Monday, August 19, 2013

Southern Ohio

Well, if this informal little survey means anything, I think people in southern Ohio are definitely weirder than those in the northern part of the state.  It’s not real scientific, mind you, but I think it’s pretty safe to say that based on the top three Southern Ohio names alone – Twightwee, Fleatown, and Knockemstiff.  Read on!

10. Kitchen

Well, the only room in the house more important than the kitchen is probably the bathroom.  Funny, though, there don’t seem to be any towns called Bathroom, OH out there.

This has to be from a surname.  And that surname basically denotes some long ago ancestor who worked in or managed a kitchen.

Not a whole lot on this one.  Apart from all the links to people who want to remodel my kitchen, serve me dinner, or provide me with a free bowl of soup before I head over to the homeless shelter, that is.

I do know, though, that it’s in the far south of Ohio, not too far from the junction with West Virginia and Kentucky.

By the way, there is also a Range OH as well.

VP candidate Paul Ryan washes some
already clean dishes in a soup kitchen
somewhere in Ohio

9. Socialville

What a friendly place!  Look at all these interesting links I could find on it:
  • Meet Socialville Ohio Single men - Free Online Dating Site
  • Meet Socialville Ohio Senior dating - Free Online Dating Site
  • free adult dating socialville ohio
  • Sex Dating Sites In Socialville Ohio
These super-friendly folks live in the northwest Cincinnati suburbs.  Couldn’t find much else on this place though.  I figure it’s one of those once-rural crossroads that’s been totally taken over by cul-de-sac land.

It is famous for its dual water towers however

8. Revenge

Would you believe this one came about from some competition between a couple of shopkeepers?  How lame.  I was hoping this would be a lot more bloodthirsty.  Kinda boring, if you ask me.

There doesn’t seem to be a lot left of this crossroads southwest of Columbus.  I did find two pages devoted to it though (probably because of the great name):
That second link is actually a book review.  Yup, there is a book out there that just so happens to be set in Revenge: Love Finds You in Revenge, Ohio, by Lisa Harris.  Here’s a description:

The only thing worse than being a spinster is being a twice-jilted spinster. At twenty-five, Catherine Morgan is hardly an old maid, but she’s given up on marriage and instead manages the family’s general store in the small town of Revenge, Ohio. Bound by a promise to care for her three sisters until they marry, she’ll do anything it takes to keep them safe. However, the town’s heriff has evidence that may stand in the way of her sister’s happiness and her own. Revenge can be stronger than love. Will a vow for vengeance arrest Catherine’s third chance for love?

No, this is not Catherine Morgan in old age.
This babe owned one of those stores.

7. Dry Run

And when they finished with this one, they went to the west a couple of miles and started a real town.

Well, the meaning of this one is actually pretty obvious.  Why anyone would want to start a town at a site without any running water is the real question.

So, we’ve got another Cincinnati suburb here.  This one’s east of the Queen City.  It boasts 7,300 Dry Runners.


6. Pyro

It’s short for pyromaniac, right?  You know, the people who like to set fires?  Just checking.  ‘Cause it doesn’t seem like an obvious name for a town.  I mean, to me at least.

This one’s not too far from Kitchen.  In fact, they’re only four miles apart.  It looks like Pyro might be the more populous of the two.  I see a couple of dozen houses.

What’s really interesting about this place, though, is that some band from Virginia borrowed the name.  Yup, most of the links you get on Google will be to the band.  Here’s a description of them from their website: www.pyroohio.com

By combining a variety of musical influences Pyro, Ohio has created a sound that is both refreshing and modern while challenging themselves and their audience with every song they write. Branching out from the post-hardcore genre and experimenting with non-standard song structures, the band seeks to write profound songs that hinge on the edge of progressive styling while also remaining accessible to listeners. The band is most commonly compared to A Day to Remember, Chiodos, Circa Survive, A Skylit Drive, and Glassjaw.

The guys in the band

5. Mudsock

Well, there are three possibilities for this one, none of which I’m buying into:
  • Horses with mud up to their fetlocks (or some other horsey anatomy part)
  • Travelers losing their boots in the mud
  • “Mud” plus a word for “sink” from some other language (Old Norse in one story, Finnish in another …)

Though there’s not much left today, Mudsock does have its share of history.  It was one of the first towns settled by the Ohio Company in what was then the Northwest Territory.  No, not the Ohio Players.  The Ohio Company.  This was a land speculation company that a bunch of Virginians – including Lees and Washingtons – organized to settle the Ohio Country, the land past the Ohio River, in the 18th Century. 

This barely-there kind of place is just west of Columbus.  I see a farm at a crossroads.  Chances are, though, that that’s probably been knocked down and a subdivision’s been put up in its place by the time you read this.

Hard to believe, but Mudsock was a fairly common name for towns.  There may, in fact, have been four others in Ohio alone.  Read more about it right here.

NOT a real university!

4. Kinnikinnick

What, wasn’t just one Kinnick enough?

Well, as you can probably guess, this one is Native American.  From Merriam-Webster online:

a mixture of dried leaves and bark and sometimes tobacco smoked by the Indians and pioneers especially in the Ohio valley

Hmm, I wonder what was in those “dried leaves.”  Was it a little of the ol’ wacky weed?  Maybe a pinch of some good, old-fashioned mary jane?  A tad of the famous wacky tobacky?  (BTW, the term means “mixture,” and is from the Delaware language.)

K-town (I’m not going to type that monster in again) is south of Columbus, a little bit north of Chillicothe (see below).  Looks like it’s a crossroads with a couple of dozen houses.  And that’s about it for this place.

I understand they have a special ingredient

3. Twightwee

My spell checker wants to change this to “tightwad,” but also to “tight wee” and “twig twee.”  All of which actually make a lot more sense than “twightwee.”

Twightwee was actually what the Delaware Indians called the Miami Indians.  How it came to be applied to these four blocks along the Little Miami River (just up from the local wastewater treatment plant) is, however, beyond me.  Twightwee is actually part of the wonderfully named Loveland, which is really just a suburb of Cincinnati. 


2. Fleatown

Truth in advertising?

Well, according to the Internets, this place was named by a local traveler after spending a sleepless night at a stagecoach stop here.  It was previously called Hog Run. 

Umm … I hate to tell you this, guys, but I’m not sure Fleatown’s really that much of an improvement.  I mean, yeah, Hog Run isn’t that great, but have you considered something like Pleasant Grove, or maybe Springfield, or even Twightwee?

This place also gets called Van Burentown.  It’s basically a handful of houses at a crossroads east of Columbus.  It’s in [snicker, snicker] Licking County.

The main attraction

1. Knockemstiff

One of the all-time greats, Knockemstiff has probably made it into every book on funny place names.

Where does it come from?  Chances are it’s a reference to moonshine, something that was quite popular in rural southern Ohio when the town was founded. 

Wikipedia calls it a ghost town, but there’s a New York Times article out there that points to some homes and a church.  Sounds like the local residents are more apt to call it Shady Grove than Knockemstiff. 

Oh, almost forgot …  The NY Times article is actually about a book that a local author wrote about growing up here.  Here’s the description from Amazon:

In this unforgettable work of fiction, Donald Ray Pollock peers into the soul of a tough Midwestern American town to reveal the sad, stunted but resilient lives of its residents. Knockemstiff is a genuine entry into the literature of place. Spanning a period from the mid-sixties to the late nineties, the linked stories that comprise Knockemstiff feature a cast of recurring characters who are irresistibly, undeniably real. A father pumps his son full of steroids so he can vicariously relive his days as a perpetual runner-up body builder. A psychotic rural recluse comes upon two siblings committing incest and feels compelled to take action. Donald Ray Pollock presents his characters and the sordid goings-on with a stern intelligence, a bracing absence of value judgments, and a refreshingly dark sense of bottom-dog humor.


Honorable Mention:
  • B-o-r-i-n-g – Stone, Roads, Newtown, Centerville, Center Station, Junction City, Midway, Midland, Middletown, Middlesburg, Plain City, The Plains
  • Short & sweet – Aid, Way, Mack, Era, Eber, Enon, Octa, Leo, Gano, Gath, Neffs, Fly
  • Just a little out of place – far too many
  • Native American mouthfuls – Moxahala, Chillicothe (first capital of Ohio)
  • Alliterative apotheosis – College Corners, Huber Heights, Powhatan Point, Point Pleasant, Pleasant Plain, Viking Village, Grape Grove
  • Orthographically challenged – Whisler, Starr, Eifort, Peebles, McLuney
  • Just a little off color – Gaysport, Hooker, Beaver, Mt. Joy, Round Bottom, Long Bottom, Blue Ball, Pee Pee
  • Numerically oriented – Seven Mile, Five Points, Twenty Mile Stand
  • Atypical adjectives – Superior, Modest, Mutual, Gratis, Senior, Stout
  • Lots of littles – Little Hocking, Little Farms, Little Walnut
  • Unconventional verbs – Cook, Dent, Dart, Wade, Goes, Plants, Veto
  • Abnormal nouns – Torch, Marathon, Arcanum, Antiquity, Felicity, Tranquility, Joy, Sunshine, Shade, Frost, Mineral, Emerald, Hue, Farmers, Patriot, Pansy, Centerfield, Getaway
  • Fun to say – Frazeyburg (world’s largest apple basket), Philo, Excello, Roxabell, Zaleski, Tuppers, Dorcas, Vandalia, Wamsley, Wilberforce, Whipple, Winkle, Wegee, Nipgen
  • Just plain weird – Commercial Point, Tradersville, Businessburg, Residence Park, Morning Sun, Sunnyland, Singing Hills, Yellowbird, Red Lion, White Cottage, Raccoon Island, Possum Woods, Young Hickory, South Olive, Franklin Furnace (Ohio & Union too), Bookwalter, Blue Ash (& Blue Rock), San Toy
  • Too many towns – Yankeetown, Frytown, Stringtown
  • Too many villes – Circleville, Coolville (Ohio’s smallest church), Outville, Guysville, Salesville, Crooksville
  • I’d like to introduce you to – Ray, Vernon, Byron, Melvin, Alfred, Pedro, Hamlet, Glen Karn, Wayne Lakes, May Hill, Tom Corwin
  • Ghost towns – Moonville

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