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Texas | Columns | "It's All Trew"

Texas place names describe unique stories of towns

by Delbert Trew
Delbert Trew

The boundaries of Texas contain 267,339 square miles. This is divided into 254 counties with some histories dating back to the 1700s.

These citizens were administered under six different flags with people originating from every country in the world.

The Place Name Survey of Texas, developed and added to for the past 20 years or more, lists and explains the uniqueness of names in Texas. Here are a few that caught my eye.

For example, my local town of Alanreed was once named Spring Tank or Spring Town for a large dirt tank of water fed by springs. Then came Prairie Dog Town for a large town of the critters nearby. After a particularly brutal saloon fight in a local saloon, the name became Gouge Eye, then finally settled on Alanreed named after two contractors building the railroad at the time.

At least nine "Antelope Creeks" are located in Texas. Probably named for the large herds of antelope once grazing nearby.

At least six Texas streams or creeks have the name Polecat, a variant of skunk.

Usually the water in these streams stank to high heaven from some mineral or algae, and this usually affected future settlement of the area.


Bug Tussel, in Fannin County, has two stories.

The old people say it was named for the extreme efforts it took to fight off the bugs while attending a church picnic.

The young people claim life in the town is so boring that they sit around at night watching the tumble-bugs work for entertainment.

Highway signage by the state had to be abandoned as the signs became favorites of the nearby college fraternity houses.


Harmony Hill, in Rusk County, was previously named "Nip'n Tuck" after two flop-eared hounds chased a fox down main street. The name was changed when they applied for a U.S. Post Office.


The town of Nameless, in Travis County, came about after six names had been submitted to the Postal Service, all turned down. Town fathers gave up and said, "Let the town be nameless."

The name was accepted, and a post office opened.


Pumpkin Center, in Wichita County, came about when the local blacksmith told his helper to paint a city sign. Because the helper was only artistic enough to draw a pumpkin and only had orange or yellow paint at hand, the community became Pumpkin Center.


Talking John Creek, in Foard County, was named for an old lonesome bachelor cowboy named John who lived at a ranch camp alongside the creek.

When he spied a visitor coming across the prairie, John saddled up, met the visitor and started talking.

He continued talking while the visitor ate supper, until he went to bed, while he was sleeping, through breakfast the next morning and then saddled up to follow as he left still talking a steady line. I would guess that Talking John didn't have many visitors come around.


The Waco, Beaumont, Trinity and Sabine Railroads, once located in Trinity County, were nicknamed the Wobbelty, Bobbelty, Turnover and Stop by the local residents because of the many wrecks. Few were injured among the "few" passengers.


Delbert Trew
"It's All Trew"
June 21, 2011 column



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