Appalachia Appalachian Dialect

Odd Names and Places

Today’s guest post was written by Charles Fletcher.

unusual-place-names

ODD NAMES AND PLACES

Have you ever given any thought about odd names that some locations have? Why they are called by this name and what was the reason for their name? I will name a few that I remember from my childhood days and give the reason for their name as they were told to me.

Black Bottom

There was “Black Bottom” located in a section of Gastonia North Carolina. The ones in Gastonia that worked in one of the many cotton mills lived in a house belonging to that company. This was considered as part of their benefits for working for them. They were poor working people but there were others that were even in a poorer class. They lived in “Black Bottom”. I was fourteen or fifteen years old when I “Hitch-Hiked” rides to Gastonia from Canton, North Carolina. I went to visit my grandmother. There weren’t many cars on the roads in the 30s and I had to do a lot of walking between rides. I did make the hundred mile trip in one day. My grandma had friends that lived in this area called “Black Bottom”. She went to visit once while I was there and I went along. The houses were built very poorly with very few windows and doors. They were small and belonged to owners that rented them to these folks for what ever they could pay. I asked why this section at the edge of the town was called “Black Bottom”. I was told that the people that lived here was considered at the bottom of the social ladder and there were several black families living in this area so the name of this section of west Gastonia was “Black Bottom”. There was a song about this place. It went something like this; When you go down in Black Bottom Put your money in your shoe Cause the women in Black Bottom Make a fool out of you. There were more to this song, and, as I remember, it became very popular.

Greasy Corner

“Greasy Corner” was also a section of Gastonia. It was located on the corner of west Franklin Avenue and Vance Street which was a bustling business district, serving the residents surrounding the Loray cotton mill. There were restaurants, a theater, and meat market grocery store, garage with gas service, boarding houses and single family homes. The cotton mill was the largest in the south. Years later it was purchased by Firestone the auto tire maker. The name was changed to Firestone. All of “Greasy Corner”, except the mill was on Franklin Avenue. The street car tracks were on Franklin. This was the main source of travel from west to east in Gastonia. I heard several stories as to how it got its name, “Greasy Corner”. One was that it came from a restaurant that served greasy food in the early 20th century. Others say it was automotive shops, a lard truck, a slaughter house or slop jars dumped from second-story apartments. There are many theories but most say it was the lard truck.

We will now move to the mountain section of Western North Carolina—Canton.

Peach Bloom

“Peach Bloom” was an area close to where my family lived near Canton, North Carolina. It was located in a hollow above a bend in the pigeon river near the city limits of Canton. The people living there were working class and lived in homes that were comfortable but only had the bare necessities needed. The name “Peach Bloom” came about in a very simple way. At some time in the twentieth century the owner of this section had a peach orchard along the river and up the hollow. He began to sell off some of the land to people for a home site. Soon all of the peach trees were gone but the name “Peach Bloom”remained and it is called this today.

Home Brew Knob

Now here is a name that will make you thirst. A group of three houses built on the top of a hill that separated the Thickety community and the North Canton / Austin Chapel section. The name given to this place pretty well tells the story of how it got its name. But there was more going on here than the making of beer that was called “Home Brew”. There was usually competition between at least two and sometimes all three of the houses for the business of local lovers of “Moon Shine”. The bootleggers didn’t make the “White Lighting” that they sold. Someone would usually bring it from somewhere in the mountains of North Carolina or Tennessee. These haulers were professionals. They would sometimes have two or three cars all looking alike. Only one would have the Moon Shine and when the law men chased them they would split up. All cars going in a different direction. The lawmen didn’t know which car to try and catch. They also used smoke screens and nail droppers to stop “The Law” that was chasing them.

Frog Level

Our next stop is at a place in Waynesville. At one time when the train station was located at this location nearly all of the business places were located here. Up town as we see it today, did not exist. Only the courthouse and a few houses. Business was booming at “Frog Level”. Where did this name come from? And why the name, “Frog Level”? This area of Waynesville was located along side of Richland Creek down the hill from Main Street. This is where the railroad tracks were laid and the station built here, until this time the area was a swamp land with very few buildings scattered around but no major development. This changed very quickly after trains began to arrive. There was a boom in building. In the 1930s and through the 1940s the businesses included, hardware stores, army supplies, coal sales, auto dealers and garages, furniture stores, wholesale groceries, warehouses and lumber companies. All these businesses dependent on the railroad. The area along the creek was always flooding and the local people had said that this place was only fit for frog. So the name “Frog Level” is still the official name of this part of Waynesville, North Carolina.

Hainty Holler

The next odd name and location will never be easy for me to forget. Why? When I was about ten years old we lived not only above a graveyard but we also lived in one of the houses below it. This was what everyone referred to as, Hainty Holler. Regardless of which place we lived when going to the Beaverdam School or any other place you would have to go through or around the edge of the graveyard. We had heard so many tales about the haunts that lived on this hill where the dead was buried that we were afraid in the daylight. And at night if there was no other way to get home but to take the trail going through the tombstones. If I did go this route you could bet your last nickel that I would run as fast as I could and sometimes with my eyes shut. Let’s face it; I was scared to death of ghosts that was in that grave yard. Even today at the age of 94 I avoid a grave yard after dark, call me a coward if you like. The same ghost that I saw 84 years ago could still be out there. It is easy to see why this place was called, “Hainty Holler”.

Buzzard’s Roost

I will mention one other place that was located up a hollow in a section of Haywood County on Newfound Mountain. This area was called “Buzzard Roost.” No one seems to know who gave this mountain the name or why. Someone said that before all the houses were built on the mountain that for some reason all the buzzards in Haywood and Buncombe county came here to roost after circling all day looking for food. Although the buzzards have left and no longer roost in the trees on the mountain the name has never changed. I visited the area one time when growing up to be a part of a horse shoe pitching game. There was a family by the name of Cordell that were expert at horse shoe pitching. I was going to school with one of the younger boys and he invited me to the games. I looked around for some buzzards but never saw any. I asked where were all the buzzards that everyone said I would see here. Oh, someone said, I’ve lived here for nearly twenty years and I’ve only seen a couple of them and they were only passing over. Just because we don’t have all the birds that used to be here is not any reason to change our name for this neck of the woods. The name “Buzzard Roost”suits us just fine.

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I hope you enjoyed Charles’s guest post as much as I did! Lots of unusual place names around here too. A few that come to mind are Wehutty, Shinbone, Suit, Violet, Ducktown, Hanging Dog, Hot House, and Still House Cove.

Hope you’ll leave a comment and share the unusual place names in your area.

Tipper

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25 Comments

  • Reply
    Ann Appplegarth
    March 22, 2018 at 3:11 pm

    And we mustn’t overlook Boring, Oregon!

  • Reply
    Julie Moreno
    March 20, 2018 at 4:49 pm

    Near me in Texas is Cut n Shoot, Texas Gunbarrel City , and Dimebox, Texas. Near where I grew up in Southern Indiana is Gnawbone and Bean Blossom Indiana!

  • Reply
    Ken
    March 20, 2018 at 1:19 pm

    Tipper,
    Charles really got something started this time, I just love his writings. I live in Topton, and before I was born, folks use to strap their pistols on and go up to Red Cooper’s Beer Joint. This I was told by my older brothers, and Arthur Matheson, (uncle Joe’s son) use to have a round-house where he sold liquor and beer. I was old enough to see this building, but daddy and mama warned us about that place, the upstairs was a Cat House and I don’t mean the 4-legged kind with a Meow.

    Someone went out West somewhere, and they had heard about Topton and it’s guns. I knew several Moonshiners and they all treated us well. …Ken

  • Reply
    Diane Piper
    March 20, 2018 at 12:56 pm

    Really enjoyed the article “Odd Name and Places”. I love knowing how some of these places got there names. I am a transplant here from Virginia Beach Va. I look forward to reading your articles every day and browsing all areas of your blog! You keep a writing and I will keep a reading and learning. Love the music too!

  • Reply
    Alica
    March 20, 2018 at 12:51 pm

    Oh my. Some of the names in my native Lancaster County, PA…Intercourse, Blue Ball, Bird In Hand, Peach Bottom, only to name a few! The tourists to Amish Country get quite a laugh over some of them!

    • Reply
      Frank
      March 24, 2018 at 11:39 am

      I live right down the road (~20 miles) from Lancaster…!

  • Reply
    Betty Hopkins
    March 20, 2018 at 11:23 am

    There’s a little community where I was born and raised in the beautiful Choestoe Valley of North Georgia known as “Stink Creek”. As a child I always felt a little embarrassed to tell people where I was from, but now that I’m older, I’m very proud of it. Many stories have been told about the origin of its name, the main one being that it was from feuding families like the Hatfields & McCoys that lived along the creek. Others say it was from the mash being dumped into the creek from illegal moonshine stills in the mountains, and others say it was from the ramps that grew along the creek. Whatever the reason, it was a community of hard working, God fearing people that I dearly loved, and I’m proud to have once called it home.

  • Reply
    Ann Appplegarth
    March 20, 2018 at 10:38 am

    In New Mexico, we have Pie Town and Nogal. Pie Town has several stories about where it got its name, but the two most likely are that one of the early residents baked delicious dried apple pies or that one of the early residents baked pinto bean pies. Nogal is actually the Spanish word for walnut, but the joke that has become popular is that the cowboys who settled there named it Nogal because there were no gals living there.

  • Reply
    jim keller
    March 20, 2018 at 10:37 am

    To add to JUSTANOLDGUY’s post at the lower end of Siam is Buzzards Roost and at the upper end is the communities of Dogtown and Deer Pen, with other areas in the county such as Bear Town,Lovers Lane and Turkey Town. Funny how the same names appear on both sides of the mountain.

  • Reply
    Papaw
    March 20, 2018 at 10:31 am

    Oh, and we musn’t forget where me and Bill Burnett got our rearing. Needmore!

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    March 20, 2018 at 10:27 am

    Some I’m familiar with are, Lick Log, Buck Town, Turnip Town, Owl Town, Whitestone, Shake Rag, Hemp Town, Snake Nation, Hell’s Holler and Fighting Town. A lot of these names were Indian names of villages or towns. When I hear of areas with unusual names I am always curious about the origin of the name.

  • Reply
    Papaw
    March 20, 2018 at 10:25 am

    I bout forgot! Up near where Missy and the grandboys live there is Worry and Joy. You don’t have to stop at Worry but Joy has a stop sign. Joy has a lot more visitors than Worry. Everybody who gets on Brown Mountain Beach Road going to Brown Mountain Beach or Wilson’s Creek pass through Joy without even knowing it.

  • Reply
    Don Byers
    March 20, 2018 at 10:24 am

    I live near Booger Holler in Union County, GA. And just outside of Blairsville is the suburb of Bucksnort.

  • Reply
    Papaw
    March 20, 2018 at 9:59 am

    There’s a place near me called Knob. There are many places across this great land of ours with Knob as part of the name but I guess there was nothing or nobody important around here when they named it to name after. So it’s just Knob. In case you ever want to find it, it is just west of Icard on US#70. Right as you pass Chicken in the Basket you are at Knob. There ain’t no signs, you have just got to know you’re there.
    A couple of notes on Chicken in the Basket: The last I heard it’s only open on Tuesdays, for breakfast. I kid you not. I’m not much of a breakfast eater so I don’t go there. I love breakfast food and all, just not that early in the morning. Chicken in the Basket is the only restaurant I ever remember eating at that didn’t have indoor toilets for it’s patrons. You had to go around behind the building, up some steps and on up the hill a ways. It did have separate facilities for men and women. Everything was clean, modern and complete. And completely separated from the kitchen and dining areas.

  • Reply
    JustAnOldGuy
    March 20, 2018 at 9:55 am

    There’s another Black Bottom on the banks of the Watauga River in Elizabethton, Tennessee also located near a former mill, the North American Rayon plant. Just upstream from it is a community called Siam. There’s a high mountain meadow area named Frog Level along Laurel Fork Creek in the Cherokee National Forest in Carter County, Tennessee. We’ve got a No Business Knob, too. Just off Beaverdam Creek in Johnson County there’s a Haunted Hollow. And then there’s Big Butt near Rocky Fork Creek. My favorite, though is Do Help Me Hollow on Norris Lake.

  • Reply
    Sherry Case
    March 20, 2018 at 9:14 am

    I was born and raised in GUNTOWN. It is a little communitysouth of the city limits of Rogersville, Tn. Back in the early 1900s Mr. Gunn lived in the area and ran a general store. Over the years, one of the (Ns) was dropped. We also have Pinhook, Chalk Level, Choptack, and more than I can remember here in Hawkins County.

  • Reply
    Shirl
    March 20, 2018 at 8:57 am

    Names like Coon Creek, Grapevine, Frogtown, and Poor Bottom probably got their name for obvious reasons. However, I never understood how they came up with a name like Beef Hide. I’m sure there wasn’t a cow in the county! If there was, my family didn’t have the opportunity to see or taste one back in the day. My daughter said she was grown before she realized we were saying Beef Hide. It was and still is pronounced Beefied.

  • Reply
    Cynthia
    March 20, 2018 at 8:47 am

    There is a town called Frog Level about 30 miles north of Richmond, Va.

  • Reply
    Barb Johnson
    March 20, 2018 at 8:37 am

    When we would travel down south we always passed Big Bone Lick. I live in Michigan about 5 minutes from a little hamlet called Hell. It’s story is that farmers couldn’t grow crops in the area and one man decided to name it Hell because of that. It has a bar/restaurant ” Dam Site Inn” an Ice cream place, ” Ice Screamers” and a post office/ party store.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    March 20, 2018 at 8:27 am

    Geographic place names are a look into history, ecology and folklife, especially when they are names for natural features rather than ‘cultural’ ones. It takes a detailed map, like a topographic quadrandgle, to see them. Some states have a ‘gazzateer’ (spelled wrong I think) with place names and their origin. Georgia and Kentucky do.

    In the area I grew up on the KY/TN line there was a No Business Creek, a Difficulty Creek (pronounced locally as dee fic ull tee), Peeled Dogwood, Pigskin, Devils Jump, Rattlesnake Ridge, Pilot Knob, the Middle Cliff, the Great Gulf, Lonesome, Exodus, Fidelity, Blue John and Chicken Bristle just to name a few. Then there were the ‘official’ names and what we called the same place. We called – and still do – Blue Heron, the post office name, ‘Mine 18’ instead.

  • Reply
    Ed Karshner
    March 20, 2018 at 7:52 am

    I’ve got two good ones from down home. There is Knockemstiff and Muttonjerk, both in Ross Co. Ohio. I’ve heard at least 100 reasons for Knockemstiff. My favorite has to do with my 6th Great Grandfather Daniel Karshner who dusted up with a huge River Pirate and hit him with a metal rod. Someone, supposedly yelled “Old Daniel knocked em stiff.” But, like I said, there a few stories. Muttonjerk is supposed to be about a swamp where sheep would get stuck. So, they had to jerk them out.

    One more, I suppose. I grew up in a holler called Spud Run. That place was like Eden!

  • Reply
    Tmc
    March 20, 2018 at 7:01 am

    I was raised near Bald Knob Cemetary, we had several communities with weird names, Midway, Slip-up, 5 points, kitchen mill, Mud-Tavern, Red Bank, Punkin Center, Neel, We live near Caddo, pronounced ( Cad-doe).

  • Reply
    Sheryl A. Paul
    March 20, 2018 at 6:33 am

    Interesting, a book could be written explaining those names for sure. Thanks

  • Reply
    Nancy Schmidt
    March 20, 2018 at 6:20 am

    Sometime take a good paper atlas of the state of Kentucky and write down a list ot each of the surprising and so funny town names you run across, especially in the eastern part of the state.
    I did that one time years ago while waiting in the car for my husband to come away from a meeting in Kenton county. (I also love those counties named for the old heros
    and backwoodsman of our early mountain times.). Any how I have sometimes looked over my list of wonderful names and thought somebody should make a country song out of them.
    I wish somebody would do that, maybe just using the wildly surprising names of you own state. All the southern mountains are full of the quirky humor of the scotsirish folk who came there first. And of course linger in their descendants, whwerever they have strayed away to in the last 200 years. I’m in Kansas because I married a Kansan, but “my heart’s in the highlands wherever I go”.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    March 20, 2018 at 5:37 am

    Having spent some of my life in Canton, I remember some of these local names. There was also a section of Canton called Fiberville, it was near the paper mill and those folks worked in the paper mill. The original name of the paper mill was Champion Paper and Fiber Company.
    It has always been interesting to me how small sections of a town or area get their own name. It’s kind of like a nickname given a person that usually describes some aspect of their personality

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