Learning Center: UV gotta love these UNUSUAL small-town names
We were searching for a town close by that started with either the letter U or V. While there was, indeed, a long list of names, most were not within a short driving distance of Plano. We finally found one – Van Alstyne – which we’ll talk about below but in doing so we learned about some unusual town names.
Texas has a lot of cool names for towns. (In fact, there even is a town called Cool.) For instance, the town of Venus was originally called Gossip, Texas. NO other information was given about why it had been called Gossip. How could they leave us hanging?! So, we had to make up our own explanation: Since the closest town to Venus is Lillian, TX we think that Lillian and her sister were big gossips but since the town was small and everyone knew everyone else’s business, they would drive a few miles out to an open square of land and tell all the gossip they knew. Eventually that square was incorporated and named Gossip, after the sisters.
Then there’s the town of Uncertain, Texas. According to tradition, when the original residents filled out the application for township they put “Uncertain” in the blank for the name. When the township was given, it then became “Uncertain”. Can you just imagine filling out job applications and where they asked you the name of your city, you could write “Uncertain”? Would you get that interview??
And finally, there is Valentine. Yes, Valentine. How cool would it be to live in Valentine in February! The story goes that a railroad crew had finished laying tracks to where a water and fuel depot would be and the day that they finished was Valentine’s Day, so they named the depot Valentine. In February the Valentine Post Office is “busier than Santa’s elves on Christmas Eve.” because they receive thousands of cards to be re-mailed bearing the Valentine postage stamp. The cards come from all over the U.S. and as many as 30 foreign countries. So, you can actually send your Valentine a Valentine card from Valentine. *(thanks to The Texas Standard article by W. F. Strong for these Valentine facts)
Activity: And now on to the city we visited, Van Alstyne.
We’re not sure how vibrant this city was before the pandemic but there sure were a lot of closures in downtown now. We went into a couple of small stores and Barbara bought some delicious homemade preserves, plus we ate some very delicious pizza (marinara, mozzarella, spinach, mushrooms, chicken and cashews – an unexpected treat) but the thing that really surprised us was that there were 5 or 6 hair salons in that small downtown area. Do the people of Van Alstyne have very challenging hair? Everyone we spoke to was very friendly so all in all we enjoyed our outing.
Years ago I visited Durning House in Van Alstyne. I had been a couple times for tea and a couple more times for lunch. I think it is now closed but their food was amazing. And even back then there was nothing of note to visit.
I send lots of Valentine cards to family & friends. One year I did send them to the postmaster of Valentine, TX to get the special postmark. I think there are lots of towns in Texas that do it at Christmas time too.
Sherri – thanks for your comments. Maybe next year I’ll send a Valentine card to the postmaster too!