Monday, April 22, 2013

Missouri

Show you what, exactly? 

Of all the state mottos out there, Missouri’s has to be the worst.  Wait a minute, we almost forgot Alabama, didn’t we?  So, show me a yellow hammer, would ya? 

Ah, never mind.  Just show me some crazy Missouri town names, okay?

10. Blue Eye

This place is supposedly named after the first postmaster, blue-eyed Elbert N. Butler.  I’m buying the first part (it was actually a pretty common practice), but not the second.  Why not just call the place Butler, or Elbert?  Huh?
                                                                                                        
This town of 167 is actually part of Branson, the hillbilly Vegas.  It’s also right on the Arkansas border.  In fact, there’s also a Blue Eye, Arkansas (pop. 36).  Local high school athletes play for the Blue Eye Bulldogs.

A Blue Eye(d) Bulldog

9. Current View

This place is right on the Arkansas border too, but over to the east. 

It’s also on the Current River.  Which explains the name of the town.  Which is a pretty damn lame name for a river, if you ask me.

As much as I like the name Current View, I think I much prefer the previous one, Buck Skull.  So what’s there today?  Well, we’ve got some houses, some trailers, some dirt roads, a convenience store, and Jake’s Bar.


8. Humansville

Not a bad idea.  You want to attract humans to your new town, and not gophers or armadillos or some other kind of creature.  So why name it something like Gopherville, or East Armadillo, or Donkeytown?  Makes no sense.  You want to name it after what you want to populate the place with, right?  Humans.  That’s what you want.  So, Humansville it is.

Well, it seems to have worked.  Humansville currently has just over 1,000 of them.  These humans have a newspaper, a high school, a fire department, several churches, a cemetery, a fall festival, and many more examples of advanced human civilization.  

Okay, I think I’ve ridden that one about as far as it’s going to go ...  Would you believe the town was named after one James G. Human?  Yup, he was the first settler.  The surname actually comes from the word “yeoman,” which means a free farmer.

Humans.  Tigers.  Humansville Tigers. 
I’m so confused

7. Devils Elbow

It’s hard to believe, but the origin of this town name would have to be described as “descriptive.”  Yup, it’s on a bend of the Big Piney River that is very sharp and could, in fact, be called rather devilish.  That was especially the case if you were an early lumberman, trying to get your logs downstream.

Devils Elbow also so happens to be on old Route 66.  In fact, Devils Elbow is the site of the famous Munger Moss Sandwich Shop, a real institution on the old Mother Road.  It’s still there, but is now a biker bar called the Elbow Inn. 

I know all this probably doesn’t mean much to you, but as an old highway aficionado, I feel like I’ve died and gone to heaven.

The Elbow Inn
(and, yes, those are bras on the ceiling)

6. Braggadocio

You know, it’s a good thing to be proud of your town.  But were the town fathers who named this place aware that braggadocio means “boastful or arrogant behavior”?

So, where did it come from?  From a University of Missouri website:

Three theories about the origin of the name are held in the vicinity.  One is that the first settler was a man named Bragg who combined his name with that of his wife, Docio, and so named the settlement.  The second theory is similar: a man of this settlement was continually bragging about his wife Docio – about her beauty, wit, and merit, so that people mockingly named the place for the man who was always "bragging on Docio."  The third theory is that the early settlers were such boastful people that this name grew up as descriptive of the settlers.  The first two of these theories are of the familiar type known as "aetiological" or "ex post facto" explanations and may be safely disregarded [Editor:  How many women do you know named Docio?], though they are widely repeated.  The third is more plausible.  Mocking names of this type are fairly common in Missouri; Cf. Gasconade, said to have received its name for precisely the same reason.

Braggadocio is in the boot heel of Missouri, that strange little hook in the far southeast of the state.  The town’s basically a crossroads, at the intersection of Missouri J and Missouri Z, in the middle of a bunch of fields.  Looks really, really flat.

Hmm.  Not sure what they're
getting all braggadocio about,
if you ask me

5. Knob Noster

Would you believe it’s Latin?  No, not the “knob” part.  The “noster” part.  That means “our,” so Knob Noster basically means “our knob.” Make sense?

Oh, the knob part?  It’s really just a local geographic feature.  They could be Indian burial mounds, they could be hills, they could be … heck, I don’t know. 

The town itself?  It’s actually got about 2,800 people.  Its main claim to fame is nearby Whiteman Air Force Base, where all those B-2 Stealth Bombers fly out of.  Knob Noster is about halfway between Kansas City and Jefferson City.

B-2 over Knob Noster

4. Conception Junction

I don’t know.  Just sounds kinda dirty.

Well, wouldn’t you know – it’s not dirty at all.  It’s a railroad junction near the town of Conception, which was named after nearby Conception Abbey, which is full of very holy - and not dirty at all - Benedictine monks.

This town of 200 people is in the far northwest of the state.  It was in the news recently for a rare meteorite that fell in a local farmer’s field.  That meteorite actually got its own name, the Conception Junction Pallasite, and website.

Very happy geochemist Randy Korotev,
with Pallasite

3. Knob Lick

This unfortunate combination can be explained.  As I mentioned above, a knob is a small, rounded, freestanding hill.  A lick is a naturally occurring salt spring.  Put the two together, and you get a …  um … a, er … really unfortunate name for your little town.

For such a wonderfully named place, there’s surprisingly little on it.  There is a Scout ranch nearby.  It’s about 50 miles due south from St. Louis.

There is also a Knob Lick, Kentucky, by the way.


2. Tightwad

Now, here’s a town after my own heart.

Needless to say, there’s a great tall tale behind this one.  It involves a farmer (or postal employee), a store owner (or farmer), and an overpriced watermelon (or rooster, or whatever).  You can guess the rest.

My feeling is that Tightwad is probably a lot like Braggadocio.   You know, the people of this little burg probably got a reputation for squeezing a dollar, were quite proud of the fact, and officially adopted what had been only a nickname up to then.

This town of 70 is just southeast of Kansas City.  It’s the proud home of Tightwad Bank, an honest-to-goodness, FDIC-insured financial institution.  With such a great name, it should come as no surprise that the bank appeared in The Washington Post and Forbes.

I understand they have a cents of humor

1. Peculiar

I don’t know what it is about this place.  It seems a little unusual, a little different.  I can’t say exactly.  Something odd, something unusual, something, something ...  I really just can’t put my finger on it.   

Well, would you believe that, when this town was named, “peculiar” wasn’t such a peculiar thing to call a town?  Yup, back in 1868, when this place was named, “peculiar” did not have as negative a connotation as it does today.  It meant something along the lines “out of the ordinary” or “uncommon.”

Of course, there is no shortage of tall tales about this one too.  I’ll spare you those.

I really liked the spin the town’s website put on the whole issue:

A community that is peculiar in name only.  A name which has overshadowed our rich history.  Yet, this peculiar name has somehow set apart persons associated with it, creating a chemistry, within them, which makes them very important to each other.

This metropolis of 4600 is very close to KC (less than ten miles away).  It has one famous son, Pro Football Hall of Famer Paul Coffman.  Finally, Peculiar’s motto has also got to be one of the all-time classics: “Where the ‘odds’ are with you.”

Plus it spawned this book
(highly recommended)

Honorable Mention:

  • B-o-r-i-n-g – Pond, Missouri City, Halfway, Centerville, Centertown, Centerview, Centralia, Center
  • A bad case of the cities – Junction City, Cobalt City, King City, Kingdom City, Mound City, Stark City, Avenue City
  • Short and sweet – Aid, Ocie, Meta, Bona, Bem, Black, Bliss, Bland, Safe, Solo, Stark, Champ, Cash, Coal, Foil, Tiff (and Tiff City), Couch
  • Just a little out of place – too darn many
  • Pardon my French – La Tour, La Due, Femme Osage, Des Arc, Auxvasse
  • Just a little off-color – Butts, Hooker, Climax Springs, Cooter
  • Numerically oriented – Twin, Twelve Mile, Number Eight, Many Springs
  • Native American mouthfuls – Nodaway, Lake Lotawana, Sarcoxie (“As Tall As He Is,” a chief), Koshkonig, Nishnabotna
  • Missourians can't spell – Lampe, Faucett, Leemon, Coffey, Senath, Clubb, Triplett, Sublette, Plad, Purdy
  • Abnormal nouns – Daisy, Diamond (G.W.Carver birthplace), Viola, Tempo, Turtle, Tunas, Sturgeon, Hornet, Battlefield, Bunker, Fidelity, Charity, Prosperity, Novelty, Success, Defiance*, Competition, Colony, Agency, Arab, Judge, Gipsy, Farmer, Forker, Gumbo, Lemons, Lupus, Pepsin, Polo, Frisbee, Sleeper, Rover, Roach
  • Atypical adjectives – Umber, Grassy, Fertile, Liberal, Handy, Clever, Useful, Flat, Hollow, Mystic
  • Too much green – Green Ridge, Green City, Forest Green, Greentop, Green Castle
  • Unconventional verbs – Advance, Revere, Rescue, Strain, Stet, Shook, Licking
  • Fun to say – Trimble, Hemple, Crocker, Spickard, Scopus, Protem, Foose, Almartha, Vandalia, Excello, Hocomo, Cabool, Zalma, Zanoni, Puxico, Dongola
  • Just plain weird – Fair Play, Doolittle, Cowgill, Red Bird, Black Walnut, Bean Lake, Malta Bend, French Village, Olympian Village, Windyville, Brinktown, College Mound, Town and Country*, Country Life Acres*, Clover Bottom, Chain of Rocks, Iron Gates, West Eminence, Hurricane Deck, Airport Drive, Long Lane, West Line, Old Mines, Bellefontaine Neighbors, Marys Home, Velda Village, Velda Village Hills, Peerless Park, Big Piney, Low Wassie, Pure Air, Black Jack, Lone Jack, Jerk Tail
  • Just mash ‘em all together, would ya? – Longrun, Brownbranch, Biblegrove, Eveningshade, Mindenmines, Fairdealing, Frankclay, Claycomo
  • I’d like you to meet – Jane, Clyde, Archie, Festus*, Elmo, Thomas Hill, Rich Hill, Rich Fountain, Wilbur Park, Dennis Acres, Carl Junction, Gregory Landing, Rocky Comfort, Frankenstein
  • Ghost towns – Main City, Little Compton, Times Beach, Cull, Far West, Splitlog, Half Rock, Pink Hill, Barren, Jollification

* - author has visited

6 comments:

  1. Loved and enjoyed it so much...I shared!!!

    http://wp.me/p34aHw-hC

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  2. We spell the household item that is used to light your way-lamp.
    We pronounce the town Lampie.

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  3. You're kidding! So, you're saying not only can Missourians not spell, but they can't speak properly either! Incredible!

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  4. You forgot Rat and Enough and don't forget about Ink!

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  5. i think Useful is a ghost town...is there even a sign along hwy 50 any more?

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  6. Thanks for those last 3. I would definitely have included them if they met my original criteria - big enough to find on a Rand-McNally atlas. Now, that definitely leaves a lot of gems out, but can you imagine how long this blog would be otherwise? ;^)

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