Triple Letter

On May 26, 2013 · 2 Comments

An unwary visitor arriving on the Twelve Mile Circle through some random search once again provided fodder for an article topic. The query forwarded by search software said: "name of the county, state and cities starts with s?" Usually this means someone is trying to complete an online geography contest or perhaps an old-school crossword puzzle. The answer would be somewhere within the sum of all towns starting with S in Saluda, Spartanburg, and Sumter Counties in South Carolina and starting with S in Sanborn, Shannon, Spink, Stanley and Sully Counties in South Dakota. For example, Stateburg, South Carolina would fit the definition. It’s in Sumter County. S-S-S. There are probably dozens of possibilities. Can we go home now?

Nothing is every that easy on 12MC. I decided to up-the-ante a couple of different ways. First, I considered only those towns or cities that were also the county seats, and I expanded the universe to all fifty states. It was a manual process so I can’t guarantee the results. I could have overlooked something.

First I created the set of states and counties that began with the same letter (154 instances). Then I checked each of their county seats. That produced 45-ish results. Maybe. What is the county seat of New York County; is it New York City? What do we do with Oklahoma City knowing that portions of it extend into multiple counties? Can one of Virginia’s weird independent cities have a "county" seat? I included them anyway. Others might disagree.

Some examples were better than others. I created a scale of impressiveness based upon the results I complied. They are included in a shared spreadsheet you should feel free to review, or not.

  • Outstanding: All started with the same letter and all three were different words
  • Technically Correct, Plus: Same letter, repeated word, plus a portmanteau, and I love portmanteaus so that should count for something extra: Milaca in Mille Lacs County, MN. Yes they threw an extra "a" onto it but let’s not split hairs.
  • Technically Correct: Same letter with repeated words. Conejos in Conejos Co., Colorado and Hilo in Hawaii Co., Hawaii were good examples.
  • Lacking Originality: OK/OK/OK/OK (throwing in the state capital for good measure too) and NY/NY/NY.
  • No: The large preponderance of instances. The county seat started with a different letter than the county
  • Double No: Very rare examples of counties with two seats and by the way neither of them started with the same letter as the county and state. Punks.

My interests focused primarily on the "outstanding" examples, of which I found only 7 occurrences amongst the 3,143 counties and county-equivalents in the United States.

(1) GGG: Gibson, Glascock County, Georgia

Gibson referred to Judge William Gibson who shelled out the cash to build the local courthouse.

Glascock (map) was General Thomas Glascock, a Congressman and a veteran of the War of 1812 and the Seminole War of 1817. He was apparently able to conceive at least one child in spite of his name.

(2) MMM: Mt. Clemens, Macomb County, Michigan

Christian Clemens Grave, Mt. Clemens, Michigan

Christian Clemens first surveyed and then popularized the town he named for himself, Mount Clemens. He’s still quite revered in Mt. Clemens according to lots of material I found on the Intertubes, and he’s buried at Clemens Park in town. One can see his grave marker in Street View without too much effort.

Another War of 1812 officer provided a name for Macomb: U.S. General Alexander Macomb, who later went on to become the commanding General of the U.S. Army although that happened after the county was named for him.

(3) NNN: Nelson, Nuckolls County, Nebraska

How often does a place get named after someone’s middle name? That’s apparently the case with Nelson: Horatio Nelson Wheeler. I guess one could also claim it gave homage to Lord Nelson in a roundabout way too. Mr. Wheeler provided the land for the town and had no larger claim to fame.

Nuckolls were the Nuckolls Brothers, Lafayette and Stephen, who were early Nebraska pioneers, legislators, and businessmen (map).

(4) OOO: Okemah, Okfuskee County, Oklahoma

View Larger Map

Okemah derived from Chief Okemah of the Kickapoo tribe. Linguistically it may translate from a Creek word for "person of high stature" or something similar.

Okeham is know best as the birthplace of Woody Gutherie. A photograph of his home is listed on the Library of Congress website. I don’t know about its copyright status so feel free to go there and view it on your own.

A number of websites including were created in 2012 to commemorate the one hundredth anniversary of the folk singer’s birth. It used a great Woody Guthrie quote to describe Okemah:

Okemah was one of the singingest, square dancingest, drinkingest, yellingest, preachingest, walkingest, talkingest, laughingest, cryingest, shootingest, fist fightingest, bleedingest, gamblingest, gun, club and razor carryingest of our ranch towns and farm towns, because it blossomed out into one of our first Oil Boom Towns.

Okfuskee also had a Native American derivation. The Okfuskee people were part of the Muskoke/Muskogee (Creek) confederacy in Alabama prior to their removal to Oklahoma.

(5) WWW: West Bend, Washington County, Wisconsin

Finally, an easy one. Washington County (map) honored George Washington. West Bend referenced a western bend in the Milwaukee River where the town was founded.

(6) WWW: Wautoma, Waushara County, Wisconsin

Then, the next example returned to a Native American theme. Waushara translated to "big fox."

Wautoma might mean "good earth" or "good life" which is an improvement over it’s original name, Shumwaytown. The most fascinating geographic feature of Wautoma is that it’s composed of three major, separate non-contiguous areas, and several smaller parcels (map). There’s no truth to the rumor that Wautoma translated into "town who’s boundaries got thrown into a blender."

(7) WWW: Worland, Washakie County, Wyoming

View Larger Map

Worland was named for "Charles Henry Worland, who in 1900 built a dugout saloon and stage station on the west side of the Bighorn River"

Chief Washakie was a leader of the Eastern Shoshone Indians.

Totally Unrelated

Flickr recently increased its storage to one terabyte per account. I’m in the process of uploading something like 10,000 photographs in full size and I don’t think I’ll hit even one percent!

On May 26, 2013 · 2 Comments

2 Responses to “Triple Letter”

  1. Let’s see how many examples we can get in Canada (Saskatchewan could be painful):

    AAA: Acadia Valley, Acadia Municipal District, Alberta (technically correct)
    AAA: Airdrie, Airdrie city, Alberta (technically correct)
    AAA: Athabasca, Athabasca County, Alberta (technically correct)
    BBB: Burns Lake, Bulkley-Nechako Regional District, British Columbia (outstanding)
    MMM: McCreary, McCreary Rural Municipality, Manitoba (technically correct)
    MMM: Miniota, Miniota Rural Municipality, Manitoba (technically correct)
    MMM: Minitonas, Minitonas Rural Municipality, Manitoba (technically correct)
    MMM: Minnedosa, Minto Rural Municipality (outstanding)
    MMM: Morden, Morden city, Manitoba (technically correct)
    MMM: Morrris, Morris Rural Municipality, Manitoba (technically correct)
    OOO: Ottawa, Ottawa city, Ontario (technically correct)
    SSS: Saltcoats, Saltcoats Rural Municipality, Saskatchewan (technically correct)
    SSS: Stewart Valley, Saskatchewan Landing Rural Municipality, Saskatchewan (technically correct)
    SSS: Saskatoon, Saskatoon city, Saskatchewan (technically correct)
    SSS: Senlac, Senlac Rural Municipality, Saskatchewan (technically correct)
    SSS: Shamrock, Sharmrock Rural Municipality, Saskatchewan (technically correct)
    SSS: Shellbrook, Shellbrook Rural Municipality, Saskatchewan (technically correct)
    SSS: Spalding, Spalding Rural Municipality, Saskatchewan (technically correct)
    SSS: Spiritwood, Spiritwood Rural Municipality, Saskatchewan (technically correct)
    SSS: Spy Hill, Spy Hill Rural Municipality, Saskatchewan (technically correct)
    SSS: Star City, Spy Hill Rural Municipality, Saskatchewan (technically correct)
    SSS: Storthoaks, Storthoaks Rural Municipality, Saskatchewan (technically correct)
    SSS: Swift Current, Swift Current city, Saskatchewan (technically correct)
    SSS: Swift Current, Swift Current Rural Municipality, Saskatchewan (technically correct) (Also a double hit! An independent city surrounded by an RM)

    So there you have it: Burns Lake and Minnedosa are the two outstanding examples in Canada. Oddly enough, my mother came from the RM of Minto about 7 miles east of Minnedosa.

    Newcastle, Northumberland County, New Brunswick fell under the ‘outstanding’ category until the town of Newcastle was amalgamated with the city of Miramichi in 1995.
    Québec, ville de Québec, Québec fell under the ‘lacking originality’ category until the name of its county equivalent was changed in 2000 to Capitale-Nationale.

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