While looking for records from the area of Russell County that my Smith ancestors were from, I came across an incredible collection of information. Robert M. Rennick had a passion for finding out the origin of place names in Kentucky and traveled around the state interviewing local historians to find out all he could about local locations, but especially places with unique names. He publish several books including Kentucky Place Names and From Red Hot to Monkey’s Eyebrow: Unusual Kentucky Place Names.
The Morehead State University website has an incredible collection of his research. The research covers all of Kentucky, but I’d like to focus on what you can find here for Russell County.
- Let’s start with the Place Names collection. The Russell County portion of this collection includes a PDF document with 274 index cards of post offices and small towns including the notes he had taken about each location. Many of his recorded interviews are referenced on these cards. You can find the Russell County Place Names collection here.
- A narrative on the Post Offices of Russell County can be found here. Many of the post office histories included here tell how the post office was named and an amazing number of them were named after wives and daughters, so you may find a maiden name you’ve been looking for simply by looking at the information that Mr. Rennick collected in his notes.
- Not only did Mr. Rennick type up these notes into these reports, but he also had his own set of Quadrangle maps with incredible handwritten notes about small towns, schools, cemeteries and post offices throughout the county, many of which no longer exist. The maps themselves are from 1953, so this is especially helpful to see locations that are now under Lake Cumberland. To find the correct map, you need to know the name of the quadrangle.
- Dunnville Quadrangle (tab 12)
- Montpelier Quadrangle (tab 29)
- Russell Springs Quadrangle (tab 37)
- Eli Quadrangle (tab 12)
- Faubush Quadrangle (tab 14)
- Amandaville Quadrangle (not available in Rennick Collection)
- Creelsboro Quadrangle (tab 9)
- Jamestown Quadrangle (tab 21)
- Jabez Quadrangle (tab 21)
- Mill Springs Quadrangle (tab 28)
- Wolf Creek Dam Quadrangle (tab 47)
- Cumberland City Quadrangle (tab 10)
Once you know the correct map to look for, you can find it here. There is a row of tab numbers at the bottom of the screen, I have indicated which tab to click on to find each map. To see the original unmarked maps, go to https://ngmdb.usgs.gov/topoview/viewer/#4/39.98/-100.06 and enter the map name in the search box.
Finally, Mr. Rennick recorded the interviews that he traveled all over the state for. You can see the references for these interviews on the index cards in the Place Names collection. The interviews are arranged alphabetically by county. The only Russell County specific interview was with Richard Blair in 1971. You can find his interview here. Part 2 of the interview can be found on tab 19. Wayne County has MANY interviews and those begin on tab 16.
There are many locations discussed in the interviews that are not included in the note cards.