Phil Campbell, Alabama -- The Phil Campbell Hoedown -- or What's in a Name?

Phyl Campbell By Phyl Campbell, 16th Jun 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Travel>North America>United States>Alabama

Phil Campbell, Alabama, is a real place. People named Phil (or any variant) really are encouraged to come. This weekend the city puts on their annual hoedown. I couldn't be there this year, but am writing this article in honor of my namesake city just the same.

Phil Campbell, Alabama

Even if you don't believe everything you read on Wikipedia, you should believe this: Phil Campbell, Alabama really exists. And it really did get it's start when an Alabama businessman promised a railroad crew leader from England that he would name a town after him if the train depot was created in the spot now named Phil Campbell. Phil Campbell is the only US city with someone's first and last name.

June, 1995

A writer named Phil Campbell, who at the time was living in Seattle, but now lives in Brooklyn (and is not me, the author of this article), thought it would be neat to reach out to as many Phil Campbells as possible and get them to come to Phil Campbell. That year, 23 similarly named individuals showed up. The town hall keeps a register of all the PCs who come visit. I'm on there as well, but have not come during a hoedown (yet). I came to help clean up after the tornado. In 1995, I wasn't married yet, so I wasn't Phyl Campbell yet. My joining this wonderful group of PCs would have to wait six more years -- until my wedding day in 2002, to be precise.

April, 2011

Yes, there is a city called Phil Campbell. Yes, it was decimated by a tornado. Lives were lost. And the city wasn't large to begin with. You can read more about the tornado and the destruction here and all the PCs that came to help here.

October, 2011

I finally made it to Phil Campbell. I'd rather just fill this whole section with pictures, but I'm only allowed one photo per section -- or that's all I can figure out at this point. So the eye candy you see in each section all belongs here. Pictures are worth 1000s of words. Another note: when we PCs get together, we tend to refer to one another by location. Therefore, Seattle-turned-Brooklyn Phil is "Brooklyn," PC from Birmingham, AL is called "Birmingham." They are probably the two most involved in the Phil Campbell history, definitely and at least as far as my involvement is concerned. Adelaide Phil was apparently quite involved, too, and even came to the States in early days of the effort, but living in Australia, I've not met him in person. I'm Arkansas Phyl, because there are multiple PCs with my city name from different US states, and though there are other PCs in Arkansas, we apparently don't show up at the same time to things. Franklin Phil is from Franklin, TN, Chattanooga Phil is from Chattanooga, TN.

Finally, What's in a Name?

If you thought it was funny that the author of this article was spelling her name wrong throughout it, you wouldn't be alone. There have been tons of discussions among PCs, and even some FCs, about the complexities and individual properties of the sound-alike name we share. With their permission, I am sharing some of them with you, and will share more in future articles. We're all generally good humored about sharing our name, ribbing each other with complex FB birthday wishes, having our names misspelled, and, in the cases of the female PCs, being mistaken for men. But we all agree that it just means more education is required, which may help our namesake city get the attention needed to help with rebuilding efforts. So without further ado:

Phillip Campbell "Hi Phyl, my parents named me Phillip, however I have always used Phil since secondary school. I think it is only the Government that uses my full name, usually at tax time! Being known as Phil is easier for other people to use, and has a more casual feel. Regards, Adelaide Phil" (Australia)

Philip Campbell "Phyl, I have always used my name Philip. Whenever someone would ask if I prefer Philip or Phil I would always say Philip. Not sure why, but I never really warmed up to Phil (not a smart thing to say in this group, right) And my name is always spelled with two Ls. So maybe I just tried to make sure everyone got it right! "Philip, with one L"." (Austin, TX, but referred to by another PC as "Round Rock")

Phyl Campbell "Thanks, Philip! Your comment about one L speaks to one point I want to make sure to cover in the article. Name IS identity. I want to get to know each PC, and having ways to tell each apart helps. To me, it's not unlike referring to each person in a set of twins. Sure there are times to refer to the pair, but each is distinct and should be respected as such."

Phil Campbell "I was named Philip, after my mother's brother. I started using Phil in my 20's and don't remember exactly why. Probably because that was what co-workers and friends called me anyway. I prefer the less formal sound of "Phi"l and find that "Phil Campbell" rolls off the tongue better than "Philip Campbell"." (Palo Alto, CA)

Phil Campbell "I had a teacher in the 5th grade who asked me which I wanted on my report card, "Philip," (I'm a one "l" Philip -- one or two is another issue for some of us as Round Rock has already noted) or "Phil." I said, "Phil," and have been Phil ever since. I thought I was being rebellious by choosing Phil. I went home and defiantly told my mother. She said, "that's fine." I was both relieved and disappointed that she didn't care." (Juneau, AK - Alaska)

Phyl Campbell "Phil and Phyl Campbell both roll off the tongue! It was one reason I chopped off the last syllable (but just one reason) even before I became a Campbell. Rebel Phil -- I hear ya. It took my mother a bit longer than yours to come around, but I'm glad to report that she is very proud of her daughter Phyl these days."

Phil Campbell Aus "I have always been known as Phil - (Phillip) if I was in trouble but Phil flows better"

Phil Campbell "Phyl - Bowral Phil from Australia here - some are born as a Phil and some acquire it. I'm adopted and my birth mother called me Johannes as I'm half Dutch and half English (no haggis eating Scots blood at all!). My adoptive parents called me Philip after Prince Philip whom my mother rather liked."

Phyl Campbell "How interesting Bowral Phil! I acquired PC through marriage, like many do; you're the first I know to acquire the name through adoption."

What's in a name: Part Two

Is your name plain Jane or as absurd as spots on a zebra? Do you know anyone with the same name as you, whether you are that person's relative or not? Leave me a comment and tell me about it. Names are important to identity -- I'd love to know more about yours.


Alabama, Engineer, Fil Campbell, Phil Campbell, Philip Campbell, Phillip Campbell, Phyl Campbell, Small Town, Tornado, Train

Meet the author

author avatar Phyl Campbell
I am "Author, Mother, Dreamer." I am also teacher, friend, Dr. Pepper addict, night-owl. Visit my website -- -- or the "Phyl Campbell Author Page" on Facebook.

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