Monday, April 15, 2013

Mississippi

Mississippi may be last in the nation in everything else, but it sure does have its share of oddly named little burgs.

10. Sweatman

Would it spoil it for you if I told you it was pronounced “sweet man”?  (And that’s what the surname means too, BTW.)

However it’s pronounced, it looks like this place is a crossroads, with about a half a dozen houses.  It’s in north-central Mississippi.  And that’s about all I could find on this one, folks. 

Oh, by the way, Mississippi also features a Quitman.  That one’s a surname too, and means “freeman.”

9. Pascagoula

Mississippi has no shortage of crazy Native American names.  I’m talking Hushpuckena, Bolatusha, Buckatunna, Eastabuchie, and lots more.  I went with Pascagoula mainly because of its size and prominence.

Pascagoula has a population of 26,000 people.  It also includes the headquarters of Mississippi’s largest company, Ingalls Shipbuilding, as well as one of Chevron’s largest refineries.  Finally, it’s also the birthplace of Jimmy Buffet (it is on the coast).

The name?  It comes from the tribe of Indians who lived there.  The name means “bread eaters.”

Pascagoula welcomes Hurricane Katrina!  (Ouch!)

8. Senatobia

I love portmanteau words.  You know, bromance, cremains, ginormous, metrosexual, tofurkey …
So, I take it we’ve got a combination here of senate and, um, er …  Huh!  You know, I don’t think I have a clue.

Well, I was totally wrong.  Turns out Senatobia is from the Chickasaw word senatahoba, which means “white sycamore.” 

The town’s in the very northwest corner of the state, within commuting distance of Memphis.  It’s big time – county seat, population of 7,000, and a shooting location for The People Vs. Larry Flynt.

“The star's five points represent
Industry, Citizenship, Agriculture, Recreation, and Education.
The acronym is ICARE.”

7. Noxapater

If I remember my Latin correctly, this translates directly as “harmful father.”  Can that be?

Well, Noxapater is indeed from another language.  But it’s Choctaw, not Latin.  It could mean “little bullets” (naki chipinta), “wide banks” (anaksi putha), or “trigger.”

This town of 420 is just northeast of the center of the state.  Most of the search results have something to do with the local high school’s football team.

You wouldn’t understand

6. Itta Bena / Nitta Yuma

Baby talk or Choctaw?

Well, it’s definitely the latter for the first one.  “Itta bena” is Choctaw for “forest camp,” or “home in the woods.”  It  was the name of a former plantation.  Today, the town’s got 2,200 people and is the home of Mississippi Valley State Univ. (where Jerry Rice played).  It’s also the birthplace of Marion Barry, former mayor of Washington D.C. and celebrity crack head.

As for Nitta Yuma?  Well, all I could find out was that it was named after another plantation and that the original Indian name had something to do with bears.  Today, it’s your typical little crossroads, with about a dozen houses.

Home, home in the woods ...

5. Whynot

There are a couple of Whynots out there, including one in my home state of NC.  The typical punchline with these burgs is that, at a meeting to come up with a name for the new town, some frustrated and tired town father calls out, “Well, why not name it Whynot,” the meeting adjourns, and everyone goes to bed.

Well, I hate to break it to you all, but Whynot is actually a not uncommon surname.  I talk a little about it in the first post of this blog.

Whynot, MS is in the east-central part of the state.  It’s basically a couple of roads, a couple of houses and one big ol’ dirt track raceway.

Oh, almost forgot …  David Ruffin, of the Temptations, was born here.

We wuz so proud of our Daddy!

4. Panther Burn      

So, here’s what I found on the Internet:

Panther Burn was a large 19th century plantation outside of Greenville where legend had it a malcontented panther stalked and terrorized the local population until it was corralled into a cane break and set aflame. According to witnesses, the screams coming from the panther were an unholy amalgam of animal lust and divine transubstantiation, which continue to curse the plantation.

That’s also total BS, by the way.  “Burn” is simply an old-timey word for a stream or brook. 

This tiny little crossroads is in the east central part of Mississippi.  There’s also a band out there of the same name.  You’ll probably get more hits for them than you will for the town.

Panther Burn nightlife

3. Primsatic

Okay, we’ve got several choices here.  I quote from Merriam-Webster online:
  • relating to, resembling, or constituting:
    • a polyhedron with two polygonal faces lying in parallel planes and with the other faces parallelograms
    • a transparent body that is bounded in part by two nonparallel plane faces and is used to refract or disperse a beam of light
  • formed by a prism
  • resembling the colors formed by refraction of light through a prism
  • having such symmetry that a general form with faces cutting all axes at unspecified intercepts is a prism
  • highly colored, brilliant
I’m thinking the last one, but I couldn’t find much of anything on this place.  It does seem to be on MapQuest, but it’s basically a crossroads in the woods with a single home.  It’s on the east side of the state.

Downtown Prismatic in the snow

2. Chunky

I can just see the headlines: “Primsatic Man Weds Chunky Woman.”

Chunky is actually from the Choctaw word for martin (the bird).  Or, it might be from a Choctaw ball game called “chunka.”  Or …

Wherever it came from, it’s now got about 350 people.  It’s in the eastern part of the state, not too far from Meridian. 

Wanna see a really stupid video of some idiot shock jock in NYC calling up places in Chunky just for fun?  Then click here.

 
Decisions, decisions ...

1. D’Lo

Named after an early 19-Century rapper?

Afraid not.  But would you believe it’s French?  Yup.  The original explorers of the area – who just so happened to be French – labeled it “de l'eau sans potable” (“bad drinking water”) on their maps.  Now, run that through your Mississippi Redneck Translatin’ Machine a couple of times, and that’s what you come out with – D’Lo.

But would you believe the poor place started out as Millhaven?  There’s a huge plantation of that name in the state, so my guess is the Postmaster General probably felt like the name had already been taken and asked the locals for something else.

Today, D’Lo is a small town of 400, just southeast of Jackson.  As recently as WWII, when the lumber mills were going full-bore, it had a population over 5,000. 

That's Mr. Non-potable Water to you, suckah!

Honorable Mention:

  • B-o-r-i-n-g – Centerville, Mississippi City, Mississippi State, Valley, Lake, Pond, Forest, House, New Town, New Site
  • Short & sweet – Moss, Lux, Hub, Way, West, Twin, Arm, Ora, Oma, Eta, Zama, Zeo, Soso
  • Just a little out of place – Little Rock, Topeka, Kokomo, Peoria, Michigan City, Philadelphia, Washington, Raleigh, Little Texas, Houston, Reno, Brazil, Quito, Edinburg, Dublin, Hamburg, Denmark, Paris, Rome, Carthage, Warsaw, Moscow, Sebastopol, Damascus, Diamondhead, Dahomey
  • Orthographically challenged – Peoples, Pyland, De Lay, Wanilla, Scooba
  • Numerically oriented – Ten Mile
  • Native American mouthfuls – Biloxi, Bogue Chitto (“big creek”), Ofahoma (“red dog”), Looxahoma, Toomsuba, Tillatoba, Tocopolo (“bad prairie”), Tougaloo, Pelahatchie, Arkabutla, Sabougla, Shubuta, Shuqualuk
  • Atypical adjectives – Rich, Savage, Askew, Basic, Picayune, Ecru
  • Unconventional verbs – Reform, Improve, Marks, Shivers
  • Abnormal nouns – Walnut, Petal, Alligator, Birdie, Sanatorium, Derma, Love, Merit, Hero, Zero, Hurricane, Heads, Sledge, Stringer, Barking, Midnight, Money, Value, Tyro, Thrashers, Errata
  • Fun to say – Sessums, Fentress, Pickwick, Tutwiler, Gluckstadt, Hinkel, Crotts, Ozona, Old Houlka, Meshulaville, Little Yazoo, Renova, Bovina, Iuka, Tippo, Bobo
  • Just plain weird – Dentville, McCool, Oil City, Cotton Plant, Tie Plant, Electric Mills, French Camp, Rolling Fork, Forkville, Eggville, Woolmarket, Red Lick, Pass Christian, Freeze Corner, Possumneck, Buck Snort, Ras Paulding, Hot Coffee, Hard Cash, Rough Edge
  • Too many towns – Bear Town, Guntown, Stringtown, Jumpertown
  • I’d like to introduce you to – Ted, Clem, Ethel, Ebeneezer, Olive Branch, Holly Bluff, Jeff Davis, Oliverfried (real guy)

2 comments:

  1. I grew up in mc cool and Ethel there was also a near town named after an Indian it was kosciusko and also another small but weird town close by was possum neck.

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  2. Kosciusko was actually named after Thaddeus Kosciusko, a Pole who fought on the side of the Americans during the Revolutionary War. Other Kosciuskos appear in Indiana, Texas, Alaska, and Missouri.

    ReplyDelete