Kannapolis might not be city of looms

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 11, 2009

By Emily Ford
KANNAPOLIS ó For years, newspaper reporters and historians have perpetuated the notion that Kannapolis means “city of looms.”
They are wrong, according to two authorities. “It’s just not true,” said Kannapolis historian Norris Dearmon. “I’ve had a dickens of a time trying to correct this.”
Many people believe that Kannapolis is a Greek translation meaning “city of looms” or “city of threads.” While that makes a better lead in a news story, the name Kannapolis comes, quite simply, from its founding father, J.W. Cannon, Dearmon said.
“Without equivocation, I can say the name means ‘Cannon’s town,’ ” said Dr. Gary Freeze, chairman of the history and politics department at Catawba College.
The first reference to a new town called Cannon City appeared in 1906 in a Concord newspaper, Freeze said.
Apparently, either millworkers or newspapers then dubbed the town “Cannapolis.” The Cabarrus County Commission officially named the town Kannapolis after receiving a letter from Cannon making that request.
No one knows how the “C” became a “K,” Dearmon and Freeze said.
Possibly, Cannon used a “K” to differentiate his new venture from his older mill village in Concord, where he’d run into some disagreements with city leaders, Dearmon said.
While “polis” means city-state in Greek, the closest translation for “kanna” is reeds, said Dearmon.
Regardless, Cannon would not have turned to Greek to name his new town, Freeze and Dearmon agreed.
“Jim Cannon didn’t study Greek,” Freeze said.
As Kannapolis enters its second quarter-century as an incorporated city, historians and longtime residents likely will continue to debate just exactly what the name means.