Google non-responsive, the National Weather Service crushed my hopes for a resolution by telling me that they use Google maps. “If it’s not right on Google, it will show up badly on our computers,” according to Megan Dodson with the National Weather Service of Northern Indiana.
I felt I had been diverted to a dead end. The project seemed to require several months of drinking coffee, Diet Mountain Dew, and deep thought. Feeling a little refreshed, I picked up the trail by looking into some sources on the fringe of the story. Wikipedia might not always be a good source but it can be a springboard to other sources. So, it was. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) showed up as a Wikipedia source.
The USGS uses the Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) as the standard for names of geographic regions. The GNIS should be, according to Marie McCormick, Supervisory Cartographer with the GNIS, where groups such as Google and the National Weather Service get their information from.
McCormick says that Gulivoire Park comes from the Census Bureau and they “believe Gulivoire Park is an error and had asked that we remove (the name) from the GNIS.” I was feeling pretty high and mighty. It appeared as though my quest had come to an end. I still needed to hear it in simple terms so I asked McCormick if I was right and Google wrong? “In this case, yes,” McCormick said.
If I understand McCormick correctly, changes will be made and Gilmer Park will once again rise. All will depend on when other agencies and organizations update their maps. I’m not going to worry about it. I have my answer and am content. I will keep an eye on the weather broadcasts.
If I should see Gilmer Park pop up on the weather reports, I might just brag a little and say hey, I did that. But whether it be Gilmer or Gulivoire, I will probably just hope they are predicting decent, warm weather.
Contact Chris at [email protected]