*Contributed by John O'Neal.  Thanks, John!

Note: William Mansell (1812-1876) was postmaster at Cracker's Neck.  
Newspaper source unknown.



Crackers Neck, Ill. - I believe that if I were reading a story and it began "Crackers Neck, Ill." I would be somewhat inclined to wonder how such a name came about. Fact is, I know I would. I wonder about many things far less piquant than that. And I am counting on you to wonder too, otherwise I have wasted considerable time in research and composition. Here, then, is how Crackers Neck - originally called Jug Grocery and later called Flint, after the man who eventually bought the business - got its unusual name.
Around the close of the Civil War, this store - called, as I say, Jug Grocery - was built at a country crossroads not many miles from McLeansboro, Ill. in Hamilton County. And "Jug", instead of being merely a name, may have been a descriptive title as well, since the store did its briskest business in the retailing of bottled spirits, of the jolting kind that inclines a man to all manner of foolishness and dare deviltry. And on Saturday nights that rustic crossroads was indeed a lively place, frothing with exuberance and teeming with assorted activities.
The assembled gents, just out of the sheer joy of being alive - and being, what's more, gloriously drunk - engaged in all manner of contest of strength and agility. They Indian wrestled. They staged bare-knuckle drag'em outs. They had foot races and log rollings. They stood face to face and butted heads until one of them dropped cock-eyed to the ground, much after the fashion of a couple of rutting stags.

And it was all just great, clean fun. Oh, once in a while somebody pulled a knife and carved his initials on somebody who played too rough, but what's a lifelong scar among friends?
Then one liquefied night one of them, perhaps drinking from a better quality jug of 'shine than the rest, was smitten with a genuine inspiration. "Hey, I know what let's do," he said. "Let's hang a goose by its feet to the limb of yonder tree and then let's ride our horses at breakneck speed under the limb and try to grab that ole goose by the head, thus breaking his neck. The one who breaks his neck wins the goose. What do you say, fellers?"
"WHOOPPEE!", the rest of them shouted. It was a splendid idea and each wished
he'd thought of it first.
Some say the hapless goose's neck and head were slathered with grease to make
the game more difficult. Some say that, instead of grabbing the goose with their hands, the robust contestants snapped at the neck with bull whips. Whatever the "how" of it, the end result was invariably the same - the goose, who had not drunk a drop to get into the true spirit of the thing, - ended up with a broken neck. Except that sometimes he wound up with his disembodied head in somebody's startled fist.
And that is how Cracker's Neck got its name. But it never was a particularly thriving city, rivaling Chicago, or even Dahlgren, and today it consists of only five houses, most of them terribly old and rickety, and three of them vacant.
But I felt you'd want to know, just the same. It'll give you something to retaliate with when somebody mentions Monkey's Eyebrow, Ky.

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