Friday, October 30, 2009

There Is A Story Behind Everything, Even If It Remains Nameless

I’ve driven past the intersection of FM 1431 and Nameless Road in the Texas Hill Country too many times to count. I used to chuckle when I drove past, figuring it was just one of those roads that never got an official name for one reason or another, and by default, the local officials just called it “Nameless.” I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Curiosity finally got the better of me; I did some research and then took a drive up the road. What I discovered, is that Nameless Road runs by a now-deserted little settlement. The interesting story behind this settlement, and the road that runs by it (or through it), is, of course, how it got its unusual name.

The area was settled along the banks of Big Sandy Creek just after the conclusion of the American Civil War. The small, but thriving community, eventually petitioned the United States Post Office Department for a post office in 1880. The settlement, then known as Fairview, had its original name rejected. Five other attempts to get a post office using other names were also rejected. It seems that government bureaucracy was alive and well in the 1880’s.

Eventually, the exasperated citizens of the settlement sent the officials in Washington, D.C., an extremely strong message. In their response to the latest rejection of a recommended name, the notice sent was very clear, “Let the post office be nameless and be damned.” How typical of Texas was the response. There are a great many people in Texas today, I would guess, who would send the federal government the same response.

Well, apparently, that was all it took. Our country’s 19th century postal service then agreed that the settlement’s post office should be called, “Nameless,” but dutifully left off the “damned” part.

Whatever the name, the settlement never became the success of Austin, Dallas, El Paso, or Houston. After the ruckus over the name of the post office, the post office itself lasted not more than ten years before it was closed. The town slowly dwindled away, and with the closing of “Fairview School,” in the 1940’s, there wasn’t much left.

Today, all that remains of Nameless is the former Fairview School (renamed Nameless School), the cemetery, and the historical marker erected by the State of Texas. To access the school, its grounds, and the cemetery just off Nameless Road, I had to cross a creek, unchain a large gate and walk up a dirt road. The only other alternative, and an easier way to get in it seemed, was to walk up what appeared to be someone’s private driveway. Not in Texas am I going to do that.

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