Friday, March 19, 2010

Pioneers, Postal Agents . . .

. . . Gave Names to Our Nation

This yarn will sound familiar to some readers, I know, but others may enjoy it. I wrote this five years ago in my little magazine The Bay Stater.

There are many stories, some true, some fiction, about the origin of the names borne by cities, towns, villages, counties and hamlets throughout the United States.

When the country had its beginnings many names came from the old countries, from the places left by the newcomers to America.

When the Western part of our country was opening up, pioneers, those eager for more new beginnings, traveling from the East, planted their own names, or old country names in the West.

A man named Hobbs, started a post office in the place I now call home, listing his own name as the name of the post office and thus of the town.

Many other pioneers did the same. Some put down names of their sons or daughters as town and post office names.

And then came post office inspectors or agents. They were charged with giving names to settlements not yet named or sometimes changing existing names when they found duplications.

From hearsay I have collected some samples and other names are from my imagination. Here's a few names to ponder over.

Who would ever label a place in western Texas "Rattlesnke Knob?" Most likely someone who lived there. That place still exists. There's a gas station there. It's just outside of Hobbs.

The postal inspector stopped in one place and found a settler who said the place was just there, no name. He asked the settler to suggest a name and the man thought about it, finally saying - well, man, and the inspector says that's a good one, Wellman, Texas, it is.

The next place he visited had a number of buildings where workers were busy weaving ropes. That's how Ropesville, Texas, got its post office identification.

Just down the road apiece the agent found a few houses, no name signs, but a lot of cows grazing in a meadow and Meadow, Texas, was born that day wihout asking anybody.

You can figure out the clues that helped to name Needmore, Halfway. and Happy.

One very hot day along the Texas and New Mexico border he found a shade tree and an unnamed post office which promptly became, Shadetree, Texas. The tree is gone now, the post office and the town, too.

While he was there he fathomed up a brilliant idea to save himself a lot of time and travel. Using the rough map he had that designated places without names, he saw a number of schoolgirls and asked their names.

Thus came these Texas town names, Alma, Alice, Gail, Patricia, Vera and Lolita.

And when he got into New Mexico, he met a little girl and asked her for drink of water. She got it from the pump near her house and gave it to him. When he smiled and thanked her, she said "you nice," and that's how Eunice came to be just south of Hobbs.

Now, I can't take the credit for these two places even though we've been in both spots - Bernice, Louisiana, and Charlie, Texas. The first has a museum in the abandoned railroad station. The one in Texas is a cemetery.

- 30 -


1 comment:

  1. While on our way to Coffeyville Kansas a couple of years ago we stopped the motor home for lunch in Tea, Nebraska!