Texas has had perhaps more than its share of unusual names of cities and towns: Cut and Shoot, Dime Box, Bug Tussle. But perhaps the strangest was Toadsuck, Texas.
You won’t find it on a map today because it eventually became Collinsville in western Grayson County. But for a relatively brief and shining historical period, Toadsuck was a real Texas town.
How did it get that strange name? I learned the story mostly from the Texas State Historical Association Handbook, which, when it comes to Texas History, is a priceless resource. It’s online and it’s free. Check it out.
Here’s the story.
Toadsuck was first the name of a saloon near the eventual townsite of Toadsuck.
“Settlers arrived in the area in the late 1850s, and in 1869, a townsite was surveyed near the Toadsuck Saloon, which was then located a half mile southeast of what is now the site of Collinsville.
“The town of Toadsuck took the name of the saloon. It may have been named by John Jones, an early settler and mill owner, after the city of Toad Suck, Arkansas,” which, by the way, does still exist.
“According to legend, the name was originally a reference to men consuming liquor until they swelled up like toads. However, the word ‘suck’ was also commonly used in the region as a term for a whirlpool in a river. Hence, the town name may have simply meant ‘toad whirlpool.'”
In 1869, William (Alfalfa Bill) Henry David Murray, who later became a notable Oklahoma governor, was born in Toadsuck. Bill Cannon, who wrote Tales from Toadsuck, Texas, tells the story that many years later, when Alfalfa Bill was running for president, he returned to the place of his birth for William Murray Day. The town even had a statue of Murray ready for dedication. But Alfalfa Bill was so drunk he could barely speak. You might say he was “swole up like a toad.” The townsfolk were so exasperated and embarrassed, they had a team of horses pull the statue down and break it into pieces. Then, they buried it.
The end of Toadsuck
Toadsuck faded into history when the “Texas and Pacific line was built within three quarters of a mile of Toadsuck in 1880. By 1887, most of its businesses and residents had moved to the tracks. The railroad town was named Collinsville when it was incorporated in the 1890s.”
Thus, sadly, Toadsuck was no more, but the beautiful memory of that august name remains. W.F. Strong is a professor of Culture and Communication at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. You can find his “Stories From Texas” in Texas Co-op Power Magazine and wherever fine podcasts are served.
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Stories From Texas, UTRGV Digital Library, The University of Texas – Rio Grande Valley. Accessed via https://scholarworks.utrgv.edu/storiesfromtexas/