Volume IV, No. 3, Spring 1977
AND OTHER UNUSUAL PLACE NAMES
complied by Teresa Maddux
Many villages and towns in Missouri and Arkansas were named to perpetuate the the name of an original settler or some person in the community. Diggins was named after a train engineer; Roby in 1883 after Cyrus A. Roby; Moody in 1880 after a family (Maude Moody was first postmaster); Summersville after the Summer family who moved from Tennessee in 1840; Bragg City in honor of William Bragg to replace the first name of Clayroot; and Lynchburg after Dr. Ransom Lynch who was instrumental in establishing the post office in 1897.
Another way of finding a name was to have a contest. To pick a name for Owensville in Gasconade County, the men held a big horse shoe tournament. The winner would have his name placed before the word "ville." Owens was the winner.
Occasionally people had to compromise. Two families, Knight and Lay, lived in a small commumity is southern Laclede County. Both families wanted the place named after them. Each gave a little and called it Twilight.
Many places have changed their names. Flippin, Arkansas, was once called Goatville for a rather feisty old goat that butted the seat of a disgruntled and unsuccessful traveling salesman as he boarded his hack. In 1850 the name was changed to Flippin Barrens after Thomas J. Flippin, one of the first settlers who in 1820 moved near an Indian grist mill. Then in 1904 when the railroad missed the town by less than a mile, the town moved and shortened the name to Flippin.
Freeburg, south of Jefferson City, beginning as a general store-post office in 1884, was first named Engleberg after Engleberg Franks, the storekeeper. Others resenting that Mr. Frank's name should be the town name, changed it to Frankenstein. After discovering there was another place by the same name, they substituted Frankenburg. "Frank" in German means "free." Thereafter the name became Freeburg.
Cross Timbers in Hickory County came from the name of a settler named Cross who lived in a log cabin at the edge of the prairie near the present town. Travelers from Boonville to Springfield who needed a rest were told that an old settler named Cross who lived on the edge of the prairie surrounded by timber would provide food and lodging. Soon inquiries were answered simply by directions to Cross Timber and still later to Cross Timbers.
In its early days the city of Festus, just south of St. Louis, was a saloon town. One day the owner of the company store looking out his window saw a man staggering down the street and wondered what was wrong with him. Someone replied, "Well, it looks like he has tangled feet." Tangle-foot then became the town's nickname.
One story about how the town was renamed Festus states that several business people gathered to decide on a more dignified name, for they did not wish the town to become notorious for its large number of saloons. Their choice of "Danby" was already taken. Being at a loss what to do, the local citizens were highly pleased at the suggestion of a traveling salesman. He pulled out of his bag a Gideon Bible from a St. Louis hotel which he had accidentally carried off. He suggested they open the Bible and use the first proper name they saw. The salesman opened the Bible and his finger fell immediately upon the name of Festus, a Roman general.
This story was given credence when an old settler produced a time-worn Bible marked with a red ribbon and showed the passage which she said was the very one from which the town's name came. The passage she pointed to was Acts 25:22. "Then Agrippa said unto Festus, 'I would also hear the man myself.' 'Tomorrow,' said he, 'Thou shalt hear him.'"
Copyright © 1981 BITTERSWEET, INC.
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