I’ve been in kind of a writing slump lately … until a recent morning.
After a little good-natured (no content to speak of) conversation at the coffee shop, I mentioned a Facebook post from a Louisiana preacher friend who wrote, “Tell us of a town/city with a most unusual name and where they got it. For instance, near the town of Palmerdale, Ala., is Remlap. That’s ‘Palmer’ spelled backward. Know of any good ones?” (Thanks, Joe McKeever!)
Some of the comments on Joe’s Facebook page follow. I’m copying and pasting (and not crediting anyone with any comment). Hope they (and Joe) don’t mind:
- Hot Coffee, Miss.
- Salty Bottoms, Ala.
- Soso, Miss. The postman many years ago always said “soso” in response to “How ya doing?,” and when they incorporated the town, it was named “Soso.”
- Plainview, Texas, in the Panhandle of West Texas, supposedly gained its name from the cowboy courting his girlfriend. He drove out of town in his buggy for several miles to have privacy but still was in “plain view” of everyone in this almost completely flat and treeless countryside. (I grew up 40 miles from Plainview. “Flat/treeless” fits very well.)
- Ninety-Six, S.C., so named because it was located 96 miles from Keowee, S.C., then a chief settlement for the Cherokee.
- Near the town of Shelby, N.C. is the town of Casar. Story goes that they wanted to be uppity and show their worldly knowledge and wanted to be named after the leaders of Rome; however, they misspelled Caesar.
- Tick Bite, N.C.
- Lizard Lick, N.C.
- Big Ugly, W.Va. (The man who posted this on Facebook wrote, “Always wondered how Big Ugly Baptist Church would go over.”)
- You drive through Marrowbone to get to Hell for Certain, which is over the hill from Neon in eastern Kentucky. There is not (yet) a Hell for Certain Baptist Church.
- In Oklahoma, you can go over to Moon or stop in Hooker. Visit two towns called Forty-One and another called IXL. You can also visit Gay or Straight, Okla. Finally, make sure to visit Bugtussle and Bushyhead.
- From Mississippi: Hell’s Creek Bottom, Swamp Bottom, Doglap, Arm, Improve, Grin, Chickenbone, Chunky and Bobo.
- From Tennessee: Bucksnort, Bugscuffle, Bugtussle, Arp, Difficult, Nameless, Nantipoo.
- Toad Suck, Ark.
- Frog Jump, Tenn.
- Skullbone, Tenn.
- Blue Ball, Pa.
- Intercourse, Pa.
- Cut and Shoot, Texas
- Panther Burn, Colo.
- Romeoville and Joliet in Illinois
- It, Miss.
When I read some of those city/town names, the coffee shop guys immediately had a great conversation during which the following Texas towns were mentioned:
- Odessa, (named after a Ukranian port city)
- Sycamore, (named because of the abundance of the Sycamore trees when they were naming the city in the mid 1890s)
- Old Glory was founded in 1904 by a group of German immigrants who named the village, “Brandenburg.” The name was later changed to “New Brandenburg.” Then because of strong sentiments after World War I, the name was changed to “Old Glory.”
- Telephone got its name after multiple tries with unacceptable (already-used) names. Finally, in frustration, the submitters wrote, “Telephone” and sent it to Austin.
- Slidell, named in 1884. Since most of the original settlers were southerners, they named their new community in honor of John Slidell, a Confederate diplomat.
- An official “ghost town” now, Estacado (12 miles from our Joiner farm in Lorenzo) was established in 1879 as a Religious Society of Friends (Quaker) colony. In the early part of the 20th century, they re-located and established the community that is now Friendswood.
- Clarendon was established in 1878 by a Methodist clergyman (L.H. Carhart) as a “sobriety settlement.”
I’ve tried to research most of these names and think they’re on the level but can’t say for sure. I might have made some of them up on purpose. Might have made some of them up by mistake.
Bobby Wilson told us that Littlefield was named by/for a man named George Washington Littlefield. I immediately mentioned Bobby’s gift of making stuff up and making you believe it. I was sure that the name could be traced to some agricultural practice or geography … or something besides a surname.
You might Google “Littlefield, Texas history” to see if Bobby was correct. I did.
Then Bobby told a story about a young guy who came to town and told a man at the drug store he had caught a 4-pound fish. A friend overheard the same fisherman tell another man he had caught a 6-pound fish … and then another that he’d caught a 7-pounder.
When questioned about his ever-larger fish, the fellow replied, “You never want to tell someone a story that’s any larger than they’ll believe.”
Gerre Joiner is a semi-retired church musician and has lived in Decatur since 1999.