stereotypical Texan is seldom gun shy when it comes to settling a
difficulty with violence, a mythology reflected in the number of Lone
Star communities with names evocative of rough and tumble ways.
At least five such towns come to mind: Cut
and Shoot, Gun
Barrel City, Gunsight,
Blank and Winchester.
Of these Second Amendment-esque place names, Cut
and Shoot has gotten the most ink over the years. Out-of-state
journalists have periodically pointed to this Montgomery
County community as having a name particularly representative
of Texas’ supposed willingness to resort
The story goes that the name came from an incident in 1912 that nearly
led to bloodshed. Ironically, in all three versions of the tale, the
triggering factor was an argument over church-related issues. Some
said the intra-congregational tiff concerned the selection of a preacher
while others later maintained the argument was over how the church
steeple should look. The third version has it that the barely averted
battle had to do with a despute among church members over land matters.
Supposedly, a young boy nervously watching the building confrontation
was heard to say: “I’m going to cut around the corner and shoot through
the bushes in a minute.”
While that may be the story, the simplicity of the name seems to belie
that. In Texas, two of the three basic ways to resolve an issue involved
cutting or shooting, the third being fisticuffs.
Barrel City is in Henderson
County, about 20 miles northwest of Athens.
As Texas towns go, it’s not very old, having started during the building
of Cedar Creek Reservoir in the 1960s. Since then, you might say Gun
Barrel City has grown faster than a speeding bullet, shooting
from a population of 60 in 1970 to 5,000-plus in 2000.
Many a barroom denizen has learned the hard way that gunpowder and
alcohol do not mix, but Gun
Barrel City was incorporation to facilitate the legal sale of
beer and wine.
The town got its name from its motto, “We shoot straight with you.”
The town’s symbol, of course, is a rifle. But, as the Handbook of
Texas Online points out, a roadway known as Gun Barrel Lane cut through
the area well before the lake was there. Since the road represented
a short cut from Mabank
to Seven Points, the Gun Barrel descriptor might have had to do with
its straightness between A and B.
Gunsight, a mostly
ghost town in Stephens
County with only six residents as of the last census, dates back
to 1879. It was named for a set of low mountains that from a distance
look like the V-shaped notch in the middle of a gunsight.
A year afer its settlement, Gunsight
got a post office which lasted it until the Breckenridge
oil boom of the late teens played out in the 1920s when the Wichita
Falls and Southern Railroad closed its station there.
Blank is the range at which you want to shoot at something if
you don’t want to miss. Point
Blank is the name of a community in San
Jacinto County, 85 miles north of Houston.
Alas, the story behind the naming of Point
Blank has nothing to do with shooting.
A Frenchwoman named Florence Dissiway, while working as the governess
for two branches of the pioneer R.T. Robinson family back in the 1850s
called the settlement Blanc (as in white) Point. Leave it to Texans
to corrupt that to Point
Blank, which they did.
Blank didn’t get its own post office until 1884 and slumbered
along until the construction of Lake Livingston in the 1960s perked
things up. But even after the laked fill and began to attract anglers
and tourists, the 2000 population was only 559.
One would think the Fayette
County community of Winchester
honors the weapon that won at least half the West, the lever-action
repeating rifle generically known as a Winchester.
But one would be wrong.
Turns out Winchester
is named for a town of like name in Tennessee. (Founded in 1809,
that town was named for James Winchester, a Revolutionary soldier
who served as a brigadier general in the War of 1812.)
Located 20 miles northwest of La
Grange on a tract of land first settled in 1827, Winchester,
Texas was laid out in 1857 by John Gromme. By 1866 the community
was of sufficient caliber to merit the opening of a post office.
A farming town, Winchester
boomed as much as it ever would when the San Antonio and Aransas
Pass Railway came through on its way to Waco
in the mid-1880s.
Cotton being king back then,
the communtity had 18 businesses by the turn of the century. But
as cotton became less dominant
as a Central
Texas crop and better roadways made it easier for folks to trade
in larger towns, Winchester
whithered like so much long staple in a dry year. By 1950 the population
had decreased to 220. Thirty years later it was down to 50, which
was also the head count in 2000.
Finally, for a time when it had the reputation of being a wild and
was known as Six Shooter Junction. But that was only a nickname,
nothing worth fighting over.
by Mike Cox - Order Here