How Ten Appalachian Towns Got Their Crazy Names
The Appalachian area is a national treasure, offering everything from ancient mountains to unique cultures and industrious, talented people. The towns and cities that evolved in the area often got their names from the events and people of the region itself, leaving us with some notable places. Here are ten of the more uniquely named Appalachian towns and a brief description of how each got their curious names.
With a name like Jugernot, the first thing many people would assume is that it’s a local misspelling of the word juggernaut. However, this is just not the case. As it turns out, the town’s name is a question.
So how did Jugernot get its name? The old timers would ask each other if they wanted a “jug or not,” no doubt referring to the local homebrew. In time the question became one word, and the town name was born.
Where do you go when you don’t have a town name in mind? How about the small town of Nameless, Tennessee? There are a couple of variations on the origin of the 1866 designation. One favorite version has it that the application was left blank, and when the U.S. Post Office returned the processed paper, the word “Nameless” was on the form.
Another story has the requested name to be Morgan, named after local county attorney general George Morgan. The Post Office rejected the name because of the connection to the Confederacy at the time. The local official was none too happy with the rejection, so he wrote back and proudly announced that if their original choice was not an option, then the town should be nameless.
The US Post Office was happy to oblige, and Nameless, Tennessee was established.
88, Kentucky has an unusual name among Appalachian towns in that it is not a name, but a number. How did the place get its moniker? The story goes that the city got its title in 1860 through the handiwork of the clever postmaster, Dabnie Nunnally.
Nunnally had doubts as to the legibility of his handwriting, so out of convenience and homegrown efficiency, he decided that a number would work best. Why the number 88? The popular myth is that Nunnally, when naming the town, reached into his pocket and pulled out the handsome sum of 88 cents, setting the name into the history books.
Of course, the small town just happens to be 8.8 miles from the neighboring city of Glasgow. As to which story to believe, we’ll leave it up to the whims of the reader.
Odd, West Virginia
You can say that Odd, West Virginia has an odd name, and no one can argue with the claim. Apparently, when they needed to establish the town’s post office, the townsfolks got together to think up a fitting title.
Somebody (no doubt someone from the back of the room ) spoke up and said that the name should be an odd one. The postal lady M. J. Brown thought that it was a great idea and suggested the name Odd. Oddly enough, everyone liked it.
When W. H. Colbert built his general store, he had the ingenious idea of putting it right next to the road for the convenience of travelers. In this way, women could leave their carriages and visit his store without getting muddy on the way. He hoped this would encourage business.
Not to be outdone, Isaiah Giles built a blacksmith shop on the other side of the road, just as close and equally convenient. With both buildings on either side of the road, visitors had to slow down when passing through the area. The story of the tight squeeze spread, and soon the town had its name.
Thursday, West Virginia
What can we say? This is one place in Appalachia where it is always Thursday. Legend has it that the application form had a blank space, so one Lawrence Fredrick, busy with work, decided to stick the day of the week in it and move on with the business at hand. Apparently, that particular blank space carried some importance, and now the town is officially known as Thursday.
To this day, the residents are no doubt glad that Lawrence didn’t fill out the form on Monday.
Hot Coffee, Mississippi
While this city is barely in our Appalachian towns area, the fondness for the drink in today’s culture meant we had to include it here. Back in 1870, an industrious man named L.J. Davis opened a store, hung a coffee pot over his door, and greeted the world with the bold slogan, “The best hot coffee around.” Davis had a unique recipe for his coffee, using pure spring water, imported New Orleans beans, and molasses for a unique sweet taste.
The claim must not have been far off the mark because soon everyone in town was frequenting the establishment. It was a favorite for local politicians, who would buy coffee for esteemed constituents and passing travelers.
Eventually, the coffee shop fame spread, and the town found that it had a “delicious” new name. But one thing you should know about the coffee there – you could not get cream in your coffee since Davis claimed that it ruined the taste.
Whynot, North Carolina
Back in the 18th century, the townspeople of this area didn’t have a name to call themselves. The story has it that there was a long and arduous discussion that was going nowhere. Someone finally spoke up and asked, “Why not name the town Why Not and let’s go home?”
Apparently, everyone else had enough of town naming for the day, so that’s what they did. At one time the town’s title was the two-word name “Why Not.” It’s easy to imagine that someone in the town asked, “Why not shorten it to one word,” which apparently they did.
You may think that this place would be a haven for fast food “junkies.” But if you go to this town in Southwest Virginia, you need to be sure and say the name correctly. Instead of the fast food, the city sounds like the process of creating ice. You pronounce it like the word “freeze.”
The town gets its tasty looking but cold-sounding name from the prominent mill owner Francis Henry Fries. Fries purchased land in the area and built a dam and a mill. When the New River Train came to the mill in 1901, a name was needed to put it on the map. At first, it looked like James “Pipe” Carico would be the namesake (another story to be told), but at the last minute, the town was called Fries.
The story behind the challenging name for Difficult, Tennessee has to do with second choices. The story goes that when the residents first applied for the post office name, the application was sent back, stating that the name was “difficult.” Not one to read between the lines, the townsfolks adopted its newly given title. As they say, the rest is history.
You can find many uniquely named places in the Appalachian area, but these are just a few of our favorites. One thing is for sure: with such a rich culture, there are going to be some interesting stories when it comes to the places you find there.