Almost half of Michigan's county names are completely made up. This is due to the work of Henry Schoolcraft, a geographer in the early- to mid-1800s. When he was off surveying the areas that would eventually become counties, he got to name them, and he got pretty creative. Schoolcraft particularly enjoyed combining elements from several languages. The county names Alcona, Algona, Allegan, Alpena, Arenac, Iosco, Kalkaska, Oscoda, and Tuscola were all splicings of Latin, Arabic, and/or local languages to make it sound as if the area has a rich native history (which it did, but Schoolcraft overdid it). Not to mention Schoolcraft county itself and Leelanau county, after his wife's pen name. So, right now, we have at least ten county names in Michigan which are total gibberish. I feel like he did this only to confuse future etymologists.
Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic, a senior studying government and linguistics at Harvard University, where I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.