Bugtussle AL, TX, KY, TN, OK

No one knows which hamlet first changed its name to Bugtussle, an oddity we could call the Springfield of weird town names. But once Bugtussle, Alabama was put on the map, three more towns followed suit – perhaps because they believed having people rush in to steal their road signs was the route to economic development. (Too-late-in-coming message to said dreamers: Road-sign thieves rarely hang around for lunch at Judy’s Chat ‘n’ Chew and a guided tour of the cotton mill.)

In all fairness, the town in Alabama had some success in manufacturing “Made in Bugtussle” souvenirs, as has its Texas counterpart (spelled Bug Tussle). The Bugtussles in Kentucky and Tennessee are in counties that are only about 30 miles apart. Bugtussle, Oklahoma is the proud hometown of Congressman Carl Albert, from 1971 to 1977 the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. And the Clampett family of television – a. k.a. the Beverly Hillbillies – spoke of Bugtussle in the Ozarks as home, which puts their fictional burg in either northern Arkansas or southern Missouri.

Theories of the origin of the name Bugtussle are many: It refers to the cotton growers’ yearly battle with boll weevils… a town drunk coined the name as he watched two doodlebugs fight in the dirt… the name grew from a panic-inducing bug invasion at a Sunday school ice cream social. Whatever the source, it is safe to assume that Bugtussle founders never aspired to see their whistle-stops grow into the proverbial shining city on a hill.

11 Responses to Bugtussle AL, TX, KY, TN, OK

  • Sumoflam says:

    You may be interested in my drive and blog post of 2010 wherein I drove from Lexington, KY thru Bugtussle, KY all the way to Bugtussle, TX — all in one day. You can see my post here: http://sumoflam.biz/Bugtussle.htm

    Sumoflam (David Kravetz)

    • Fred says:

      David, it was great fun to follow your one-day journey between the Bugtussles in KY and TX. BTW, I’m quite familiar with a couple of your stops, plus the unusual surname you brought up. 1) Nashville, where I was married and is today the home of a daughter and her family. 2) Texas, the state of my birth. I grew up 50 miles south of Dallas, and at UT-Austin had a friend from Honey Grove with whom I’m still in touch. 3) The surname Flippin. One of my favorite couples here in New York City share this name – he from Princeton NJ, she from the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

      Thanks for writing, and please stay tuned for Word Nerd Central, a website I hope to launch by the end of the year.

  • Bob Laughlin says:

    Well done, especially “Judy’s Chat ‘n’ Chew”. However, I think the Clampetts spelled it as 2 words & there are show refs that they’re from TN. Is that the Smokey Mtns?
    Best regards

    • Fred says:

      Thanks for checking in, Bob. I’ve never seen the Clampetts’ hometown in print (one word or two?) but I’m certain that it was not in Tennessee. All maps show the lion’s share of the Ozarks to be in Missouri, a smaller spillover in Northwest Arkansas, a patch in Oklahoma, and a barely-there bit in Kansas. I’ve driven through the Arkansas and Oklahoma portions, and the mountain scenery is eye-popping.

      • PB says:

        Bob L. is correct. I was just watching an episode of The Beverly Hillbillies, and Granny said they were from Bugtussle, Tennessee. I decided to look that up when I found this website.

        • Fred says:

          PB, Granny sometimes mentioned that she herself was from Tennessee, but the towns the Clampetts referred to now and then were in the Ozarks (e.g., Joplin, Branson, Eureka Springs). The creator of the show, Paul Henning, was born in Missouri — so could this also be a clue to the location? Only Henning could tell us where the Clampetts lived, but he’s no longer here to answer the question… he died in 2005 at age 94.

  • `Pathfinder says:

    My Pa was an ironworker, we were from Michigan but followed the iron work. We travel to North West Arkansas, Heber Springs for 2 years while Pa worked on the Dam on the Little Red River. We did road trips for amusement on weekends. One of the towns names that stuck in my 10 year old head was ‘Bug Tussle’. Not sure if it was one word or two, or even exactly where it is/was. All I remember for sure is how kind the people of Arkansas were to this “Damned Yankee”. I appreciate it to this day, Thank You again from the 68 year old boy that remembers so much kindness.

    • Fred says:

      Thanks you sharing your childhood memories, Pathfinder. After Googling the milages from Heber Springs to three Bugtussles, I have a feeling your family went to the one in Oklahoma (Pittsburg County), since It’s about 265 miles west of Heber Springs. The Texas Bug Tussle (yep, two words) is about 335 miles from Heber Springs, and the Alabama one is about 350 miles away — both probably a little too distant for a weekend trip.

      The question is, do any of these little burgs still exist? I’m pretty sure someone at the City Hall in McAlester OK could tell you whether any traces of the Bugtussle on the southern shores of Lake Eufala can still be seen.

      • Tom says:

        Since this isn’t too far removed a date from your last reply I thought it would be a poignant comment. A friend of mine just pointed out last night that Bug Tussle, OK was mentioned and shown on a weather map indicating severe weather in the area. So Bug Tussle, OK is still there on the shores of Lake Eufala. We began talking about how it reminded us of the Beverly Hillbillies, which in turn spun off Petticoat Junction and Green Acres.

        Since the Clampetts also mention Silver Dollar City and the theme park of that same name located in Branson, MO has claimed ties to the show, I always envisioned Bug Tussle to be in that area of the Ozarks for what it’s worth.

        • Fred says:

          Thanks, Tom. And all this talk of the Beverly Hillbillies gives me a hankering to watch an episode or two. Won’t be hard to find at all, what with the TVLand channel and the like.

  • Les says:

    Granny was from the Tennessee Hills, but J.D. Clampett discovered “black gold” in the ozarks. Mr. Brewster was from the OK Oil Co. , Tulsa, OK. That is a tri state area of the Ozarks, AR, MO, and OK.

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