Town names had varied origins

By Bob Bowman
Special to the Journal

If you've ever wondered how an East Texas town got its name, you may be surprised at some of the origins.

Some town names seem obvious, but are not. Everyone assumes that Ben Franklin in Delta County was named for one of our nation's founding fathers. Actually, it was named for Ben Franklin Simmons, son of Ben J. Simmons, who was granted ten sections of land in 1854.

And Boston in Bowie County was not named for the Massachusetts city, but for pioneer storekeeper W.J. Boston. Bowie County actually has three Bostons: Boston, Old Boston and New Boston, the county seat.

And, despite a long-standing story, Dobbin in Montgomery County wasn't named for an old horse, but for Garrett A. Dobbin. And Mayflower in Newton County wasn't named for the Pilgrims' ship, but for flowers growing in the spring.

Some towns borrowed names from other places or people, but reversed the spelling. Good examples are Reklaw (Walker) in Cherokee County, Sacul (Lucas) in Nacogdoches, and Remlig (Gilmer) in Jasper County.

Moscow in Polk County was once known as Greenville, but when it sought a post office, the name was rejected because a Greenville already existed in Texas. A disgruntled townsman said: "Send in Moscow; it's far enough so there can't be any objections." Sure enough, there wasn't.

The name of Slocum in Anderson County was suggested by E.T. McDaniel who said the town's development would be slow, but he felt it would eventually come.

Acol, an old logging community, was located in several counties because it had a mobile post office that moved with the loggers. The name came by combining the initials of Angelina County Lumber Company.

Direct in Lamar Country got its name while Indians were holding a pow-wow across the Red River. They were out of whiskey, but knew a saloon was across the river in Texas. One of the Indians supposedly said, "I am going direct to Texas." The name was submitted for a post office in 1884.

Dodge in Walker County was named when railroad officials decided to run a line around Huntsville and, in the process, "dodged" the town. A nearby railroad switch became "Dodge."

E.A. McCammack, an early settler, gave Choce in Shelby County its name because he felt it was a "choice" place to live.

The name of Cuthand in Red River County came from a creek which was named when an Indian cut his hand while working beside the stream.

The name of Fastrill, an old logging community in Cherokee County, came from the names of three Diboll lumbermen, F.F. Farrington, P.H. Strauss, and Will Hill.

Poke Hindman owned a store in Fannin County and wanted a post office.

All of his name suggestions were rejected, so he submitted "Telephone" since he was the only person in the community with one.

Pluck in Polk County was named by George Deason because, in his opinion, a man had to have "pluck" to locate there.

The name of Talco in Titus Country was derived in 1913 from using the first letters of each word of a candymaker, Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana Candy (and the o from Company).

Finally, when Pickton in Hopkins County was founded, two men were appointed to "pick a name for the town." They suggested "Pick Town," which was later shortened.

--Bob Bowman of Lufkin is the author of more than 30 books about East Texas and the author of a forthcoming book on forgotten towns of East Texas. He can be reached at --