One of the many perks of covering the outdoors for The Star is that I get to travel the backroads.
In Missouri, that means wandering into or past towns and villages with names so humorous that … c’mon, you have to laugh. So here goes: my list of the top 12 names of towns I have visited. Populations listed are from the 2010 census.
▪ 1. TIGHTWAD: (pop. 64, in west-central Missouri). Some sources say the town was named after an old tightwad who ran a general store years ago. It seems a mail carrier had asked the business owner to set aside a watermelon for him until he could finish his rounds. He returned and found that the man had sold the watermelon for 50 cents more than the postman had agreed to pay. So he called him a tighwad and the name stuck.
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▪ 2. BRAGGADOCIO: (pop. 178, in the Bootheel). Some historical reports say this tiny burg was named aftrer Sir Braggadocious in the poem Faire Queene. Others say it was named after early settlers who were boastful of their town. Either way, it makes for a name you won’t forget.
▪ 3. PECULIAR: (pop. 4,608 in Cass County): Peculiar name for a not-so-peculiar town. Legend has it that in 1868, the town’s founding fathers threw out possible names for their town, but those choices were in use. So they requested that postal authorities come up with “any old peculiar name.” I guess the postmaster took them literally. To this day, the town enjoys its fame from the name. The town’s motto: “Where the odds are with you.”
▪ 4. BLUE EYE: (pop. 167, in southwest Missouri near Branson). Many sources say this town was named for the first postmaster, who had blue eyes.
▪ 5. SLEEPER: (unicorporated area in Laclede County in south-central Missouri). You’re probably expecting some story about this village being named after a sleepy settler or something of that sort. Sorry to disappoint. It was named after John Sleeper, who built a railroad through the area in the 1860s.
▪ 6. PURDY (pop. 1,098, in far southwest Missouri). OK, we know what you’re thinking. This town had to be named by Ozark hillbillies who used slang for the word “pretty.” Not so. It was named after prominent resident George Purdy.
▪ 7. CONEY ISLAND: (pop. 75, near Branson). If you’re looking for a big amusement park and bright lights, you’ll be disappointed. This is the other Coney Island.
▪ 8. SUCCESS: (pop. 525, in south-central Missouri). Has an air of credibility to it, doesn’t it? The name came from a resort that was built on a spring years ago. That nickname was apparently used for marketing purposes.
▪ 9. HUMANSVILLE: (pop. 1,048, near Springfield). This isn’t what you think. This town wasn’t named after the broad definition of the humans living here. Instead, it was named after James. G. Human, who settled the area in 1834.
▪ 10. LICKING: (pop. 3,124, in Texas County in south-central Missouri.). This town was named after a well-known salt lick that attracted buffalo years ago.
▪ 11. NOVELTY: (pop. 139, in northeast part of state). What a novelty, a town called Novelty.
▪ 12. WINDYVILLE: (unincorporated area near Bennett Spring State Park): Windyville’s claim to fame is that some say it is haunted. Mostly rural legend I’m sure, but …
One sidenote: Arkansas may have Missouri beat when it comes to unusual names for towns. Fifty-Six, Greasy Corner, Goobertown, Umpire, Possum Grape, Marmaduke, Pansy, Peanut, Three Brothers, Toad Suck, Welcome Home — how’s that?
To reach outdoors editor Brent Frazee, call 816-234-4319 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter@fishboybrent.