COLUMN: It’s Courcier Hill

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I think I made four calls last month trying to track down the correct spelling of the steep hill between Mount Pleasant and Magnet. I was working up a report on a motorcycle accident on what most people in the area, as well as first responders in the county, call Kusher Hill.

I called the sheriff’s department and the ranger station trying to find a copy of an old map I’d seen once that had the old names of hills and hollows. I had no luck in finding the name Kusher or Cusher, the other spelling I’ve seen and the paper has used over the years.

I scrounged back issues of the paper and old community guides thinking the name might be there. It wasn’t.

The issue came up the following week when we published an editorial calling on the Indiana Department of Transportation to do something to better warn motorcyclists of the dangers the hill poses.

Perhaps because “Kusher” was in the headline, the editorial drew the attention of one resident who called last week and suggested “Kusher” wasn’t the correct spelling. Being told of misspellings isn’t something I relish but I was happy to have finally tracked down the correct spelling of the hill.

In fact it’s spelled a lot different that “Kusher.”

It’s actually “Courcier.”

That’s the name on several gravestones in the St. Augustine Church Cemetery at Leopold and I was told by the caller and another person that families with that name used to live in the area of the hill.

I don’t know anyone with the last name Courcier but I suspect they may have pronounced it something like “Kusger.”

That’s probably how the name was preserved over the years, passed on to not only neighbors but to police officers and dispatchers who still use the name as a reference point.

Like a lot of European-origin last names, Courcier would be pronounced something other than “Kusher” in France, Belgium or Luxembourg, where the name likely originated. Sadly, plenty of last names fade away over time after the last of a family’s members pass away. But there are plenty of examples in which they are kept. New owners keep the old names and pass them on. Farmers still call their properties the Underhill or Anderson Farms, say they live on Ernst Road even though the families those farms and roads have were named after have been absent for many years.

It’s good to keep those names from the past around as it preserves local history.

So when the next almost inevitable motorcycle crash happens later this fall, we will spell the hill’s name like it should be, Courcier, not Kusher. We and the Courciers buried in our county can rest in peace.