The Milwaukee Railroad named the town of Ismay after the two daughter’s (Isabelle and May) of a company executive. The residents there, hearing that a passenger on the Titanic named Ismay pushed his way onto a lifeboat ahead of women and children, wanted to change the name of the town. For whatever reason, this didn’t happen.
In 1990, Ismay was Montana’s smallest incorporated town with only 31 people. In 1993, a Kansas City radio station looking for a gimmick asked the town fathers to change the name to Joe, Montana in honor of the Chief’s famous quarterback. The residents, drunk with fame and thirsty for more, held a July 4th parade, rodeo, and fireworks extravaganza. Over 2,000 people showed up and the town netted over $70,000. Pretty good for a town whose mayor is only paid $4 a month. And hey, if it worked once, why not try it again? Assured of a spot on the David Letterman show, they geared up for an even greater extravaganza the next year. The spot didn’t materialize. No one showed. The maps still call it Ismay.