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About an hour and a half outside Columbus lies a township within Pike County with a strange name: Pee Pee Township. Some locals think it's funny, while others would rather relieve themselves of the burden.
I came across the name when I was looking into the origins of Refugee Road. When I returned to the area, though, a lot of residents weren’t eager to discuss the township’s name.
But those who did want to talk about Pee Pee Township obviously had a lot they were holding in.
“I was curious," said Linda Dunn. "Why would you name the township that, and why would you name the creek that?”
Dunn has lived in the township for about 20 years. Pee Pee Creek, after which the township is named, runs behind her house. She's always found the name and her friends’ reactions to the name to be comical.
“They are a little amused sometimes when I tell them what township I live in and the name of the creek," Dunn says. "And there used to be a gas station in town called Pee Pee Gas.”
How did Pee Pee Township get that name, though? Dunn says local legend has it starting with an early settler’s graffiti.
“I have been told that the letters 'P.P.' were carved into a tree and that the guy’s first name was Peter,” Dunn said. “I’m not sure that’s accurate, but that’s what I’ve heard.”
The legend has merit. Peter Patrick was a 19th century settler from Pennsylvania who eventually ended up in Piketon, according to Emmy Beach of the Ohio History Connection.
“To mark his place, he carved his initials in a beech tree at the confluence of Scioto River and a small creek,” Beach said. “And that creek became known as Pee Pee Creek.”
Yes, Peter Patrick marked his territory with ‘P.P.’ The name Pee Pee Settlement also comes from Peter Patrick’s initials.
“Pee Pee Settlement was a free African-American community that existed around 1820,” Beach said. “It was a place that was primarily an area for former slaves from Virginia.”
Many who lived in Pee Pee Settlement were active in the Underground Railroad and assisted runaway slaves to freedom in Ohio. Despite violent attacks against the area, Beach says, Pee Pee Settlement was a vibrant community that existed until the early 1900s.
“They faced a lot of discrimination and a lot of prejudice," Beach says. "That’s the reason why this settlement came about. It was safer for them to be in a settlement together than spread out across the state.”
The surrounding area became known as Pee Pee Township, and now about 4,000 people live here, not counting the village of Waverly right next door.
One resident is Robert Dixon, who's a jeweler, bus driver, and runs the local softball league. For the past 20 years, Dixon has also served as the township clerk. His main task is fixing township roads.
Dixon is the man to answer my other pressing question: If Pee Pee Township got its start with Peter Patrick’s initials, why are the township and creek name spelled ‘Pee Pee?’
“Consequently, it’s kind of funny as the clerk of the township, when we’re in touch with somebody that’s not familiar with us, sometimes they will write ‘Pee Wee,’ or they will say something else,” Dixon said.
“They think, ‘This can’t be right, is it?’ So I usually try to quickly go to Peter Patrick, his initials. And rather than just put two initials, they wrote it out, 'p-e-e, p-e-e.'"
And yet, nobody in the last 200 years has tried to change the name.
“I think most people, even those that are not aware of any of the background, think it’s, I don’t wanna say vulgar, but some people they think, ‘what?'" Dixon says. "And yet, no, I don’t think that has ever even been considered.”
But some wouldn’t mind. Patrick O'Connell, another resident, wishes the township called itself something else.
“I didn’t even know what township I moved into until I got down here and transferred the car plate, and it’s like – if they put water in the lake, we’re gonna be great," O'Connell says.
To avoid puns and raised eyebrows, O’Connell just tells people he lives in Waverly.
“I don’t actually say Pee Pee Township because, you know, that would send them off into like, you know, into Never Neverland,’ O’Connell says.
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