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From Bug Tussle to Tarzan, here are 40 of the oddest Texas town names

They don’t name ‘em like this anymore!

Texas barn
Texas barn (Pixabay)

It’s plain to see where certain Texas town names come from. For example, Round Rock, Sugar Land and College Station tote some exceptionally literal names. But tons of other Texas towns, from Nameless to Uncertain and Bug Tussle to Frognot, flaunt names with less obvious origins.

Below we list 40 unusual Texas town names and the stories behind them.

Some of the names listed aren’t odd so much as they are misleading: For instance, West, TX isn’t in West Texas and Cool, TX is anything but. Others like Oatmeal and Reklaw are just downright mystifying.

Bigfoot

The town was named for well-known resident, Texas Ranger William A. “Bigfoot” Wallace.

Blanket

By some accounts, Blanket Creek, the creek that the town drew its name from, was named by a group of surveyors who came upon a band of Tonkawa Indians who had been caught in a downpour and had spread their blankets over sumac bushes near the creek for protection.

Buda

One popular explanation for the town name is that it derives from the Spanish word viuda, meaning “widow.” The name may refer to a pair of widows who cooked at the Carrington Hotel, a popular a spot for rail travelers, in the 1880s.

Bug Tussle

A swarm of insects once ruined a church picnic, inspiring the town name, according to one popular tale.

Balmorhea

Balmorhea was named for the three land developers who sent their agent to file the plat for the townsite. Their names were Balcum, Morrow, and Rhea.

Cool

The origins of this town name might be a bit of a mystery but the name’s irony is lost on no one. With hot weather most of the year, Cool is anything but.

Cut and Shoot

Cut and Shoot was named after a disagreement among residents back in 1912. According to the Texas State Historical Association, the reason for the confrontation differs depending on who you ask. The dispute was either over conflicting land claims among church members, the design of a new steeple for the town’s only church or the issue of who should be allowed to preach there.During the tense dispute, a small boy at the scene reportedly yelled “I’m going to cut around the corner and shoot through the bushes in a minute!” For whatever reason, the boy’s words stuck and residents later adopted them as the town’s name.

Dime Box

Residents once paid 10 cents per week for postal service.

DISH

This rural North Texas town formerly known as Clark agreed in 2005 to change its name as part of a publicity stunt with Dish Network to get its residents free satellite service.

Early

The west-central Texas town was named for Walter U. Early, an attorney who donated land for several school buildings in the area.

Earth

According to some, town founder William E. Halsell was so impressed by the area’s fertile soil he wanted to name the town Good Earth, which the post office shortened to Earth.

Edge

Fourteen miles north of Bryan in northeast Brazos County, the community was named after Dr. John Edge, who founded it in the 1870s.

Fate

It’s said that the name derives from the nickname “Fate,” given to early settler Lafayette Brown by his wife.

Fair Play

The site is said to have been named by a traveler who was impressed with the fair rates and treatment he had received whilst in town.

Frognot

Some say a strict schoolmaster forbade his students from bringing the frogs they captured to class with them.

Goodnight

The town was named for famed cowman Charles Goodnight.

Gun Barrel City

The town name is derived from its motto, "We shoot straight with you," and its symbol, a rifle.

Happy

Boasting the motto “The Town Without A Frown,” this panhandle locale got its name from Happy Draw, a nearby stream said to replenish cowboys passing through the area.

Hogeye

Legend has it that this community in north Hunt County got its name from a Masonic lodge constructed in the area. The symbolic eye of the Masonic order looked like a hog’s eye to some.

Industry

This town is so named for its early residents’ industriousness, so it’s said.

Iraan

The West Texas town of Iraan merged the first names of ranchers Ira and Ann Yates to develop its town name.

Italy

A resident who had toured Europe suggested the name Italy because the Texas town’s climate was comparable to the european country.

Jot ‘Em Down

A local opened a store named Jot 'Em Down Gin Corporation, after the fictional store in the radio show Lum and Abner. The state highway department later used Jot 'Em Down to identify the area.

Lazbuddie

The southwestern Texas Panhandle town of Lazbuddie combined the nicknames of local business owners, Luther "Laz" Green and Andrew "Buddie" Sherley.

Levelland

Originally dubbed Hockley City, the town south of the panhandle was soon renamed for its topography.

Lovelady

The Texas town bears the name of Cyrus Lovelady, an early settler.

Loco

So named for the locoweed that grew in the area.

Marfa

Legend has it the wife of a railroad executive suggested the name Marfa from Fyodor Dostoyevsky's novel The Brothers Karamazov, which she was reading at the time.

Munday

Originally dubbed Maud for a local resident, Maud Isbell, the town was renamed for postmaster R. P. Munday when the first post office was opened in the area in 1894.

Nada

No, the town’s name doesn’t mean “nothing” like it does in Spanish. The town’s name is adapted from a Czechoslovakian word meaning “hope.”

Nameless

The story goes that when residents of the community applied for a post office, they had difficulty getting the post office department to accept the names they suggested. After several names were rejected, residents wrote back saying, "Let the post office be nameless and be damned!" The department took them literally and the post office became Nameless.

Noodle

The town took its name from Noodle Creek nearby. According to folk tradition, “Noodle” meant “nothing,” jokingly signifying a dry creek bed.

Notrees

The town’s name arose from — no surprise—the lack of trees in the area. Reportedly, the town site had just one native tree before construction of a large Shell gas plant forced its removal.

Oatmeal

The town name is either an adaptation of the name of a Mr. Othneil, who owned the first gristmill in the area, or a supposed translation of the name Habermill (Haber is a German dialect word for Hafer, "oats"). A German family reportedly named Habermill came to the area in 1849.

Pflugerville

The town was named for German settler Henry Pfluger.

Palestine

The town is named after Palestine, Illinois, where early settlers had once lived.

Point Blank

Eighty-five miles north of Houston in San Jacinto County, this Texas town’s name originated with Florence Dissiway, a Frenchwoman who moved to the area during the 1850s to work as a governess. Dissiway dubbed the spot Blanc Point, which local residents eventually adopted and adapted to Point Blank.

Quitaque

By some accounts, this southern panhandle town was named by famed Texas cowman Charles Goodnight, who thought it was an Indian word for “end of the trail.”

Rainbow

As legend has it that when the townspeople gathered to name the community a thunderstorm broke out, followed by a rainbow. Struck by the beauty of the rainbow, the residents named their town after it.

Reklaw

The town was laid out on land owned by Margaret L. Walker. When Local citizens wanted to name the new town after Walker, they were told the name was already in use by another Texas town so they spelled it backwards.

Sour Lake

The town was originally named Sour Lake Springs after the spring water that fed the nearby lake.

Spur

The town located sixty miles east of Lubbock is named after Spur Ranch.

Sweetwater

Long before the settlers and ranchers arrived, the Kiowa Indians named the site "Mobeetie," which meant sweet water.

Tarzan

Settler Tant Lindsey submitted a list of 14 potential town names to the U.S. Postal Service. Officials approved the name Tarzan and made Lindsay the town’s first postmaster.

Telegraph

So dubbed for the telegraph poles cut to support communication lines to early United States Army forts nearby in Telegraph Canyon.

Telephone

A local general store operator who had the only telephone in the area grew frustrated after his application to operate a post office in his store was repeatedly denied. Apparently, the names he submitted for the town were already in use elsewhere. The merchant finally submitted the name Telephone. The name was accepted and a post office in the town was opened in 1886.

Twitty

The town was named for Asa Twitty, an early settler and store owner.

Uncertain

The origin of Uncertain is, well, uncertain. The site located on the shores of Caddo lake was so dubbed Uncertain, according to one local tale, because of the difficulty steamboat captains had mooring their vessels there. Another tale has it that the town name stemmed from the uncertainty that residents had about their citizenship before the boundary between the United States and the Republic of Texas had been established.

West

Oddly enough, West, Texas isn’t in West Texas. The town was not named for one of the four cardinal directions but a person, Thomas M. West. He was a prominent businessman, landowner, and the town’s postmaster.

Zephyr

Supposedly, the town was named by land surveyors who were trapped there by a blue norther. The surveyors’ ironic name for the fierce wind stuck, and the town was named Zephyr.

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Sources: Texas State Historical Association Handbook of Texas, Texas Historical Commission markers, and Armond and Winifred Moyer’s “The origins of unusual place-names”


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