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Texas | Columns | "Texas Tales"


Remapping of the Lone Star State
Place Name Tweaking of
Several Counties and County Seats

by Mike Cox
Mike Cox

As much as it might hurt to admit it, Texas isnít perfect. Take its map, for instance.

While using the Rio Grande along with the Red and Sabine rivers as borders -- along with invisible lines defined by a surveyorís transom -- left the Lone Star state with an iconic silhouette, some of the interior geography could use a make-over.

The Texas pledge speaks of this state as being ďone and indivisible,Ē but the act of Congress that allowed the Republic of Texas to join the Union in 1845 stipulates that Texas could be divided into as many as five separate states. In light of that, over the years various individuals and groups have advocated either an East or West Texas, or a North and South Texas.

Obviously, nothing ever came of those proposals and Texas likely will stay just like it is, one and undivided. But there is room for improvement when it comes to the stateís cartographic configuration.

For one thing, letís go ahead and face up to it: Houston isnít part of Texas and hasnít been for a good while. As the nationís fourth-largest city with a multi-million metropolitan area population, Houston is actually a city state. In fact, its economy probably is larger than some countries.

So, needed map change No. 1: Organize the State of Houston.

Closer to the center of Texas, Austin isnít in Texas, either. Singer Michael Murphy figured that out years ago, observing, ďI donít live in Texas, I live in Austin

Letís steal a page from the federal government and create the District of Travis. Keeping Austin weird, its unofficial local slogan, wouldnít be any trouble at all if it wasnít fully a part of Texas.

Beyond Houston and Austin, several of the 254 counties need some place name tweaking.

  • The county seat of Caldwell County is Lockhart, home to some of the best barbeque in Texas. But Caldwell, Texas is the county seat of Burleson County. Clearly, a name switch is in order. Burleson County needs to be moved to Lockhart and the Caldwell County government shipped to Caldwell, where it rightly belongs. The barbeque places would stay in Lockhart.

  • Out in far West Texas, a lot of confusion could be eliminated if Reeves and Pecos counties switched handles. As it is now, Pecos, Texas is the county seat of Reeves County, while in adjoining Pecos County, the county seat is Fort Stockton. All it would cost taxpayers to adjust this is the price of a few new signs and printing new county stationery.

  • Not quite as troublesome, but bearing consideration, is why Terrell, Texas should be the seat of Kaufman County, while Sanderson, Texas is the capital of Terrell County.

  • In the Panhandle, Stratford is the seat of Sherman County, while in northeast Texas, Sherman is the county seat of Grayson County. Since Shermanís a fair-sized city, the Grayson County name needs to be shipped to the High Plains. But given that the Panhandle already has a Gray County, perhaps a more evocative name is in order. Caprock County?

  • Johnson City, named after one of former President Lyndon B. Johnsonís forebears, is the county seat of Blanco County in Central Texas. Cleburne, on the other hand, is county seat of Johnson County, south of Fort Worth. Blancoís a nice name, but the name would survive since Blanco, Texas is alive and well. So, Johnson City as the county seat of Johnson County, with the citizens of the former Johnson County having the privilege of coming up with an interesting new name.

  • Tyler, the Rose Capital of Texas, is also the capital of Smith County in East Texas. But thereís Tyler County to consider. With apologies to any of his descendants, the namesake of Smith County, James Smith, was not Texasí most storied hero. He was a wealthy planter who just happened to be newly elected to the Legislature when lawmaker created Smith County. Clearly, some changes need to be made in these two counties.

  • Columbus is the county seat of Colorado County, named for the river that flows through it, but way upstream, in Mitchell County, is Colorado City. (Of course, the locals pronounce their town Col-low-RAY-do City, so the confusion is minimal.)

  • Crockett County. This oneís touchy. No one would deny that Texas needs a county named for Alamo hero David Crockett. That county is in West Texas, where Ozona is the county seat. Over in East Texas, Crockett is the county seat of Houston County. The city of Houston, make that the State of Houston, is the seat of Harris County.

  • Loving County. Texasís smallest political subdivision population wise, its capital is Mentone. Just for fun, why not moved Valentine from Jeff Davis County to replace Mentone, which could be sent to replace Valentine.
  • Finally, Cameron is the seat of Milam County, while Brownsville is the capital of Cameron County.

    None of these changes are likely to ever happen, but itís fun to think about them. Certainly, stranger things have occurred in Texas politics.

    © Mike Cox November 4 , 2004 Column, modified December 31, 2014
    More "Texas Tales"

    The Naming of Texas Towns

  • Texas Towns A to Z
  • Texas on a First-name Basis -
    Of the roughly 2,000 town names on the official state map, over 400 of them are first names.
  • The Naming of Names
  • Jasper and Newton Counties, Beyond the Sabine
  • Despite odd names all over Lone Star State, 'Top 10' of the U.S. are commonplace here - by Bill Bradfield
  • Wonder Why They Named it That by Archie P. McDonald
  • A Geography Lesson - by Bob Bowman
  • New Geography - by Mike Cox
    Place name tweaking of several Counties and County Seats

  • Related Topics:
    Texas Counties
    Texas Towns A -Z
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