What’s in a name?

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What’s in a name?

I am a fan of history, especially the history of places.  The history of an area is something that is important to Realtors.  When I look at something as simple as a legal description for a property or as complex as a title commitment, I am reminded of the people that originally surveyed and owned the virgin wilderness and the hardships they endured to create a home, a livelihood, and a community out of the natural resources around them.  Being able to trace the chain of title back to the original owners brings them back to life and gives them meaning and context.

Where people settled, towns often sprung up.  Sometimes these rural communities grew into mighty cities.  Sometimes they faded away and disappeared.  Thanks to online mapping programs like Google Earth and Microsoft Virtual Earth, those tiny unincorporated communities that still exist and the ones that don’t are more accessible and visible than ever.

There are many communities in the Bryan and College Station area that barely merit a dot on the map.  Others aren’t even mentioned at all.  Thanks to modern technology, we can look at them and wonder…why did they give it that name?Some places are named after people.  Places such as BryanHarveyBoonvilleFerguson CrossingVarisco, and Astin are all named after people.  Some of these places, like Bryan, Harvey, and Astin, still exist.  Others, like Boonville and Ferguson Crossing, are represented by maybe a cemetery and a historical marker.

Other places are named after the main agricultural product that is grown in the area.  It is fairly easy to recognize the origins of the names for Sorghumville and Cotton.

Sometimes a business or structure will lend its name to a location.  The most well-known example is College Station.  Back in the day, when the train would roll into the station at the A&M College of Texas (now Texas A&M University), the conductor would announce, (College Station, next stop!”  In fact, the sign on the outside of the depot read, “College Station” (see photo).  When the community surrounding the college decided to incorporate and needed to choose a name, College Station was a perfect fit!

Fosters Store and Chances Store are fairly close to each other.  I wonder if they had price wars.  Steeles Store was off by itself and probably didn’t have as much competition.  It was also called Mudville.  Dunn’s Fort provided some protection against the local natives during its day.  Unfortunately, these structures no longer exist.  If you know where to look, you might find evidence of their foundations.

Chaney Crossing and Ferguson Crossing are old river ferry locations that were usually run by families that lived nearby.  These crossings were made obsolete by modern transportation and bridges, although the roads and bridges are often built very near the old locations.

Geography has often suggested the name of many communities.  I have been there and I can definitely say that Hilltop Lakes has hilltops and lakes.  There are probably crossroads in Cross Roads.  Midway is named after the founder’s hometown of Midway, Kentucky, but should not be confused with Old Midway in Leon County.  I don’t know if Mudville is always muddy, but I’m sure nearby residents bought lots of goods at Steele’s Store.  I’m sure the view is nice in Fairview, but I don’t know the elevation of Elevation.  Steep Hollow seems to be an oxymoron.  I always thought a hollow was a low spot.

Some place names just don’t make any sense at all.  Who or what exactly is a Dinger and why was Dingerville named after him/her/it?  Why is Port Sullivan landlocked in Central Texas?  Do they like to gamble in Black Jack?  Could you quench your thirst in Fountain?  Edge is on the edge of what?  Are the residents more united in Union, and would a Republican be welcome at Democrat Crossing?  Would a Southern Baptist find Goodwill and Harmony in Mecca, or would he have to Cut and run to Cut and Shoot?  Do the rich really have it better off in Wealthy, or is everyone actually Poor ?

And finally, if there is a North Zulch, where is the original Zulch?

I hope you click on a few of these links and read the history of these communities.  Historical information is provided by the Texas State Historical Association and The Handbook of Texas Online

If you need a Realtor who really knows his community, give me a call.

Jason Johnston, REALTOR®
979-571-3553 – cell phone 

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