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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Community names have interesting history

Thursday, March 30, 2006

OPEN: The Thayer Tourist Information Center and Railroad Museum opened last week in Thayer. It is sponsored by the Thayer Area Chamber of Commerce. The Information Center is open every day from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Mary Rucker, waving from the caboose, is one of the volunteers who mans the tourist information center.

THAYER -- Mary Lee Peace of the Oregon County Historical Society presented the program at the March historical society meeting at Thayer.

Her program was on how the county and the communities in the county received their names.

She said Oregon County was formally organized Feb. 14, 1845. It was originally a portion of Ripley County and got its name from the western territory of Oregon. Pease said she learned this from the Missouri Genealogical Society. She said the county was much larger originally and in 1859 was split to form Howell and Oregon County.

Alton -- The county seat took on that designation in 1859. Pease said William Hodge donated the land for the town. She said there is a story that the name Alton was chosen so the county clerk, William C. Boyd, would have an easy name to spell. His first attempt at the name came out Owllon. But the book Our Storehouse of Missouri Place names by Robert L. Ramsey says the town was named for its neighbor to the north, Alton, Ill.

Thomasville -- Pease said Thomasville is considered the oldest settlement in Oregon and Howell County. It was chosen the county seat in 1845 and a year later there was a post office there.

The town was named after the Thomas family who donated the land for the town.

Pease said Charles Hatcher had discovered the valley in 1809 and built a home there. He was followed by six other men from Slaughtersville, Ky., whose last names were Howell, Lane, Thomas, Woodside, Moore and Olds. It was John Thomas and his wife, Matilda, who gave 10 acres to start the village.

Myrtle -- Before the Civil War, there were settlers in what was to become Myrtle, but the site which ultimately took claim to the name was not laid out until 1881. J. Scott Moore built a store there and laid out a town site. Pease said other businesses soon sprang up and when the post office was established at the Moore Store, the town officially became Myrtle. The name came from one of Moore's daughters, Myrtle. She was crippled and could not get out much, so the town children were used to going to Myrtle's to play with her

Thayer -- Thayer was founded in 1882 by George Nettleton and called Division. It served as the division point for the Kansas City, Springfield and Memphis Railroad, In 1885, Nettleton proposed the name Augusta for the community that had been built along the railroad, but according to Oregon County Court Book 5, Augusta already was an incorporated name for a town in St. Charles County. Pease said about 30 communities in Missouri borrowed their names from railroad officials, operators, employees and directors. According to Our Storehouse of Missouri Place Names, Thayer got its name from Nathaniel Thayer of Boston, Mass., an important stockholder in the railroad.

Riverton -- Riverton was reportedly named when C.R. Jones drove through the little town of Riverton, Kan. He returned home to what was then named Johnson's Ferry and renamed it Riverton. C.L. Johnson had built and operated a ferry there in the early 1900s.

Rover -- According to the book Why'd They Name it That by C.H. Curtis, the community got its name in 1900 when the first postmaster, Highland T. Haywood, named the newly organized town after his favorite dog, Rover.

Koshkonong -- This community is named after Lake Koshkonong in southern Wisconsin, known as habitat for wild ducks and geese. Pease said it is an Indian name meaning wild rice. Because he knew of Lake Koshkonong and saw the natural ponds around the Missouri community, R.R. Hammond, a district supervisor for the Kansas City, Fort Scott and Kansas Railroads, who was then laying track in the area, decided that was an appropriate name for the community and it stuck.

Couch -- Pease said postal records show the Couch community had been named Webster, then Hy. It took its present moniker on Aug. 22, 1887, when Benjamin F. Couch was postmaster. He served for a year, then George W. Couch Couch was appointed, serving until 1899. Both men were sons of Simpson Couch and the post office was on part of the family's homestead.

Greer -- Pease said the naming history of Greer began in 1859 when Samuel Greer and his family left Tennessee for Oregon County. She said Greer and his father purchased land that included what was to become known as Greer Spring from Thomas Simpson. He ended up with 1,001 acres and a lasting legacy of his family's name on the spring and surrounding property.

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