big yellow and red blob moving west through Llano County toward Austin
looked like a living thing on the radar, with a couple of rotating
rings indicating possible tornadoes.
The huge thunderstorm, a TV meteorologist warned, soon would be dumping
rain and large hail directly over Gainesville.
That townís in Cooke County, practically on the bank of the Red River.
Why would an Austin television station be alerting its viewers to
bad weather approaching a city 250 miles from its viewing area?
Later, a little research revealed that the sophisticated computer
software the TV station uses to superimpose the radar image over a
map showing area communities and roadways had not made a mistake.
Llano County does indeed have a place called Gainesville.
Of course, judging from the satellite imagery, the Gainesville in
Central Texas is the ghostliest of ghost towns. Nothing appears to
be there anymore, just a name on the map designating a point on Ranch
Road 3404 between U.S. 71 and Kingsland. (For the global positioning
set, itís Latitude 30.678, longitude 98.521, elevation 974 feet above
Also known as Paschall, Llano Countyís Gainesville has no zip code
to call its own. Or anything else for that matter. Just a dot that
still survives on the U.S. Geological Survey map.
Turns out, Texas has not only two, but three Gainesvilles. The third
is in Harrison County in East Texas. (Latitude 36.617, longitude 94.319,
elevation 367 feet.)
This East Texas community has a cemetery and once had a church, though
a satellite image doesnít reveal much of anything else but a computer-generated
pinpoint on FM 1793, east of U.S. 59 and before you get to Bonita
Like Llano Countyís Gainesville, the Gainesville near Marshall does
not have a zip code under its name. If either community ever had a
post office (which seems unlikely given their copycat names) they
seems to be the only Texas city with the distinction of having two
satellite burgs, itís not the only community in the state with a little-known
largest Texas city with a nomenclature skeleton rattling around in
its closest is Victoria,
the 61,000 population county seat of Victoria County.
The other Victoria (31.355 longitude, 96.463 latitude) is in southwestern
Limestone County, slightly west of FM 339 and the small-dot community
of Kirk. If you get to Ben
Hur, youíve gone too far. If you end up in Mart
or Thelma, youíre hopelessly lost.
Going down the list of Texas cities and
towns, no other identical twins show up, but no shortage of kind-of-close
names exist to pose confusion to travelers or researchers.
With apologies to Johnny Cash, thereís Bay
Bayview; Bridge Center and Bridgeport;
Cedar Park and Cedar
City and Centerville;
and Edom; Falcon and Falcon Heights; Friendship
Orange and Orangefield;
Palmhurst, Palm View, and Palm Valley; Progresso
and Progresso Lakes; Ranger
and Rangerville; Richland,
Spring and Springtown. And probably a few others.
all the similar town names that somehow made it through the post office
vetting process, some nominal (yes, pun intended) successes can be
One example is a community in Liveoak County first called Hamiltonburg.
The Hamiltonburg post office got mail intended for Hamilton, in Hamilton
County, and vice versa. In 1914, the Post Office Department complained
about the similar town names. Hamilton being long-established, the
onus fell on Hamiltonburg to come up with a different name.
Citizens circulated a petition proposing that the year-old town be
named Tips in honor of developer Charles Tips, but Tips modestly declined.
Instead, he proposed a name based on the local geography. Since the
Atascosa, Frio and Nueces Rivers converged nearby, he suggested, why
not call our town Three
Rivers? That handle suited the townsfolk and made it unscathed
through the federal bureaucracy. With the stroke of some government
workerís pen, Hamiltonburg became a place with a much more evocative
name. An added bonus: The name gave the impression that the place
had plenty of water, helpful for business development.
Maybe the good folks in some of the kissing cousin towns of Texas
need to get a petition drive going and come up with something catchier
than their same-sounding names.
© Mike Cox
June 26, 2008 column
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