What is a Muckshaw?

When I was a kid, I thought that Muckshaw Road (the road I live on here in Argos, Indiana) probably got its name when an unfortunate pioneer lady got muck on her shawl while traveling down our little thoroughfare here in Marshall County, Indiana. Well, I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Muckshaw isn’t a very common word, so I searched on Google for all of the other Muckshaw’s in existence. You know something? There aren’t a lot of them! Google revealed that there was a Muckshaw Pond in New Jersey, a few people with the last name of Muckshaw, and of course our famous Muckshaw Road. There was even a body of water named Lake Muckshaw near where Muckshaw Road now starts in Plymouth, Indiana, but they drained it long before I came on the scene.

The muck part is pretty obvious for me – the soil conditions in this part of the county are pretty wet for most of the year. This entire area is covered with numerous drainage ditches that keep the swampland from reclaiming the land. Or at least they try – there are lots of places just a short walk out behind my house that are still too swampy to farm. All up and down Muckshaw Road, there are low swampy areas that are wet year round. So now that we have the muck part figured out, onto the shaw.

Fortunately, the shaw part didn’t take that much research either. According to one source, a shaw is “a thicket, a small wood, or a grove, especially a strip of woods forming the boundary of a field.” Well now that makes sense! There are plenty of wooded areas along Muckshaw Road and plenty of farm fields, in addition to the swampy areas.

Now everything seems to be coming together – we have muck and we have shaws. Put the two words together and you have “Muckshaw.” Thanks to the wonders of the internet, I have been able to find the answer to one of the oldest and most elusive questions in my own personal history and now you know, too!

Bob Barcus