Volume V, No. 1, Fall 1977
The Ozarks are known for the many scenic land forms. When people settled this region they sometimes used the name of something unusual or common to the area. Ash Grove was named for a grove of ash trees, Long Lane for a long narrow lane fenced with rails, West Plains for its location--on the plains west of Thomasville, Grain Valley from the grain stacked by the tracks waiting to be shipped out and Otterville from the numerous otters in the area. A town between Buffalo and Bolivar was named Halfway because of its location.
Several other towns were named for their scenery such as Delight, Arkansas, in Pine County. In the 1890's a man by the name of Kirkman gave some land for a town and said that because it was such a delightful place, its name was to be Delight.
Another is Romance, Arkansas, in White County. Before the Civil War some pioneers from Kentucky came over the hills in covered wagons and settled along the peaceful creek. The community became known as Kentucky Valley. In 1884 when the town petitioned for a name, Kentucky Valley was not accepted because of confusion in postal circles. At this time the local school teacher, asked to select a name, suggested Romance, because the area looked romantic to him.
Some names were translated from the Indian name such as Deepwater, Missouri, in Henry County, from a deepwater creek. Blackwater in southern Howard County was named for a river that runs about one-fourth mile north of the town. The river is actually the Blackwater Fork of the Lamine River which is very clear. The Indians gave the darker looking fork the name Blackwater because of the murky water.
A tree marked by the Indians to indicate the route to carry their dugout canoes from the St. Francis River to the Little River, saving them time getting back to camp after hunting expedition, gave Marked Tree, Arkansas, its name.
Ha Ha Tonka, in Camdem County, Missouri, derived its name from the Osage Indians in the area. The name is said to have been the outcome of the young Indians' youthfulness. Following the trail to the spring, the young braves would sail flat, shiny tonka beans across the current of Trout Glen. From this sport came the words, Ha Ha Tonka.
R. M. Snyder later bought the area and built an estate consisting of a castle, post office, gristmill and sawmills, and general store, all on the premises. After his death, the estate was resold, and in 1872 a post office was established under the name of "Gunter's Big Spring." The name Gunter was changed to Ha Ha Tonka in 1895 through the effort of an old settler who learned from a party of old men of the Osage Indian tribe why the place was called Ha Ha Tonka.
Probably the most unusual and interesting names that I have yet come across came from George Showalter of Potosi.
"Pucky Huddle is another name given to Davisville, south of Steeleville in Crawford County. One conjecture I heard was that it was originally Puckery Huddle and was used as a term of derision. They would say, for instance, 'Them folks out there just set around in a huddle and suck on sour 'simmons.' Hence, Puckery Huddle became Pucky Huddle.
"Frumit, Missouri, is a small settlement in Franklin County. Supposedly this was a distance measure as 'How fer do you live from DeSoto?' 'I live ten miles frumit,' or something to that effect. At least that's the conjecture from an old timer.
"Buggywitch's orginal and proper name is Bourgawich, named for an early Dutch settler, Jacob Bourgawich. The 'American' Ozarker 'took no shine to many of them furrin names,' and anglicized them in their own way. The "Bourga' sound was 'furrin' to their accents, but 'buggy' wasn't. So the name became Buggywitch. And that's still the pronunciation used by most of our old-timers."
Copyright © 1981 BITTERSWEET, INC.
Next Article | Table of Contents | Other Issues
Local History Home