Yes, My Name is Utah. No, I'm Not a Mormon

Not that there's anything wrong with that. I dated a Mormon once, she was a lovely girl.

My middle name is Utah. But not spelled that way. It's spelled Eutaw. That's right, my parents wanted me to look like an idiot in school. I swear I couldn't spell it until at least high school. All the other kids had names liked John, or William. I'm Eutaw. Never mind the fact that anyone that hears that automatically assumes we have some connection to the Great Salt Lake, it's far too many vowels for such a small word. E. U. A, and sometimes W (yes I know the rule is sometimes y, but I believe that in recent years linguists have begun to define W as a quasi vowel).

The name tormented me as a child. As older children (upon learning of the name and the fact that I couldn't spell it) would repeatedly ask me how to spell it. I'd then have to run to ask my mother, and my shame was added to. I'm currently pointing a finger in your direction Jenny! You might have scarred me for life! (You didn't, but you might have.)

Since I've gotten older, I've grown into the name. I have in fact decided to use it for my writing. When I get published it will be as J. Eutaw Sharpton. It just sounds like a writer, doesn't it? No? Well, screw you then! It sounds like a writer to me! Besides, as I've grown to love the name Eutaw, I have equally grown to dislike the name Joel. It just seems a little generic, and not very descriptive of me. I don't know, let's break it down.

Joel comes from Hebrew (It was the name of one of the lesser prophets. Yep, I've got a Bible book named after me...or...well...I'm named after a Bible book...you get the point). It means Yahweh is God, or declarer of God. The point is I'm (or my name at least is) a confirmation of the nature of God. Well, it's hard to be disappointed with a name when you spell it out like that.

Alright, so I can live with the name Joel. It's not perfect, but we've already established that I'm going to abbreviate when I get famous, so there. But what about that middle name? Where did it come from? Were my parents on mind altering substances when they came up with that one? Nope. They were on the interstate. That's right, ladies and gentlemen, I'm named after a road sign.

Well, technically, I'm named after a city in Alabama. But my parents had never been there when they decided to name me Joel Eutaw. Eutaw, Alabama is a small town (population 1800) in Greene County. It happens to stand between my hometown, and the town my Grandmother lived in until she passed away. Every year (at least a couple of times) we'd pass that sign, and it would stand as a reminder that my parents are completely unoriginal (I kid, I kid). If you Google it, I'm sure you'll notice that there are actually several Eutaw's across the United States (and particularly in parts of the southeast). Where did they all come from? What's the origin?

Well, to me at least it seemed pretty obvious that it was Native American. I looked in books and on the internet for quite sometime without ever coming up with anything. Finally, I found it (on a website about the state of Utah, no less). Utah the state is (of course) named for the Ute Indians. Those same Indians (or more correctly members of the same tribe) once lived in the southeast. They had the same name or at least a very similar one. The word Ute also spelled Eutah or even Eutaw means (depending on what Indian tribe you are speaking to) "dwellers in the tops of mountains", "high up", "hill dwellers" or "land of the sun."

Alright so, it may have come from a road sign for a little bitty town in Alabama. My parents may have named me that just because they never thought of anything better. But it's not a bad name. It's got an interesting story, it means something (pretty cool by the way), it'll look great on a book jacket cover, and most of all, they could have named me something much worse.

There is another road sign, about five miles after Eutaw. The name of that little town is Pelahatchie Puckett.