By Steve Carlton
Arkansas has its share of towns with strange names. Here are a few and how they actually got their names. From 1887 the US post office required a town or township to be named and sent applications to be filled out. Hundreds of applications were mailed, and sometimes mistakes were made.
In 1887 the people in a community in Polk County received their application. The application said, “Please Write in Ink.” They took this literally and wrote that exact name in the blank. For 136 years, this town has been known as Ink, Arkansas.
A story passed down tells of how Toad Suck, near Conway, got its name. It is said that barge and boat workers would stop in a tavern there and drink “suck” on the bottle till they swell up like toads. Actually, this is false, according to Ernie Deane who wrote “Arkansas Place Names.” The word “suck” had two meanings in old pioneer days. One was a water supply for animals. The other word suck was used for narrow channels between an island and the river’s bank. The water in these channels would sometimes recede and leave behind shallow water or a “suck” which would attract frogs or toads, hence “Toad Suck.”
For some reason, the community of Fifty-Six was denied their application to be named Newcomb. The story goes that with sarcastic intention, they wrote in Fifty-Six which was the number of their school district. The Post Office, with no sense of humor, accepted the name.
In 1885 a community in Searcy County filled out the application for a post office. They wrote in Snow Hall in honor of the county sheriff, Benjamin Snow. The application was smudged and the Postal Service officials read it as “Snowball”. It became official and has not changed.
In 1686 the French settlers called the area in Southern Arkansas “Sumac Covert,” which means “covered in Sumac.” When the pioneer settlers came in, they settled a town but butchered the name and pronounced it as “Smackover” and the name stuck.
In 1913 the Jefferson County Road Improvement District began construction on a 23-mile road linking a township by Pine Bluff North towards Little Rock. This road was the longest continuous concrete pavement road in the United States when completed in 1914. The road was called Dollarway because it cost approximately one dollar a linear foot to build. Actually, the real cost was $1.36 per foot. The community adopted the name Dollarway.
There are literally dozens of other Arkansas towns with strange names. Examples are Goobertown, Monkey Run, Booger Hollow, Possum Grape, Oil Trough, and Greasy Corner. Some names were by design, and some by mistake.
I grew up in Smackover and people laugh when I tell them that. Even my husband did not believe that was a real name until he went to a high school reunion with me.
I grew up in South Arkansas and went to high school in Fordyce, Arkansas (Go Redbugs!) There are two unincorporated townships outside Fordyce with “fun” names: Bucksnort and Cooterneck.
I work from home with clients across the country. Sometimes when we’re talking about our backgrounds, I tell them that I went to high school in Fordyce, but I was actually bussed in from the suburb of Cooterneck. Tends to stop conversation for a moment or two!
There is also a Bucksnort, TN. There used to be a Cootie’s Bluff in OK until a dam was built to make a new lake. Cootie’s Bluff consisted of a general store (which also housed the post office) and the population was 2. Alas, it is now at the bottom of the lake.