A Rose By Any Other Name
By John Limmer
Other families of like mind soon followed our imagined first settler. Once the prime bottom-land along the bayou was taken successors were forced to claim acreage along the many small tributaries and creeks which fed it. Names like Turkey Creek, Sandy Branch, Holloway Creek, Red River, and Hogg Creek were given to these meandering, wet season waterways by the families who homesteaded beside their variable banks. One such man was James M. Bloodworth. Another was Richard W. (Dick) Pentecost. It would appear neither of these two men felt exceptionally comfortable behind a plow, but either, or both could justly be credited with the founding of Cross Cut, Texas. Bloodworth gave it a name, Pentecost gave it substance. Ironically, neither stayed with their dream long enough to see it through to full fruition.
The Brown County Court House and the records contained therein burned in 1880, so little of an "official" nature is known about land and business transactions prior to that year .But, with sketchy state records and word of mouth accounts passed down through the generations to current Cross Cut descendants, along with a little old fashioned logical deduction, a fair reconstruction of that period and its events is possible. The folks who settled in Cross Cut could live without a lot of amenities, but written contact with the outside world was apparently not one of them. The Brownwood Post Office was established August 23rd, 1858. The area was so sparsely populated at the time that the single office could easily serve its purpose. As outlying communities began to spring up however, it became necessary to open new offices to serve "local" residents. The first of these was in Blanket on June 10, 1875. Hot on Blanket's heels was Indian Creek on September 11, 1876, followed closely by Clio (changed later to Owens) on October 11, 1877, then Byrds on November 6 of that same year.
We mentioned earlier that James Bloodworth was not a farmer. His wagon when he arrived was packed just as tightly as were those of the other settlers, but if his load contained harness or plow, they were for sale. For Mr .Bloodworth was a merchant, and he built his general store on the bank of the Holloway. The little creek was named for the Willis Holloway family sometime around 1860, and was most likely a good source of water in the days before extensive irrigation practices drained local aquifers and streams were dammed to form mini lakes. It seems reasonable to assume that Bloodworth's store was a popular gathering place for local farmers and ranchers, after all, it was the only gathering place for miles around. I believe we may also assume the topic of more than one discussion around the pot bellied stove was the dependability, or absence thereof, of mail service. What was needed, they agreed, was a post office.
To apply to the postal department for a local office however, required a mailing address. And that meant someone had to come up with a name for the new settlement. Many others in the area simply picked the surname of its most prominent citizen, i.e., the largest landowner, the wealthiest, etc. But those first Cross Cut citizens were proud men, one and all, and I can't help but believe any attempt at establishing a dominant surnarne, if that approach were considered at all, was soon abandoned. No, what they needed was a name which set them apart, one which told all those distant relatives and curious friends who inked an envelope why the addressee chose to live in such a remote location. In the vernacular of the day, each agreed he had settled near the bayou because it was, "Way 'cross country and out of the way of normal travel". So, Mr. James M. Bloodworth filled out the application for the people of the newly christened "Cross Out, Texas", Cross country and out of the way, and sent it to Austin for approval.
Unfortunately, whether the chosen name was reached after long and serious consideration, or decided upon in jest - simply to get the ball rolling, it was not to be. Either Bloodworth's penmanship left something to be desired, or the clerk who handled the transaction made a typo on the approval notification. Whichever the case, on April 9, 1879, a post office was granted to "Cross Cut, Texas", a name which made absolutely no sense to anyone, but one with which they would be stuck for eternity and beyond.
Mr .Bloodworth was granted the title of Postmaster, but it was a meaningless job without mail to distribute and he had a store to run. What Cross Cut needed was a postman. The first known to carry that title was a man by the name of Matte Russell. Mr . Russell accepted the job and bought an old gray mare from Joe Eubank to ride on his rounds. His exact schedule is unknown, but his route was forty miles of dusty trail originating before sunrise in Cross Cut, then to Byrds, then Holder (nicknamed "Slap Out" by the locals because every time you asked for something at the Holder Store - they were invariably "slap out" of whatever it was), then on to May. In May, outgoing mail was deposited and arriving mail picked up, and it was back to Cross Cut. Mr. Russell's day ended about sunset.
The approximate locations of the old home places shown on the previous page were provided by Ms. Annie Mae (Russell) Wright. It is hoped having such a map handy at the outset will assist the reader in following the geographic expansion of the population throughout the remainder of the book, and appreciating the closeness of its major families.
Cross Cut was starting to take shape. There was a general store with a post office, and a one room schoolhouse sitting beside it. But the location of this budding little settlement was all wrong! At least so thought one enterprising young man who watched the activity with more than a little interest. His name was R. W. Pentecost, and the way Dick figured it, the town should be moved to a more appropriate location before it got too big to relocate. By happy coincidence, he just happened to own the ideal spot and was more than willing, for a nominal price, to offer said land for just that purpose.
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