The other day I was reading one of my favorite blogs, Tennessee Mountain Stories and I just loved one of the posts.
Beth Durham, who runs Tennessee Mountain Stories had shared an excerpt from Harry Lane’s “Tennessee Memories.”
I emailed Beth and asked if I could share the post with you and she graciously said yes.
The tools of everyday life are honored in Tennessee place names. The Sawteeth, ridges in The Great Smokies of Sevier County, are an example. Tilthammer Shoals in Sullivan County recalls the heavy drop hammers of the many forges that once were numerous on the landscape. …Whetstone Mountain in Morgan County and Grindstone Hollow in Coffee County recall the times, not long past, when virtually everyone sharpened his own knives and other tools. Slabtown Branch in Johnson County brings to mind sawmill villages that once were found in the state, as does Sawblade Road in Cheatham County.
Sometimes, Tennessee place names commemorate hard and unpleasant times. Difficult and Defeated in Smith County certainly indicate as much, as does Troublesome Hollow in Sullivan County. So, too do these: Poorhouse Branch in Robertson County; Dismal Gap in Anderson County; Penitentiary Gulf in Bledsoe County; …Calfkiller River in Putnam and White Counties; …No Pone Ridge in Meigs County and Burnt Pone Creek in Campbell County; Starve Pond in Lake County.
Even names of cemeteries in Tennessee are at times quite amusing, whether accidentally or by intent. An example is Faint Hope Cemetery in Hardin County; others are Ruffian Cemetery in Hardeman County; Coward Cemetery (and who is not, about being “planted there!), in Hawkins County; Scratchunder Cemetery in Haywood County, Hotwater Cemetery in Hamilton County; Poor House Cemetery in Warren County…Moulden (Mouldin’?) Cemetery in Knox County;…Humble Cemetery in Bledsoe County; …Not to mention Freewill (whose?!!) Cemetery in Lake County!
A sense of mystery and superstition ore observable in some place names: Booger Hill and Booger Swamp in Jackson and Putnam Counties, respectively; Hoodoo Community in Coffee County; The Deadening and Black Drowning Creek in Cumberland County; Dark Hollow and Haunted Hollow in Johnson County; Scary Hollow and Hall Deadening Hollow in Perry County. A number of places’ names indicate things devilish – old Beelzebub himself, or his fiery place of destruction: Devil’s Backbone (Marshall County and Cocke County); Devil’s Kitchen Branch and Devil’s Elbow in Greene County (the latter also in Smith County); Devil’s Nose Mountain (Hawkins County); Hell Hole (White County); Devil’s Looking Glass (Unicoi County)…
The pleased palate is remembered in the names of numerous locations: Fattynbread Branch and Pumpkin Avenue (Dickson County); Hushpuppy Lake (Dyer County): Yum Yum Community (Fayette County); Sorghum Patch Hollow and Sugartime Springs (Franklin County); Slay Bacon Area (Sevier County – we thought all bacon had been “pre-slain”!); Onionbed Ridge (Sullivan County); …Poke Patch Creek (Cumberland County); Buttermilk Road and Cabbage Island (Knox County); …Okra Community and Tater Hill (Pickett County); and Lickskillet Branch (Hawkins County).
In which of these Tennessee streams would you prefer to swim: Ebbing and Flowing Spring or Washboard Creek (Hawkins County); Greasy Creek (Henderson County): Scarce Grease Branch (Grundy County), or Big Fiery Gizzard Creek (Grundy County)? Or perhaps Briarpatch Lake (Henry County)?
Among the more memorable names in the state are several given in honor of old ladies in families, or other relatives. These include Granny White Pike (Davidson County); Aunt Sal Hollow (Jackson County); Grandma Hollow and Grandaddy Hill (Campbell County); Mammy’s Creek and Daddy’s Creek (Cumberland County); Aunt Lude Ridge (Lewis County); Granny Branch (Benton County); Aunt Jane Hollow (Hamblen County); Daddy Ridge (Overton County); and Granny Scot Hollow (Wayne County).
…A considerable number of Tennessee names may be attributed simply to humorous imaginations. Spankem Branch (Moore County); Bona Factus Branch (Morgan County): Screamer Community and She Boss Church (Maury County); Black Ankle Creek (Meigs County); Jackass Hollow (Montgomery County); Pulltight Hollow (Hamilton County); Bucksnort Community (Hickman and Gibson Counties); Ugly Hollow (Greene County); Squeeze Up Bluff (Wayne County); Henpeck Lane (Williamson County); Wild Bill Road (Wilson County); Graball Community and Doodle Hollow (Sumner County); Random Shot Landing (Tipton County);…Wallop Hollow (Union County); Fuss Hollow and Bugtussle Hollow (Lincoln County); Scratch Ankle Hollow (Marion County); …Big He Creek (Sequatchie County); Steep Gut Hollow (Claiborne Country); …Shakerag Hollow, Falling Over Branch, and Pinchgut Hollow (Jackson County); Rotten Fork School (Fentress County); How Come You Creek (Cumberland County). And yes, folks, there really is a Grinders Switch in Hickman County, as Minnie Pearl has so often indicated and – a Hootin Hollow (“Holler”) in Bradley County!
—Harry Lane – “Tennessee Memories”
I hope you enjoyed reading about unusual Tennessee names as much as I did. Be sure to jump over to Beth’s blog for a visit, I know you’ll be glad you did.