Between different languages, traditions, events, notable people, and sometimes just a distinct sense of humor, Texas has a long history of towns winding up with names ranging from the unique to the downright silly.
Because of that, it isn’t uncommon for newcomers and locals alike in the Lone Star State to have a couple of questions: How do you even say that, anyway? How did they come up with that?
How do you say that?
In much the same way that the 1940s saw the publication of the first complete mile-by-mile guide to Route 66, highlighting otherwise unknown communities and details in the Texas Panhandle and much of the rural expanses of the United States, Paducah (“Puh-doo-kuh”) native George Mitchel Stokes of Baylor University compiled a list of pronunciations of more than 2,300 place names across Texas. The Texas Almanac crafted a list based on Stokes’ work to recognize and record the communities of the Lone Star State, which is now available online to guide travelers on how to talk like a true Texan.
However, that’s only one of the two common questions answered. Knowing how to pronounce some of the weirder places in Texas is only half the story – literally. The origins behind a few can be even stranger than the names themselves, or otherwise deceptively simple.
How did they come up with that?
Sometimes, the reason behind a strange town name is pretty straightforward. As readers might notice throughout some of the examples in this article – such as Dimebox, Nameless, or Nimrod – multiple communities got their stranger-sounding names after spending years referring to their homes as something else entirely.
The change tended to come when residents applied for a post office. When Texas saw a population boom after properly becoming a state in the 1800s, federal postal authorities were flooded with thousands of requests by communities that wanted, literally, to be put on the map. Because there were so many requests, the postal authorities were particular about town names neither being too long nor being too similar to one another. This led to some town names being chosen after multiple rejections, at points where residents were simply trying to get one to stick.
These stories, even of towns that no longer exist, are still known because of the efforts of state and local historical associations, local nonprofits, archivists, and books and reports such as “1,001 Texas Place Names” by Fred Tarpley, “Muleshoe & More: The Remarkable Stories Behind the Naming of Texas Towns” by Bill and Clare Bradfield, and “Texas Towns: From Abner to Zipperlandville” by Don Blevins.
Below is a list of some of the strangest town names in Texas, how to say them, and why we call them what we do.
According to Fredrick Rathjen’s “The Texas Panhandle Frontier” and the Texas State Historical Association, Amarillo was originally “Oneida” when merchants and the Fort Worth and Denver City Railway began building in the area. The town became “Amarillo” after the large playa lake and the yellow subsoil, grasses, and Yucca plant blooms native to the area.
Subsequently, according to the editor of the Tascosa Pioneer, employees of the FW&DC in the area mispronounced the Spanish pronunciation of the name so often that the town shifted from “Ah-mah-ree-yoh” to “Am-uh-rill-oh.”
Bacon, Texas in 2023 is less a city than it is a memory, about four miles north of Wichita Falls on Bacon Switch Road. However, it re-emerged from the grease traps of history when Church’s Chicken filmed a commercial in the area to promote a bacon chicken sandwich in 2021. As part of the advertising campaign, the business also launched a petition to reinstate the town of Bacon.
However, the community wasn’t actually named for one of the United States’ favorite foods. Rather, as noted by local historians and community members, it was named for Otis T. Bacon, who served as the first mayor of the City of Wichita Falls from 1889 to 1892.
As previously noted on MyHighPlains.com, the city of Balmorhea was established in 1906 by three land promoters; Balcom, Morrow, and Rhea. They combined their names to create “Balmorhea” as the name of the city.
While many may mispronounce the name as “Bal-more-hee-uh,” area locals use “Bal-more-ay.”
According to US Census data, the town of Blanket in Brown County takes up more than 171 years of history and less than one square mile of space – 0.62 square miles, specifically.
Detailed by the Texas Historical Commission and local tradition, Blanket received its name from the nearby Blanket Creek, a tributary of the Pecan Bayou. In 1852, reportedly, a group of surveyors met a group of Tonkawa Indians who had spread blankets on sumac bushes near the creek to dry.
While the first image that may come to mind when hearing the name “Bigfoot” is the fur-covered sasquatch of legend, the unincorporated town of Bigfoot in Frio County is actually named for a soldier and Texas Ranger named William Alexander Anderson “Bigfoot” Wallace.
As adapted by the TSHA from “From Rattlesnakes to Road Agents: Rough Times on the Frio” by Frances Bramlette Farris, Wallace lived from 1817 to 1899, and after setting out for Texas in 1836 had a long career that included experiences with the Somervell and Mier expeditions, Perote Prison, the Texas Rangers, and other work including farming and ranching. He was also noted to have worked tracking down enslaved people who were fleeing to Mexico.
Although the village was initially named Connally’s Store when it was first settled in the 1860s, the TSHA said that it was renamed after Wallace once the post office was established in 1883. Town officials noted also that the area is now home to the Bigfoot Wallace Museum.
Bug Tussle (Bug Tuss-uhl)
Situated at the junction of Farm Road 1550 and State Highway 34 in Fannin County, Bug Tussle was initially founded in the 1890s as “Truss,” after one of its first settlers. While the name was later changed to “Bug Tussle,” the TSHA notes that there are “at least three” stories as to why.
The most popular story behind the name change is that “Bug Tussle” commemorates an invasion of bugs that spoiled a church ice cream social. Similarly, the second version of the story says that it was named for an area of the town popular for picnics but offering little else to do but “watch the bugs tussle.”
The third story noted by the TSHA is that two old-time residents were arguing about changing the name of the town when they were distracted by the sight of two tumblebugs fighting. One of the arguers allegedly remarked, “Look at those bugs tussle!” and settled the argument.
While there is little official documentation for the origin of the name of Cool in Parker County, to the point that even the TSHA does not credit a reason in its database, a 1961 obituary and a 1979 letter to Blevins may offer a clearer picture.
As noted by Blevins and one of his sources, a Parker County clerk named Carrie Reed, Cool was at least the third accepted name for the community. First populated around 1937, it was originally called “Tile City” due to the houses being constructed of tile made in Mineral Wells.
Later, the town became known as “Fiddlers Ridge” after a local named Marvin McCracken. While he was described as an automobile mechanic by the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in his 1961 obituary, he also spent much of his life playing the fiddle at community gatherings around the county. While perhaps he had no recording deals or a listing among the historically renowned fiddlers of Texas, for at least a few years he was enough of a staple to his neighbors that he was at the forefront of their minds when they thought of home.
The town stayed that way, noted Blevins, until around 1942 when the town came together to decide on an officially-recognized name. An unnamed member of the group reportedly shouted out, “Why not ‘Cool’ because it’s cooler here than any other place in the county?”
No matter the name origin, according to the TSHA, Cool has had a “hot-and-cold” population level since it was originally incorporated in the 1960s. Between 1969 and 1970, Cool went from an estimated population of 506 to only 21. A few years later in 1978, its population was estimated around 253.
Further, popular talk about Cool often also notes the irony of the name, given the town experiences warm weather for most of the year. Rather than in Parker County, one might actually have more luck finding a “Cool” town in Texas in the Panhandle.
Cut and Shoot (Kutt and Shewt)
The town of Cut and Shoot in Montgomery County claims one of the more dramatic name origins among those of strange Texas towns, which area officials say developed after a dispute between local families in July 1912.
In Cut and Shoot’s own words, the community in 1912 was influenced predominantly by its Missionary Baptist, Hard-shell Baptist, and Methodist citizens who collaborated to build a combined church and schoolhouse. Called the Community House by locals, it was open to meetings and sermons held by all denominations “except the Mormons and Apostolics.”
When the controversial Apostolic Preacher Stamps was invited to hold a meeting in the Community House in July 1912, said officials, two major factions of the community emerged: One which claimed it would support the meeting and believed the Community House should be open to all, and another which said it would stop the meeting and believed the Community House should remain closed to Apostolics.
On the morning of the planned meeting, local officials say that the group that gathered to hear Preacher Stamps came with supplies for festivities as well as “guns and knives rolled up in quilts” hidden under their wagon and buggy seats, and their opponents also arrived at the Community House with weapons. A heated argument broke out between the two groups, though there were no reported injuries.
From this incident, two different narratives emerged about how the name “Cut and Shoot” was decided. The first says that it was coined when a child during the July 1912 incident shouted, “I’m scared! I’m going to cut around the corner and shoot through the bushes in a minute!”
Another narrative said that the name came amid the court cases that followed the incident, during which a witness was asked by a judge where it had taken place. He said, reportedly, “I suppose you would call it the place where they had the cutting and shooting scrape.”
Dimebox (D-eye-m Bahks)
Published histories of Lee County describe that the evolution of the name “Dime Box” for one town was mostly due to the fact its original name kept getting confused with another community.
When the town was originally established sometime between 1869 and 1877, it was called “Brown’s Mill” due to the mill that acted as the first major establishment in the community. Until it had a post office opened in 1877, residents deposited outgoing mail along with a dime in a small box inside the mill’s office for weekly delivery to a nearby town.
However, as people commonly confused “Brown’s Mill” with “Brownsville,” the community renamed itself Dime Box in the early 1880s. Later, as noted by the TSHA, the town got national attention in the 1940s when it was the home of the first March of Dimes drive.
Ding Dong (Ding Dawng)
While too far south to have a relation to any famous “Ding Dong Daddy from Dumas,” the town of Ding Dong in Bell County does still have an origin well-loved by locals, as well as many people in the mood for a laugh.
As told in the Bradfields’ book, the unincorporated community along the Lampasas River was named after a joke made about Zulis Bell and his nephew Bert Bell, who ran a country store in the area in the 1930s. When they hired the painter C.C. Hoover to paint the sign for their store, another store owner – Fred Foster at Stokes-Blair Hardware Company in Florence – suggested that Hoover put a bit of humor into his work.
At Foster’s suggestion, Hoover pained two bells on the sign, with “Zulis” on one and “Bert” on the other, and then labeled them “Ding Dong” on the sign. The name stuck and has been the community’s ever since.
According to the city of Fate in Rockwall County, the name was derived from a local man named Lafayette who lived in the area around the 1880s and was related to the first postmaster – they just aren’t sure which one.
Settled shortly after the Civil War in the 1860s, officials say that Fate was heavily influenced by William Lafayette “Fate” Brown, a leader in the community who ran a feed store, and also served as a home to George Washington Lafayette “Fate” Peyton, a landowner and farmer.
Fate officials said that local legend describes Brown proposing naming the area Brown Springs, after both his surname and the natural springs in the area, but that there was already a Brown Springs Post Office in Texas the time. Instead, his wife suggested calling the area by her husband’s nickname, “Fate.”
While that seems to be a popularly accepted narrative for the origin of the name, Fate officials noted that there is no certain documentation regarding which “Fate” the town was named for. Both Brown and Peyton were common relatives with the town’s first postmaster, so it could have been named after either or both men.
Frognot (Frawg Nawt)
According to historical archivists of Collin County, the community of Frognot (or “Frog Not”) east of Blue Ridge consisted of a store and a school, with three major theories surviving about the origin of the name.
The first theory is that the name emerged from the culling of an abundance of frogs that lived in the area when the community was first established. Another contends that the name was actually meant to be “Frog Nod” due to the frogs known to sing late into the night while locals nodded off to sleep.
The third theory, and maybe the most popular, is that the name evolved from the local school’s “no frog” policy implemented after students started bringing them into the classroom.
“The schoolhouse has proven humanity’s friend,” noted an illustration archived by the Frognot Water Supply Corporation, “Let us then the flag and the schoolhouse defend.”
Perhaps, in that case, even from the local hopping critters.
Settled at the edge of the Llano Estacado in Armstrong County, Goodnight was named for the famous Texan rancher Charles Goodnight, who together with his wife Mary Ann (or “Molly”) was known for the JA Ranch and the Goodnight Ranch.
The town of Goodnight was established after the Goodnight Ranch in 1887 and 1888. The Goodnights themselves, now subjects of the TSHA and the Charles Goodnight Historical Center, are known to have started one of the earliest herds of domesticated buffalo.
Now, coincidentally, the Goodnight Herd is also one of the oldest in existence. Not only have those buffalo contributed to the conservation of the species in populations across the United States, Canada, and Germany, but it also stands as the Texas State Bison Herd at Caprock Canyons State Park in Quitaque.
Gun Barrel (Guhn Bay-ruhl)
Known for its, “We Shoot Straight With You,” motto and its town symbol of a rifle, Gun Barrel City in Henderson County rests on the eastern shore of the Cedar Creek Reservoir.
According to the city’s official website, the name was originally a reference to “Gun Barrel Lane,” later State Highway 198, which connected Mabank and Payne Springs. As noted by the city, in the mid-20th century a group of friends known (affectionately) as the “Dirty Dozen” began campaigning to make the unincorporated community a “real” town. The town was incorporated in 1969 by a margin of four votes, shortly after the construction of Cedar Creek Lake.
Jot ‘Em Down (Jahwt Emm Dowhn)
While now known as a humorous tidbit for those driving through Texas, the town of Jot ‘Em Down in Delta County actually had its name derived from the pop culture of the 1930s.
Though it was technically established in 1885 and generally referred to as Bagley, by 1936 the community was unidentified on county maps. That year, according to the TSHA, Dion McDonald built a store named the Jot ‘Em Down Gin Corporation after the fictional store in the Lum and Abner network radio comedy program. Later, the state highway department used “Jot ‘Em Down” instead of Bagley for the name of the community on maps.
Set along the Texas-New Mexico Railway and acting as the seat of Winkler County, Kermit began as a supply center for the ranches in its area. According to Kermit Independent School District, the town was not named for the iconic muppet but rather the son of President Theodore Roosevelt, Kermit Roosevelt. A few months before the town was named in the early 1900s, officials said that Kermit Roosevelt visited the T Bar Ranch to hunt antelope.
Originally founded by cereal magnate C.W. Post of Post Cereals, the Levelland Economic Development Corporation said that the town was first known as “Hockley City,” and named the seat of Hockley County when it was organized in 1921. Other notable founding members of the community included J.M. Fleming and T.W. Bowers, who switched ownership of the community’s store; Schoolteacher B.E. Gunn, who became the first postmaster; and G.H. Tubb, who freighted supplies from Lubbock.
However, Hockley City didn’t last long. According to the LEDC, “After some deliberation among the founding residents they chose to let the women elect the name.”
The LEDC said that Tubb’s wife remarked on the level topography of the area amid the name discussions and Bowers’ wife stated, “Let’s call it Levelland.”
While only farms and community cemeteries remain in the area, as noted by published historical records and Tarpley, Loco once stood in the 1880s at the junction of FM 1438 and FM 1035 in Childress County. By 1925 the town had three stores, two churches, a blacksmith shop, and a cotton gin, and had its post office relocated from nearby Arlie in 1930.
Historians say Loco was named for the toxic locoweed that grew in the area. Native to the Rocky Mountain region, officials with the US Department of Agriculture said the plant tends to be found in open prairies and foothills. Known to be poisonous even when dried, locoweed is toxic to cattle, sheep goats, and horses, and can cause damage ranging from depression to congestive heart failure.
“A great place to live, no matter how you pronounce it,” has been adopted as the city of Mexia’s official motto due to its standing as one of the most commonly mispronounced places in Texas. While many people often pronounce it as “Mek-see-ah,” locals use “Muh-hay-uh.”
As explained by the city, Mexia was named for General Jose Antonio Mexia and his family, who was a friend of Sam Houston, Stephen F. Austin and other players in the Texas Revolution.
Home to the oldest national wildlife refuge in Texas, Muleshoe is known as the seat of Bailey County in the Blackwater Valley. County historians described that the town was named after the nearby Muleshoe Ranch, which began in 1903 and was initially part of the vast XIT Ranch.
Charles Warren, one of the owners of the ranch, said that its name originated when he coincidentally came across an old rusty muleshoe while he was pondering the name.
While Texas is no stranger to towns with Spanish names – Amarillo, Del Rio, El Paso, San Antonio, etc. – that particular naming trend is not actually at the root of “Nada” in Colorado County.
As recorded by the Bradfields as well as students from Garwood High School, Nada was originally established as Vox Populi in the early 1880s, with a majority of its early settlers being German and Czech immigrants shifting from the nearby Frelsburg area. However, the post office established for the community in 1894 was called Nada, which is the American version of the Czechoslovakian word “najda,” or “hope.”
Further noted by travelers in the area, Nada is the only town between Garwood and El Campo; without it, there really would be a lot of “nada” in the area.
Considered to be the oldest town in Texas, the city of Nacogdoches says it was founded in 1779 by Don Antonio Gil Y’Barbo on land that was inhabited by the Caddo Indians. The earliest people known to have lived in the area were the local Caddo tribe called the Nacogdoche, for whom the city was later named.
The city also differs from the rest of Texas in that it claims to have had nine flags instead of the commonly understood six of the rest of the state; its extras were the flags of the Gutierrez-Magee Rebellion, Dr. James Long Expedition, and Fredonia Rebellion.
Settled on Sandy Creek on a Nameless Road and home to a Nameless School and a Nameless Cemetery, the people of Travis County still remember the now-barren community of Nameless.
While now mostly ruins and the restored historical school building maintained by a local nonprofit, historical databases note that Nameless was home to numerous settlers in the latter half of the 1800s. First settled in the 1850s, records detail that there were enough people in the community by 1880 that residents decided to apply for a post office and choose a proper name for their home.
However, as noted by the TSHA and Texas State Historical Survey Committee, the community had their proposed name for the town rejected by postal authorities not once, not twice, but six times.
After the sixth rejection, according to the TSHA, community members replied to postal authorities with, “Let the post office be nameless and be damned!”
Whether it be with a sense of humor, spite, or exhaustion with the application process, the postal authorities accepted the reply literally and accepted “Nameless” as the proper title for the community.
Noted on a granite marker outside the largest rural cemetery in Stephens County, Necessity was first organized in the 1870s. Although it wasn’t a particularly big community, by the 1890s the community of ranchers agreed that they needed to establish a post office.
Like many other towns around the time, community members applying for a post office with the postal authorities wanted to minimize rejections and bid for a successful and timely establishment. Because of that, according to the locals, “Necessity” was suggested as the official name.
While mentioning Nimrod in Eastland County often triggers a laugh, the origin behind the town’s name wasn’t nearly as petty as those of other silly-sounding communities in Texas.
First settled in 1876, published records such as “Eastland County, Texas: A Historical and Biographical Survey” by Ruby Pearl Ghormley note that the town may have originally been referred to as Curtis or Monroe. However, when community members applied for a post office in 1885, federal postal authorities accepted the name “Nimrod,” after the Biblical character. Called “a mighty hunter before the Lord,” the figure Nimrod was described as the son of Cush, and therefore the great-grandson of Noah.
Similar to Bacon or (spoilers) Oatmeal, Noodle in southwest Jones County is not actually named for pasta.
When it was first settled in the 1880s, the TSHA noted it was established near Noodle Creek, which flows into the Clear Fork Brazos River during the moments it has water. However, local traditions claim that the term “noodle” became an area term meaning “nothing,” referring to the dry creek bed. The town took its name from the creek and was officially “Noodle” by the time it established a post office in 1900.
One of the few towns among the list not established in the 1800s, Notrees in Ector County saw its first post office opened in 1944 alongside its first store, both run by C.J. Brown, Jr.
Historical records point to the ‘birth’ of Notrees being marked by the as noted by the construction of a gas plant for the Shell Oil Company. That project, noted by Brown and reflected in the town’s name, resulted in the only tree in the area being cut down.
Since that time, as noted by the TSHSC, residents in the Notrees area have made it a point to plant shade trees, adding both greenery and a bit more irony to the name.
Another on the list of strange and somewhat misleading Texas town names, Oatmeal in Burnet County was not named after the food – though it does have to do with oats and mills.
Local historians say that Burnet County’s second-oldest town was established around 1849 when the first family, the Habermills, arrived to stay a few seasons near the headspring of what is now Oatmeal Creek. Later on, the town’s first gristmill was owned by a man known as Mr. Othneil.
Historians and locals also note that the name Oatmeal developed from one of these two, either as a play on “Othneil” or a development from the translation of the name Habermill, with “Haber” being a German dialect word for “Hafer,” meaning “oats.”
Palestine, the seat of Anderson County, is removed from its international namesake in both origin and pronunciation. While most people may first think that the town is named after the location in the Middle East and that the pronunciation is the same, the reality is somewhere just off to the side.
According to the town itself, Palestine’s name comes from an early settler named Daniel Parker, who named the town in the 1840s after his former home of Palestine, Ill.
Meanwhile, the Illinois town of Palestine got its name in 1678, according to the Illinois State Historical Society. A French explorer named John Lamotte, part of the Lasalle exploring party, said that when he first saw the region he was reminded of “The Land of Milk and Honey.”
The Texas city of Palestine is also pronounced differently, with locals accepting “Pal-uh-steen” instead of “Pal-uh-styn.”
Point Blank (Poynt Blaynk)
Joining other Texas towns with somewhat misleading names, the origin of Point Blank in San Jacinto County had nothing to do with any kind of shooting range. It actually has more in common with Paris, Texas than Gun Barrel City.
According to the TSHA and San Jacinto County historians, Florence Dissiway was a Frenchwoman who moved to the region in the 1850s to work as a governess for a few local families. While there, she called the area “Blanc Point” after a region in France. The Texans in the town shifted around to calling their home “Point Blank,” which became official with the 1884 establishment of its post office.
According to popular tradition, the name is derived from a Native American language meaning “end of the trail.” It also shares a name with Quitaque Creek, which the United States Board on Geographical Names related to the Quitaca Indians – one of the tribes that accompanied Juan Dominguez de Mendoza on his expedition from the Rio Grande in the 1680s.
Yet another name that can seem intimidating in print, locals pronounce it as “Kit-ah-kway.”
Sour Lake (Sowr Layk)
While “Sour Lake” may sound uninviting, the oldest surviving town in Hardin County was actually once a popular health resort for the supposed healing properties of its mineral waters.
According to the Bradfields and Hardin County historians, Sour Lake was initially called “Sour Lake Springs” when it was settled in the 1830s due to the nearby mineral springs that had long been used by Native Americans who were already living in the area. Early entrepreneurs bottled and sold the water, and it was reported to have been visited even by the likes of Sam Houston in the 1860s.
In 1902, said the Bradfields, Sour Lake became a boomtown after oil was discovered in the area, and found itself the home of the original Texaco.
Sweetwater (Sweet Wah-ter)
From one flavor to another, Sweetwater in Nolan County was actually not originally named for its local Sweetwater Creek at all. Rather, when the first store was established in the area and the first post office in the 1870s, the town was known as Blue Goose – according to the St. Clairs and county historians, due to a local cowboy accidentally killing a great blue heron after mistaking it for a goose.
Around 1879, the TSHA and other records describe that the town became “Sweet Water” Texas after the English translation of the Native American Kiowa Tribe word “Mobeetie.”
If that sounds familiar, that’s because it is. In 1879, another “Sweetwater” applied for a post office up in Wheeler County. That request was rejected due to the existence of “Sweet Water” in Nolan County that had just been established, so the community chose “Mobeetie” instead – a town now known as the “mother city” of the Texas Panhandle.
One of the later-established towns on the list, Tarzan in Martin County was formed in the latter half of the 1920s, with a school built in 1925 and a post office opened in 1927. According to Blevins and the Martin County Historical Commission, local store owner Tant Lindsay submitted a full list of possible names to the postal authorities, presumably to try and avoid a long string of name rejections.
Although it remains unclear why “Tarzan” was on the list, the federal postal authorities accepted that name from the options and established the post office, also naming Lindsay as the first postmaster. Historians and locals from the area have proposed that Tarzan may have been another town name that evolved from the pop culture of the 1920s and 1930s, as Edgar Rice Burroughs’ “Tarzan” book series and its related films and comic strips were beloved pieces of media at the time.
While telephones (or rather, cell phones) are commonly seen as a day-to-day necessity, they were considered items of distinction and technological innovation in the 1880s. After all, electricity had only just arrived in Texas, and much of the state would continue to go without until the late 1930s after the start of the rural electrification program.
By the year 1886, the community of Telephone in Fannin County had few people and fewer buildings, but the locals did take great pride in hosting the only telephone in the area in its general store. According to the Fannin County Historical Commission, store owner Poke Hindman added “Telephone” to the list of suggested names for the town amid its effort to establish a post office.
While the FCHC noted that the town previously requested “Telegraph” but was rejected due to the existence of the town in Kimble County, the postal authorities accepted Hindman’s suggestion and made Telephone the official name.
According to the Bradfields, Tell in Childress County was founded first in 1887 under the name “Lee.” Although the Lee post office closed in 1893, the community would open a new one in 1895 – however, the residents there had garnered a specific reputation in those two years.
The community had earned the local nickname “Tattle-Tale Flats” by the time they applied for their second post office, due to the reported willingness and enthusiasm of some residents to testify voluntarily before county grand juries. Possibly due to the federal postal authorities’ rules for town names, the name “Tell” was made official as an even shorter version of the nickname.
Nestled on the shores of the picturesque Caddo Lake in East Texas, Uncertain in Harrison County has a name origin just as “uncertain” as the name itself. While records of the community’s existence date back to at least the early 1900s, it was only properly incorporated in 1961 so that businesses there could legally sell alcohol.
According to Blevins as well as John Germann, a retired Houston history teacher and a Texas postal historian, there are three popular narratives for how Uncertain got its name.
The first is that in 1962, when the community was applying for a post office, residents had difficulty deciding on a name and having it accepted by the federal postal authorities. Second, a narrative that dates back toward the very beginning of the community is that it was known as “Uncertain” due to the difficulty of landing steamboats at its Caddo Lake Port. The third story also dates back to the early days of the community, during which residents were said to be uncertain whether their town was within the boundary of the United States or the Republic of Texas.
As explained by the Waxahachie Visitors Bureau, the city’s name was derived from a Native American word meaning “Buffalo Creek.” While the bureau doesn’t detail which Native American language coined the term, it does note the earliest inhabitants of the area were the Tonkawa, Kickapoo, Bidai, Anadarko and Waco Tribes.
People often tend to mispronounce the name as “Wax-uh-hatch-ee” instead of “Waak-suh-ha-chee.” The “a” should be pronounced as in “at” – while it may seem subtle, the difference is noticeable.
Located about 12 miles east of Brownwood in Brown County, the town of Zephyr was reportedly named over a decade before the first family settled there to live.
According to Tarpley and the TSHA, land surveyors were trapped in the area in 1850 by a blue norther that blasted through with chilling rain. In a stroke of ironic humor, the surveyors named the area for “a soft gentle breeze,” and the name “Zephyr” stuck.