Cat Mash among state’s funny town names
The Tuscaloosa News – Sep 28, 1991
CAT MASH — Little did a moonshiner know 40 years ago that he would wind up
in state folklore as the person who named a small southwest Alabama town
after a poor, unfortunate cat. Nor did a 19th century Indian know his
mishap on a bridge would lead to naming a town in Marengo County.
Many small towns in Alabama got their names from just ordinary folks who
found themselves in an often funny situation.
Cat Mash, it seems. got its name from a moonshmer who forgot to ut the lid
back on his whiskey still, folklorist Harvey Jackson Of Grove Hill claims.
“While he was gone. a cat got into the still and drowned. When the man
came back and found the cat, he simply got him out of the sull and continued
making his moonshine,” and sold the moonshine as if nothmg were amiss.
Dickey said. Residents got wind of the story and Cat Mash, population 3.
In Marengo County, Alyce Hartzelle, a librarian, related the tale of the
Indian who named Sweet Water. Hartzelle said legend has it that an Indian
was employed to bring goods into the yet-unnamed, early 1800s settlement.
The bridge gave way just as he was crossing. dump- ing his load of molasses
and sugar into the water. Thus, Sweet Water was born.
Another mishap, in Clarke County, led to the naming of Salitpa. According
to Jackson, the town of Salitpa was to be named for Satilpa Creek. But when
the town sent in orders for a federal post office, someone had crossed the L
instead of the T, and Salitpa was born.
Just because their actual names may not be that eye-catching, some of the
stories behind the name — Tunnel Springs, Peach Tree, and Old Texas — are
pretty unusual. Take for instance Tunnel Springs. Most folks don’t realize
there really is a tunnel there.
According to drugstore owner Dicky Williams, Tunnel Springs is named for an
old railroad tunnel that runs underneath a well and wetlands. He said the
tunnel is still there today. Tunnel Springs is located a bout 10 m Iles
outside of Monroeville. Old Texas, in Monroe County, was named by ploneer
settlers who traveled down the old Federal Road from Virginia. North
Carolina and South Carolina, through Georgia, making their way West,
But back in the 1850s, it might take three to six months for pioneers to
make their way to Texas from Virginia by horse-and-wagon. “Some Of the old
settlers going to Texas would just wear out, making it as far as Monroe
County.” Wiliams said. Since they had told family. friends and relatives
they were going to Texas, they named their newly-formed commumty “Old
Peach Tree was named for a lost, lonely peach seed that took root on the
banks of the Alabama River in Monroe County, Williams said. Peach Tree has
a sister town up river in Wilcox County, but that’s Lower Peach Tree.
What about Scratch Ankle? Williams said Scratch Ankle. population 125, was
named sometime tn the 1800s by the L&N railroad conductor who passed through
the Monroe County community. “Every time he came through the little
community, people would be sitting beside the tracks watching the train,”
Williams said. And, as mosquitoes were quite bad at that time in Monroe
County, everyone would be scratching the bug bites at their ankles!”
Corduroy got its name from rough roads of the 1800s.
When people say a town has “gone to the devil” few really mean it. But in
the last century. settlers of Hell’s Half-Acre gave this piece of Marengo
County to the devil — literally. “When the original settlement was surveyed
and divided up, there was a half-acre left over. Apparently, the founding
fathers of the new town deeded that left-over half acre to the devil.”
Hartzelle said. A few years later. ministers appealed to drop the Hell,
and so today, it’s Half Acre.