How 50 Texas Cities Got Their Names


The state’s largest city takes its name from Sam Houston, who led the army that defeated Mexican troops during the Texas Revolution in 1836. That year, the Allen brothers decided to establish a town on the site of a beautiful bayou and name it after him.


In 1691, a group of Spanish settlers—including Domingo Terán de los Ríos, the first governor of Spanish Texas—entered the territory to establish missions and regain control of the area from the French, Apache, and Comanche. On June 13, 1691, the party camped next to a stream. It happened to be the feast day of St. Anthony of Padua, and so they renamed the river San Antonio, which later lent its name to the city.


Likely the surname of a historic figure, the precise origin of Dallas’s name is unknown. It could come from George Mifflin Dallas, vice president of the United States under James K. Polk, or his brother, Commodore Alexander J. Dallas of the United States Navy, or Joseph Dallas, who settled near the new town in 1843.

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Austin’s namesake is Stephen F. Austin, the “founder of Anglo-American Texas.” The city was established as the capital in 1839, when the Republic of Texas was just three years old.


General William Jenkins Worth was a military hero in the Mexican War who was serving as the Commander of the Department of Texas when he died of cholera in May 1849, about a month before Major Ripley Arnold established the fort.


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Lone Star: A History o... T. R. Fehrenbach Check Amazon for Pricing. Paso comes from “El Paso del Norte,” or “Pass of the North.” Spanish explorer Juan de Oñate gave the location that name in 1598 because it sits in the pass between two mountain ranges, the Sierra de Juárez and the Franklin Mountains.


Founded in 1876, Arlington was renamed in 1877 after Robert E. Lee’s Arlington House in Arlington, Virginia.


Spanish explorer Alonso Álvarez de Pineda is responsible for naming this southern Texas city. The name, which means “body of Christ,” comes from the Catholic feast day on which he explored and claimed the area in 1519.


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A Spanish military officer named José de Escandón was commissioned to settle the area and named it Laredo, after a town in the Santander province of Spain.

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Thomas Saltus Lubbock was a soldier in the Texas Revolution and served as a Texas Ranger in support of the Confederacy during the Civil War. He was also the brother of the ninth governor of Texas, Francis R. Lubbock, who served from 1857 to 1859.


Former Arkansas governor and U.S. senator Augustus H. Garland was the sitting attorney general when the city was established in 1887. He served under President Grover Cleveland.


The city of Irving is most likely named for a Yankee—Washington Irving. Irving was the favorite author of Onetta Barcus Brown, the wife of the town’s co-founder, Otis Brown.


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The Spanish word for “yellow” suits this city well thanks to the yellow wildflowers and yellow soil along the banks of the creek of the same name. Charles F. Rudolph, editor of the Tascosa Pioneer, shamed the Forth Worth and Denver Railway employees for their incorrect pronunciation for the Spanish word. In 1888, he correctly predicted the future when he said, “Never again will it be Ah-mah-ree-yoh.”


This name reflects the land on which the city was built—glorious, expansive grasslands. It was originally called Dechman after its founder, but the town’s name was later changed to match that of the local railroad station.


Major Jacob Brown was a soldier in the Mexican-American War. He served as commander of Fort Texas, where died during a Mexican attack, and posthumously gave this city its name.

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