Saturday, April 14, 2012

brain trees

So I was wondering, how did Braintree, Massachusetts get its name? Is there such a thing as a brain tree, and were there a lot of them in that place back in the early days?

What would a brain tree look like?

Firing up the old search engine, I soon discovered that Braintree is named after a town in Essex (eastern), England, and is called that because it's named after, you know, that other place. Back to the old drawing board.

Searching again, I hit paydirt. "The origin of the name," my source informed me, "is obscure."

In Norman times the place was called Brantry and sometimes Branchetreu, as it is in the Domesday Book. That Frenchified name means "town by the river," and the Brain River obligingly runs through it.

For an anglophone speaker, it's a short hop from "Brantry" to "Braintree," and there apparently is no such thing as a brain tree. Glad you asked.

Photo: an old postcard showing the Thayer Academy, Braintree, MA.

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