Places With Old Names

Old places with old names

Yesterday I traveled with Pap out to Asheville. As he often does-he entertained me with tales from yesteryear. One tale was was about Indian John-he was one of Pap’s friends from back in the day when they both went to college under the GI Bill. The tale in itself was humorous-but that wasn’t what got my attention.

We were traveling down the other side of Topton headed into the Nantahala Gorge when Pap said something about Indian John’s place-I said “oh he still lives there?” Pap said “no I don’t know where he lives-I’m not even sure he still lives.” It struck me as funny that Pap would call the house by the road the Indian John place-even though he no longer lived there. Made me have the silliest notion to walk up on the porch, knock on the door, ask if they knew who Indian John was, and if they realized they were living in his house?

Of course places named after folks who used to live there isn’t anything new most towns, cities, and communities are named after someone long gone on. Seems in one way or another we all perpetuate the practice.

Just down the road from me there’s a house that we all refer to as the Johnny Hampton place-even though he’s been dead for years. There’s Miss Cook’s place-where there isn’t even a house left. The old mill pond resides in the pasture just beyond the hill-but there hasn’t been a mill there in well over 60 years.

Old white farm house

Closer, there is a big white farm house. In my growing up years it was Clarence’s place-as in down by Clarence’s. But after Clarence and his lovely wife Ruby passed away the house become Pickle’s-it took years-but finally it became down by Pickle’s. Now Pickle is gone too. Chatter and Chitter are young-someday when their kids ask them about the big white house on Granny and Pap’s road will they answer “You mean Pickles place?” Will they then ask me to remind them exactly who Pickle was and why we all seemed to miss him so?

Clate and marys old house

Closer still-there is a house long deserted-with the outhouse still in the yard-with the log cabin corn crib falling in-it’s Clate and Mary’s house-it’s been Clate and Mary’s house since Pap was a boy-since I remember being sad as a child that Clate kept escaping from the old folks home to try to find his way back home. Maybe thats it-maybe those old places have to hold on to their old names cause the folks who lived in them where real-and they lived real lives that intertwined with all their neighbors up and down the creek. Seems only right they should leave some impression of their vivid presence behind-if only in a name.

What about where you live-what are the places that still hang onto their old names.



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  • Reply
    February 17, 2010 at 2:30 pm

    Oh yes, back home there are a lot of places like that.
    But near me now is a small hole in the wall resteraunt/bar call Best Stop. But we still call it Stick’s. Cause that was the guy that ran it for years. I think I like the old name better anyway.

  • Reply
    Fishing Guy
    February 16, 2010 at 7:13 pm

    Tipper: When I go back to our neighborhood all the houses are gone. My one buddy Junior house is gone along with the road that went to it. Things do change so much as you get older.

  • Reply
    February 16, 2010 at 6:45 am

    Good one Tipper! I grew up and mom still lives on a farm you would think would have our name attached to it. Older locals still call it the Hibler place after 40 years. An acreage dad purchased is still known to all (including us) as the Ford place. I guess it will take a long time for the Saylor place moniker to fade from my house!

  • Reply
    M. Diane Rogers
    February 16, 2010 at 1:09 am

    Great article – seems you really struck a nerve with this one. Lots of comments! I’m a city girl, but we too may refer to ‘Walkers’ house’ in our old neighbourhood, or insist on using old street or area names or nicknames (sometimes these refer to a family too, one I never knew but my dad maybe did) and buildings once the home of a favourite store may get the same treatment, no matter how much advertising the new owners do. Our directions are never so picturesque as yours though!

  • Reply
    February 15, 2010 at 9:58 pm

    wow, amazing post and so true. When I first moved to NC (Waynesville to be exact) and I needed directions..people would say..well, ya turn right where the old Ramey place used to be..then turn left 2 miles before old Gramma Suttons place is…Fond fond memories…
    Hey, I waved at yea when you came through Asheville the other day..did ya see me? hahahaha

  • Reply
    February 15, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    Both of my brothers moved away from our hometown over 30 years ago, and when I try to tell them something, I still use the names they were familiar with. There was a murder down below the Macon Farm, or remember so and so. His family loved down on the Johnston place.

  • Reply
    February 15, 2010 at 11:43 am

    This is a great topic. See – for 18 years I have lived in Miss Myrt’s house. We often joke that it will not become our house until one of us dies there.
    I’ve been slammed at work of late, but I still love coming here for just a moments breaks.
    Have a great day.

  • Reply
    David Templeton
    February 14, 2010 at 10:20 pm

    I find I just can’t say it enough, Tipper: Your essays, your posts, your stories are the best read I have every day. The simple purity of each one, dressed with your beautiful pictures, always makes me feel good. What a great pleasure to read this one, on how we name places. It stirs many a recollection of old houses, homes, fields, and landlords in my memories. Thank you.

  • Reply
    David Templeton
    February 14, 2010 at 10:00 pm

    Even though it’s been abandoned for years and is delapidated, we know George Baily threw a rock and broke out a window in the Old Granville Place in Bedford Falls and when Ward Bond, policeman, was dispatched, that’s where they sent him; not to an address but out to the Old Granville Place.

  • Reply
    Glenda Beall
    February 14, 2010 at 9:31 pm

    What an interesting topic. Down where I grew up on a farm my father bought in 1942, our family always used those kinds of names to describe a piece of property.
    One farm next to ours, and is owned by my family now, is still referred to as the old Womble place. On the other side of our farm which eventually became my famiiy’s also and where a nephew lives, is still referred to as the Major’s place, as in “C.C. lives on the old Major’s place.”
    My favorite fishing hole is the Major’s pond although no one by the name of Major’s has owned it since I was a small child.
    The big problem I now have is what to call the home where I grew up. The grandkids called it Papa and Mer’s house or The Big HOuse, and now it belongs to a nephew. Somehow I cannot refer to my childhood home as Capp’s house. It will always be Mother and Daddy’s house to me although they have been gone thirty years.

  • Reply
    trisha too
    February 14, 2010 at 7:21 pm

    oh, for sure–there are so many
    roads named after the families that originally live there, it would be tough to list them all!
    The most obvious one is the one that still has “Dr.” in the name!

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    February 14, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    I love this post!
    Sooo, true…happens around here all the time….
    Country directions to city folks:
    Go down to you see the Brown place..Oh, you don’t know the Browns…well, the Browns don’t live there now..it’s the Smiths..Well, OK go to you see that house on the right with the big red silo…Oh yeah, the new folks painted it brown…well, anyhow take a right to the Jones Sawmill road…No, it ain’t marked…but the building is there, you can still see it from the road even if it’s grown up a bit since it shut down and then go on past Fred’s. Oh, Fred’s is a shed where he sells fishing worms..not big..but right near the road..sometimes he has his sign out on the road if he has minnows too, so you can’t miss it…and then you will nearly be to the fork where Maude sells eggs and…etc. etc. LOL..LOL

  • Reply
    Chef E
    February 14, 2010 at 10:57 am

    It has been a long while since I heard the old folks call places by the names of the residents. I still call mammaw and granddads house just that when I am talking to my sister and husband, and its in my mind, even though someone else bought it back in 1997. Same with mamma Estil’s old place and all that is standing is a garden, with the corner stones at the end of the walk way where the porch used to be.

  • Reply
    Just Jackie
    February 14, 2010 at 10:08 am

    I love this post. City people have no idea about the history of an area just by what we call places. I lived up Big Pete Holler. I don’t know who Big Pete was. The creek that ran behind our house was Chandler’s run. Chandler ran the blast furnace, had a big house and hid escaping slaves for the underground railroad. We lived in the Blair House. It was an old house built during the Civil War. Lizzie Blair owned it before us. I could go on and on. I wish everyone had a rich history like we do.

  • Reply
    Pat in east TN
    February 14, 2010 at 9:58 am

    Almost everywhere I’ve lived reference to many a home/farm has gone back to previous owners. A little confusing in the beginning, but then you catch on and learn. Right now we live on the old Wiseman land .. say that first and there is no further explanation needed.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    February 14, 2010 at 8:45 am

    Tipper, where I grew up, in a small country town I can remember many places that were identified by the names of the folks who lived there.
    Now I live in a small country town about 35 miles from there and I don’t know of any places identified by the resident’s or former resident’s names.
    I guess that is because this town is not as much a part of who I am as the town where I grew up and had family. Or, maybe I am not as much a part of this town and I was then.
    Nice post. I like the ones that make me think!

  • Reply
    February 14, 2010 at 2:43 am

    There is a house in the neighborhood of my youth that we call “Mrs. Peterson’s House” and she has been dead almost 4 decades now. She was blind and had a small cocker spaniel named Sandy. I suspect the house remained with the name because she was the only blind person living in a neighborhood full of impressionable and inquisitive children.

  • Reply
    Jennifer in OR
    February 13, 2010 at 11:47 pm

    Yes, I call my neighbor’s place the “Old Jaqua Place” though the owners are dead and gone and another family lives there.
    Neat photos you posted. So, is Indian John still alive?

  • Reply
    Nancy M.
    February 13, 2010 at 8:53 pm

    Around here everyone calls a house by who lives there, or if they’ve passed on, they call it the old William Perry place or something like that.

  • Reply
    Sheila Bergeron
    February 13, 2010 at 6:51 pm

    For me, most recently is Mama and Daddy’s . After Mama passed on, Daddy sold their place. Even though now there’s a new house and a manicured lawn- it’s still Mama and Daddy’s place.And that’s the way it is with other folks here- we might cut through Old Lady Davis pasture or or down by Jon Brown’s house. There’s all kinds of ghosts and memories to be left behind when folks move on, that’s what my Daddy said making your mark was-just an impression. I hope to leave a good one when it’s my time to move on. Have a wonderful week end and stay warm.

  • Reply
    February 13, 2010 at 6:50 pm

    I grew up in a place called “Osborn” Miss.(pop.about 30).Believe me,if you wasn’t there at least 25 years,you was NOT an Osbornite!!

  • Reply
    laoi gaul-williams
    February 13, 2010 at 3:56 pm

    we still use the names of people long gone to identify a particular house and even a shop in the village. other, new people may live there now but to us they are ‘Mr. Saints house’ or ‘where the cutlers lived’…here in the village we have a few roads named for places in India for during WW1 we had a war hospital set up in a big house with Indian doctors and my own road is named for Auckland New Zealand in memory of the ANZAC war dead in the old church up the hill behind us (the church is beautiful, mentioned in the domesday book with a 1000 year+ yew tree in the grounds :))

  • Reply
    February 13, 2010 at 1:54 pm

    We live in the city so no place names. However, my Aunty shares plants from her garden. Rarely are they called by their formal names-I have Ramquist lilies (crocosmia)and other plants named for the people who originally gave them to Aunty. Which reminds me. Will there be a “Tipper corn” seed program this year?

  • Reply
    Richard Beauchamp
    February 13, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    I am almost 68 years old and Grew up near Falls of Rough , Ky. There are many places in the area that go by names of familys that are long dead.Some no longer have any buildings, some were flooded by the building of Rough River Dam. Even the places that are now under water are still refered to by the old names. I have recently subscribed to The Blind Pig & The Acorn and enjoy it very much. Keep up the good work.

  • Reply
    February 13, 2010 at 1:07 pm

    That third house looks a lot like my Mamaw’s house, which is over 100 years old. I love it.
    We still call places by their old inhabitant’s names.

  • Reply
    kay keen
    February 13, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    I enjoyed this very much, it is so sad to see some old homeplace, and to know that one loved it so much,and to know they raised all thier little ones, and to see it just rot away, it is really sad. Thank you so much, you take me back in time every time I read your blog. Blessing, k

  • Reply
    Mary Libby
    February 13, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    Tipper, I remember neighbors we had when I was a little girl that everyone called “Uncle Jim and Aunt Mary”. When I would wonder over to see her she always had a candy bar in her apron pocket for me.
    They have been gone at least 60 years and stranger’s live in the home now but it is still called Uncle Jim and Aunt Marys house.
    Enjoy the snow, it is 44 degs here.

  • Reply
    February 13, 2010 at 11:25 am

    Hi Tipper… Oh how I wish I would have been more interested in the ‘olden days’ when my parents and my great aunts were alive. There were stories that were never told… Sigh!!!
    YES—they use old names to describe houses in my hometown in VA also.. The McCorkle house was across the street from us –although the McCorkles had been dead for years.
    Just as funny, there were certain areas of town which had special names.. Wish I knew why! One was Frog Level. Another was Itly Bottom.. Another was the Wildcat.. Who knows!!!!
    Watched and loved the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics last night.

  • Reply
    February 13, 2010 at 10:21 am

    yet again you bring back old memories for me. when we first moved to Kentucky and stopped for directions, they would say drive around the next 3 curves and turn at Miss Axies house, go a little ways and turn at Amos Holler. it sure made it hard to follow directions when we had no idea what a holler was or any of the names. they did not have GPS back then and even if they had the address would not be in. loved this post

  • Reply
    February 13, 2010 at 10:05 am

    Oh gee, down the way from my family’s cabin, is an old white house, and from the time I can recall, it was The Goat Man’s House. I don’t think we ever knew his name, oh, Granny, Mom, Pepaw and Paw probably knew, but us kids always called it The Goat Man’s House. Well, he did keep a huge herd of goats and during the Spring we would see him leading the herd down the dirt road, taking them to another pasture. Granny would go down when The Goat Man butchered and bring back goat meat. Goat is delicious. Even after The Goat Man died and his son moved in, we still called it The Goat Man’s House.
    Now when I drive down the dirt road, going to the cabin or going into town for supplies, I still see the white house, but now there are cows in the pasture, and chickens scratching in the yard. Son and his family are still there, I give them a wave when I see them in the yard.

  • Reply
    Vicki Lane
    February 13, 2010 at 10:01 am

    Oh, yes — we live on the old Freeman place (we bought it from the Freemans) but they probably called it the Gid Payne place since that’s who owned it before them. And we live next door to the Fleet Goforth place, though it’s owned by two different people now and no Goforths have lived there in the last forty years.
    I love holding on to the old names — it’s holding on to history.

  • Reply
    February 13, 2010 at 8:57 am

    I love this post because I have a personal link to it. My grandfather bought our 130 acre farm in 1956 when my father was only 11. The story goes that in the late 1800’s, the builder of the house, George Coffey, made a deal with the railroad (that was coming through regardless, I’m sure)that they could come through his property if they would make his property a stop for the trains, for he sold his wares in the town about 5 miles away and a stop at his house would allow them to either ride themselves or have their wares shipped into town for free. The railroad agreed & thus the name “Coffey’s Crossing” was born. All of the Coffey’s are long gone now and my dad bought the farm from my Grandfather in 1979 (when I was 9)but as a child I remember all adults refering to us as living at Coffey’s Crossing or the “Old Coffey House”. We love the name & don’t feel as if people should now be calling it the Bernard house (which is our last name)My father gave me 10 acres of the farm in 2000 & I love telling people that I live at Coffeys Crossing even though no one my age that doesn’t live in the area recognizes the name. I am always more than egar to tell them the story.
    I am trying to come up with a name for my small piece of the Coffey farm (have been for about a year now)I want to use the Coffey name to keep it alive but Coffeys Crossing is so engrained in my brain that nothing else sounds right.

  • Reply
    February 13, 2010 at 8:51 am

    Twenty years ago, we left the house we built, so Papa could keep his job. Our home was on the corner of a 40 acre piece of land where Papa’s family had lived since the early 1920’s. A huge 90 degree curve in the road skirted the front edge of our lo. The local people called it Warren’s corners. I really didn’t know that, until one of our middle daughter’s friends speculated about what the curve our home was located inside of would be called after we left. I had never thought of our little home as my place in the history of that little township, but maybe it was, at least for our children’s friends.

  • Reply
    February 13, 2010 at 8:22 am

    Yes, there are some places known by their former owners. But, what I remember most are the hollers and creeks that are named after early settlers or explorers, such as Haynes Branch, Edens Fork and Tuppers Creek (named after an early trapper to the area). I hate it when the government goes around and changes the names of places, like they’ve been doing around here lately.

  • Reply
    February 13, 2010 at 8:20 am

    Down the street we have Al Capone’s house (he really did own it back then). We also have the Statue House. It is referred to that way because the young man who started voyeur.com lived there and put 11 foot statues of a naked man and a woman in front.
    Life in the city.

  • Reply
    Donna W
    February 13, 2010 at 8:01 am

    Our two nearest side roads are “McGrew Mine Road” and “Old Mine Road”. There used to be a lot of coal mines around here.

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