‘em boo-boo towns.
The Texas map is sprinkled with cities and towns that
got their names by mistake.
in Williamson County.
Isaac Newton, a fellow who shared his name with
the 18th century scientist who pondered the law of gravity, settled in western
Williamson County with his wife in the early 1890s. To get by, they operated a
small grocery store. As business grew along with the community, Newton thought
the establishment of a post office would be in order.
He decided that
post office ought to be named for his newly born son, Audice and duly petitioned
the U.S. Post Office Department for authority to use that name. Unfortunately,
to expand on that other Isaac Newton’s famous theory, what goes up to Washington
sometimes comes down wrong.
Postal officials approved the request, but
a busy bureaucrat misread Newton’s handwriting and took the “u” in Audice to be
an “n.” The result was a nice post office called Andice.
As Floyd Parsons
noted in his 1994 memoir, “Memories of a Lifetime,” since Andice was not a real
word until the government made it a Texas place name, no one knew the correct
pronunciation. “To this day,” he wrote, “some people pronounce it with a long
‘i’ and some with a short ‘i.’”
In Comanche County, a small community
named Sipe Springs dots
the map. It’s pronounced “Seep” Springs, which sounds like what springs do. But
the place is named for someone named Sipe.
According to Jerry Morgan, publisher
of the Deleon Free Press, some well-intentioned postal official corrected what
he believed to be a spelling error. In turn, that created an actual spelling error.
It also made another for boo-boo town.
accidental naming category includes towns whose names represented second choices,
the first-submitted name already having been taken or, in modern government speak,
“disapproved” for some other cause.
The Matagorda County town of Blessing
is an example of this phenomenon.
Rancher Jonathan E. Pierce donated right
of way for the Galveston, Harrisburg and San Antonio Railroad when it headed toward
the county in 1903. Two years later, when another railroad came through, its lines
bisected the GH&SA trackage. That created an instant terminus, much to the delight
of Pierce and other Matagorda County landowners.
Pierce felt the railroads
had been a God send for his part of Texas, and in suggesting a name for the new
town that went up at the railroad intersection, he proposed “Thank God, Texas.”
Postal officials must have seen that as a potential church-state conflict and
rejected the name. The rancher took another shot at it and came up with Blessing.
The Post Office Department duly gave its official blessing to Blessing.
It’s a blessing for many a small Texas town that Washington wasn’t even
more picky. On April 9, 1894, the Postmaster General issued Order No. 114 “To
remove a cause of annoyance to the Department and injury to the Postal Service
in the selection of names for newly established post offices…” The nation’s top
mailman decreed that only “ ‘short names’ or names of ‘one word’ will be accepted.”
Who knows why he felt inclined to put emphasis quotes on “short names” and “one
Softening his stance a bit, the official said the department might
grant some exceptions “when the names selected is historical, or has become local
by long usage, but the Department reserves the right in such cases to make the
exception or not as it sees proper.”
The department, he continued in his
order, stood particularly opposed to prefixes such as “East,” “West,” “North,”
“South,” “Old,” “New,” “Burg,” “Center,” “City,” “Corners,” “Creek,” “Crossroads,”
“Depot,” and “Hill.” Prefixes like those, when included in a town name, “are liable
to lead to confusion and delay in transmission of the mails.”
while a town is named correctly, people get it wrong when they refer to it. The
prime Texas manifestation of this is the Howard County seat, Big
Spring. It’s singular. No “s.” But to many people, the city is and always
will be Big Springs. New
Braunfels has the same problem in reverse – people often call it New “Braunsfel,”
moving the “s” from the end to the middle.
course, a mistake involving a town name is small papas fritas compared with the
biggest boo-boo name of all – Texas.
name traces to the time of the earliest Spanish explorations of this part of the
Southwest. When a party of the King’s men ran across some Caddoan Indians called
Hasina on one of their explorations, the Spanish dubbed them “Teychas” for the
Caddoan word for “allies” or “friends.”
The word “Teychas” morphed from
“Tejas” to “Texas.”
Technically, the 28th state of the Union should be
Teychas. But it’s too late now. Besides, few could argue that T-e-x-a-s is a bold
brand. Some mistakes aren’t that bad after all.
November 27, 2008 column
See Texas Towns
Texas | TE
Online Magazine | Features | Columns