A distinction is necessary between toponomy, the study of place names and onomatology, the study of the origins of names. Division of interest between the two sciences belongs to the present century. The first scholarly paper on place names in the United States was given by Egbert Benson to the New York Historical Society in 1816. See G. R. Stewart, Names on the Land: An Historical Account of Place-Naming in the United States (New York: Random House, 1945), p. 243. In 1768 G. W. Leibnitz had pointed out that place names have meaning, and had indicated that what could be termed an Urform might exist. See J. T. Link, The Toponomy of Nebraska (Lincoln: Department of Industry and Survey, 1932), p. 14. The 1840's was the decade of increasing awareness of toponomy because of the great interest in Sanscrit and comparative phiology. This was also the time of the widening of geographical horizons because of extensive exploration of North America, Australia, and Africa. It is worth recalling that at this time geographic information was presented as encyclopediac and, therefore, the discipline provided lists of names for toponomic study.
THE NAMING OF THE LAND IN THE ARKANSAS OZARKS: A STUDY IN CULTURE PROCESSES
Article first published online: 23 FEB 2005
Annals of the Association of American Geographers
Volume 59, Issue 2, pages 240–251, June 1969
How to Cite
MILLER, E. J. W. (1969), THE NAMING OF THE LAND IN THE ARKANSAS OZARKS: A STUDY IN CULTURE PROCESSES. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 59: 240–251. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8306.1969.tb00668.x
Toponomy in Sequent Occupance Geography, Calumet Region, Indiana-Illinois,” Proceedings of the Indiana Academy of Science, Vol. 54 (1944), p. 150., “
Meyer, op. cit., footnote 2, p. 150.
Some Problems in the Distribution of Generic Terms in the Place-Names of the North-eastern United States,” Annals, Association of American Geographers, Vol. 45 (1955), p. 325., “
H. E. Driver, Indians of North America (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1961), p. 35.
G. R. Stewart, op. cit., footnote 1, p. 65.
What is Named?—Towns, Islands, Mountains, Rivers, Capes,” University of California Publications in English, Vol. 14 (1943), p. 223. Stewart suggested that mountains possess only a vague entity, especially when seen at a distance. Lacking practicality, they go unamed or are named later, and not by the folk. This is in contrast to the naming of streams., “
The Origin of Some Geographic Names,” Journal of Geography, Vol. 9 (1910), p. 10., “
Three studies of great value here are as follows: E. W. McMullen, “The Term Prairie in the United States,”Names, Vol. 5 (1957), pp. 27–46; Names of Ohio's Streams,” Names, Vol. 5 (1957), pp. 162–68; , “The Term ‘Bayou’ in the United States: A Study in the Geography of Place Names,” Annals, Association of American Geographers, Vol. 44 (1954), pp. 63–74., “
Lovely's Purchase and Lovely County,” Arkansas Historical Quarterly, Vol. 19 (1960), pp. 31–39. Informants in the field were unaware of the real origin of the name. They seemed sad that the area had lost the name which they thought was a just description. The County was officially extinguished in 1829., “
J. R. Masterson, Tall Tales of Arkansaw (Boston: Chapman and Grimes, 1943). He discussed Arkansas as a “Dog with a Bad Name” and devoted a chapter to the literary “tale” of the Arkansas Traveller which was to do much damage to the reputation of the state.
Masterson, op. cit., footnote 11, p. 180.
F. W. Allsopp, Folklore of Romantic Arkansas (New York: The Grolier Society, 1931), Vol. 1, p. 86.
A false generic is a composite expression, such as Blue Run Creek. “Run” and “Creek” are generics, but “Run Creek” is a false generic.
West, op. cit., footnote 9, pp. 66–69.
West, op. cit., footnote 9, p. 67.
West, op. cit., footnote 9, p. 69. Branner has a variant on this Choctaw origin and argued that the French “bayou” is a corruption of the French “Boyau” meaning a gut or a narrow passage; J. C. Branner, “Some Old French Place Names in the State of Arkansas,” Arkansas Historical Quarterly, Vol. 19 (1960), pp. 196–97.
Six variants on the meaning of the name Ozark are as follows:
1) The French were responsible for the name. Aux Arcs was the name of one of their trading posts on the Arkansas River. See V. Randolph, The Ozarks: An American Survival of Primitive Society (New York: The Vanguard Press, 1931), p. 14.
2) It was derived from a French term, Azoic Arc Monts. This was in a French publication of the writings of a German geologist, A. G. Werner (1750–1817). He classified rocks into Aqueous and Azoic. Lead had been sought in the mountains of southeastern Missouri since 1701, especially by the French. They called these granite (Azoic) mountains Azoic Arc Monts because mines of any value were in a segment (arc) of these mountains which seemed to form a circle. Virginians who came into the area during the Revolutionary War for lead, rendered Azoic Arc Monts as Ozarks and applied the name to all of the mountains of the region. See W. H. Yount, Barnard Bulletin, March 18 (1926), pp. 587–88.
3) It is derived from Bois Aux Arcs meaning wood of the Osage orange tree, which was very springy when wet and made good material for bows. See Arcadian Life, Whole Number 25, April (1937).
4) It is a translation from a French text which refers to Aux Arkansas, pronounced Oz-ark-ensaw; Allsopp, op. cit., footnote 13, Vol. 1, p. 87.
5) Ozark is a corruption of Aux Arcs, a French abbreviation for Aux Arkansas; Allsopp, op. cit., footnote 13, Vol. 1, p. 87.
6) It is an Anglicized version of the French Aux Arks; Arks was the clipped form of Arkansas; Stewart, op. cit., footnote 1, p. 137.
There are two factors common to all of these variants. One is the Americanization of the French form, thus providing some evidence of the sequent occupance of the land. The other is the presence of the name of the aboriginal Indians, the Arkansa. According to Masterson, who lists them all, there are thirty-two different ways of spelling their name; Masterson, op. cit., footnote 11, pp. 312–13.
Stewart, op. cit., footnote 1, p. 195.
Allsopp, op. cit., footnote 13, Vol. 1, p. 69. The same source states that Boone County was named after Daniel Boone. Other sources, such as the Arkansas Almanac, admit to controversy.
Allsopp, op. cit., footnote 13, p. 82.
Sugarloaf,” Names, Vol. 4 (1956), p. 241., “
E. T. McKnight, Zinc and Lead Deposits of Northern Arkansas, U. S. Department of the Interior, Geological Survey Bulletin 853 (Washington, D. C.: Government Printing Office, 1935), p. 15.
Personal communication from Vance Randolph, March 4, 1962.
N. M. Fenneman, Physiography of Eastern United States (New York: McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1938), p. 74.
D. D. Owen, assisted by William Elderhorst and Edward T. Cox, First Report of a Geological Reconnoissance of the Northern Counties of Arkansas, made during the years 1857 and 1858 (Little Rock: Johnson and Jerkes, 1858), p. 104.
The Vegetational History of the Middle West,” Annals, Association of American Geographers, Vol. 12 (1922), pp. 81–82., “
Personal communication from Vance Randolph, March 4, 1962.
Fenneman, op. cit., footnote 25, p. 416.
McMullen, op. cit., footnote 9, p. 28.
Gleason, op. cit., footnote 27, p. 52.
C. F. Marbut, “Soil Reconnaissance of the Ozark Region of Missouri and Arkansas,”Field Operations of the Bureau of Soils 1911, Thirteenth Report (Washington, D. C.: Government Printing Office, 1914), p. 1740.
Changing Economy and Landscape in a Missouri Ozark Area,” Annals, Association of American Geographers, Vol. 48 (1958), pp. 402–03., “
Randolph, op. cit., footnote 18, p. 33. There is a difference of opinion here. Randolph lived most of his life in the Ozarks and is a shrewd observer. Allsopp is a native of the state and said that sugar maples were known and were used to make loaves of sugar. See Allsopp, op. cit., footnote 13, Vol. 1, p. 63.
- Issue published online: 23 FEB 2005
- Article first published online: 23 FEB 2005
- Accepted for publication January 17, 1968.
- Cited By
ABSTRACT An inductive study of maps of the Arkansas Ozarks shows that the place name or toponym has value as a tool for the cultural geographer who is primarily concerned with the manifestations on the land of cultural origins, contacts, and migrations. By analyzing a collection of 2,502 place names taken from maps of northern Arkansas dating from 1858 to 1962, it is evident that the process of naming the land was both a folk and an official one. The geographical expression of these cultural processes provides an insight into the role of the habitat in primary settlement, and to the continuum of change in a little-known region of the United States.