Questions: If you’d been in Bloomington in 1922, instead of 2022, you could find yourself in jail for (1) living together without a marriage license; (2) “rousting” a neighbor’s flower beds; (3) “crimes against nature” (defined as “unnatural acts of a sexual behavior,” such as same sex); (4) creating a disturbance by being drunk.
answer: It’s all those, according to recent “How Time Flies” entries in this newspaper.
The 24 most unusual town names in Illinois
Unusual town names in Illinois
We’ve got nothing but love for odd town names, because we are the home of Normal, after all. Some of these names are silly, others are simple, and all of them have pun potential.
Let’s start with the town that actually has humor in its name. According to Wikipedia, the area was originally called “The Ridge,” a camp near the river bank. After some serious drinking one night, a local game warden said he wasn’t too drunk to shoot a walnut off the head of a volunteer. Of course, someone was drunk enough to volunteer. The game warden placed the tiny target on the volunteer’s head, aimed his .22 rifle, and shot the nut right off. This caper was called by a witness “one damned goofy thing to do,” and the camp was ever after known as Goofy Ridge. (Wikipedia)
Normal was laid out with the name North Bloomington on June 7, 1854 by Joseph Parkinson. The town was renamed to Normal in February 1865 and officially incorporated on February 25, 1867. The name was taken from Illinois State Normal University—called a “normal school,” as it was a teacher-training institution. It has since been renamed Illinois State University after becoming a general four-year university. (Wikipedia)
Birds is an unincorporated community in Lawrence County. According to Wikipedia, a Birds resident named Bob Rose became the “most distinguished Reggie Redbird mascot at Illinois State University in 1978.” Rose is quoted as saying, “As a boy growing up in Birds, I always dreamed of being the most famous of all Illinois birds, the Redbird. I remember feeling very homesick when I arrived at Illinois State. But, the first time I became Reggie, I felt I could take my birds nest anywhere and feel at home. I thank Birds for inspiring me to take on the challenge of being Reggie and for allowing me to spread my wings and fly.” (Wikipedia)
Oblong is a village in Crawford County. Incorporated in 1883, the village was originally a crossroads; when the village decided to mate, it was named after a rectangular prairie on the outskirts of the community. (Wikipedia)
Beardstown is a city in Cass County. The population was 6,123 at the 2010 census.
Beardstown was first settled by Thomas Beard in 1819; he erected a log cabin at the edge of the Illinois River, from which he traded with the local Native Americans and ran a ferry. The town was laid out in 1827 and was incorporated as a city in 1896.
The town is also the site of the famous Lincoln/Douglas debate at the Beardstown Courthouse. A Lincoln Museum is on the second floor of the courthouse along with many Native American relics. (Wikipedia)
Muddy is a small incorporated village located in the Harrisburg Township in Saline County. It was built as a coal mining village to house miners working in O’gara #12 mine located on the north bank of the Saline River. Until 2002, it held the smallest post office in the United States. (Wikipedia)
Sandwich is a city in DeKalb, Kendall, and LaSalle counties. Politician “Long John” Wentworth named it after his home of Sandwich, New Hampshire.
Sandwich is the home of the Sandwich Fair, which first started as an annual livestock show in DeKalb County. Held yearly, the Wednesday–Sunday after Labor Day since 1888, it is one of the oldest continuing county fairs in the state of Illinois, drawing daily crowds of more than 100,000, with the top attendance days reaching more than 200,000 fair-goers. (Wikipedia)
Other Illinois towns with unique nouns for names: Bath, Diamond, Energy, Equality, Flora, Justice, Liberty, Magnolia, and Pearl.
Ransom is a village in LaSalle County. It was a planned community; ads were placed in the Streator Monitor as early as 1876 calling for shopkeepers, craftsmen, and tradesmen to locate and set up shop in the area. In 1885, the village of Ransom was officially incorporated. The village was named for American Civil War General Thomas EG Ransom, who was born in Vermont but lived as a young man in Illinois. (Wikipedia)
Standard is a village in Putnam County. The population was 220 at the 2010 census.
Normal is another Illinois town with a rather average name.
Cairo is the southernmost city in Illinois. Generally care-o pronounced by natives and kay-ro by others, it’s located at the confluence of the Mississippi and Ohio rivers—this part of Illinois is known as Little Egypt. (Wikipedia)
Other Illinois towns with international names include Athens, Belgium, Canton, Columbia, Crete, Havana, Palestine, Panama, Paris, Peru, Rome, and Venice.
And there are plenty of other US towns named Cairo—they’re located in Georgia, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, Ohio, Oregon, and West Virginia.
Wyoming is a city in Stark County. It was founded on May 3, 1836 by General Samuel Thomas, a veteran of the War of 1812. He and many of the other early settlers came from the state of Pennsylvania. It is for the Wyoming Valley in Pennsylvania that the city is named. (Wikipedia)
Other Illinois towns that share names with US states include Kansas, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont, and Virginia.
Golf is a village in Cook County. The community is primarily residential, and has a dedicated police department, post office, and Metra train stop; it has a total area of 0.45 square miles. (Wikipedia)
Aside from Golf, there is also a town named Polo in Illinois—that makes two towns that share names with sports. Golf and Polo are also Volkswagen vehicle models. Two other Illinois towns that share names with auto makers are Plymouth and Pontiac.
Boody is an unincorporated census-designated place in Macon County. As of the 2010 census, it has a population of 276.
Mechanicsburg is a village in Sangamon County. The population was 456 at the 2000 census. (Wikipedia)
There are a few other Illinois towns that share their names with occupations, including Farmer City, Mason City, Piper City, Prophetstown, and Carpentersville.
Hometown is a city in Cook County. It was developed after World War II, targeting former GIs and their families. It borders the city of Chicago along 87th Street between Cicero Avenue and Pulaski Road.
Time is a village in Pike County. The population was 29 at the 2000 census.
Royal is a village in Champaign County. The population was 293 at the 2010 census.
Benld is a city in Macoupin County. Founded in 1903, the name derives from founder Benjamin L. Dorsey. Dorsey was responsible for gaining the land on which the town was built and coal mining rights. When it came time to name the village, he took the combination of his first name and his middle and last initial.
On September 29, 1938, a meteorite landed in Benld, marking only the third meteorite landing in Illinois since records were kept. The meteorite was also one of the few known meteorites to strike a man-made object, punching a hole in the roof of a man’s garage and embedding itself in the seat of his 1928 Pontiac Coupe. A neighbor was standing about 50 feet from the impact and may be the individual who came closest to being struck by a meteorite in history up to that time. The meteorite and portions of the car are now on display at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago. (Wikipedia)
Bone Gap is a village in Edwards County. French trappers knew this area before it was permanently settled. They referred to it as “Bon Pas,” which translates to “good step.” Kentuckians modified the name to “Bone Pass,” as though it were a “pass” through a mountain range. This was then changed to “Bone Gap.”
An alternative story about the origin of Bone Gap’s name involves a small band of Piankashaw Indians who established a village in a gap in the trees a short distance east of the present day Bone Gap. Several years later early American settlers found a pile of bones discarded by the Indians near their encampment-hence the name Bone Gap as given to the white man’s village established about the 1830s. (Wikipedia)
Equality is a village in Gallatin County. The population was 721 at the 2000 census.
Industry is a village in McDonough County. As of the 2000 census, the village population was 540.
Joy is a village in Mercer County. The population was 373 at the 2000 census.
Mineral is a village in Bureau County. The population was 237 at the 2010 census, down from 272 people in 2000.
The area in which mineral is located was first settled in the early 1830s. The land just south of the current village was found to be ripe with coal, hence the town’s name. (Wikipedia)
Lost Nation is an unincorporated census-designated place in Ogle County. It’s located south of the city of Oregon. As of the 2010 census, its population was 708.
There is another Lost Nation located in Iowa, 95 miles due west.
Get local news delivered to your inbox!