I’m from Oatmeal or Nameless or Radiance or Mud City, Texas

How Austin-area towns acquired their sometimes preposterous names.


The Lone Star Library has released a second edition in paperback of “Texas Towns: From Abner to Zipperlandville,” revised by Paris Parmenter and John Bigley from the late Don Blevins’ nifty thematic guide to name origins, settlement dates and driving directions for hamlets, villages and towns all over the state.

Here are some choice, out-of-the-way spots in the greater Austin area.

Nameless: Off FM 1431, five miles northeast of Lago Vista. “Settlers were on the grounds by 1869. When residents of the new established community applied for a post office, officials rejected every name the proposed for the facility. After half a dozen names were turned back, somebody took it on him- or herself to write the Post Office Department, “Let the post office be nameless and be damned!” Apparently, taking the writer at his words, Nameless became official in 1880.

Oatmeal: On FM 243 eight miles southeast of Burnet. “This is the second oldest community in Burnet County. A German family, reportedly named Habermill, came into the region in 1849 and settled on what is now Oatmeal Creek. Some believe the name of the stream and ultimately the settlement, came from that of Othneil, a mill owner, or a supposed translation of the name Habermill (haber is a German dialect word for hafer, “oats”).”

Mud City: On FM 969 four miles southeast of Austin. “The settlement date is unknown. Little is left of this hamlet, whose claim to fame is that FBI agents once hid out here waiting for 1920s outlaws Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow (they didn’t show). The hamlet acquired its designation because when Cottonwood Creek flooded, the roads became so muddy that walking on them was virtually impossible.”

Radiance: On FM 1826 south of Oak Hill. “Developed in the 1970s as a commune for practitioners of transcendental meditation. The name Radiance comes from Super Radiance Effect, the theory that communal meditation brings peace and understanding and will ultimately serve to cure many social ills.”



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Pedestrian, 63, killed after truck hit him on Manchaca Road, police say
Pedestrian, 63, killed after truck hit him on Manchaca Road, police say

Austin police have identified a man who died after they say a truck hit him in South Austin last month.  According to a preliminary investigation, Tennie Ross, 63, was standing in the southbound lane of traffic in the 11600 block of Manchaca Rd. when he was struck by a 2005 Chevrolet pickup, police said.  Ross died at the scene. Police did...
The military tried to use bats as WWII bombers. Yes, those bats. It got weird.
The military tried to use bats as WWII bombers. Yes, those bats. It got weird.

Uncle Sam wants you. You already knew that. But for a brief time, he also wanted your favorite flying Austin mascot. According to the Washington Post, the U.S. military once recruited hundreds of Mexican free-tailed bats in a plot to blow up Japanese cities during World War II. These bats (the largest urban colony of which famously lives in present-day...
JUST IN: Pedestrian killed on I-35 in July identified
JUST IN: Pedestrian killed on I-35 in July identified

Austin police have identified a pedestrian who died after being hit by a truck on Interstate 35 on July 27 as 23-year-old David O’Beirne. Police said O’Beirne was walking across the 500 block of the highway around 5:29 a.m. when a green truck headed south in an outside lane slammed into him. O’Beirne died at the scene, police said...
San Marcos accepting applications for housing assistance for 2015 flood damage
San Marcos accepting applications for housing assistance for 2015 flood damage

The City of San Marcos is accepting applications for housing assistance through October for residents whose homes were damaged by flooding in May and October of 2015. Residents can pick up applications in the Disaster Recovery Office on the second floor of the City of San Marcos Municipal Building, 630 E. Hopkins St., city officials said. More information...
Sheriff: Man accused of indecency with child near Jarrell restaurant
Sheriff: Man accused of indecency with child near Jarrell restaurant

The Williamson County sheriff’s office arrested a man after a teenager saw him masturbating in his car outside a restaurant in Jarrell, according to a tweet from Sheriff Robert Chody. Philip Raymond Ortegon of Jarrell was charged with indecency with a child, Chody said. A 13-year-old girl sitting in a car with her mother at a McDonald’s...
More Stories