By W. F. Strong
I’ve spent a good deal of time over the last couple of years contemplating all things Texas inside of Texas. So I thought I would take a look at Texas OUTSIDE of Texas. There is a lot out there.
First, I suspect you’ve heard that in Norway the word “Texas” means something like “crazy.” More like wild and crazy. Let me use it in a sentence as the Norwegians would: “That party last night, after 1AM, turned Texas on us.” I am honored to have Texas utilized that way – describing something that is a bit out of control and rebellious.
In Barcelona, Spain, “Texans” is a common name for blue jeans. People in Barcelona often say, “Let me put on my Texans and I’ll go with you.” In other parts of Spain they refer to jeans as cowboys, but in Barcelona, they get right to the point by simply calling them Texans (Tejanos).
In London and Paris you can visit the sites of the Texas Embassies, which were located in those cities in the early 1840s, when Texas was an independent sovereign country. The legations were just rented spaces so no dedicated structures remain. However, you can still see commemorations of the first embassies (and last ones) for The Republic of Texas. When I first saw those words, “The Republic of Texas,” on an antique gold plaque in London, my heart swelled up bigger’n Dallas. Not that I want Texas to be a Republic again, but I love the fact that we once were. The other site has a carving on the facade of a hotel in Paris, the Hôtel de Vendôme.
Leaving Europe, let’s go way down under to Oz. In Australia, there is a town named Texas. It is in Queensland. Texas, Queensland. It’s true. When you see the road sign that says Texas 15, it is surreal. Not just because you are in Australia, but because the 15 is for kilometers and the sign is on the left side of the road, the side you are driving on. From the look of the landscape, you would swear you’re in west Texas, perhaps near Marfa. It is a good comparison because Texas, Queensland is just a bit smaller than Marfa – only about 1100 people live there. But Texas, Queensland has more water – a river runs through it.
So, how did it get its name? How did the folks there decide to name their town Texas? Well, first of all, there were no immigrants from Texas who gave it that name. That is a common way that such things happen, but not in this case.
They say that back in the 1840s there was a sustained dispute over the land between the McDougall Brothers, who had earlier laid claim to it, and the squatters who took it over in their absence. Seems that the McDougalls went off to look for gold. When they returned, goldless, they had the added insult of finding squatters on their land. The McDougalls were eventually successful at getting their land back, after a few years in the courts. They said it reminded them of the more famous and much longer struggle Texans had endured to secure Texas, which happened halfway around the world, but at roughly the same time. So in honor of their victory, the McDougalls named their little settlement “Texas.”
You already know that everything’s bigger in Texas. As you see from this quick trip around the world, Texas is pretty big outside of Texas, too.