Texas Times: A Texas town by any other name

By U.S. Sen. John Cornyn | Dec 6, 2011

What's in a name? For some off-the-beaten-path communities in Texas, not a lot.

What's in a name? For some off-the-beaten-path communities in Texas, not a lot.

For others, it is their primary marketing tool. For some, it pays homage to their earliest inhabitants.

When San Antonio Express-News writer Roy Bragg recently took a look at some of the strangest names on the Texas map, he decided to Jot 'Em Down. And that list included Jot 'Em Down, Texas � roughly 75 miles northeast of Dallas.

Bragg found Texas town names to satisfy every appetite, like Oatmeal, Okra, Muenster, and Lollipop. He also assembled what could be a comprehensive list of baby names for expectant parents: Celina, Anna, Maud, Louise, Edna, Sarita, Alice, Donna, Mercedes, and Maybelle, or Melvin, Nolan, Seymour, and Chester.

For many of these towns, the founders put a lot of thought into their municipality's name. While its name would suggest otherwise, the early inhabitants of Nameless, Texas, were thoroughly invested in the naming process.

Located in northwest Travis County, just five miles northeast of Lago Vista, Nameless was settled in 1869. Residents grew cotton or produced cedar posts and rails to make a living. By 1880, these residents were ready to make their town official and applied for a U.S. post office. The postal department rejected the names they suggested not once, but six times.

Finally, in an act of frustration, the residents replied in writing, "Let the post office be nameless and be damned!"

Much to their surprise, the postal department called their bluff. The post office called Nameless was established in 1880. The joke was relatively short-lived. Ten years later the post office was discontinued and mail was rerouted through Leander.

Despite this setback, however, residents kept Nameless alive well into the 20th century. Though today all that remains in Nameless is a historical marker, the cemetery and an abandoned schoolhouse, this community without a name remains on state maps.

Unlike Nameless, another town profiled by Bragg was successful in securing the postmark they requested, but perhaps not the results they hoped the name would yield. In Bailey County, at the junction of State Highway 214 and Farm Road 298, sits the community of Needmore, Texas.

The goal behind the naming process was simple: Promoters of the townsite wanted to attract more settlers. But by 1940, 20 years after its founding, Needmore found itself still wanting more. With only 20 residents and two stores, the future looked bleak.

Needmore peaked in 1980 with a population of 98, but by 2000 it had dropped again to 45. While Needmore remains on the map, only time will tell if the original residents' marketing ploy will ever succeed.

Looking across the state, Bragg found communities that give orders, like Grow, Draw and Tell. He found some that may have been named to keep others out, such as Weeping Mary or Looneyville.

While some of the strangest names have left their mark on the Texas map, like Loco, Cut And Shoot, and Noodle, others' legacies were not as lasting. Take the town of Zulch, for example. While Zulch is long gone, you can rest assured knowing that North Zulch remains.

While these towns may come and go, they enrich the lore of our state and remind us of how unique Texas is. So if you ever find yourself on US-67 west of San Angelo, pull over by that abandoned shack near the intersection of County Road 113.

Take in the vastness of the landscape and give thanks, because you're standing in the former location of the town with the name that says it all: Best, Texas.

Sources: Texas State Historical Association, "Strange names dot Texas map" by Roy Bragg, San Antonio Express-News

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