03 September 2012

What American Towns Have the Most Unfortunate Names?

Image as appeared with original article

When I am driving along the road and see signs for towns or street names that are “interesting,” I often wonder what the story is behind the name!  For example, along Rt 85, I always pass under Squirrel Level Road in Colonial Heights VA.  I always wonder if the road was placed at “squirrel” level or what?!?!  Weird image and what else does one think of when driving!  On a more serious note, I do wonder at the “history” of the name as that has relevance to the history of the area and to those who lived there.  Without knowing history, us genealogists would often be “up a creek without a paddle” in terms of correctly understanding records or even knowing where to look for them!

Well, obviously, I’m not the only one fascinated by the names of things

Some people claim their town is boring. But somehow it just takes on another meaning when you’re in Boring, Oregon – a real, live town.

According to a completely unscientific survey conducted by the genealogy website FindMyPast.com, the most unfortunately-named town in the United States is Toad Suck, Ark., which makes its debut at the number one spot. Climax, Ga. falls to number two, while Boring, Ore. and Boring, Md. tie for the third spot. While we can’t vouch for accuracy of these rankings, Roachtown, Ill. could probably creep up a few more spots...

Of course, each town’s name is rooted in its very own history. According to urban legend, Toad Suck originally dates back to a time when steamboats ruled the waterways and it wasn’t uncommon to see workers drinking heavily: “They suck on the bottle ’til they swell up like toads,” goes the saying.

Read the full article and see the complete list of the top 11 names.

And, of course, I couldn’t stop with this article since it planted a seed in my brain of what other towns have interesting names.  I came across “Unusual, bizarre or humorous names of towns in the U.S.” The first section covers interesting categories of names and these are followed by “Fun or distinctive town and city names in XXXX.”  This reminded me of “Lizard Lick” in my home county of Wake (NC). 

Do you or did your ancestors live in a town with an unfortunate or interesting name?  If so, please let us know the name and maybe the history of how it came to be named!

copyright © National Genealogical Society, 3108 Columbia Pike, Suite 300, Arlington, Virginia 22204-4370. http://www.ngsgenealogy.org.
NGS does not imply endorsement of any outside advertiser or other vendors appearing in this blog.
Republication of UpFront articles is permitted and encouraged for non-commercial purposes without express permission from NGS. Please drop us a note telling us where and when you are using the article. Express written permission is required if you wish to republish UpFront articles for commercial purposes. You may send a request for express written permission to [email protected]. All republished articles may not be edited or reworded and must contain the copyright statement found at the bottom of each UpFront article.
Follow NGS via Facebook, YouTube, Google+, Twitter
Think your friends, colleagues, or fellow genealogy researchers would find this blog post interesting? If so, please let them know that anyone can read past UpFront with NGS posts or subscribe!
Suggestions for topics for future UpFront with NGS posts are always welcome. Please send any suggested topics to [email protected]


  1. There's a hamlet in Aberdeenshire called "Lost" and a viewpoint in Argyllshire called "Rest and be Thankful" :-) Thanks for your entertaining post! Jo

  2. Two Upfront with NGS readers let me know about these unusual town names:

    + [Kay] I had kinsmen who moved to Buck Snort Oklahoma. The post office people have long since renamed it Featherston.
    + [Mary] How about Monkey's Eyebrow, KY?

    Thanks for sharing!