Date: Mon, 15 Dec 1997 22:21:15 -0500

From: Gregory {Greg} Downing downingg[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]IS2.NYU.EDU

Subject: Re: 'Mudville"

At 09:24 PM 12/15/97 -0500, you (Alan Baragona baragonasa[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]VAX.VMI.EDU ) wrote:

I have a sportswriter friend who swears that Mudville is actually Stockton,


This is not all that farfetched since Thayer was working for W.R. Hearst

in San Francisco when he wrote the poem for the S.F. _Examiner_.

However, Martin Gardner's _Annotated Casey at the Bat_ has the


"In 1887, the year of the immortal game, Mudville was a farming village

near the east border of Anderson County, Kansas, about sixty miles

southeast of Topeka. It was on the south bank of Polecat Creek, seven

miles west of where Centerville, in Linn County, is still located.

Neither Mudville nor the creek exist today."

I must admit, though, that the rest of Gardner's note makes me wonder if

this account is serious. He continues "The poignant story of why and

how Mudville faded from the map is told by Grantland Rice in his poem,

'Mudville's Fate.'" And then Gardner recounts the story of the poem as

if it were historically accurate, even though it mentions Casey and his

wife and 8 children.

If anyone can find a map of Kansas circa 1887, perhaps Mudville will be

on it.

I too would be somewhat skeptical, since this is the type of situation in

which I have often seen the drive to identify a "real" place when it is

deliberately generic and fictional. Is there anything about the poem in

question that seems to demand a particular historical location? It's the

story of a guy who thinks he's a big shot, and (acting cavalierly) strikes

out at the big moment in the game. When did Thayer have information about or

an association with Kansas?

Anyway, there *is* a set of maps of the US in great detail as of 1895, and

genealogical types have put them on the internet, though be warned that they

are quite large and will take a minute or two longer than forever to

download unless you have a fast modem. It is important not to rely on a

modern atlas; names have changed a lot all over the country since then, as I

know from several local regions with whose history I am somewhat familiar.

For the 1895 US atlas go to:

and click on the box for Kansas. There's no Mudville in eastern Anderson

County. All named locations in Kansas that are reflected in the 1895 atlas

are listed, in alpha order, with information about them at. Try "M" at:

There's no Mudville there, just a VERY small settlement Mudrow in Sherman

Co. in the NW part of the state.

Those who are interested in the real-Mudville theory might check the "M"

page in the indexes for Massachusetts and Calif, and (for that matter) for

all states that were in the union in 1895, to see if there is any town named

Mudville anywhere. Not that if there is it necessrily has anything to do

with the Thayer poem, but I'm willing to be convinced by evidence of course.

In the days before asphalt almost every town was "Mudville", especially at

certain times of the year.

Has anyone tried looking for Lake Wobegon on a map? (No, it isn't Anoka, MN,

even though there's lots of real-life-based material in Keillor's work by

all accounts.) I'd suspect that "Where's the real Mudville?" is possibly the

same kind of wrongly formed onomastic question.

Greg Downing/NYU, at greg.downing[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE] or downingg[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]