A Landing a Day

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Rising Star, Texas

Posted by graywacke on March 27, 2013

First timer?  In this formerly once-a-day blog (and now an every-third-day blog), I have my computer select a random latitude and longitude that puts me somewhere in the continental United States (the lower 48).  I call this “landing.”  I keep track of the watersheds I land in, as well as the town I land near.  I do some internet research to hopefully find something of interest about my landing location.  To find out more about A Landing A Day (like who “Dan” is and what the various numbers and abbreviations mean in the first paragraph), please see “About Landing,” (and “Abbreviations” and “Cryptic Numbers”) above.

 Dan –  I landed smack dab in the middle of the king of USers . . . TX; 144/175; 5/10; 2; 154.4.  I’d like to dwell a moment on “144/175.”  As you know, Dan (but other readers may not), that ratio tells me that I’ve landed in Texas 144 times (out of 1998 landings), but I should have landed there 175.  The 175 is based on the area of Texas relative to the area of the lower 48.  The math is simple:  The area of Texas is 268,601 square miles, and the area of the lower 48 is 3,061,636 square miles.  268,601/3,061,636 = 0.0877.  Multiply that times the number of landings (0.0877 x 1998) and you get 175.

 So, there it is.  I should have landed 175 times in Texas, but I’ve only landed there 144 times.  Incidentally, I’ve landed in Texas way more than any other state (Montana is a distant second at 117 landings), but I just don’t get it.  Imagine – I could land in Texas 30 straight times and still be undersubscribed (US)!!!

 Here’s my landing map, showing (as advertised) that I landed in the middle of Texas:

 star landing1

Here’s a closer in view, showing my proximity to a slew of small towns (but closest to the town with the lovely name of Rising Star):

 star landing2

My Google Earth (GE) shot shows a varied rural landscape:

 star GE1

The closest StreetView shot is from a road about ¾ of a mile south of my landing (the road between Rising Star and DeLeon).  When rainfall runoff flows away from my landing, it ends up flowing through the culvert that’s at the bottom of this hill:

 star GE2 - farm to market road just s of landing where the water goes

So, that little unnamed tributary flows into Sipe Springs Creek, on to Copperas Creek, on to Rush Ck; on to Leon R (4th hit); on to the Little R (5th hit, making the Little the 145th river to make my list of rivers with 5 or more hits); on to the Brazos R (26th hit).

Note that GE StreetView shows that the road is called “Farm to Market Road.”  I’ve never heard of a road named that, so I did a quick Google search of the road name in Texas.  As unbelievable as this may seem, I could find a detailed compendium of all roads named “Farm (or Ranch) to Market Road in Texas (by county).  Here’s a screen shot of just a piece of the information (that includes Comanche County, where I landed):

 star farm to market roads in TX

There are hundreds and hundreds of roads named this in Texas alone.  Amazing . . .

 Of course, the name “Rising Star” caught my attention.  Checking out three sources, I get a slightly different wrinkle on how the town got its name.  Warning:  to fully appreciate this post, don’t just skim through these histories.

First, from the Texas State Historical Society:

 When the post office opened in 1878 with Hendrick H. Osburn as postmaster, the settlement was called Copperas Creek. In 1879, Tom Anderson bought a tract of land from one of the original settlers, and in 1880, after the old post office had been closed, he opened a new post office and general store in his home. D. D. McConnell of Eastland suggested a new name for the town when he said that the area must be a “rising star country” because it produced crops when other areas were barren.

From Wiki:

The community leaders were required to suggest a name for the post office and decided upon the name ‘Star,’ which was then sent for approval to the Postal Service.  The Postal Service sent word back that a post office under the name ‘Star’ was already located in Texas (in Mills County). The citizens called a meeting to select another name and, after many long hours of deliberation, Little Andy Agnew proposed that, “Since we are a rising young community, why don’t we just call ourselves ‘Rising Star.'”

And then there’s the town’s website:

In 1874 seven families moving westward in search of their dreams found this area ideal for raising their children. With fertile land and water for livestock and crops, Rising Star became their home. The unique name of the town came much later as the population grew and a mail route was being established. The Settlers convened to find a suitable name. After deliberation throughout the night without success, they became aware of the morning star twinkling in the sky.  This revelation lead to the decision to adopt the name of “RISING STAR”.

Interesting variations – and who actually proposed the name?  Was it D.D. McConnell of Eastland, or “Little Andy Agnew?”  I know I should trust the Texas State Historical Society more than Wikipedia, but who can resist Little Andy?  And how about the cool story about the morning star twinkling in the sky after a long night of deliberations?

OK.  So here’s A Landing A Day’s version of what really happened back in 1880 . . .

 . . . The good folks who lived in and around the little town of Copperas Creek knew that the time had  come to pick a new name for the town.  After all, the old post office had been shut down, and a new one just opened up.  Sometime around the middle of June, the town fathers convened a meeting with one agenda item:  to find a suitable name for their lovely little town.  Anyone and everyone was invited.  Deliberations began, but it didn’t take long  for egos to be bruised and for tempers to flare.

 Hendrick Osburn wasn’t bashful and was determined to have his say:   “I was here first and damn it, this town should be named Osburn or Osburnville.  Anybody have a problem with that?”

 Now, Hendrick cut an imposing figure, and was used to getting his way.  But Tom Anderson (not one to be trifled with) chimed in with some edge in his voice: “No offense, Hendrick, but you are yesterday’s news, and what’s more, Osburnville is a terrible name.  I poured my heart and soul (and money) into this town, and opened up the first store and the new post office.  Andersonville rolls right off the tongue.  Folks, what do you think?”

 D.D. McConnell from nearby Eastland thought that he needed to take charge.  He chimed in:  “You two old codgers fight about everything.  We really ought to consider something else, or we’re in for a long night.  I think our current unopfficial name, “Copperas Creek” is an OK name for a creek,  but it’s a little cumbersome for a town.  But you know, Sipe Springs is just down the road here.  Old man Sipe is quite the character, but naming the town Sipe Springs has a certain ring to it.”

 Hendrick couldn’t stay quiet.  “Look.  We all love Henry Sipe, but he’s no pillar of the community.  Everybody knows that Henry tips a wee bit more than he should – come on folks, we gotta do better than that.”  (Of course, Henry wasn’t at the meeting.)

D.D. tried to keep Hendrick and Tom from going at it, but back and forth went the arguments.  Folks offered up uninspiring names like Centerville and Springfield, but they went nowhere – the names were too ordinary, and folks that traveled the state let everybody know that they were already taken.  The sometimes acrimonious discussions went long into the night. 

Andy Agnew (a local farm hand who had no hope that the town would be named after him) loved local politics and stayed for the show.  His 13-year old son Little Andy (who wasn’t so little any more) was with him, but fell asleep on a bench in a corner of the room.  In the wee hours, when the yelling reached a peak, poor Little Andy woke up.  Not caring about listening to the adults, he started getting itchy.  He asked his father if he could go outside, and just wander around a little.

 His father noticed a pre-dawn glow outside, and figured no harm done in Little Andy getting a breath of fresh air.   “OK, just don’t be gone long.”

 Little Andy went outside, and his eyes were drawn to the eastern sky, where a beautiful sunrise was in the making.  It happened to be a crystal-clear morning, and dominating the view was a vivid star, bright as a beacon in spite of the pre-dawn glow.

 Little Andy went back inside, and sat next to his father.  “Hey, father, you ought to see the big bright star outside.”  In a hushed voice, his father explained to Little Andy about the planet Venus and how sometimes it’s the Evening Star and sometimes it’s the Morning Star.  He explained that the Morning Star rises before the sun, and then fades as the sun gets brighter.  “That’s why some folks call Venus the Rising Star.”

 Andy had a good idea.  He raised his hand to speak.  Tired of listening to Hendrick, Tom and D.D., people were anxious to hear someone else.  Andy worked up his nerve and said, “I suggest that we take a little break and step outside.  My boy Little Andy said that a beautiful sunrise is on its way and the Rising Star is in its full glory.  Maybe we can receive a little heavenly inspiration if we go outside and check out the scene.”

 There was a general murmur of ascent, as everybody needed a break.

 The group went outside and stood quietly admiring the view.  Andy whispered to his son, “Little Andy, I think that we ought to name the town Rising Star.  I’ll get everyone’s attention, and then how about if you do the talking?”

 “OK, father.”

 “Listen up everybody, my boy Little Andy has an idea.  Come on Little Andy, speak up.”

 “My daddy was telling me about Venus over yonder, and how it’s called the Rising Star.  You know, there ain’t nuthin’ more beautiful than that star, and there ain’t nothin’ more beautiful than the country around this here town.  What if we call the town Rising Star?”

 The group stood in silence, looking off at the Rising Star.  Tom Anderson broke the silence. 

 “I sure as heck think that Andersonville is the best name, but Little Andy has a great idea.  I move that Rising Star be the name of our little town.  Is there a second?”

 “I second the motion,” said D.D. McConnell.

 All in favor, say “Aye.”  Most of the voice joined together, saying “Aye.”

 “All opposed, say “no.”  Hendrick Osburn almost spoke up.  In his heart, he knew that the town should be called “Osburnville.”  But he bit his tongue, and silence ensued.

 “Motion approved.   Well, how about that folks – we all live in Rising Star, Texas.  Let’s go home and try to get a few hours of shut eye. . .”

 And that’s the way it was in Rising Star, Texas, in June of 1880  . . .

 Moving right along . . . to give you a feel for the old town, here’s a great photo (undated) from the University of North Texas  “Texas History” website.  It shows the Courthouse (on the left) and the jail (on the right):

 star - from TexasHistory.unt.edu

I think it’s fair to assume that the courthouse is where the town-naming meeting was held that fateful night . . .

To show you how far the town has come, here’s a Panoramio shot of  the City Hall (by lawyermoody):

 star city hall by lawyermoody

 That’ll do it.



© 2013 A Landing A Day

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