If you watch old Westerns about Texas, you hear names like Tex, Laredo, Rio, Hondo, Amarillo. And you hear dialogue like this: “Tex, you seen Rio around? Nope, but I saw Amarillo ridin’ off to look for Laredo, and you know wherever Laredo is, Rio’s close by.”
You can’t tell whether they are talking about people or places.
In modern Texas, you don’t often meet people named Hondo and Laredo anymore. Texas babies are now more commonly named for bigger Texas cities. Dallas, Houston. Austin. In fact, go into any first grade and you can hear a trip around the state: “Austin, you and Dallas come up here and help Houston plant these Bluebonnets.”
Interesting that the original cities took the last names of the founders and now kids get those last names as first names.
Some smaller towns have gotten in on the trend. We seem to have moved east from the Old West days. Tyler is quite popular; Crockett too, and there’s Beaumont – a classic name.
If you are looking for Hispanic names, there are plenty of great suggestions in Texas cities and towns. Antonio, of course; Goliad, which is an anagram for Hidalgo; and then there’s Hidalgo itself, also a Texas town. Refugio might be an option, though it is mostly pronounced “Refurio.” Don’t know where that extra “r” comes from. Mercedes, or “Mercédès” would be a beautiful option. Roma would be nice – capital of Italy too.
This takes me to European capitals, to change focus. If anyone would like to name their new baby after great capitals of the world – and a Texas town – they can do so. A two-for-one deal: We have em all. Paris, London, Moscow, Athens, Edinburgh, Stockholm, Berlin … well, New Berlin, but close enough.
Cities and towns that are rarely chosen might be worth considering for your new Texas baby name. Wichita, after Wichita Falls – good for boy or girl. Wichita Jones. Falfurrias you never hear. Falfurrias Rodriguez? Waco? Waco Williams, perhaps? Abilene, boy or girl. Never hear Corpus used. Corpus Roque. Good for a future weightlifter. Alpine would be a possibility for a boy or a girl. Sherman. And Victoria, a classic name and a Texas town. Lubbock for a boy. Lubbock Anderson.
And possibly Cut and Shoot. I would love to meet a kid named Cut and Shoot. Cut and Shoot Callahan – now there’s a conversation starter.
And let’s not forget counties. I named one of my sons for Dawson County – named him Dawson, not County. And if I ever have another boy, I think I’ll name him after Falcon Dam. Just call him Dam. Dam Strong.
W.F Strong is a Fulbright Scholar and professor of Culture and Communication at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. And at Public Radio 88 FM in Harlingen, Texas, he’s the resident expert on Texas literature, Texas legends, Blue Bell Ice Cream, Whataburger (with cheese) and mesquite smoked brisket.