much as it might hurt to admit it, Texas isnít perfect. Take its map,
While using the Rio Grande along with the Red and Sabine rivers as
borders -- along with invisible lines defined by a surveyorís transom
-- left the Lone Star state with an iconic silhouette, some of the
interior geography could use a make-over.
The Texas pledge speaks of this state as being ďone and indivisible,Ē
but the act of Congress that allowed the Republic
of Texas to join the Union in 1845 stipulates that Texas could
be divided into as many as five separate states. In light of that,
over the years various individuals and groups have advocated either
an East or West Texas, or a North and South Texas.
Obviously, nothing ever came of those proposals and Texas likely will
stay just like it is, one and undivided. But there is room for improvement
when it comes to the stateís cartographic configuration.
For one thing, letís go ahead and face up to it: Houston
isnít part of Texas and hasnít been for a good while. As the nationís
fourth-largest city with a multi-million metropolitan area population,
Houston is actually a city
state. In fact, its economy probably is larger than some countries.
So, needed map change No. 1: Organize the State of Houston.
Closer to the center of Texas, Austin
isnít in Texas, either. Singer Michael Murphy figured that out years
ago, observing, ďI donít live in Texas, I live in Austin.Ē
Letís steal a page from the federal government and create the District
of Travis. Keeping Austin
weird, its unofficial local slogan, wouldnít be any trouble at all
if it wasnít fully a part of Texas.
Beyond Houston and Austin,
several of the 254 counties need
some place name tweaking.
seat of Caldwell
County is Lockhart,
home to some of the best barbeque in Texas. But Caldwell,
Texas is the county seat of Burleson
County. Clearly, a name switch is in order. Burleson
County needs to be moved to Lockhart
and the Caldwell
County government shipped to Caldwell,
where it rightly belongs. The barbeque places would stay in Lockhart.
Out in far
West Texas, a lot of
confusion could be eliminated if Reeves
and Pecos counties
switched handles. As it is now, Pecos,
Texas is the county seat of Reeves
County, while in adjoining Pecos
County, the county seat is Fort
Stockton. All it would cost taxpayers to adjust this is the
price of a few new signs and printing new county stationery.
Not quite as
troublesome, but bearing consideration, is why Terrell,
Texas should be the seat of Kaufman
County, while Sanderson,
Texas is the capital of Terrell
In the Panhandle,
is the seat of Sherman
County, while in northeast
is the county seat of Grayson
County. Since Shermanís a fair-sized city, the Grayson
County name needs to be shipped to the High Plains. But given
that the Panhandle
already has a Gray County,
perhaps a more evocative name is in order. Caprock County?
Johnson City, named after one of former President Lyndon B.
Johnsonís forebears, is the county seat of Blanco
County in Central Texas. Cleburne,
on the other hand, is county seat of Johnson
County, south of Fort
Worth. Blancoís a nice name, but the name would survive since
is alive and well. So, Johnson
City as the county seat of Johnson
County, with the citizens of the former Johnson County having
the privilege of coming up with an interesting new name.
the Rose Capital of Texas, is also the capital of Smith
County in East Texas.
But thereís Tyler County
to consider. With apologies to any of his descendants, the namesake
of Smith County,
James Smith, was not Texasí most storied
hero. He was a wealthy planter who just happened to be newly elected
to the Legislature when lawmaker created Smith
County. Clearly, some changes need to be made in these two counties.
is the county seat of Colorado
County, named for the river that flows through it, but way upstream,
in Mitchell County,
City. (Of course, the locals pronounce their town Col-low-RAY-do
City, so the confusion is minimal.)
This oneís touchy. No one would deny that Texas
needs a county named for Alamo
hero David Crockett. That county is in West
Texas, where Ozona
is the county seat. Over in East
is the county seat of Houston
County. The city of Houston,
make that the State of Houston, is the seat of Harris
Texasís smallest political subdivision population wise, its capital
is Mentone. Just
for fun, why not moved Valentine
from Jeff Davis
County to replace Mentone,
which could be sent to replace Valentine.
is the seat of Milam
County, while Brownsville
is the capital of Cameron
None of these changes are likely to ever happen, but itís fun to
think about them. Certainly, stranger things have occurred in Texas
© Mike Cox
4 , 2004 Column, modified December 31, 2014
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