Volume IV, No. 2, Winter 1976



Making conversation at the Old Red Mill at Alley Spring, a native Missourian asked a visitor, "Are you from around here?"

"No, I'm from the east coast."

"I've lived in Birch Tree for forty years. Where in Missouri is East Coast?"

Birch Tree, Licking, Advance, Success, Competition. Names such as these are common in Missouri, so a town called East Coast, a thousand miles from any coast, did not seem illogical to this Ozarkian because there is always a logical explanation for each unusual name.

When the railroad was being constructed from St. Louis southwest through mid-western Missouri in the 1880's, the workers had a barrel of whiskey hid somewhere near where the town of Bourbon now lies on 1-44. In the evenings when their day's work was completed, they would say, "Let's go up and visit Ole Bourbon." Later when the town began to form, the founders remembered this and decided to give it the same name as the railroad workers had previously called the location--Bourbon.

The town of Licking in northern Texas County got its name because of a salt lick that was once there. The deer and other wild animals came to lick the salty earth for the salt they required. The early settlers and hunters called the area "The Lick." It was a licking spot for wildlife, so the name Licking came into general use as a designation for the place.

The town of Advance, orginally located a short distance east from its present location about twenty-five miles southeast of Cape Girardeau, was named Lakeville. About 1880, a railroad which was built from Cape Girardeau to Hoxie, Arkansas missed Lakeville, forcing the town to move to a location oh the railroad. During this time there were two different groups in the town, each preferring a location. The group who established the town of Advance used that name because they had hoped that they were advancing. The other group established their own town, named Toga, which never got started. It is now located on the edge of Advance.

Grassy, a country post office north of Advance, derived its name from a creek which passes through the community. The creek was called Grassy because of the sage grass which grew along its banks when the region was being settled.

Everyone in the southern Laclede County community of Competition had his own idea about what their town should be called. There was a lot of competition to see who would get to name it, and thus the name came to be.

The people of Peculiar, south of Kansas City, didn't have any idea what to call their town, so they wrote to the postal officials in Washington, D.C. and told them they didn't care what the name was, just as long as it was a peculiar name. Thus the name.

The village of Success in western Texas County used to be called Hastings after an early merchant. Hastings and his partner established a store near an unusual spring, hoping it would help draw customers. They gave the place the name Success, probably for advertising purposes. In 1939 the town moved to the junction of Highways 32 and 17. It was called Wayne City for awhile, but the name did not stick.

Compiled by Teresa Maddux


Copyright © 1981 BITTERSWEET, INC.

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