Monday, August 12, 2013

Northern Ohio

My road atlas happens to break this great state in two right across the middle.  What an excellent organizing scheme!  Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce to you the wild and weird town names of northern Ohio.  

10. Reminderville

There was something I wanted to say about this place, but I just can’t remember what it was.

Oh yeah!  You’re not going to believe me, but this place was named after one of the prominent families in the area, the Reminders.  According to the town website, the other competitor was the Grimm family.  Damned if you do and damned if you don’t, I guess.

This town of 3,400 is part of the Akron Metropolitan Statistical Area.  If you’re a little short on your Buckeye geography, that puts it in the northeast part of Ohio.  It’s right on beautiful Aurora Lake, and is bordered to the south by Liberty Park.  It looks like lots and lots of cul de sacs. 

Oh, and I’m not making that surname thing up, by the way.  Click here if you don’t believe me.

Is it just me,
or does he have a little bit of a pot?

9. Funk

For some reason, the poor folks in this town always seem to be under the weather, a little down in the dumps, feeling crummy, down in the mouth, bummed out, blue …

Wikipedia says the source of this town’s name is “not well documented.”  My guess is it’s just a surname – a surprisingly common one, as a matter of fact.  It’s from the German for “spark” – basically a nickname for a blacksmith.

It was kind of hard to find anything on this place, as most search results were for things like “Hire a funk band in Ohio,” “Dayton, Ohio: the Land of Funk,” and “Funk Lab Dance Studio: Kettering, Ohio.”  Looking it up on Google maps, I found a couple of dozen houses out in some farmland about halfway between Columbus and Cleveland.  The town is right next to the wonderfully named Funk Bottoms Wildlife Area.

I was afraid of that
(Google Images search = “Funk OH”)

8. Kunkle

Sounds like something your doctor might offer to zap off with a laser.

Well, wouldn’t you know.  It’s another German surname.  Turns out the local grocer was named Kunkle, and they named the town after him.  There’s a ton of possible meanings for this one: a maker of spindles, a spindly person, from the personal name Kuno, from a place name …

It was actually originally called Kunkle’s Corners.  Too bad it didn’t keep that name.  Celeryville (see below) would have definitely had some competition.  Other former names include Barrett’s Corners and Deer Lick.

This town of 250 is in the far northwest part of the state.  Things look pretty darn flat.

Founding father Henry Stone Kunkle
(and wife)

7. Academia

Yes, there was a college here.  Alas, Mt. Vernon College is no more.  All that’s left is the barely half-mile-long College St.

Today, Academia is basically a neighborhood on the far northwestern outreaches of the town of Mt. Vernon.  (Mt. Vernon is a decent-sized city – of 17,000 – smack dab in the middle of Ohio.)  As for Academia, the Knox County Fairgounds seem to be the main attraction. 

The hallowed groves

6. Pepper Pike

Positively perfect.  Plainly without peer.  Pure perfection. 

Well, we’ve probably got another surname here.  Chances are there was a family by the name of Pepper who lived along a local turnpike.  Once again, we’ve got a positive plethora of possibilities for that surname’s meaning: a spice merchant, a fiery person, a piper …

This “affluent” (according to Wikipedia) suburb of Cleveland has about 6,000 people.  From Google Maps, I can see lots and lots of cul-de-sacs and also more-than-your-average number of golf courses.  It’s the home of Ursuline College, a Catholic women’s school.  You can find a history of the place right here.

I wonder if they patrol Pepper Pike Park

5. Jelloway

Originally called The Way of the Jello, the town was renamed in the 1830s to make it sound more modern.

Seriously, this one’s American Indian.  The town was named after a creek, which in turn was named after an Indian chief, Tom Jelloway, whose tribe liked to camp on its banks.  It was originally called Brownsville.

This burg of maybe two dozen homes is between Funk and Academia (i.e., between Columbus and Cleveland).

This way to the jello!

4. Cranberry Prairie

No, this one isn’t that unusual.  It is, however, a genuine tongue twister.  Go ahead, try it yourself.  It’s either going to come out “cranbrairie prairie” or “cranberry pairie.”  You can’t win.

This place actually has its own historical marker.  Here’s the complete text:

The Cranberry Prairie, southwest of this marker, is a part of Ohio's natural history. The place was named for the cranberries that grew in a swamp here prior to drainage of the area. The Cranberry Prairie was created by centuries of peat accumulation in a late Ice Age lake that formed at the base of St. John's Moraine. Paleo-Indian or Early Archaic peoples probably killed the elk whose skeleton was dug up here in 1981. This elk was dated at approximately 7400 B.C.

By the 1860s, immigrant German farmers had begun transforming the swamp into fertile farmland. "Wild Bill" Simison, a legendary inhabitant, lived in the swamp and settlers respected him for his knowledge of the area. By the turn of the nineteenth century, Granville Township School #7, St. Francis Catholic Church, and Bertke's Store stood at the edge of the Cranberry Prairie.

Kale!  My favorite! (Google search = cranberry prairie oh")

3. Tawawa

Birthplace of Babwa Wawaa …

Well, actually, no.  She was born in Boston.  I think I can be pretty confident saying nobody famous was born in Tawawa.

This tiny town of maybe 30 houses is in the western part of the state.   The name comes from the Shawnee for “clear water.”  By the way, Ohio also features a Toboso.

2. Mentor-on-the-Lake

Why on the lake?  What was he doing there?  Did you have to go there every time you needed to be mentored?  Did he occasionally make house calls?

This town of 7,400 is basically a Cleveland suburb, which explains the lake part.  As for the Mentor …  Well, there is a larger city called Mentor nearby.  And that place was named after the character in The Odyssey.  And that character is where we get the term “mentor” from.  So, it really does mean what it says.  Weird, huh?

By the way, there is also a Painesville on the Lake, Geneva-on-the-Lake, and Vermillion-on-the-Lake.
$13.99 at
(yup, Sears)

1. Celeryville

Surely there are more worthy vegetables to name your town after.  I mean, all it really is is crunchy, right?  Honestly, who eats it by itself?  You gotta put peanut butter or ranch dressing on it before you can get it down.  It has no taste!

Interestingly, Celeryville actually is named after celery.  Some Dutch guy came here and planted away in the “muck lands” of north central Ohio.  The rest is history

Another website shares these fascinating celery / general vegetable facts:
  • There are 1,000,000 celery seeds in one pound
  • If combined, the vegetable farms in Celeryville would be the third largest employer in Huron County
  • The Celeryville Conservancy District maintains over seven miles of ditches

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the rolling hills of celery!

Honorable Mention:
  • B-o-r-i-n-g – Valley City, Flat Rock, Forest, Centerburg, Center Village, New Middletown, Middle Point, Ohio City, Junction, Settlement, Plain City
  • Short and sweet – Lena, Eris, Scio, Iler, Zoar, Dola, Ada, Ney, Neffs, Ink
  • Just a little out of place – just way, way too many
  • Just a little off-color – Beaverdam, Climax
  • Numerically oriented – Twinsburg, Seventeen
  • Orthographically challenged – Morral, Jewell, Justus, Luckey
  • Alliterative apotheosis – Rush Run, Sahara Sands
  • Native American mouthfuls – Chuckery, Pataskala, Tontogany, Wapakoneta (Neil Armstrong’s birthplace), Wakatomika, Tippecanoe
  • Atypical adjectives – Green, Orange, Continental, Mutual, Brilliant, Delightful, Dull
  • Abnormal nouns – Phalanx, Peninsula, Prospect, Farmer, Yankee, Diamond, Silica, Signal, Cable, Carriage, Lock, Seal, Champion, Chili, Charm, Novelty, Defiance, Assumption, Zone
  • Unconventional verbs – Convoy, Converse, Bangs, Jump
  • Fun to say – Swander, Lake Slagle, Mingo, Mogadore, Monclova, Maumee, Maximo, Philothea, Piqua, Byhalia, Bucyrus, Botkins, Burgoon, Ruggles, Erastus, Glandorf, Ashtabula
  • Hard to say – Gnadehutten, Deunquat
  • Unconventional villes – Salineville, Conesville, Lightsville, Ballville, Footville, Widowville, Worstville, Hicksville
  • Just plain weird – Honeytown, North Industry, Magnetic Springs, Mount Air, Pigeon City, Chagrin Falls, Neopolis, Uniopolis, Ft. Recovery, The Bend, Hills and Dales, Reedurban, Risingsun, Roundhead, Brokensword, Rushsylvania, Newcomerstown, Stelvideo, Fryburg, Killbuck, Cornersburg, Canal Fulton (and Canal Lewisville), New Stark, Steam Corners, Put-in-Bay (world’s largest geode), Devil Town, River Styx
  • I’d like to introduce you to – Nellie, Clyde, Wayne, Willard, Gerald, Jerome, Arthur, Arnold, Elmore, Elroy, Gomer, Rudolph, Waldo, Bono, Montezuma, Napoleon, Brady Lake, Craig Beach, Rich Hill, Grover Hill, Dolly Varden, Maria Stein
  • Ghost towns – Beagle, Wonderland
Next week: the wild and weird town names of southern Ohio.


  1. What about Blue Ball, Cockland and PeePee

  2. Really? Those are great! I'm afraid I couldn't find them on a map though. I use the Rand-McNally atlas as my guide.

  3. ...Blue Ball was recently annexed out of existence by the city of Middletown even though a number of businesses on the Dixie Highway have retained the Blue Ball name...

  4. Thanks! Good to know. You've got me real curious now ... What exactly were those businesses? I mean, I've got my guesses ...

  5. Risingsun was the birthplace of Bert J. Bingle. He was a Presbyterian clergyman whose main claim to fame was ministering along the construction route of the Alaska Highway, which was billed as "the world's longest church" in contemporary media. At least that could be a little more notable than the laundry list of dog catchers you copied from Wikipedia and pasted into that one community's entry.

    Also, I was born in Canton. I remember these two roads leading south of town, Shepler Church and Sherman Church. I also remember my mom assuring me that these names referred to settlements of some sort. I don't ever recall actually seeing a church in either case, but do remember one place being a not that terribly wide spot on the road and the other being not much larger than that.

  6. Risingsun? I don't think I have an entry for that one.