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A-Name-Alia in Arkansas

What do “Possum Trot,” “Toad Suck” and “Turkey Scratch” have in common? Besides, of course, being phrases containing an animal and an action verb. For that matter, what do “Possum Fork,” “Possum Grape” and “Turkey Creek” also have in common with the aforementioned? Give up? I don’t blame you. Apart from being odd combinations of words, they are all locations in the state of Arkansas, “The Natural State,” formerly known as “The Land of Opportunity.” [1]

Although the use of the word “suck” in a location name usually refers to a salt lick or a channel of water, in the case of “Toad Suck” the name stemmed from early residents of the town in Perry County who drank whiskey in a manner that was reminiscent of toads sucking it up. [1]

The aforementioned names are not peculiar to a particular area of the state in which “The People Rule” (according Arkansas’ motto “Regnat populus’); rather, animal bearing names are spread throughout the state. Although Perry and Conway counties are adjacent, home to Toad Suck and Possum Trot, respectively, they are located northwest of the capital, Little Rock, which is appropriately located in the center of the state. Meanwhile, the adjacent Desha and Phillips, home to Possum Fork and Turkey Scratch, respectively, border the southeast side of the state. Then there’s Stone County, home to Turkey Creek, which is located directly north of Little Rock. Furthermore, Jackson County, home to Possum Grape is located toward the northwest of the state. So, you see, those that named the towns spread the wealth.

Meanwhile, located in the southern border county of Union is the town of Smackover. So, again, the peculiar names have been spread around. Of course, that’s not the only thing that was spread around the town of Smackover. Afterall, the town that was named after Smackover Creek [1] has further reaching origins, stemming from the French “Sumac Couvert” meaning “covered in sumac.” [1] So, names are not the only thing being spread throughout Arkansas, merely the more pleasant.

Hooker also appears to be sharing the wealth in Arkansas, as it is the name of towns in both Greene and Jackson Counties. Although they are both located in northeast Arkansas, they are not even adjacent counties. Alas, Hooker appears to be getting around. While your minds in the gutter, and in northeast Arkansas, in Poinsett County is located Weiner, adjacent to one of the counties (Jackson) containing Hooker and a mere two counties away from the other (Greene).

On a friendlier note, at least a couple towns with intriguing names in Arkansas received their names in honor of people. In Jackson County (yes, home to Hooker), Grubbs is named after resident James C. Grubbs. [1] (Apparently, even when I’m trying to get away from Hooker I fail; perhaps I should become a politician.) Anyway, back to the subject at hand. (I suppose that can be misinterpreted.) Well, I give up, and I give you Marion County’s Yellville, which is named after Colonel Archibald Yell. [1] And there you have it, Okay (located in Howard County)?


NOTES


Author: Rich Kachold


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