Full Name Counties

On April 1, 2014 · 1 Comments

Almost exactly a year ago, 12MC published Jeff Davis, a treatise on the use of the Confederate leader’s full name as a geographic identifier at the county level of government. Davis County wasn’t a good enough name for some of those deeply-Southern states, it had to be Jeff Davis or the more formal Jefferson Davis, to make sure everyone clearly understood the defiant reference. I intended to list other full-name (first name + surname) county combinations later and then it slipped my mind as the months passed.

Let’s begin with basic ground rules and caveats. I searched for first and last names only. I’m sure Pocahontas (Iowa, West Virginia) the great Powhatan Indian chiefs’ daughter had only one single name and technically might qualify as a "full name county" However in my own defense I also discounted royalty (sorry Prince William) and religion (ditto St. Louis) so hopefully I won’t be criticized too harshly as unduly Eurocentric.

I’ll highlight some of my favorites and list the rest.

Wade Hampton

Governor Wade Hampton by Wofford Archives on Flickr
via Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0) License.

Wade Hampton III served as a cavalry officer in the Confederate Army, and later as the governor of South Carolina and then a United States Senator. That would seem like an unlikely choice to inspire the name of a remote, frozen corner of western Alaska on the Bering Sea (map). Fewer than 10,000 people live in Wade Hampton. Its principal town, Hooper Bay (or Naparyarmiut in Yup’ik), barely registered as more than a small cluster of homes.

What did a South Carolina soldier and politician have to do with Alaska? Absolutely nothing, well, except for one tiny tenuous thread. His daughter Mary Singleton Hampton married John Randolph Tucker, a well-connected politician, and a real Virginia gentleman who descended from one of the Commonwealths most established families. President Woodrow Wilson, another Virginia native, appointed Tucker to the bench of Alaska Territory’s United States Court Division 2 in 1913.

After arriving in Nome some of his first few official acts dealt with the large St. Michael mining district south of Nome. He divided the district in half. The new recording precinct was named for his wife’s father, Wade Hampton… Judge Tucker served exactly four years on the bench at Nome but his father-in-law’s name has lasted to present day…

More properly the place is known as the Wade Hampton Census Area of Alaska’s Unorganized Borough so some might scoff at including it on the list. I liked the story so it remained.

Jim Hogg

Ima Hogg by Kent Wang on Flickr
via Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0) license

The Texas State Historical Association’s Handbook of Texas included a lengthy article on Jim Hogg County "in the Rio Grande Plain region of South Texas." (map) as well as an extensive biography of the man himself. James Stephen Hogg became the first governor of Texas who was actually born in Texas.

Jim Hogg is probably better know for what he did to his daughter. He named her Ima, as in Ima Hogg ("I’m a Hog" for those in the 12MC audience for whom English is a foreign language). Essentially he bestowed upon his daughter a name that declared that she was a pig. Sources differed as to whether he fully realized the implications at the time or not. The handbook said,

According to family history, Ima was named for the heroine of a Civil War poem written by her uncle Thomas Elisha. Her name became a part of Texas folklore, along with the myth of a fictitious sister supposedly named Ura. Ima Hogg was affectionately known as Miss Ima for most of her long life. She was eight years old when her father was elected governor…

Her unusual name certainly never hampered her success. Ima Hogg became a philanthropist, a patron of the arts, a master gardener and a force for historic preservation in Texas and beyond. Many referred to her as "The First Lady of Texas."

Ben Hill

Wouldn’t it be hilarious if Ben Hill County (map) in Georgia was named for Benny Hill? Sadly, it wasn’t. This Ben Hill was Benjamin Harvey Hill, a 19th Century politician who "actively opposed disunion until the secession ordinance" and then served in the Confederate Congress. After the war he served in the US House of Representatives and Senate. I’m beginning to detect a pattern with all of these old Confederates and their full name counties.

I don’t have anything more to add except that — thanks to the Benny Hill reference — I have Yakety Sax stuck in my head.

There. Now you can suffer too.

And the Rest

  • Anne Arundel County, Maryland (map): Anne Arundell (with two l’s unlike the county named for her) was wife of Lord Baltimore, founder of the Maryland colony. She was also the only woman I found on the Full Name Counties list. (source)
  • Charles Mix County, South Dakota (map): Probably named for a Commissioner of the Bureau of Indian Affairs (source)
  • Deaf Smith County, Texas (map): Erastus "Deaf" Smith was a hero of the Texas Revolution. (source)
  • Jim Wells County, Texas (map): James Babbage Wells, Jr., was a judge in south Texas and a Democratic party boss (source)
  • Jo Daviess County, Illinois (map): All of the counties named for Joseph Hamilton Daveiss spell his name incorrectly; only one included both his first and last name though. He commanded the Indiana Dragoons at the Battle of Tippecanoe, where he died. People who died in battle often got more counties named for them than those who survived (unless they subsequently went on to become President or something, like Jackson and Grant). (source)
  • Kit Carson County, Colorado (map): Christopher "Kit" Carson was a mountain man who gained renown as a guide for the Fremont expeditions and later as a frontier soldier; his highly fictionalized exploits were mainstays of numerous 19th Century dime novels. (source)
  • Roger Mills County, Oklahoma (map): Roger Quarles Mills was another one of the former Confederate officers that later served in the US House of Representatives and Senate. (source)
  • Tom Green County, Texas (map): 12MC already featured this place in an earlier article.

I can’t guarantee I found every example although this list should be pretty close. I examined the full set of US counties manually, and that’s 3,142 at the moment I think, so I could have missed one or two.


On March 27, 2014 · 6 Comments

I’ve long wanted to add Washington’s San Juan County to my county counting list and maybe someday I’ll succeed. Pondering that eventuality I began to grow increasingly curious about its only incorporated town, Friday Harbor, specifically the story behind its name.

Friday Harbor, Washington, USA

It seemed unusual to name a settlement after a day of the week. What confluence of events could lead to something like that? Maybe an early explorer sailed into a harbor on a Friday, I figured, maybe even one of the original Spanish expeditions that charted the archipelago in the late 18th Century. Actually that wasn’t the case at all. The name referred to the day of the week although it happened decades later and indirectly.

View from Friday Harbor House by Jamie Campbell on Flickr
via Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0) license

According to the San Juan Historical Society:

Friday Harbor was named for a Kanaka — a Hawaiian named Joseph Poalie Friday, who was employed by the Hudson’s Bay Company to tend sheep on the land overlooking the harbor. His was the only habitation to be seen for miles, and when sailors coming along the coast saw the smoke from his camp, they knew they had reached “Friday’s Harbor” … Poalie is a shortened form of “Poalima,” the Hawaiian word for Friday. Joe might have dropped his native surname in favor of Friday when he came to the Northwest.

That sounded a bit convenient, perhaps apocryphal. I examined the reference using a modern Hawaiian dictionary. It included the word Pō’alima and confirmed the definition Friday. The theory wasn’t completely out of the question. Thus Friday Harbor was likely named after a man either with the surname Pō’alima or Friday, in either case Friday.

Friday, Texas

Friday, Texas, USA

Texas included a small village named Friday. I love encountering Texas place names because I can almost always find an explanation in The Handbook of Texas, published by the Texas State Historical Association. That source noted,

FRIDAY, TEXAS… was established around the time of the Civil War and was originally known as Ellis Prairie… In 1903, when a post office was established, the name was changed to Friday. By 1914 the community had a general store, a cotton gin, and a gristmill… The post office continued to operate until 1955… The population in 1990 was forty-one. In 2000 it had grown to ninety-nine.

While the Handbook explained when Friday became Friday, it did not explain why that happened although it dangled a tantalizing clue. I speculated that there was already an Ellis elsewhere in Texas and the residents had to select an unused name in a hurry if they wanted a post office. The pages of 12MC record numerous instances where unusual names arose from similar circumstances.

Joe Friday Well

Jack Webb Harry Morgan Dragnet 1968
Joe Friday (Jack Webb) and Bill Gannon (Harry Morgan) on Dragnet
SOURCE: Wikimedia Commons in the Public Domain

I mentioned Joe Friday only a few weeks ago in Just the -fax, Ma’am when I wrote,

Police sergeant Joe Friday never actually said "just the facts ma’am" on the vintage television show Dragnet, according to Snopes. Rather, the character played by Jack Webb uttered different lines that were later confused with the classic phrase now erroneously attributed to the show.

Joe Friday Well, Arizona, USA

Nonetheless Joe Friday had his own well in Arizona. Or maybe it was Joe Friday for whom Friday Harbor was allegedly named? Seriously, what were the odds of three different Joe Fridays suddenly appearing in a matter of days on 12MC? I swear it wasn’t intentional. If it were I’d have created an entire Joe Friday article.

Friday Island, Queensland, Australia

Friday (and other day) Island, Queensland, Australia

Friday Island appeared off of the Cape York Peninsula at the far northern tip of Queensland, about as close as Australia could possibly get to New Guinea. I didn’t find anything unusual about the name as much as when it was combined with some of the neighboring islands including Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday Islands. And what happened to Monday and Saturday, which didn’t seem to be present, and Sunday charted much farther down the peninsula (map)? Notable features included lighthouses on Tuesday and Wednesday, pearl farms on Friday, and a sizable population of about 3,500 residents on Thursday.

Black Friday Lake, British Columbia, Canada

I wondered about Black Friday Lake in British Columbia, Canada, too. Which Black Friday inspired the name? I assumed it wasn’t the 1945 riot at the Warner Bros. studios, or the 1910 suffrage protest in England, and certainly it wasn’t the day after Thanksgiving shopping event in the United States because that would make no sense at all in Canada. Perhaps it referred to the alternate name for Good Friday.

Best Avoided by Those With Delicate Sensibilities

Reader "Glenn" sent an email to 12MC with a map link, and a firm "no comment." I followed the link, chuckled, and noticed another geographic feature about a mile southwest of there. I replied, "apparently we have quite the, um, interesting theme going on there in Florida’s nether regions."

Keep those comments, ideas, and discoveries coming!

Gary Coleman on the Grassy Knoll

On February 23, 2014 · 1 Comments

The search engine query landed with an explosion on Twelve Mile Circle, hoping to uncover the ultimate in unlikely conspiracy theories, "Gary Coleman on the Grassy Knoll." The article you are reading right now was the first time that Mr. Coleman ever appeared in these pages as far as I could remember, and as confirmed by a quick search of every phrase that’s ever been published on this domain. I may never know why or how the mysterious forces of the Intertubes thought that 12MC might provide a solution. I can only thank whatever happy sparks of coincidence delivered this outlandish premise to my doorstep for my personal amusement.

I did know one thing: I wanted to cement the status of 12MC as the top of the list should anyone ever again drop Gary Coleman on the Grassy Knoll into a search engine.

The Grassy Knoll, Dallas, Texas, USA

The primary concern with this supposition, as I saw it, was the very simple fact that Gary Coleman was born in 1968. The John F. Kennedy assassination in Dallas, Texas — and the possibility of additional shooter(s) on the grassy knoll — happened in 1963. And yes, I realized that the query was more than likely posted by someone searching for the most ridiculous conspiracy theory imaginable, probably out of simple boredom just to see if anyone had ever made the claim before. That didn’t make it any less awesome. Maybe that made it more awesome. Would it even be possible to imagine something more outlandish?

It had been a long, tragic ride for Gary Coleman as he nosedived from his childhood starring role in Diff’rent Strokes all the way down to Midgets Vs. Mascots (also staring Ron Jeremy… I don’t even want to know) not long before his untimely death in 2010. I have visited the Grassy Knoll and unless Mr. Coleman somehow mastered interdimensional time travel, I’d say it would be fairly safe to assume that he didn’t play a role. Still, "Gary Coleman on the Grassy Knoll" remained my favorite 12MC query ever.


The Grassy Knoll at Dealey Plaza

While we’re on the topic, my "Grassy Knoll at Dealey Plaza" photograph continues to hold the record for being the most frequently stolen image on Twelve Mile Circle. It got so bad after awhile that I finally had to add that little tag-line at the bottom of the graphic to keep potential copyright violators at bay. That seemed to work.

Grassy Knoll Dr., Romeoville, Illinois, USA

it surprised me to find quite an abundance of roads in the United States named Grassy Knoll given the emotionally-charged nature of the phrase. Perhaps some of them predated 1963 although I didn’t know what to make of the others. A few examples included:

  • Grassy Knoll Way, Elk Grove, California (map)
  • Grassy Knoll Drive, Tavares, Florida (map)
  • Grassy Knoll Drive, South Bend, Indiana (map)
  • Grassy Knoll Drive, Romeoville, Illinois (map)
  • Grassy Knoll Circle, Shreveport, Louisiana (map)
  • Grassy Knoll Terrace, Germantown, Maryland (map)
  • Grassy Knoll Street, Las Vegas, Nevada (map)
  • Grassy Knoll Lane, Raleigh, North Carolina (map)
  • Grassy Knoll Road, Gaffney, South Carolina (map)
  • Grassy Knoll Lane, La Marque, Texas (map)
  • Grassy Knoll Court, Woodbridge, Virginia (map)

I provided only one example per state, otherwise I’d probably still be recording and posting them. Most of these instances appeared in neighborhoods with bucolic themes, allowing Grassy Knoll to slip-in unnoticed within prevailing street names and norms. Some occurrences, since we’re conspiracy minded at the moment, might have included subtly hidden references to the Kennedy assassination. Notably,

Some say… a Nixon Connection?

  • In Raleigh, North Carolina, Grassy Knoll Lane fell close to Daingerfield Drive. One could certainly characterize the grassy knoll as a "danger field."
  • In Tavares, Florida, a housing development included Grassy Knoll Drive and Waters Gate Drive. Some say (notice how I slipped-in "some say" the favored expression of baseless claims) that Richard Nixon was involved in the Kennedy assassination and subsequent coverup. Nixon, of course, was brought down by the Watergate scandal.
  • In Woodbridge, Virginia, Grassy Knoll Court bordered on Slippery Elm Court. President Kennedy was riding down Elm Street in front of the Grassy Knoll when he was shot!

.. or they could have been completely coincidental. However, when has that ever stopped anyone from posting a reckless statement on the Internet? Never?

Rest in Peace, Mr. Coleman.

Completely Unrelated

Loyal reader Glenn noted that Napoleon and Wellington met at Waterloo east of Kansas City, Missouri.

(A) Napoleon, (B) Waterloo, and (C) Wellington, in Missouri

Famously, Napoleon Bonaparte and Arthur Wellesley, the 1st Duke of Wellington met in battle at Waterloo, south of Brussels, Belgium in 1815. Now they continue to do so into perpetuity in Missouri. Glenn couldn’t find definitive evidence to prove that Waterloo, Missouri was named intentionally to fit the theme, however it seemed too remarkable to be completely coincidental.

Is anyone aware of other contiguous towns named for a battle and its opposing combatants?

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