Lalia spent more than 20 years pouring over old land patent records, tax filings, maps, mining claims, post office records, Lewis and Clark expedition notes, old hunting guides, and personal papers to get the answer to that enduring question, “How did that place get its name?” She also traveled all over the state, interviewing old-timers.
The result was the definitive dictionary of Idaho place names. It lists the origin of hundreds of place names, from creeks to cities. Inevitably, she missed a few because names come and go. Her book follows the name changes through the years as, for instance, Taylors Ferry became Taylors Bridge, then Eagle Rock, and finally Idaho Falls.
Lalia Boone was born in 1907 in Tehuacana, Texas. She received her bachelor's in English from East Texas State College in 1938 and her master's in medieval literature and linguistics at the University of Oklahoma in 1947. In 1951, she became the first woman to receive a doctoral degree in medieval literature and linguistics at the University of Florida. She taught at the universities of Oklahoma and Florida before coming to the University of Idaho. In 1965, Boone accepted a position as a professor of English at the University of Idaho. She was a past president of the American Name Society. Boone retired from teaching in 1973. She died at 83 in 1990.