Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Peculiar, Missouri?

Yes, this community does exist! Located just south of Kansas City, the name of this town is surrounded in legend. Some believe a spiritualist having a peculiar vision of this area named the town after his experience. The vision came about when the spiritualist had a dream. The next day he reported his vision to the community leaders and they agreed on his suggestion for the town’s name. Others believe the name came from a frustrated postmaster in town. This particular postmaster kept submitting names to the Post Office. The Post Office kept rejecting his requests due to duplicate names. The Post Office did not like to see duplicate names of communities in the same state. After many rejections, the Post Office suggested that he should “choose a name that is peculiar”. The postmaster of this community was so frustrated that he sent in the name of “Peculiar” for approval. Oddly enough, the Post Office accepted the name and the community became known as “Peculiar”! Whatever explanation you accept, the community still has fun with its name. The sign above is what you will see when you get there.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Take Your Licks

We often find funny names of towns with the word “lick” in them. It was often common to name a new town with the natural resources that were found in the area. Rich deposits of minerals like gold, silver, and iron were common sources used for choosing the name of a new town. In the case, of Licking, Missouri, rich deposits of salt were found in this area. These larges deposits of salt were known as “licks”. Salt was a valuable resource for the early settlers. Salt was highly valued as a supplementary part of human and also for the diets of wildlife. Salt was a luxury to our ancestors. Before the 1900’s, many economies and wars were predicated on this natural resource. For the early pioneers in America they didn’t hesitate to add “lick” as part of their new towns name. Towns like Licking, Missouri and French Lick, Indiana are prime examples. Today, we often chuckle over these types of names. Our perceptions of these place names are misconstrued because of our lack of knowledge of the history behind the name. The value of salt was highly sought after by our ancestors and they did not hesitate to boast the resources their town possessed and the economic growth that would make them flourish.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Choo Choo - Chattanooga, TN

The Indian word “Chattanooga” means “rock rising to a point”. Many of our towns were named using the Native American’s language. Often, one Indian word could describe many words used by the European settlers. Our ancestors found many of the Indian words very romantic. Chattanooga, TN is a perfect example of this method in naming our towns and cities. Here is a view of “Lookout Mountain”, definitely a “rock rising to a point”. The tradition of using the Native American’s language to describe their new community started early in America. Many northeastern towns from New York to Florida were named in this manner. The tradition continued across the United States to the west coast. Every state has a town that was named from a Native American word or phrase. Nearly half of our states have used this method for their own names. It is ironic how the United States used the American Native’s language but did very little to uphold their existence and rights.

Photo courtesy of Library of Congress