Mississippi is full of great towns. However, some have names that’ll leave you scratching your head. And if you’ve ever wondered just how some of the state’s most oddly named towns got their monikers, you’ve come to the right place. From local legends to historical facts, here are origins behind 13 of Mississippi’s strangest town names.
Originally known as Hathaway Springs, Sebastopol was in existence before the Civil War; however, it didn’t officially become a town until 1917. According to local legend, a "Swede" travelling through the town named it after the Crimean city of Sevastopol. It’s said that the "Swede" was actually Frederick Law Olmsted, who’s more famously known as the "father of American landscape architecture."
2. Potts Camp
In 1836, a man by the name of Colonel Potts established a trading post on the Pontotoc Trail, near the Tippah River. Offering crops, cattle, and more, it didn’t take long for the small trading post to prosper. Several decades later in 1912, when the area was officially established as a town, it was named after the area’s original trading post.
As you may have already guessed, this community was once home to a sanatorium, which was officially named the Mississippi Tuberculosis Sanatorium. The facility was in operation from 1916 until the 1970s. It now serves as the Boswell Regional Center; however, its past lives on, since the former staff house has been transformed into the Mississippi State Sanatorium Museum.
4. Duck Hill
A small town in Montgomery County, Duck Hill is named in honor of Duck, a Choctaw Chief. Also a medicine man, he used to treat residents in the area. During his time as chief, he would hold meetings on a large hill, just northeast of the town’s present location. Eventually, Chief Duck’s name and preferred meeting place were combined to form the town’s name.
This small town in Jones County can thank travelling postmaster Jim Eaton for its strange name. Local legend says that Eaton liked to make small talk with residents. In his conversations, he often used the phrase "so so." Eventually, his catchy saying became the name of the post office and soon, the town took on the name as well.
6. Rolling Fork
Rolling Fork seems like an extremely strange name at first, but once you hear the story behind it, the name actually makes a lot of sense. In 1828, Thomas Chaney became the area’s first resident. Upon arrival, he began exploring his new home and found a creek. He immediately noticed how swiftly the water flowed at the creek’s fork and, in turn, named the area Rolling Fork.
7. Mhoon Landing
Established in 1859, this Delta community got its name from Feyton Mhoon, an African American settler. According to legend, Mhoon helped to guide ships navigating the nearby Mississippi by placing a lantern in the local lighthouse each night.
8. Panther Burn
According to local folklore, this strange name came about after a group of residents trapped and burned a panther that was wreaking havoc on the community; however, this story has been proven to be false. Turns out, "burn," was once a common term for stream or brook, so the name most likely originated from a nearby water source.
This small town got its peculiar name because of its location on the Strong River. According to researchers at the University of Southern Mississippi, the name came from the French who referred to the area on a map as "de l'eau sans potable," which translates to "bad drinking water." Over time, it was shortened to the current version, D'Lo.
There are two theories regarding this town’s unusual name. Some say it came about as residents were discussing what to name the town. They went back and forth with ideas, each chiming in "Why not name it this? Why not name it that?" Eventually, someone suggested simply using "Whynot," and the rest agreed. The second (and less entertaining) theory is that it was named by migrants from a town called Whynot in the Carolinas.
When you take into consideration that a lot of Mississippi’s towns have names with Native American origins, Pascagoula may not seem so strange. However, the translation, which is "bread eater," is definitely a bit on the strange side.
12. Itta Bena
Another name with Native American roots, Itta Bena is Choctaw for "home in the woods." Long ago, there was a plantation in the area named Itta Bena, and eventually, the surrounding town took on the name as well.
13. Hot Coffee
With a name like Hot Coffee, you can bet this town has been included on countless lists of towns with strange names. The delightfully odd moniker can be traced back to 1870 when a store was opened in the area. The owner, L.J. Davis, hung a coffee pot over the door, advertising "the best hot coffee around." Before long, the popularity of the coffee led to the community’s fitting name.
So, did you know already how the above towns got their names? Have another strangely-named town to add? Tell us in the comments section!