Texas Travel

The History Behind Unique Texas Town Names

By Peter Simek 1.8.24

Most towns and cities got their names from founders or prominent early residents, honorific public figures and national heroes, or geographical sources. But in Texas, we have some towns whose names have more, let’s say, imaginative origins. Here, we learn the stories behind some of Texas’ most peculiar town names.

Photo by Doyle Welborn

Cut and Shoot

The small city of Cut and Shoot, located in Montgomery County, northeast of Houston, has a name that sounds straight out of a Wild West movie. According to local lore, the town got its name from a 1912 community confrontation between the townspeople and a preacher who was rumored to run saloons and gambling halls. The debate became so heated that a scared boy reportedly declared, “I’m going to cut around the corner and shoot through the bushes in a minute!” Somehow, this phrase stuck, and thus, the town of Cut and Shoot was born, a testament to the feisty spirit of its early settlers.

Old Dime Box

In the early days of this Lee County town, there was no post office, so settlers looking to send mail headed to early community member Joseph Brown’s sawmill, where he kept a small box in his office. They could drop their letters in the box with a dime, and Brown would ensure the mail was delivered to the nearest post office. The prominence of what became the Brown’s Mill post office led to confusion with nearby Brownsville, so the town was named after Brown’s box instead.


It is fitting that the name of this chic, culturally savvy West Texas town can be traced back to a great work of literature. Marfa was founded as a water stop along the Galveston, Harrisburg, and San Antonio Railway. When founders began searching for a name, the wife of one of the railroad executives suggested one borrowed from a character in Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, which she was reading at the time.

Jot ’Em Down

This northeast Texas town’s name was derived from a blend of inspiration and happenstance. For many years, this small town didn’t have a name, but it did have a grocery store named the Jot ’Em Down Gin Corporation, which opened in the 1930s. The shop took its name from a fictional store in a popular radio show at the time called Lum and Abner. When the Texas Highway Department needed a way to refer to the community, they simply utilized the name of its prominent store — and the name stuck.

There are plenty of weird histories to be uncovered in Texas. Read up on the great camel experiment or the story of the goat mayor of Lajitas for some quintessentially Texan fun facts.

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