and Shoot, Gun Barrel City, Gunsight, Point Blank and Winchesterby
stereotypical Texan is seldom gun shy when it comes to settling a difficulty with
violence, a mythology reflected in the number of Lone
Star communities with names evocative of rough and tumble ways. |
least five such towns come to mind: Cut
and Shoot, Gun
Barrel City, Gunsight, Point
Blank and Winchester.
Of these Second Amendment-esque place names,
Cut and Shoot
has gotten the most ink over the years. Out-of-state journalists have periodically
pointed to this Montgomery County community as having a name particularly representative
of Texas’ supposed willingness to resort to violence.
The story goes that the name came from an incident in 1912 that nearly led to
bloodshed. Ironically, in all three versions of the tale, the triggering factor
was an argument over church-related issues. Some said the intra-congregational
tiff concerned the selection of a preacher while others later maintained the argument
was over how the church steeple should look. The third version has it that the
barely averted battle had to do with a despute among church members over land
Supposedly, a young boy nervously watching the building confrontation
was heard to say: “I’m going to cut around the corner and shoot through the bushes
in a minute.”
While that may be the story, the simplicity of the name
seems to belie that. In Texas, two of the three basic ways to resolve an issue
involved cutting or shooting, the third being fisticuffs.
Barrel City is in Henderson County, about 20 miles northwest of Athens.
As Texas towns go, it’s not very old, having started during the building of Cedar
Creek Reservoir in the 1960s. Since then, you might say Gun
Barrel City has grown faster than a speeding bullet, shooting from a population
of 60 in 1970 to 5,000-plus in 2000.
Many a barroom denizen has learned
the hard way that gunpowder and alcohol do not mix, but Gun
Barrel City was incorporation to facilitate the legal sale of beer and wine.
town got its name from its motto, “We shoot straight with you.” The town’s symbol,
of course, is a rifle. But, as the Handbook of Texas Online points out, a roadway
known as Gun Barrel Lane cut through the area well before the lake was there.
Since the road represented a short cut from Mabank to Seven Points, the Gun Barrel
descriptor might have had to do with its straightness between A and B.
a mostly ghost town in Stephens County with only six residents as of the last
census, dates back to 1879. It was named for a set of low mountains that from
a distance look like the V-shaped notch in the middle of a gunsight.
year afer its settlement, Gunsight
got a post office which lasted it until the Breckenridge
oil boom of the late teens played out in the 1920s when the Wichita Falls and
Southern Railroad closed its station there.
Blank is the range at which you want to shoot at something if you don’t want
to miss. Point
Blank is the name of a community in San Jacinto County, 85 miles north of
Houston. Alas, the story behind the
naming of Point
Blank has nothing to do with shooting.
A Frenchwoman named Florence
Dissiway, while working as the governess for two branches of the pioneer R.T.
Robinson family back in the 1850s called the settlement Blanc (as in white) Point.
Leave it to Texans to corrupt that to Point
Blank, which they did.
Blank didn’t get its own post office until 1884 and slumbered along until
the construction of Lake Livingston in the 1960s perked things up. But even after
the laked fill and began to attract anglers and tourists, the 2000 population
was only 559.
would think the Fayette County community of Winchester
honors the weapon that won at least half the West, the lever-action repeating
rifle generically known as a Winchester.
But one would be wrong.
Turns out Winchester
is named for a town of like name in Tennessee. (Founded in 1809, that town was
named for James Winchester, a Revolutionary soldier who served as a brigadier
general in the War of 1812.)
Located 20 miles northwest of La
Grange on a tract of land first settled in 1827, Winchester,
Texas was laid out in 1857 by John Gromme. By 1866 the community was of sufficient
caliber to merit the opening of a post office. A farming town, Winchester
boomed as much as it ever would when the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railway
came through on its way to Waco
in the mid-1880s.
Cotton being king back then, the communtity
had 18 businesses by the turn of the century. But as cotton
became less dominant as a Central
Texas crop and better roadways made it easier for folks to trade in larger
whithered like so much long staple in a dry year. By 1950 the population had decreased
to 220. Thirty years later it was down to 50, which was also the head count in
Finally, for a time when it had the reputation of being a wild and wooly railroad
town, Hearne was known
as Six Shooter Junction. But that was only a nickname, nothing worth fighting
© Mike Cox
June 30, 2010 column
Texas Town Names
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