Los Angeles, CA; Monday, August 7th, 2012: Toad Suck, Arkansas, has been voted America’s “most embarrassing or unfortunate” town-name, in a global poll.
It beat Climax in Georgia, Boring in Oregon (and its namesake in Maryland) and Hooker in Oklahoma in a poll of almost 2,000 people conducted by the family history website, findmypast.com.
“In the course of researching their family history, people can discover that their ancestors came from somewhere with an unlikely, unfortunate or downright embarrassing name”, explains Josh Taylor, genealogist and spokesperson for findmypast.com.
True, it’s not the worst thing you might unearth when tracing your ancestry. “Nonetheless”, says Taylor, “some people are disconcerted to learn that their forebears came from somewhere called, for example, Toad Suck, Roachtown or Monkey’s Eyebrow.”
Findmypast.com and its global network of partner sites asked users in seven English-speaking countries (U.S., UK, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa) to pick from its own shortlist of 11 unfortunate or embarrassing American town- and place-names.
“You can judge the strength of the short-list from the quality of the names that failed even to make it”, says Taylor. These included Who’d Thought It (Texas), No Name (Colorado) and Elephant Butte (New Mexico).
Assawoman, Virginia, however, did make the list, ranking fifth, ahead of Belchertown, Massachusetts in sixth and Roachtown, Illinois seventh.
“I maybe expected Squabbletown to rank higher”, confesses Taylor.
Loveladies, New Jersey, ranked eighth, edging Squabbletown, California into ninth position, followed by Monkey’s Eyebrow in tenth place.
But there was disappointment—or maybe relief?—for Chicken, Alaska, which narrowly failed to make the top 10.
“If there were an Olympics for unlikely town-names, America would surely be good for a medal, if not the gold”, says Taylor.
Toad Suck is the name of an unincorporated community in Perry County, Arkansas.
The origin of its name traces back to the legend that the crew of steamboats that once plied the Arkansas River used to moor their craft where the Toad Suck Dam now spans the river.
“While they waited”, explains the website toadsuck.org, “they refreshed themselves at the local tavern there, to the dismay of the folks living nearby, who said: "They suck on the bottle 'til they swell up like toads." Hence, the name Toad Suck.”
The town of Climax in Georgia, meanwhile, owes its name to its location at the highest point of the local railroad line. (There was also once a Climax in Lake County, Colorado – a mining settlement that was the highest human settlement in the U.S. but is now a ghost town.)
The unincorporated community of Boring in Oregon was named for William H Boring, a Union veteran, who moved to the area after the Civil War.
Its residents – like those of many other localities with improbable names – nowadays embrace the name with pride, promoting their community with the slogan, “The most exciting place to live”. Only this June, Boring officially “paired” with the village of Dull in Perthshire, Scotland.
Q. Which of the following real places in the U.S. would you find it most embarrassing or unfortunate to learn that your ancestors came from?
“Most Embarrassing or Unfortunate” U.S. Town-Names: Top 10
1 Toad Suck (Arkansas)
2 Climax (Georgia)
3 Boring (both Oregon & Maryland)
4 Hooker (Oklahoma)
5 Assawoman (Virginia)
6 Belchertown (Massachusetts)
7 Roachtown (Illinois)
8 Loveladies (New Jersey)
9 Squabbletown (California)
10 Monkey’s Eyebrow (Kentucky)
Note: Chicken (Alaska) narrowly failed to make the top 10
• Sample size: 1,754 respondents
• Beth Cook: email@example.com Tel: 1-917 673 7942
• Brian Speckart: firstname.lastname@example.org. Tel: 1-714 654 3415.
Marketing Manager of North America, findmypast.com and brightsolid Online Publishing
NOTES FOR EDITORS
Findmypast.com, a family history website, has just launched (July 24) into the growing U.S. genealogy market. It is the flagship brand of brightsolid online publishing, a world leader in online genealogy, with 18 million registered users across its family of sites, over a billion genealogical records dating back to 1200 – and a growth rate last year of 75%.
Findmypast.com joins existing findmypast sites in the UK, Ireland and Australia. It has recruited a separate U.S. team, based in a new office in Venice, California.
It is also a participant in the 1940 U.S. Census Community Project, which is currently indexing the 1940 U.S. Census, for viewing on findmypast.com.
brightsolid was this year voted Best Genealogy Organization in the online Gene Awards. Its portfolio also includes everything from the British Newspaper Archive, the world’s greatest newspaper archive, to genesreunited.co.uk, ancestorsonboard.com,
censusrecords.com and friendsreunited.com.
Family historians who subscribe to findmypast.com’s “World subscription” will search for their ancestors among global collections, of special value to those with British or Irish ancestors and including military records, census, migration, occupation directories, and current electoral roll data, as well as birth, marriage and death records.
A 12-month “World subscription” to findmypast.com will normally cost $20.83/ month or $249.95/year but a limited number of early customers will be able take up a “Pioneer Offer” of a World subscription for just $4.95/month or $59.95/year.