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Texas Place Names

Texas Place Names

From Alice to Zephyr, this colorful compendium tells the story behind more than three thousand intriguing place names in Texas, revealing the turning points that put Dime Box, Shiner, and other distinctive appellations on the map.

Series: Clifton and Shirley Caldwell Texas Heritage Endowment

August 2020
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432 pages | 8 x 11 |

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Was Gasoline, Texas, named in honor of a gas station? Nope, but the name does honor the town’s original claim to fame: a gasoline-powered cotton gin. Is Paris, Texas, a reference to Paris, France? Yes: Thomas Poteet, who donated land for the town site, thought it would be an improvement over “Pin Hook,” the original name of the Lamar County seat. Ding Dong’s story has a nice ring to it; the name was derived from two store owners named Bell, who lived in Bell County, of course. Tracing the turning points, fascinating characters, and cultural crossroads that shaped Texas history, Texas Place Names provides the colorful stories behind these and more than three thousand other county, city, and community names.

Drawing on in-depth research to present the facts behind the folklore, linguist Edward Callary also clarifies pronunciations (it’s NAY-chis for Neches, referring to a Caddoan people whose name was attached to the Neches River during a Spanish expedition). A great resource for road trippers and historians alike, Texas Place Names alphabetically charts centuries of humanity through the enduring words (and, occasionally, the fateful spelling gaffes) left behind by men and women from all walks of life.

  • Introduction
  • Pronunciation Guide
  • Texas Towns and Counties
  • Appendix: A Tally of Texas Geographic Features, complied by the Geographic Names Information System
  • References and County Index

Edward Callary with Jean K. Callary
Austin, Texas

Edward Callary is a professor emeritus of linguistics at Northern Illinois University, where he specializes in pronunciation change and onomastics (name study). His previous books include Wisconsin Place Names and Place Names of Illinois.

Jean K. Callary is a writer and editor living in Austin.


“Linguist Edward Callary and writer Jean Callary take readers on a tour across the state, using names and language to tell its history.”

“[Texas Place Names] helps us discover naming origins...[A] quite useful book.”
Austin American Statesman


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This book may also be available on the following library platforms; check with your local library:
3M Cloud Library/bibliotheca