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 Texas : Features : Columns : All Things Historical

A unique town story

by Bob Bowman
Bob Bowman

East Texas is filled with towns bearing odd names, ranging from Dimple and Cuthand in Red River County to Pluck and Soda in Polk County--and with places like Yallo Busha and Slocum thrown in for good measure.

Just how these and other strangely-named communities got their names is a whole slice of East Texas history.

For example, take Redwater, located twelve miles southwest of Texarkana in southeastern Bowie County.

By itself, Redwater isn’t a terribly unusual name, but the story behind the name is a heck of a tale, especially when you throw in an agnostic, a colorful British-born postmaster, and the first set of female quadruplets born in the U.S.

In the mid-1870s, a small town grew up around a sawmill operated by two men named Daniels and Spence. who decided to name the community for agnostic Robert Ingersoll and established a post office in his honor in 1881.

But in 1886, the town started talking about founding a church and called in Rev. R.D. Fuller, pastor of Texarkana’s First Methodist Church, for help.

A Methodist church was organized and a few years later, the town held a revival with a hundred conversions.

With a church and an expanded religious faith, townspeople decided they didn’t want to live in a town named for a man who didn’t believe in God.

So they trashed Ingersoll, and adopted the name “Redwater” because the water in nearly all of the springs and shallow wells around the community had a reddish color.

They also mounted a campaign against liquor, closed down the town’s saloons and forced their owners to leave the community. That was in 1899 and since then, whiskey has not been sold in Redwater.

Then came E.T. Page, a British-born businessman who liked East Texas so well that he was often called “East Texas Page.” He soon became a tutor for children in the nearby community of Mooresville.

When a group of Texarkana financiers approached Page about establishing a bank in Redwater. Page agreed and, after the Texarkana financiers procrastinated, he established the Citizens Bank on his own in 1913.

An avid Democrat, Page also served as Redwater’s postmaster for several years during a Democratic administration in Washington. But when Republican Grover Cleveland became president, Page was on the verge of losing his postal job.

Page’s wife Nannie, however, saved the day.

She gave birth to female quadruplets--reportedly the first born in the U.S.

Learning of the history-making quads, President Cleveland decided that E.T. Page could remain a postmaster, regardless of his political leanings.

Redwater also found itself famous because of the quads. Every time a train stopped at the local depot, passengers wanted to see the famous little girls. Gifts poured in from all over the nation.

Meanwhile, E.T. Page, the rock-ribbed Texas Democrat, was also basking in the glory.and often referred to his daughters as “the children who kept a Democrat in office under a Republican administration.”

All Things Historical
October 6, 2008 Column.
Published with permission
A weekly column syndicated in 70 East Texas newspapers

(Bob Bowman of Lufkin is the author of 38 books about East Texas. He can be reached at www.bob-bowman.com)

Related Topics:
East Texas
Texas Towns
Texas Ghost Towns
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