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Tom Chaney: Place Names, Post Offices, and a Game

Of Writers And Their Books: Place Names, Post Offices, and a Game. Tom asks, "How on earth did they pick that name?" This column first appeared 15 January 2006.
The next earlier Tom Chaney column: Country Ham at Christmas

By Tom Chaney

Place Names, Post Offices, and a Game

Her Highness Editor Wilson and I lay down the challenge last week for our correspondents to tell us about place names in Hart County. The challenge arose from the great hue and cry heard in the land, "How on earth did they pick that name?" So far the response has been overwhelming. One reader said she noticed the column as she wrapped her garbage with it.

So this is a combination column -- part books, part names.

First, the books of which there are three.

The first is by Robert M. Rennick, Kentucky Place Names (University Press of Kentucky, 1987). It lists more than 3,000 names of places across the state -- both mundane and outlandish. Lots of Hart County names are included. Among them are Dowagiac (Pike View), Whickerville, and Cub Run, as one might expect. An attempt is made to get at the reason for the name, whether the place had a post office, and where it is located. The chief fault of the book is that there is no county index. Sources of information are documented in most useful notes at the end.

The second and more comprehensive book is A Guide to Kentucky Place Names, published by the Kentucky Geological Survey at the University of Kentucky, revised in 1991. While it is more comprehensive in places listed, this work does not make any attempt to explain origins. Nonetheless it is helpful in locating the named place by county, area of the county, and the topographical quadrant map in which it is found. Neither does this work have a county index. One must know the name of the place then find it in the alphabetical listing.

But there are many more names of places listed with every town, village, post office, knob, church, branch, river, or fork found on the maps used.

The third book came into my hands accidentally from a customer trading books. The book is published by the Post Office Department in 1923. It is yclept ADVERTISEMENT Inviting Proposals for Carrying the Mails of the United States on STAR ROUTES in the State of Kentucky From July 1, 1924, to June 30, 1928. Star Routes were the first method for delivering the mail in the nation. In 1845 Congress, in an effort to reduce the cost of moving the mail, authorized the taking of bids from prospective carriers and accepting the lowest bid for what "may be necessary to provide for the due celerity, certainty, and security of such transportation."

These routes came to be known as "celerity, certainty, and security" bids. Postal clerks shortened the phrase to three asterisks or 'stars' (***). The bids were known as 'star bids' and the routes became 'star routes.'

The later type of postal route was staffed by employees of the post office. The star route carriers were private contractors who won the bid and posted the bond required.

The book in hand was published in 1923. Bids were received until January 15, 1924, and the decisions were announced by February 23, 1924.

There were several star routes in Hart County -- Canmer, Horse Cave, and Bonnieville, Cub Run, Munfordville among them. Some of the routes specify the mode of transport. The Canmer route allowed an automobile.

The Bonnieville star route provides our game.
Route #29696: From Bonnieville, by Priceville and Dorsey Corner (n.o. or No Office), to Wheelers Mill, returning by Butlers Corner (n.o.) and Priceville, to Bonnieville, equal to 13.42 miles and back, six times a week. Carrier to go from Priceville northwest to Wells Corner (n.o.), southwest to Cave Hill Church (n.o.), southwest to Gibson Corner (n.o.), northwest to Webb Corner (n.o.), southwest to Mills Corner (n.o.), southwest to Lines Mills (n.o.), and retrace northwest to Smith Corner (n.o.), west to Dorsey Corner (n.o.), northwest to Nolin River, and retrace northeast to Craddock Corner (n. o.) to Wheelers Mill, returning by Millers Corner (n.o.), Butlers Corner (n.o.) Rowe Corner (n.o.), and Jones Corner (n.o.), to Priceville. Contractor to be required, in addition to usual box delivery and collection services, to sell stamp supplies, deliver registered matter, accept and give receipt for applications for money orders and the money therefore, also for matter presented for registration or for insurance and C.O.D. parcels.

Leave Bonnieville daily, except Sunday, on receipt of mail from train due about 11 a.m., but not later than 11:30 a.m.;
Arrive at Priceville in 2 hours;
Leave Priceville daily, except Sunday, 30 minutes after arrival;
Arrive at Wheelers Mill in 3 1/2 hours;
Leave Wheelers Mill daily, except Sunday, 15 minutes later;
Arrive at Priceville in 1 1/2 hours;
[next day] Leave Priceville daily, except Sunday at 8 a.m.;
Arrive at Bonnieville by 10 a.m.
Bond required with bid, $1,800. Present pay $1,539.61.
Now here is the game. Can you, gentle reader, identify the various places on this route? Oh, yes! We know where Bonnieville and Priceville are. But what of the rest? Why were they named as they are? Is a particular corner name given because there was a farm at the turning? Was there a store located there?

Here is an opportunity to rescue nigh forgotten names, hence places from the cusp of oblivion. Please use current road names as far as possible.
This column makes reference to: Hart County News-Herald * Sunday Living * 8 January 2006
From Cash to Whickerville; Shiboley to Eudora
Or Where Did That Name Come From?

by Tom Chaney

The stalwart editor of the Sunday Edition of The Hart County News-Herald assigned me the task of explaining place names in Hart County.

My first reaction was that she was on drugs and had driven her ducks to the wrong pond. However, out of perhaps misplaced sympathy for the mentally bewildered, I agreed to try my hand at the job.

Mark Twain provided the reason for my acceptance. When asked what he thought of the British writer, Rudyard Kipling, he replied, "Kipling is a most remarkable man. Between us we cover all knowledge. He knows all that can be known. I know the rest."

And so, the job begins. I fire up my trusty computer (a Golden Dellicious with interface with a wood stove) and begin.

This project will be a search for the story behind the names in an attempt to find "truth" with a lower case "t". For capital "T" "Truth" we shall defer to the philosophers and theologians.

Truth in either case is an elusive mistress and ambiguous.

An example comes to mind. Witness the name of the community seven miles east of Horse Cave on Kentucky 218. I have always known for a certainty that it was named for a farmer of that place in 1904 -- Legrand McGee. A neighbor gave Mr. McGee's name to a new post office being established there.

The settlement proudly bore that fine English name for at least as long as there was a post office in Legrand -- from 1904 until 1908.

At some time during or after the lifetime of that Legrand McGee and during the lifetime of his son, Legrand, the name got Frenchified. Legrand became LeGrande. When? Why?

The cub that ran may have been a creek or a bear. I've heard at least four accounts of how the little village of Crossroads became Cub Run.

And what about Uno? Legend refers to the location of a clear pint of divine and delectable nectar; to a Spanish word for the number "one"; and Uno how hard it is to determine "truth."

Some folks wanted to discard rough, obscure names for those more highfaluting. Hence Bacon Creek became Bonnieville and Horse Cave became Caverna. The former stuck; the latter reverted after only a decade.

I hereby request, in the name of our bewildered editor, the aid of our readers in this elusive search for truth.

Write to the address below with the "true" story of how a town, village, neighborhood, post office, road, school, creek, church, or knob got its name.

In all of this we must have standards. Each submission will be measured by the Elephant Rule.
Remember the story of the blind men who were asked to describe an elephant.

The first man held it tail. "An elephant is a rope."

The second hugged a leg. "An elephant is a tree."

The third felt its side. "An elephant is a wall."

The fourth grasped its trunk. "An elephant is a hose."

The fifth seized an ear. "An elephant is a fan."

Each was right according to his lights.
When you submit your true story, please include your name, address, and phone number. As a rule, we shall use names in order to implicate the guilty. But we will consider requests to withhold names of those whose reply might involve a hanging offense.

The results of our search will be published on an irregular basis as the stories arrive and will definitely be affected by the availability of clear pints and degrees of procrastination involved.

Tom Chaney can be found telling stories, planning his next meal, and occasionally selling books at
Box 73 / 111 Water Street
Horse Cave, Kentucky 42749
Email: Tom Chaney

This story was posted on 2013-12-29 06:41:22
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