time you decide or need to shuffle off to Buffalo (Texas), best
make sure your GPS knows which Buffalo, Texas you plan to visit.
the roving meat department of the Plains Indians for generations
and a species almost made extinct in the 1870s by professional hunters
armed with .50 caliber Sharp's rifles, has been named the national
mammal of the U.S. by Congress. Of course, buffalo
are technically bison, but they're far better known as buffalo.
Even though hundreds of thousands of the shaggy critters once roamed
Texas and most of the rest of the West, you'd think only one town
in the Lone Star State would be named for the buffalo.
But you would be wrong.
If you enter "NWS Buffalo TX" into your search engine, hoping to
see what the National Weather Service is forecasting for the Buffalo
in Leon County --
a food and lodging stopping point astride I-45 between Dallas
and Houston -- you will
be presented with four choices:
Texas (Leon County)
Buffalo, Texas (Coleman
Of course, there's also Buffalo
Gap in Taylor
County, but that historic community near Abilene
got saved from the rest of the herd by the gap, so to speak.
Texans tend to think of buffalo
as being almost as distinctively a Lone Star beast as Longhorns
or armadillos, but alas,
a little research reveals that the whole nation has honored the
great animal by using it as a place name. In fact, the website www.placesnamed.com
identifies 73 capital "B" little "u-f-f-a-l-o" towns, cities or
places scattered across the nation like so many free-ranging bulls.
And those places are not just in the West, where the deer and the
antelope and the buffalo roam(ed). Of the 22 states with at least
one Buffalo, 12 (Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana,
Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, and Wyoming
lie west of the Mississippi and 10 are east of that river. Those
states are Alabama, Illinois, Maine, New York, North Carolina, Ohio,
Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia.
That may seem like a lot of buffalo, geographically speaking, but
the website notes that Buffalo is merely the 41,215th most common
place name in America. The first town named Buffalo was Buffalo,
N.Y., back in 1759. The city in western New York is also the largest
Buffalo in the U.S. and gets a fair amount of publicity because
of its harsh winters and its professional football team, the aptly
named Buffalo Bills.
Springfield, incidentally, is the most common post office
name in the U.S., with 41 towns or cities bearing that name. (No
wonder the creators of "The Simpsons" picked that name as the cartoon
home town for Homer and Marge Simpson and their kids Lisa and Bart.)
Texas has two Springfields (see Springfield,
Limestone County), but both are ghost towns or close to it and
neither have post offices.
The Buffalo in Henderson
County is a "has been" town. Now essentially a ghost town, it
was the first seat of Henderson
County. But another town with a famous name, Athens,
eventually became the county's capital.
Buffalo was a small community around a school founded in 1893. It
taught kids until it was consolidated with another school in 1933.
The Buffalo in
Mills County is something of a stretch. While the Mills County
Buffalo continues to digitally graze on some websites, the community
23 miles west of Goldthwaite
was renamed Ebony
in 1891 after the U.S. Post Office Department (as it was then called)
rejected Buffalo as the town name. Now a ghost town, its only residents
lie in the Ebony Cemetery.
In Texas, the Leon
County Buffalo is the largest community with a population of
1,847 counted in the 2010 Census. The town dates back to 1872, when
the International and Great Northern Railroad laid tracks through
the county. Four years later, the government approved a post office
Rail passenger service through Buffalo
ended in 1970, but its location on I-45 kept the town alive as a
Despite its evocative name, the Leon County town has not seen much
colorful history. Well, there was one case of frontier-style extralegal
adjudication. Back in 1888, on the night of May 10, one W.T. Martin
-- accused of equine misappropriation -- was taken into custody
by a deputy sheriff. As the lawman escorted the suspected horse
thief to the Leon
County jail in Centerville,
parties unknown shotgunned Martin in an ambush. The sheriff had
three suspects (one of them had accidentally left his hat near the
crime scene) but it is unclear whether they ever faced trial in
the killing. Tragedy put
Buffalo in the national news media's cross hairs in 1959, when
Braniff Airlines flight 542 plummeted 15,000 feet and crashed into
a sweet potato field just outside the town. Thirty-four people died
in the aviation accident.
On a happier note,
Buffalo residents have been staunch supporters of the Dallas
Cowboys. In 1993 and again the following year, the town temporarily
renamed itself "Blue Star" when Dallas faced the Buffalo Bills in
Super Bowls XXVII and XXVIII. The Bills lost both games and Blue
Star went back to being
© Mike Cox
- May 6, 2016 Column