here's today's geography lesson. How far is it from Detroit to Boston?|
By my reckoning, it's less than sixty miles--but only if you live in East Texas.
People who wander into our part of the state sometimes get confused by our
geography and town names.
For example, our Detroit lies in Red
River Country between Clarksville and Paris.
And our Boston is in Bowie County, a few miles off Interstate 30 west of Texarkana.
Actually, Bowie County has three Bostons...Boston, Old Boston,
and New Boston. Which
is probably more than they have in Massachusetts.
We also have a couple
of Londons. The original lies in Rusk County and New
London is a mile or so away.
We also have a Manchester,
which, ironically, isn't too far from English. You can find both in Red
Although we pronounce it differently than the one in the
Middle East, we also have a Palestine
in Anderson County. Folks there say the correct way to pronounce the name is "Pal-uh-steen."
Around Christmas time, visitors are surprised that we have two Bethlehems.
One is located in Angelina County west of Lufkin
and another is near Gilmer in Upshur
Camp County's county seat is Pittsburg,
which differs from the Pennsylvania city in the spelling. In Pennsylvania, they
add an H to the end of the name.
We have an Atlanta in Cass County,
but it is considerably smaller than the one in Georgia.
in Italy, has its counterpart about 16 miles east of Mount
Pleasant. And you'll find our version of Malta a few miles west of
(it was named for the hometown of a local settler) is also near Mount Pleasant
Jamestown (not the one where the Pilgrims settled) is a few miles
north of Newton and East Texas¹
version of Elysian Fields, the blissful abode of mythology, sits on the border
separating Panola and Harrison
Sebastopol is a near-ghost town in Trinity County. It
borrowed its name from the famous Russian port.
Here are some other East
Texas names with a ring of familiarity. Africa, a community in Liberty
Long Branch (remember the saloon from the Gunsmoke television
western?) in Panola County.
Friday, which just happens to be exactly
13 miles east of Lovelady in Houston County.
Choice, the best
place to make a decision, is in Shelby County. Uncertain,
the worst place, is in Harrison County.
Of all our town names, we probably
have more Center-style names than anything else: Center
in Limestone and Shelby counties; Centerville
in Leon and Trinity counties; Central in Angelina County; Center
Point in Panola, Upshur, Leon and Trinity counties; Center Grove
in Houston and Titus counties; Center Hill in Houston County, Centerview
in Leon County; Central High in Cherokee; Central Heights of Nacogdoches;
and Centralia in Trinity County.
And for a touch of class, there
is, or course, Centre in Rusk County.
November 2002 Column
Published with permission
(Bob Bowman is author of
Pioneers, Poke Sallet and Politics with Archie McDonald. It is available through
the East Texas Historical Association, Nacogdoches)
Naming of Texas Towns