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  Texas : Features : Columns : "Letters from Central Texas"

Metheglin Creek

by Clay Coppedge

Like any number of Stillhouse Hollows, Moonshine Creeks and Whiskey Rivers, it takes its name from a homemade liquor. Metheglin is made by boiling a mixture of honey and water and letting it ferment then adding spice to taste.
Some place names are easy to discern. You don't have to know that Stillhouse Hollow was once a favored site for moonshine stills to make an educated guess that the name has something to do with the brewing of illegal whiskey.

Metheglin Creek rises in eastern Coryell County and runs about eight miles into Lake Belton.

Like any number of Stillhouse Hollows, Moonshine Creeks and Whiskey Rivers, it takes its name from a homemade liquor. Metheglin is made by boiling a mixture of honey and water and letting it ferment then adding spice to taste.

Metheglin was a favored drink of intemperate pioneers, partly because it was easy to make and packed quite a wallop, or so it is said.

Alexander Dienst, writing in Legends of Texas, tells of an early pioneer in northwest Bell County named Morrison who built his home close to a then-unnamed creek. Morrison's first name was Horatio but his wife never called him anything except 'Honey.'

Horatio 'Honey' Morrison believed temperance, as a virtue, was way overrated. He made and sold metheglin, but preferred the manufacture and consumption of moonshine whiskey.

One day his wife asked 'Honey' to fetch a pail of water. Like Jack of Jack and Jill fame, Honey fell down while fetching said pail of water. This created the mixture of "honey" and water used to make metheglin, or mead as it is sometimes called. In just such a manner, the creek was named Metheglin Creek. As far as anybody can tell, it is the only Metheglin Creek in the country.


Today, Metheglin Creek remains scenic and historic. It slows to a trickle in dry times, but after a good rain runs near The Grove, Owl Creek and Moffat on its way to Lake Belton.

It's a pretty place most of the year, says Louis Flores, who recently bought property on the creek. He says the little creek takes people by surprise when they first see it running high and mighty. "There's places on the creek where you wouldn't think you're in Bell County at all," he says. "It's just a pretty little creek."


Metheglin, the brew, has fared well in the intervening years. From being the drink-of-choice for intemperate settlers, it's now bottled and rhapsodized over like fine wine. Spicing appears to be the key to quality metheglin.

Popular varieties include metheglin spiced with ginger and lemongrass. Plain vanilla, lavender, lemon and ginger mint metheglin and clove and cinnamon metheglin are some of the more common concoctions. A bottle of metheglin can be pricey as well as spicy. Reviews can be as pretentious and pedantic as any wine review, with lines like "its bold taste is elegant, yet delightfully understated, with vague suggestions of chocolate and an invigorating whiff of mint."


While the story of Morrison and his tumble into the creek is the most popular and widely accepted story about how the creek got its name, it's not the only one.

Another story, this one passed on some time ago by judge James Kuyendall Evetts, has the creek named for a man and his 'honey' riding double on a horse across the creek. The woman fell off the horse and into the creek - another intertwining of honey and water to create Metheglin Creek. The young man might have tried to console her by saying, 'Oh, honey, I'm sorry you're such a clumsy oaf.'

Or words to that effect.

Whatever was said, the dunking doused whatever passion the young woman might have had for the man prior to the ill-fated ride.

If there is a moral to the story, it is that the course of true love, like the course of creek in a land of unpredictable rainfall, does not always run smoothly.

Clay Coppedge
"Letters from Central Texas"

February 22, 2005 column
 
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