Texas Living

Name Behind the Lanes: A Texas History Lesson

By Brian Kendall 3.20.17

Ever wondered, “Where did this street get its name?” as you pass highway after expressway after toll road on your morning commute? Well Texans, pull up a chair and lend an ear to this quick trip through Texas history to uncover the names behind the most popular streets in the Lone Star State.

We’ve selected a few street names that are common across multiple Texas cities to whet your appetite for a little Lone Star State history.

Lamar Boulevard (Austin), Lamar Street (Houston, Dallas, Fort Worth), Lamar Street (San Antonio)

Named after: Mirabeau B. Lamar

OK, many might already know that Sam Houston was the first president of the Republic of Texas, but do you know who the second president was? That would be the namesake of all the Lamar streets you find in Texas cities, Mirabeau B. Lamar.

After two failed candidacies for U.S. Congress, Lamar left his home state of Georgia for Texas and later joined Houston in the fight for independence. On the eve of the Battle of San Jacinto, Lamar rescued two wounded Texas soldiers — one of whom was named Thomas Jefferson Rusk (more on him later) — and was promoted that night to lead the cavalry during the final battle for independence. Lamar later served as secretary of war during the interim government, was elected as Texas’ first vice president, and ultimately took the oath of office for president of the Republic in 1838.

Burnet Road (Austin)

Named after: David G. Burnet

So you knew who the second president of the Republic of Texas was, too? Great, but did you know that before Houston took office there was an interim government that had a president? That president was David G. Burnet, and his accomplishments don’t stop there. Burnet also served as the second vice president of the Republic of Texas and as the Lone Star State’s first secretary of state after Texas was annexed by the United States.

Burnet also negotiated the Treaties of Velasco between Texas and Mexico. Many Texas citizens were upset that Burnet allowed Antonio López de Santa Anna, then leader of the army that attempted to keep Texas under Mexican control, to escape execution for his war crimes.

This could very well be the only thing that kept Burnet from being Texas’ first official president.

Rusk Street (Houston), Rusk Avenue (Dallas), Thomas Rusk (San Antonio)

Named after: Thomas Jefferson Rusk

One of the men whom Lamar saved before the Battle of San Jacinto, Thomas Jefferson Rusk became the Republic of Texas’ first secretary of war. Rusk also served as chief justice of the Republic’s Supreme Court and became one of the first two U.S. Senators, along with Sam Houston, to represent the new state of Texas in the U.S. Congress. Upon his death just four months after being elected as president pro tempore of the U.S. Senate, Rusk was eulogized as one of the Lone Star State’s “most distinguished and noblest sons.”

On the Road Again

We hope this helps you put a face to the name of streets you cruise daily. If nothing else, it’ll give you something to think about on your commutes and a chance to ace your next Texas trivia night. 

Think you’re a Texas history whiz? Take this quiz to see if you have Mensa-level knowledge of the Lone Star State. 

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© 2017 Texas Farm Bureau Insurance