Pecos" are four words that used to be synonymous with "wild
But from the 1820s to the mid 1870s, "West of the Colorado" would
have been an equally suitable phrase for describing unsettled Texas.
The Colorado and its tributaries were the line of demarcation between
settled and wild Texas for at least a decade after the Civil War.
Even into 1880-81, before the Texas and Pacific Railroad finally
made it across West Texas,
"West of the Colorado" meant way out there.
Crime was a particular problem, especially state coach robbing.
Alex Sweet, a Texas newspaper writer with a fine sense of humor,
once described a stage coach holdup west of the Colorado where "we
had just come to the San Saba [River] bottom."
Telling the story in the third person to a doctor he never named,
Sweet referred to himself as "the reporter."
The reporter sat as one of four passengers in a stage coach traveling
on a day so cold that the side curtains of the coach were all buttoned.
When the stage came to a sudden halt, one of the passengers, not
being able to see out, asked the driver if they had come to a stage
"No," the driver reported, "this is a six-shooter post office."
Two pistol packing robbers then relieved the passengers of all valuables
they had not been able to hide, but no one suffered any harm other
Sweet went on, "concluded by saying that this was the only stage-robbing
experience he had ever had. The driver looked earnestly at the doctor,
and winked at all that part of the state west of the Colorado river."
had grown so common "West of the Colorado," Sweet continued, that
"the traveling public became so accustomed to going through the
usual ceremonies that they complained to the stage company if they
came through unmolested. Being robbed came to be regarded as a vested
By the late
1880s, railroads had eliminated most stage coach routes in Texas.
Not to be outdone by changing times, outlaws took to robbing trains.
Why'd They Name it That?
So how did the Fannin
County community of Telephone come to be named for an instrument
of electronic communication? The telephone, as we know, came into
being in 1876 thanks to the work of Alexander Graham Bell. And only
a decade later, general store proprietor Pete Hindman applied to
the government for a post office to serve the small community then
developing 12 miles from the county seat of Bonham.
didn't cotton to the various town names he submitted. Since Hindman
had the only telephone in the area at his store, it occurred to
him that Telephone might make it past the pencil pushers in D.C.
And, to his surprise and satisfaction, the U.S. Post Office Department
formally established Telephone,
Texas as a mail destination.
small Texas communities, with 210 residents, Telephone
still has a post office, zip code 75488.
Sayin' it the Texas Way
Poverty: "They are so poor they couldn't buy a jaybird a wrestling
Lone Star Levity
Back in the one-room school days, and at the depth of the so-called
Great Depression, an East
Texas teacher hoped to impress on her students the practical
value of math.
asked, "if you had $14.52 in one pocket and $15.48 in the other
pocket, what would you have?"
studied on the matter for a moment before answering.
"I'd have somebody
else's pants on," he said.
Stories in Numbers
With the dedication in November 2016 of the Texas African American
History Memorial, the Capitol grounds now has 21 monuments. The
latest piece of public art is 27 feet high and 32 feet wide. Ed
Dwight, a sculptor from Denver, created the bronze and granite work.
"Texas Tales" February
9, 2017 column