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The name was chosen in 1881 by Elihu B. Gifford when a post office was established. In May, 1878, Gifford had traveled overland in a wagon train to Spokane with about 40 others from the village of Mondovi, Wisconsin. He later moved to this new settlement in Lincoln County. Gifford was a scholarly man and evidently had been instrumental in naming the Wisconsin town for a town in northwest Italy where the French general Napoleon defeated Sardinian forces on April 22, 1796.