Unique Missouri Town Names

By: Brooke Mason


Agency, MO – Agency was laid out in 1865. It was formerly the site of an agency of the Sac and Fox Native Americans, hence the name.

Annaopolis, MO – Annapolis was laid out in 1871, and according to tradition, named after Anna Allen, the wife of a railroad official. The name is also said to be a transfer from Annapolis, Maryland. 

Arrow Rock, MO – The entire village is part of the National Historic Landmark Arrow Rock Historic District, designated by the Department of the Interior, National Park Service in 1963. Arrow Rock was the name of a prominent flint-bearing bluff on the Missouri River. The name first appeared on a French map from 1732 as “Pierre a Fleche” meaning “Rock of Arrows.” Edwin James on the 1819 Yellowstone Expedition wrote, “Arrow Rock is so called from its having been formerly resorted to by neighboring Native Americans for the stone used to point their arrows.” The two dominant Native American tribes in the area encountered by French traders early in the 18th century were the Missouria and the Osage. The bluff continued to be a landmark to explorers and travelers for over 150 years. Lewis and Clark passed by on June 9, 1804 and noted “Several small Channels running out of the River below a Bluff & Prairie.” 

Bell City, MO – The community was named after brothers Gesper Albert and Ralford Stephen Bell, proprietors of a local sawmill. Bell City was situated along the St. Louis Southwestern Railway.

Berger, MO – The community has the name of Casper Berger, an early settler.

Bland, MO – The town is named in honor of U.S. Congressman Richard Parks Bland, a United States Representative from various districts in south central Missouri. Bland was a practicing attorney in Rolla in neighboring Phelps County.

Blue Eye, MO – According to tradition, Blue Eye was so named from the noted blue eye color of an early postmaster. That’s an interesting idea. They must have had some really stand out blue eyes.

Boss, MO – The community is named after the nickname of Marion “Boss” Nelson, a lumberman supervisor.

Butterfield, MO – The town has the name of Fredrick Butterfield, a railroad official. I’m just imagining a field full of butter. 

Carl Junction, MO – Carl Junction was laid out near a railroad junction by Charles Skinner, who gave the town his German first name of Carl. There seems to have been quite a few German settlers in the mid-west. 

Chestnutridge, MO – The community takes its name from a nearby ridge of the same name where chestnut trees were abundant. With the town’s name being all one word it’s fun to say it fast. 

Clever, MO – When the first choice for a post office name was rejected by the Federal government, Mr. Netzer surveyed customers and one, Tom Lentz, suggested “Clever” because the young community’s residents were friendly and wise. 

Coffey, MO – Coffey was originally called Coffeyburg, and under the latter name was laid out in 1856 by B. H. Coffey and named for him. A post office called Coffeysburg was established in 1867, and the name was changed to Coffey in 1910.

Cooter, MO – According to Houck’s History of Missouri, the town of Cooter was named in 1854 for the Coutre (pronounced “Coo-Tra”) family, headed by Frenchman Portell Coutre of New Madrid, Missouri. I wonder how the name got switched around from Courte, which is beautiful. 

Cowgill, MO – Cowgill was laid out in 1887. The community was named for Judge James Cowgill, a prominent local resident.

Daisy, MO – The community has the name of a pioneer citizen’s wife. I feel like Daisy was a pretty common name for women in that time. The modern day “Rose”. 

Deepwater, MO – Deepwater was laid out in 1885, taking its name from nearby Deepwater Creek. That’s simple enough. 

Devil’s Elbow, MO – Devil’s Elbow is an unincorporated community in Pulaski County, Missouri, United States on historic U.S. Highway 66. It is situated on the Big Piney River and is named for a tight incised meander in the river known as a “devil of an elbow”.

Doe Run, MO – The community takes its name from nearby Doe Run Creek. Doe Run had its start in the 1880s as a lead-mining town. Sounds like they aren’t very good hunters there. 

Eagle Rock, MO – The community takes its name from a nearby rock formation. I’m wondering if the rock is shaped like an eagle.

Eureka, MO – According to the Eureka, railroad workers, while clearing the way for the track and the next railroad camp, saw Eureka, level land with little to clear, and declared, “Eureka!” Greek meaning “I have found it.” Thus, Eureka was founded. Probably one of the best name stories I have found so far. 

Fair Play, MO – The founder wished to call it Oakland, but because that name was already assigned to another community, he declared “We’ll just call it Fair Play”. 

Gipsy, MO – Gipsy was named by J.C. Montgomery, who applied for a post office in 1908. Mr. Montgomery had come, with his large family, in a covered wagon circa 1900-1902 from Tennessee, and had camped on the old Hinkle school ground. The people of the community called the Montgomerys “gipsys” because of their manner of coming, and he used that name when he applied for the post office.

Gobler, MO – Situated beside a railroad track, Gobler is said to have been named for Gobler Elliott, a railroad man of Caruthersville, Missouri. Gobler is a strange first name to me. 

Goodman, MO – The community was named for L. A. Goodman, a businessperson in the local orchards industry. 

Grassy, MO – Grassy was named for the nearby Grassy Creek on which the community is located. The name of the creek derives from the lush sage grass that grows along the banks and in the bed of the stream. That sounds beautiful and an awesome named for the town now that I know the backstory. 

Half Way, MO – Halfway is a descriptive name from its location between Bolivar and Buffalo. 

Hawk Point, MO – The community was named for the fact that hawks nested near the original town site.

Higbee, MO – The community has the name of Joseph Higbee, a pioneer settler.

Hollister, MO – Reuben Kirkham opened a general store and applied for a post office, suggesting the name Hollister after his daughter, born in Hollister, California.

Imperial, MO – The little community of Imperial was once called West Kimmswick, Liberty, and then Rockport before the present name of Imperial stuck. The name came from a clock factory that only existed about 2 or 3 years in a concrete building on the Bayer Garden property during World War 1, called the Imperial Clock Company. They could be a part of the Sith empire. 

Kahoka, MO – The city is named for the historic Cahokia tribe of the Illiniwek or Illinois Confederacy, which occupied territory on both sides of the Mississippi River in this area at the time of European encounter.

Kelso, MO – Everyone’s favorite character on that 70’s show. The community has the name of I. R. Kelso, a pioneer citizen.

Kidder, MO – The city was laid out in 1860 by H.B. Kidder of the Kidder Land Company in Boston.

Knob Lick, MO – The community takes its name from nearby Knob Lick Mountain. In the Ozarks, knob typically refers to an isolated summit, and lick is a natural “salt lick” or salt spring.

Licking, MO – I think I’ll pass. The community was named for a mineral lick near the original town site. 

Missouri City, MO – Missouri City was originally named Atchison. The earliest known use of the name was on a deed to a building from 1820. The land was possessed by French fur traders Antoine Laffond and Bernard Laffond as early as January 24, 1807. The name had changed to Missouri City by December 5, 1857. I am convinced that every state has a town named with the “state name city”.

Moody, MO – The community has the name of a pioneer citizen who also gave his name to Moody Creek, a small stream just north of the town site.

Novelty, MO – Novelty was named for the novelty goods sold by a local merchant.

Otterville, MO – Otterville was originally called Elkton, and under the latter name was platted in 1837. The present name is after nearby Otter Creek.

Philadelphia, MO – The community was named after Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and is not as popular. 

Pilot Knob, MO – The city was named after the Pilot Knob Mountain nearby, which served as a navigational landmark or “pilot” to hunters and travelers. The Battle of Pilot Knob in the fall of 1864 was a notable clash in the area during the Civil War. A museum near the battle site is dedicated to this event.

Polo, MO – The city’s name is a transfer from Polo, Illinois.

Purdy, MO – The city was named for George A. Purdy, a railroad promoter. Just from the pictures I think it lives up to its name. 

Puxico, MO – Puxico was named after Pucksicah, an Native American chief.

Quitman, MO – Another quitman, I wonder if this is a popular town name? Originally it was called Russellville which was first platted in 1856 by R. R. Russell. Later, the name was changed to Quitman in honor of John A. Quitman.

Roach, MO – The community was named after the Roach family of pioneer settlers who were hardy in nature and would not die under very harsh circumstances. Weird flex but okay. 

Rocky Comfort, MO – That does not sound very comfortable. Some say the community was named for the rocky terrain in an idyllic setting, while others believe the name is a transfer from Rocky Comfort, Arkansas.

Salisbury, MO – Following two intermediate owners, the land was sold for $400 to Judge Lucius Salisbury in 1856. He had surveyors lay out the town plat in 1857, and the town was founded on April 1, 1867. 

Shook, MO – The community has the name of George Shook, an early settler. 

Success, MO – Founders of the community most likely named it “Success” in order to promote a mineral spa established there. 

Tallapoosa, MO – Tallapoosa was laid out in 1902. The town was named after Tallapoosa County, Alabama.

Wappapello, MO – The community has the name of a Native American chieftain.

Washburn, MO – Wow, another washburn. The current town encompasses the sites of two communities formerly known as Keetsville and O’Day and is named for local pioneer Samuel C. Washburn.

Yukon, MO – The community was named after the contemporaneous gold rush in Yukon, Canada.

Zalma, MO – Zalma, was once known as Bollinger’s Mill. When the railroad moved to town, the name Bollinger’s Mill was changed to Zalma, after railroad worker Zalma Block. Zalma is also said to come from a Native American word meaning “the end.”

Zanoni, MO – The community was founded in 1898 and was named for the novel Zanoni by Edward Bulwer-Lytton.


Namesake Story Unknown

Advance, MO – Although this town is named advance it is not very advanced at all. The town has no sustained industry in the town or in the surrounding area. They do have agriculture as the most viable source of local income however, it is still very small. The police department has only two full-time officers and two reserve officers

Amoret, MO – Amoret was platted in 1890, and possibly was named after the biblical Amorites but it is not known for sure.

Cadet, MO – A weird name for a town. It’s like naming a town captain or major.

Chula, MO – Chula is a Native American name meaning “red fox”. It is unclear why the name Chula was applied to this community.

Coatsville, MO – I’m sure they stay pretty warm in the wintertime. 

Elmo, MO – The community most likely was named after the novel St. Elmo but it is uncertain. I guess there is a St. Elmo.

Falcon, MO – My best guess is that it was a popular location for falcons. 

Green Castle, MO – I think this place belongs in a Dr. Seuss book. 

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