We live near Colville, WA (pronounced call-ville)and many of our neighbors pronounce it coal-ville. Since it is a Native American name I have a problem explaining to them when I correct them as to how it should be pronounced. I usually ask them "How do you pronounce Collie? It also has an e at the end." as they usually give that as a reason. Can you give me some better ammunition to hit these people with? Thanks :)
Colville is actually not an Native American name. The name of the reservation comes from Fort Colville, a Hudson's Bay Company outpost of the 1820's, the site of which is now submerged under Lake Roosevelt. The fort itself was named after Hudson Bay's Andrew Wedderburn Colville, for whom the river in Alaska was also named. Though Andrew Colville was British, the name was originally French (which explains the ville). In French col meant, and means, "neck, gorge, strait, pass between hills." So Colville would have originally meant something like "the town in the pass or gorge."
None of which helps much in determining a pronunciation. However, the descendant modern English word col also meaning "mountain pass or gap in a ridge," is pronounced with a short <o>, rhyming with the first syllable of collar (to which it is historically related), which would support your preferred pronunciation. On the other hand, when it comes to proper names, not history but usage tends to prevail. And when there is disagreement, as there often is (as for instance over the pronunciation of both parts of Los Angeles) about all we can do is duke it out until one side or the other succumbs, somewhat like the situation with the variant pronunciations of words like either, neither, tomato, and aunt.
You're right about the final silent <e> not affecting the pronunciation of the <o>: It's a fossil of the old French feminine noun marker, as in modern words such as endsville, dullsville, grille, cigarette and the like.