Today’s Poem a Day Challenge was to write a poem about history. Thus, I wrote the history of my hometown’s name.

Possum Trot, Missouri?

Had sense not prevailed,
I might have had to claim
Rabbitville or Possum Trot
as my hometown’s name.

In the 1830s, John McCoy
established a river landing
on Missouri River bluffs
so he could make a living

outfitting the pioneers bent
on taking the Santa Fe Trail.
Since money draws money
investors came, says the tale.

By 1850, the settlement grew
large enough to incorporate,
so people dreamed up names
each one deemed appropriate

like Possum Trot or Rabbitville,
but luckily, a nearby confluence
of two rivers, Missouri and Kaw,*
provided much better influence.

“Kaw Town! That name’s as bad
as both the others,” said some.
“It makes us sound like a flock
of cawing crows. Plain dumb.”

Voices rumbled. A few fists
flew until suggested at last
was the “Town of Kansas,”
and the winning vote was cast.

In three years, the word “City”
replaced “Town,” and by 1889,
“Kansas City” became the name
of that old hometown of mine.

Marian O’Brien Paul

* The Kaw River is also called the Kansas River.


About marianobrienpaul

Poet, aspiring novelist, teacher, mother, grandmother, world traveler (lived in Turkey 3 years and then taught at Cukurova U there under Fulbright program for one year; lived on northwest coast of Co. Mayo Ireland for half a year), advocate for the mentally ill.
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