We recently had the honor of updating a Texas guidebook that was researched and written by the late Don Blevins. Texas Towns: From Abner to Zipperlandville is a guide to the many place names of the Lone Star State. Over a decade ago, Blevins sniffed out the origins of even the most remote Texas communities, digging through courthouse records and interviewing county personnel for clues into the story of these names. Sadly Don Blevins passed away in 2014 after a long career in the Air Force followed by a writing career.
We updated the guidebook, adding maps to assist travelers (although it makes a fun armchair read as well). We are proud to update his work for a new generation of Texas travelers.
Of course, some of our favorite entries were those that involved towns whose names were inspired by dogs, including:
- DOG RIDGE (Bell County): on US 190, three miles W of Belton. Settlers found dogs running wild in the region in 1836. That, coupled with the geography, accounts for the community name.
- FLO (Leon): on FM 1151 and 831, twelve miles NE of Centerville. Site settled around 1855 and had a number of names throughout its history: Kidds Mill, Wheelock, Bethlehem, Oneta, New Hope, Oden, and Midway. The current name, tagged in 1891, was for the postmaster’s dog.
- HARMONY HILL (Rusk): Fifteen miles NE of Henderson. The town was platted in the 1840s on land donated by John W. Kuykendall. The harmonious relations of early settlers probably inspired the name in 1856. As is sometimes the case, more interesting is its nickname, Nip ‘N’ Tuck, levied for an incident in which hounds chased a fox down the town’s main street.
- KYOTE (Atascosa): at intersection of FM 2504 and TX 173, sixteen miles NW of Jourdanton. William D. Rogers, the first postmaster, chose the community name in 1927 because of the numerous coyotes in the vicinity. He varied the spelling because there was already a post office in Texas by that name. Ironically, that facility’s name was also misspelled (as “Cayote”).
- LOBO (Culberson): on US 90, twelve miles S of Van Horn. This had been a mail stop in the 1850s and 1860s. A post office was established in 1907, but a town was not organized until two years later. Bill Crist purchased the entire site in the mid-1970s, then put it up for sale, lock, stock, and barrel. The site was named for the wolves (lobo in Spanish) that roamed the region.
- POETRY (Kaufman): at intersection of FM 986 and 1565, six miles N of Terrell. A post office was established on the site in 1879. One theory about the current name revolves around a young man who worked on a local newspaper and loved poetry so much that he always filled his columns with verse. Another rendition is that the handle came from the fact that, at one time, many amateur poets met here to read and talk about poetry. Maybe a local merchant, Maston Ussery, suggested the name Poetry because the area in springtime reminded him of a poem. A fourth belief is the least logical, yet the most accepted. A drummer passing through noticed a small ragged boy followed by an equally scrawny dog. In those days, “tray” was a common term for a dog. The drummer commented, “There’s a poor tray if I ever saw one.” Residents were, at the time, trying to decide on a name for the town and hearing the drummer’s words, changed “poor tray” to Poetry.
If your next trip with your dog has you scratching your head about the name of some of the communities you see along the way, there’s a good chance Texas Towns has dug into its history!