Kansas certainly has its share of oddities, not the least of which are some of its unique small towns.
Many lists of strange Kansas town names have been made already, but there are still some peculiar names that are frequently overlooked. Allow us to share the 10 Kansas towns that have, in our opinion, the strangest names, along with some background on the origin of those names as far as is known.
10. Dry Wood
Dry Wood is a ghost town and former railroad station in Crawford County, about halfway between Fort Scott and Pittsburg. The post office only lasted from 1894 to 1915. Prior to that, the town site was a Civil War post for about a year starting in the fall of 1862. The primary purpose of Camp Drywood was to defend the Kansas border against Confederate guerilla fighters, but it also temporarily served as a refuge for Unionist Indians fleeing present-day Oklahoma. The town and the camp both took their names from nearby Drywood Creek, presumably named for its belts of native forest.
Speed may sound like a strange name for a town, but it was actually the surname of Abraham Lincoln’s attorney general, James Speed. Speed is a tiny town located in Phillips County. In 2010, Speed had 37 residents.
In keeping with the fast-paced theme, Kansas also boasts a Hasty. This ghost town is located in Woodson County and appears to never have been a community of any considerable importance. It was likely named for the Hasty family of that county.
Agenda comes from the Latin word for “list of matters to be attended to by the assembly” or, to put it more concisely, “things to be done.” Agenda, located in Republic County, boasted a post office and a railroad station before the town officially existed. While the details of the name selection have been lost over time, presumably it came from the agenda of the locals regarding establishing a town.
6. May Day
The story goes that May Day in Riley County was so named by its postmaster because the post office opened on May 1 in 1869, 1870, or 1871. Records at the Kansas Historical Society show that the post office actually opened on April 13, 1871. Apparently the postmaster considered it close enough.
5. Good Intent
Located in Atchison County, Good Intent was populated by Catholic farming families and early on known for its Sunday school. The name Good Intent appears to have been an expression of religious sentiment.
Ransom in Ness County was originally named Ogdensburg, but was renamed in honor of General Thomas E.G. Ransom. General Ransom was a surveyor and civil engineer by trade. He served with distinction in the Union Army during the Civil War, receiving severe wounds in the Battle of Shiloh and leading his soldiers up to his very last moments before dying of dysentery.
Deerhead, once home to a small colony of Russian Jews, is located in Barber County and shares its name with the surrounding township. Deerhead Township had a population of 14 people in 2010. No explanation has been found for the name of the town or the township. Presumably it was a prime hunting location in its day.
2. Red Onion
Red Onion was a mining community in Crawford County. The name is considered a typical example of mining camp whimsy.
1. Swamp Angel
Swamp Angel is an abandoned community in Pottawatomie County with a name that remains something of a mystery. While the lost community does appear to have been located in a flood plain, some researchers contend that the name comes from a historic cannon nicknamed “Swamp Angel.” This cannon was used by the Union army to besiege Charleston, South Carolina, during the Civil War.