Magness Lake, in Heber Springs, is a magnet for swans
Today's Arkansas history lesson is about place names. How we got them, whom or what they honor. Sadly, many of these once-thriving communities have vanished. Remembering them here is a kind of salute.
Ashdown, Ark., was named for a loudmouth who during the community debate to select the town's name told another loudmouth, "Why don't you just go over yonder and set your ash down."
Aunt Bee, Ark., was named for that community's prize-winning domestic pickle-maker.
Beebe, Ark., was named for the air-rifle ammo that was always fixing to put somebody's eye out.
Ben Hur, Ark., was named for Charleton Heston, who in his twilight asked the town fathers to rename it Cold Dead Hand, Arkansas, but they wouldn't do it.
Board Camp, Ark., got its name because so many of the 19th Century church camp attendees there, bad spellers all, whined incessantly about being boared.
Concord, Ark., was named for Concord, New Hampshire, which is where, according to Tea Party history, the shot was fired heard round the world.
Crumrod, Ark., took its name from an old Welsh word that meant "having a very ugly and demoralizing surrounding landscape."
Dalark, Ark., was named for the one that sings at heaven's gate in Cymbeline.
Des Arc, Ark., was named for Noah's Ark, which, according to state Sen. Denny Altes, brushed the top of Crowley's Ridge in northeast Arkansas, thus causing the Marianna Trench, before finally coming to rest on Mt. Ararat in modern-day Turkey.
De Valls Bluff, Ark., was named for a legendary roadhouse poker game there won by a gambler named De Valls, who knew when to hold 'em and when to fold 'em, which inspired a ballad by a singer that gave the town of Rogers somebody to name itself for.
Dillweed, Ark., was an early name and apt characterization of Searcy.
Dog Peter Gnat, Ark., was named for the insect bane of nearly all male front-porch canines in these latitudes.
Do What Now, Ark., was named for the commonest interrogatory response you hear from Arkies who aren't sure what you meant by what you just said to them.
Goobertown, Ark., was named by residents for themselves, and Jasper, Ark., was pretty much the same story.
Grubbs, Ark., was named for the community's favorite trotline bait.
Hambone, Ark., was an all-black community named by Boss Man for a comic strip minstrel darkie whut talked lak dis. The panel ran in the old Arkansas Democrat back before it became the oldest newspaper west of the Mississippi.
Hunky Dory, Ark., was said to have got its name because its inhabitants were the happiest bunch of people in the Bear State and wanted to be able to sing a Gilded Age popular song titled "Everything's Hunky Dory in Hunky Dory."
Ink, Ark., got its name because the application form for a post office said "Write in Ink" so they did.
Lake Dick, Ark., was named for the Arkansas-born crooner Dick Powell. (Admit it, you were thinking something ugly like you'll be doing when we get down to Weiner, Ark..)
Little Rock, Ark., was first named Arkopolis, but everybody agreed that that name sucked, although not quite as bad as Arkistantinople, which was also proposed.
Marked Tree, Ark., was named for the tree that the first dog there used.
Monkey Run, Ark., was Monkey's Uncle, Ark., until the anti-Darwinists got it changed soon after the Scopes trial.
Nut House City, Ark., eventually thought better of it and took the moniker Benton instead.
Pocahontas, Ark., was originally Sacajawea, Ark., but early residents didn't know how to spell Sacajawea, so they went with the only other Indian woman any of them had ever heard of.
Pitts, Ark., halfway between Uno and Chilson, would seem to be self-explanatory.
Possum Innards, Ark., was named for what everybody there had for Saturday dinner.
Rooster Poot, Ark., home town of TV news anchor Craig O'Neill, was named from the corruption of a group of Osage words that together meant, "Oh, Lord, they're going to b---f--- the preacher on TV."
Salem, Ark., is the name shared by at least three communities. One was named for the menthol cigarette; one because they found and burned several witches there, and the third because it had a house with seven gables. (Actually, six; Salem thought seven might be considered ostentatious and had one removed.)
Samples, Ark., was named for Junior.
Sheep Shank, Ark., was thought to be the only Arkansas community named for a knot.
Tontitown, Ark., was named for Jay Silverheels.
Weiner, Ark., was named for the Supreme Court justice Felix Frankfurter.
Bob Lancaster, one of the Arkansas Times longest and most valued contributors, retired from writing his column last week. We’ll miss his his contributions mightily. Look out, in the weeks to come, for a look back at some of his greatest hits. In the meantime, here's a good place to start.
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