Directional Surname Frequency

On April 20, 2017 · 9 Comments

I spotted South Street in Manly, Iowa as I wrote Even More Manly Places. Ordinarily that wouldn’t generate much attention. For some reason I found it entertaining to see a South with an east and a west. One could go to East South or West South, although apparently nowhere southeast or southwest. Ditto for North Street, and a similar situation for East Street. Oddly, Manly didn’t seem to have a West Street. I’ve run into similar situations like this in plenty of other places and I always smile. I don’t know why I fixated on it more than usual this time.



I’m sure the street names all came from their geographic alignment throughout town. However, each of those could be surnames too, theoretically although not likely. I went completely down a tangent and started thinking about that possibility anyway, way too much.


Frequency

Fortunately the United States Census Bureau published a file that offered hours, well minutes, of entertainment. Doesn’t everybody love leafing through a table of Frequently Occurring Surnames from the 2010 Census? Then I checked the etymology of directional surnames. They all seemed to relate to ancestors who lived in a particular direction away from a larger town or region. People named West lived to the west. You get the picture.

Frequency variations definitely existed.

  • West seemed particularly popular. It ranked as the 125th most frequent surname in the U.S., with nearly two hundred thousand instances. Variations trailed from there. Westerman ranked 6,620, Westman ranked 11,257 and Western ranked 11,395.
  • Next in popularity, and much farther down the list came North. It ranked 1,766th, with about twenty thousand people. Northern ranked 8,981.
  • East followed in 2,843rd place with about twelve thousand people. However the variation Eastman actually scored higher, ranking 2,162. Easterly trailed with a rank of 12,593
  • South fell at the back of the pack at 3,231, and eleven thousand people. Southern ranked 4,587 and Southward ranked at 23,120. Southward presented a bit of an anomaly. Every other directional surname aligned almost exactly with people who identified as white. By contrast, about a third of the people named Southward identified as African-American.

Then I hoped to find a place for each direction, named for an actual person with that surname rather than its geographic position. I already discussed the wonderful North, South Carolina in North AND South so I set north aside. I didn’t find a South anywhere, although that didn’t surprise me given the frequency of the surname. That left West and East.


More West


Czech Stop, West, TX
Czech Stop, West, TX. Photo by Angie Six on Flickr (cc)

I created a little game around the West surname a few years ago. That reflected its overall popularity. This time I searched for an actual West and I found it in Texas. The name could be confusing. West, Texas (the city) was not the same at West Texas (the region). In fact West, along Interstate 35 between Dallas/Ft. Worth and Waco, probably fell a little bit to the east of the West Texas region by most interpretations. Everyone seemed to have a different definition of West Texas. That didn’t help.

According to the City of West,

The Katy Railroad was laid between Hillsboro and Waco in the fall of 1881. The path of the railroad cut through land owned by Thomas West. Czech immigrants came to the area purchasing the rich lands to farm and start a fresh life in the new world. They also opened businesses sharing their European culture. By the 1890’s the Czech businesses flourished in West.

That legacy of Czech immigration still existed in West. Businesses such as the Czech Stop and Little Czech Bakery (map) combined both cultures and offered kolaches and barbecue. Kolaches, I learned, were a type of fruit pastry brought to the area by those immigrants. Residents also emphasized their cultural heritage each Labor Day with a Czech polka festival called Westfest.


Easton


Easton Neston east side 21 July 1985
Easton Neston east side on Wikimedia Commons (cc)

I couldn’t find a town of East, however I remembered a town on Maryland’s eastern shore called Easton. Unfortunately the name derived from its position east of St. Michaels. Oh well.

Other Eastons existed. Maybe that offered hope. I pulled a few threads on the history of Easton, Pennsylvania (map) and I found an intriguing if convoluted story. Thomas Penn, son of William Penn who founded Pennsylvania, married Juliana Fermor in 1751. The next year a growing town in Pennsylvania needed a name so Penn suggested Easton. Fermor grew up on an estate owned by her father, the 1st Earl of Pomfret, called Easton Neston in Northampton, England (map). The newly established town in Pennsylvania became Easton, in the newly established county of Northampton. That worked out nicely. Problem solved.

However it created another mystery in my mind. Easton Neston seemed to be a rather unusual name for an estate. Actually, it simply borrowed the name from a local church parish, which in turn borrowed the name from a town that existed there for more than a millennium. The town faded away over time although the parish remained, as did the estate. The only reference to its etymology seemed unreliable although I’ll still provide it: "Easton Neston in Northamptonshire gets its name from Old English Eadstanestun ‘settlement of Eadstan’, a personal name composed of the elements ead ‘prosperity’, ‘riches’ + stan ‘stone’."

It sounded good enough to me.

Beery Places

On March 25, 2014 · 3 Comments

It began as I discovered Beery Reservoir in northeastern Montana appearing from my laptop screen (map). For once I decided to avoid overthinking the reference and have fun with it while wondering how awesome it would be to have a reservoir of beer. Don’t expect a lot of intellectual curiosity or historical background today, just beer-themed places that sounded funny and maybe a pun or two.

I was surprised by the number of beery entries listed in the US Geographical Names Information System. I selected a few of the best.


Beer Run



Beer Run, Eldred, Pennsylvania, USA

In my earlier years, a beer run was what we used to do when we thought we might finish the beer before the party ended and had to dash to the nearest convenience store before it closed. This activity needed to be well considered because Virginia didn’t allow off-premise beer sales after midnight. Fortunately that hasn’t been a problem in a long time for me. I can’t imagine being awake after midnight today and certainly not drinking. The Urban Dictionary included other definitions too like going into a store, grabbing a six-pack and running out without paying. Don’t do that.

Geographically the term "run" was used interchangeably with stream or creek in certain pockets of the United States including Virginia. An example familiar to many readers might include Bull Run, the site of two famous Civil War battles fought in the Commonwealth. The Union army often named battles after a nearby body of water.

Beer Run flowed past Frozen Toe Road. I’m sure there was a joke in there somewhere.


Beer Airport



Beer Airport, Hudson, Wisconsin, USA

A pilot could be fired for consuming alcohol anytime close to flight time so Beer Airport sounded like a disaster waiting to happen. The "airport" — and I used that term loosely here — was a thin grass strip set between two plowed fields in rural Wisconsin.

The Federal Aviation Administration maintained records on every airport including this one, which was listed by AirNav.com. Beer Airport was a private field, 2200 x 60 ft. (671 x 18 m) with a 40 foot high powerline at the end of the runway (clearly visible on Street View). Richard Beer was listed as owner and Dan Beer was manager, thus explaining the name they selected for the facility. The Beers operated two single engine airplanes and an ultralight from their personal airport.

I’m impressed by the things one finds on the Intertubes. Richard Beer was also listed in TruckCompaniesIn.com.

Richard L Beer is a Carrier truck company located in Hudson, WI. Richard L Beer’s United States DOT (Department of Transportation) number is 560700. Richard L Beer employs 3 truck drivers as owner operators or company drivers. Leasing opportunities may be available. Richard L Beer’s commercial over-the-road transportation services may include specialized, flatbed, or heavy haul driving. 3 of Richard L Beer’s trucks include auxiliary power units.

The Beer family had a fascination with machines.


Beer Can Pond



Beer Can Pond, Tallahassee, Florida, USA

I found no additional information on Beer Can Pond. I enjoyed the name and the Street View image was nice. That was all.


Beer Cemetery



In heaven there is no beer.
That’s why we drink it here
When we’re gone from here,
all our friends will be drinking all our beer

(traditional Polka)

On the surface it seemed that the Beer Cemetery in Fulton Co., Illinois (map) might have been an attempt to deliver a few creature comforts into the afterlife. It wasn’t of course. The cemetery was actually the final resting place for an extended family of about forty people, many named Beer. A gravestone listing suggested that it was active in the second half of the 19th Century and into the early 20th Century. The site later fell into neglect, judging by individual grave markers.


Root Beer Falls

I figured I’d also throw a bone at the teetotalers who suffered through the rest of this article, bless their hearts. GNIS recorded Root Beer Falls in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, in Gogebic Co. (map).



Upper Tahquamenon Falls (Paradise, Michigan) by Corey Seeman via Flickr
via Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) license

This is Tahquamenon Falls, also located on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, however on the opposite side nearly five hours away by car. I found next to nothing about Root Beer Falls, however I found tons of information about Tahquamenon Falls which was known informally as Root Beer Falls.

The Tahquamenon River flows 94 miles from the Tahquamenon Lakes into Lake Superior, and its falls are sometimes affectionately called “Root Beer Falls” because of the water’s distinctive color. The flowing water has a rich, deep brown color, which is the result of tannic acid produced by decaying hemlocks, cedars, and spruces along the river’s banks.

Got that? Root Beer Falls was completely unknown except to the US Geological Survey, while a much better Root Beer Falls was officially Tahquamenon Falls.


Somewhat Related

We snagged tickets to SAVOR 2014 during the American Homebrewers Association pre-sale period today. Rumor has it they sold out in two minutes. Life is good. Any other 12MC-ers attending?

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12 Mile Circle:
An Appreciation of Unusual Places
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