What’s in a name?


Today we are going to Muse about place names.   If this is your first visit, welcome to Musings. If you have been here before, welcome back. Over time we are going to talk about many things: the past, the present, perhaps the future, travel, art, society and more. Wherever my musing takes me. I hope you will come along with me.

Colored text is a link.  Clicking on the text will provide additional information about the subject.

 What is in a name?

Prescott, Arizona

Prescott, Arizona

My grandmother and my father were born in Prescott, Arizona in the Arizona Territory, before statehood.  My great-grandfather and great-grandmother owned lot number two in Prescott, the original capital of the Arizona Territory.  My mother grew up in Arizona.  My older brother,  my younger brother and my sister were born in Arizona.  One of my Great-Aunts was named Arizona.

Are you seeing a connection here?  My people were pretty much into Arizona!

I was born in Los Angeles.  Hmm!

But, I spent a lot of time in Arizona as a child and later as an adult.

In its day, Arizona was pretty gritty and names of places around the state show it.  I always found them intriguing.

Place Names

Heading north out of Phoenix (now part of Phoenix, I believe) you come to Deadman Wash.  I don’t know why the wash is so named, but I can imagine.

Bumble Bee, Arizona

Bumble Bee, Arizona

Still heading north on the Black Canyon Highway you will come to Bumble Bee, a ghost town.  This was established as a stage-coach stop in 1863 and an US Cavalry outpost.  Apparently the settlers found a bee hive, thus the name.

Big Bug

Not far from Prescott is a ghost town named Big Bug.  (Perhaps insects were in fashion.)  The town was a mining site established in 1862 and was involved in the Apache Wars.  This is what it looked like around 1900.  It played out mostly by the 1940’s.  Today there is very little left.


Near Miami, Arizona where my mother grew up is Bloody Tanks Wash.  This was the site of a controversial battle in 1864 led by King Woolsey, an Arizona pioneer and Indian fighter in which a number of Apache were ambushed and slaughtered.

All over the state there are interesting names.  In the Prescott National Forest there is an area called Wolf Creek.  I becha can guess what it was named for.  It is a great place for picnics, hiking and just getting away.  It has been for a long time.  This, my grandparents, parents, brother and others,  was taken around 1940.

Family Picnic at Wolf Creek

Family Picnic at Wolf Creek

West of Prescott is a small ranching community named Skull Valley, named for human remains found after a battle among competing Indian tribes.

Skull Valley

Skull Valley

Montezuma's Castle

Montezuma’s Castle

Then there is Montezuma Castle.  This National Monument is a pre-Columbian cliff dwelling. It was abandoned long before Montezuma II (also spelled Moctezuma) was born.


Nearby is another site known as Montezuma Well.  Around the rim are Indian cliff dwellings and other ruins.

When I was a boy, pottery shards were everywhere, laying on the ground.  You could easily pick them up.  I did. Others did.  You can’t do it anymore.  They are all gone.


Montezuma Well National Monument

Montezuma Well National Monument

These names are fanciful.  They suggest a connection that is not there.




Oatman, AZ

Oatman, AZ

There is  Oatman named for Olive Oatman who at age 14 in 1851 was captured by Indians near where the town now exists. According to wikipedia, the Tolkepayas (Western Yavapai) massacred her family and “captured and enslaved her and her sister and later sold them to the Mohave people.  After several years with the Mohave, during which her sister died of hunger, she returned to American society, five years after being carried off.”  If you watch the present day series “Hell on Wheels” you will recognize she was the inspiration for one of the main characters.

Olive Oatman

Olive Oatman

Olive Oatman on left, Robin McLeavy on right

Robin McLeavy, Hell on Wheels


For the most part, towns were named for early settlers.  Kingman, Mayer, Dewey, Wickenburg, Yarnell are examples.

Others are named for events.

Flagstaff was named for a large tree converted into a flag pole.  Tombstone was named for the cemetery in a violent lawless mining town.  Show Low was named for the means of settling a dispute.  Cards were drawn in a run-off and the low hand won the contest.  They still use that system.

So, what is in a name?  It can be fun to find out.

More to come

Fine Art America, a Pixel.com company

Pixel.com is now offering YOGA MATS with reproductions of my artwork.  If you want to check it out, here are the steps:
1.  Click on the link below.
2.  Click on one of the galleries to open up the page of images.
3.  Click on an image you like.  It will open up a side bar with a number of options.
4.  Click on “LIFESTYLE”.  It will open up a menu of products.  If the mat is available for the image you chose, it will be at the bottom of the list.
5.  Click on “YOGA MAT” and it will open up a sizing slide so you can adjust the image.

Have fun.

Pixel.com is producing reproductions of my artwork.  The work is available as traditional prints on canvas, paper or metal, but it also available on greeting cards, phone covers, tote bags, shower curtains,  t-shirts and more.  It makes for some very personalized gifts.  Below is the link to the site.  When you click on an image in the site,  a menu of products will appear.  I hope you like it.

           CLICK ON:  thomas-tribby.pixels.com

If you like Musings, take a moment and click the subscription button on the side-bar to the right so you will be notified by e-mail when I make a new post.


Books by Thomas L. Tribby Available
Click on title below to preview

Works on Paper

On The Waterfront

Impressions of Florida


Limited Editions available

Charity Ball

Charity Ball
Click to see
The Twist

The Twist
Click to see

Click to See
For information about these or other original works of art, please feel free to contact us: 



About Thomas L. Tribby

Professional artist: painter, sculptor, print maker. Maintains a studio in West Palm Beach, Florida
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