Would you move to Accident? How about Boring?
Hear a name often enough, and you won't think twice about it. But that doesn't change the fact that Maryland has some oddly named places.
I wonder if a strange name keeps people from moving in. I'd like to think it instead attracts residents who like a little whimsy in their lives, or at least their mailing addresses.
Accident, in Western Maryland, does not appear to be named after a disaster. Historian Mary Miller Strauss writes in Flowery Vale, a history of Accident, Maryland that it's impossible to say for sure, but she believes a story about land speculation.
When Lord Baltimore opened lands "westward of Fort Cumberland" to settlers, two friends from Prince George's County rushed out -- separately -- to survey and claim property. William Deakins Jr. had just finished surveying 682 acres when Brooke Beall showed up and said "he had selected the same tract for his survey, calling attention to his axe marks on the trees to prove his claim":
Deakins replied that it appeared that they had selected the same land "by accident". Since he and Beall were friends and land was abundant, he proposed that Beall take over the survey already made. To this Beall agreed, although his warrant called for 778 acres. John Hanson, Jr., Deputy County Surveyor, made out the survey to Beall, and they named the tract Accident.
What about Boring in Baltimore County? It was named after a postmaster, not because it's ... well, you know. (One resident writes, "Is Boring boring? Well yes it is, but in a good way.")
Bivalve on the Eastern Shore also has a post-office-related history, according to Bivalve United Methodist Church Centennial Celebration 1886-1986 by Paul Willing. It was originally called Waltersville after a local family. But there was already a Waltersville post office elsewhere in Maryland, so in 1887, the newly appointed postmaster had to think of another name for his office. I'll bet you can guess what he came up with.
But why? In honor of oysters, "mainstay of the watermen's livelihood," Willing writes. And that's how Waltersville became Bivalve.
Here are other Maryland places with names that tickled my funnybone:
Bald Eagle in Prince George's County
Bestpitch on the Eastern Shore
Brink in Montgomery County
Butler in Baltimore County
Crapo on the Eastern Shore
Detour in Carroll County
Gist in Carroll County
Parole in Anne Arundel County. (Whenever I've passed by, I've wondered if prisoners were once released there en masse. Actually, it was an exchange site for Union and Confederate prisoners of war.)
Peacock Corners on the Eastern Shore
Pumpkin Center in Western Maryland
Rabbit Town on the Eastern Shore
Rising Sun in Cecil County. (The town was originally called Summer Hill, but a local tavern called The Rising Sun was so popular "that Summer Hill yielded to Rising Sun as the official name of the place" around 1815, according to the Maryland Municipal League.)
Rush in Western Maryland
Sandy Bottom on the Eastern Shore
Secretary on the Eastern Shore. (Not an ode to administrative assistants -- it was, the Maryland State Archives says, named after Secretary Creek, which in turn was named for Henry Sewall, secretary of the Province of Maryland from 1661 to 1665.)
Security in Western Maryland
Sparks in Baltimore County
Stumptown in Carroll County
Unicorn on the Eastern Shore
What's your favorite unusual place name?