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What’s in a name? Everything…

By Staff | Oct 16, 2016

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

Billy Shakespeare wrote that. You probably know him as William. Does calling him Billy make any difference in how you think of him? Not according to the bard himself.

As any reporter knows, names are important. And getting the name right is one of the top priorities we have as journalists. It doesn’t mean we always succeed at that goal, however. But we try our best.

People are sensitive about their names. They also can be sensitive about the name of the town or city they live in.

Town names can be intriguing, or even funny. They can also be odd. And, apparently, can even be lewd.

Something called the Estately Blog recently released a list entitled “The Most Oddly Named Towns in Each U.S. State.”

In Minnesota, there are 23 names they determined to be odd. And, wouldn’t you know it, two of Faribault County’s towns made the list. Now, there are 87 counties in Minnesota, so a lot of counties didn’t even have one town name odd enough to be recognized, but we have two.

Blue Earth and Kiester.

Now, we all know that the name Kiester is so odd that Preparation H came calling to do a television commercial there recently. Don’t get me wrong, the town of Kiester is a very nice place, full of wonderful folks. However, as even the mayor of the town admits, it is a bit of an odd name.

But, Blue Earth? I never really thought of that name as being odd. Unusual, yes. Even unique. I don’t think there is another one in the whole U.S. But, it doesn’t strike me as odd.

In fact, I think of it as kind of a cool name.

A column in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune last week about this odd town name list, reports that Blue Earth was named after the Blue Earth River.

We all know that is not quite true.

Both the town and the river and the county of the same name, north of here were named after the Sioux Indian word “Mahkato,” which was their word for the blue clay (earth) found in the banks of the Blue Earth River.

But, I digress.

In case you didn’t see it, the top oddly named town for Minnesota wasn’t Blue Earth or Kiester. It was Little Canada.

At first, I thought that was a strange selection. Especially in a state that has a town named Embarrass. But I guess the name Little Canada is a bit odd, when you think about it. I wonder if it was settled by Canadian refugees. And after I Googled it, yes, it was. French Canadians, to be exact.

But, again, I digress.

While many people have seen or heard about this odd named town list, few know that the Estately Blog also came up with another list, just last week.

“The Most Lewd-Sounding Town Names in Each State” list.

I know, you are thinking that I am making this up. I swear, I’m not.

And, wouldn’t you know it, our nice little Faribault County town of Kiester was on that list, too. In fact, it topped the list for Minnesota. The number one most lewd-sounding town name in the state.

That is pretty amazing, considering Minnesota has a town named Climax. I think the people at Estately didn’t want to use that name for Minnesota, because Climax topped the list for the state of North Carolina.

Anyway, the folks in Kiester probably feel they have had enough notoriety for one year.

As we all know, the town was named for Jacob Armel Kiester, who served in many county offices, and in the state legislature and senate and was the unofficial county historian.

And besides, am I the only one who realizes that the term “keister,” referring to the buttocks area of the human body, is spelled differently than the name of the town of Kiester?

And, while I am at it, there is another Faribault County town which recently was placed on a list.

Guckeen. (It is pronounced ‘Goo-keen,’ not ‘Guck-keen,’ for those not familiar with the town.)

No, it was not on the odd name list, although I would think it must have been a contender.

Guckeen is listed in a recently published book about the ghost towns of southern Minnesota.

Now, it is certainly not a very big place, but still I am sure the few residents there and the owners of the Derby Inn are a bit shocked and upset to learn they are in a ghost town. Especially when there are actually a number of real ghost towns in Faribault County. Ones that once were listed on maps, but are no longer around in any way, shape or form.

I guess it is probably better to be considered odd, or even lewd, than to be thought of as dead and gone.