When fellow Filly Linda Broday, Jodi Thomas, DeWanna Pace and I decided to write our first anthology together, we wanted our stories to take place in our hometown. The premise was that each story had to have a theme of Amarillo by morning, which was our working title. You all will probably recognize it as “Give Me a Texan” the fantastic name that Kensington gave it! To any of you writers out there, don’t get too attached to the name of your work in progress because it probably will change.
Historically, Amarillo wasn’t the first name given our town. In 1887, we were originally called Oneida when merchants from Colorado City wanted to establish stores at a logical stop in the Panhandle. Since they needed votes to choose the county seat and most of the voters were cowboys working for the surrounding ranches, the promoters promised each of them a residential or business lot to vote for Oneida. Not surprisingly Oneida won but was promptly renamed Amarillo. Keep in mind that the Panhandle was only settled beginning in 1875. It’s been said that we were renamed Amarillo after the Arroya Amarillo or Amarillo Creek which were probably named by traders for the “yellow soil” and yellow wildflowers. Amarillo is Spanish for yellow. Of interest, all the frame houses in Amarillo were painted yellow in our infancy.
My story in “Give Me a Texas Ranger” is set in Tascosa, the second town settled in the Panhandle, although I had to change the name somewhat to fit my story. Its original name was Atascosa meaning “boggy creek”, but it was too difficult to pronounce, thus becoming Tascosa. Several kernels of history from actual accounts of Old Tascosa, as it’s known today, germinated into my story about how the “upwardly” folks of Upper Tascosa wanted to make sure the rowdy, detestable citizens kept their distance in Hogtown or Lower Tascosa. They would have never associated with people named Rockin’ Chair Emma, Boxcar Jane, Slippery Sue, and Gizzard Lips. Thus, for my story, Old Tascosa became Buffalo Springs along with its seedy residents restricted to a part of the town across the creek known as Buffalo Wallow instead of the original name of Hogtown.
But, I could have never told my story without having my characters be forced to relocate from the oldest town settled in the Panhandle, Mobeetie, in order to stay one step ahead of the law. Both towns were founded only a year apart, some one hundred and thirty-five years ago. If it hadn’t been for Mobeetie, and one determined Texas Ranger Captain hell bent for leather on cleaning up the town, Tascosa would not have exited. Separated by only 135 miles, they soon became mirror images of one another.
Mobeetie, originally named Hidetown and later Sweetwater, is still referred to today as the “Mother City of the Panhandle”; and, evolved from buffalo hunters’ camps and from the nearby Army post, Fort Elliott. In the beginning (1875), it was the legal, business, and social center for this part of Texas. The town faded when the railroad bypassed it two years later; and in 1890 when the Army abandoned nearby Fort Elliott (the only military post ever established in the Panhandle), the town withered further. What remained was totally destroyed by a cyclone…today I think it’d just be called a regular ol’ tornado.
In anthology two, “Give Me a Cowboy” we set our stories over a four day period for the 4th of July Rodeo in Amarillo; however, one problem came to light. There was no rodeo in Amarillo in 1890, so we had to find a new name to be historically accurate. If we weren’t all raised here we could have probably taken creative liberties but since many of the founding father’s families are still around, we weren’t about to take the chance of being called out on it.
While driving down the highway one day, I saw a railroad crossing outside of Amarillo called Kasota; therefore, Kasota Springs was born. Those who have read all of our anthologies, which I’m happy to say are still in print after six years, will recall that we used that town again in “A Texas Christmas”.
My new eKensington contemporary single title “The Tycoon and the Texan” due out September 5th takes place partially on the Jacks Bluff Ranch outside of Kasota Springs. You might remember the LeDoux family and their ranch from two of our anthologies.
I’m calling my new contemporary series that I’m currently writing “Kasota Springs” as they will all take place in our imaginary town from the anthologies. Many of the names from my stories will reappear as fifth and sixth generation residents.
Now for some fun facts about some Texas towns and locations.
One of the most interesting was how the famous, and still in existence, XIT Ranch got its brand. The ranch was created in 1885 and covered much of the Texas Panhandle when the Capitol Syndicate of Chicago received over three million acres of land in exchange for money to build the Texas capitol in Austin. The brand XIT is translated to mean X for the “ten” counties in which the ranch was originally located; I for “in”; and T for “Texas”.
Happy, Texas, was named by cowboys who were elated on cattle drives to find spring-fed water at Happy Draw. Long before settlers came to the region, the spring was known as the happy hunting ground by the Plains Indians. Happy is proud to known as “The Town Without a Frown” and even had a movie named after it.
Cut and Shoot, Texas, near Houston, was too much fun not to include. Most of the stories agree that there was once a preacher who was much too popular with the women. When charges were made at a church meeting, the men ran to wagons and buggies to get knives and rifles to cut and shoot.
I love Bass Hollow, which was named after Sam Bass and his gang who once made their outlaw camp there. They were notorious for their daring train and bank holdups during the 1870’s.
A town gone many decades and where my grandparents once lived is Pantex, Texas, right outside of Amarillo. The location of the town would suggest that it is the abbreviation compound for Panhandle of Texas. A post office was establish for the population of 115 to provide service to the employees of the Pantex Ordnance Plant, which loaded bombs for the Army from 1942 to 1945, but the town vanished after World War II; however, the plant remains in operation today.
But my very favorite is still Mobeetie. Not just from its history, but a story I’ve heard many times. Although the town was known as Hidetown when it was a hunters’ camp and later Sweetwater, which was changed by the post office since there was already a town by that name, I’ve heard, but can’t confirm that the Indians played a joke on the area folks when they translated the meaning of Sweetwater to be Mobeetie. Later it was discovered that Mobeetie really means “buffalo dung”. It is subject to interpretation. Although I can’t confirm the theory, it dern sure makes a fantastic story for any writer. By the way, the picture above is of the original strap-iron jail in Mobeetie.
What is your favorite town name and why?
To one lucky person who leaves a comment, I will send them a copy of an autographed anthology of their choice.