Monday, January 17, 2011


About a half mile from our house, stands a Texas State Historical Marker, one of thousands of such placards scattered around the state. They commemorate events or places in Texas history, such as the Shrine of the Alamo or fierce Indian Raids. Ours is a bit mundane, it celebrates the short tenure of Jellico, a village which existed proper for about five years at the turn of the 20th century.

In 1888 a store was built by Mr. Robert Emmett Wilson on the corner of what is now FM 1709 and FM 1938. (To those not familiar with Texas roads, the FM stands for "Farm to Market").
In 1898, a post office was added and a town name was required. "Burr" was submitted and rejected, so the postmaster went with "Jellico", since a number of the locals hailed originally from Jellico, Tennessee. (As an aside, Jellico TN, is named for a type of coal found in Tennessee; the name can be traced to the Angelica plant, also abundant in TN).

Meanwhile back in Texas... The name Jellico was accepted and the town prospered in conjunction with the cotton growing industry and added a cotton gin, a blacksmith, a gristmill, a syrup press and a school. At its peak, Jellico served about about 300 people. In 1907 the price of cotton and cattle dropped and Mr. Wilson was forced to sell the gin and mill, and cattle press. He then opened a dipping vat for cattle but with the advent of the automobile, shopping became easier in the nearby communities of Keller and Grapevine and the Jellico general store ceased to be profitable. It was closed in 1912. The post office had been discontinued in 1903. The only reminder of Jellico today is a shopping center called Jellico Corners, built in 1984.

So there are the humble beginnings of Southlake. Undoubtedly, Robert Emmett Wilson was of Irish descent, named after the nationalist and martyr Robert Emmett (1778-1803).

So now when asked where do I live, it will be fun to reply "Jellico" and watch for the puzzled looks. I did not think I was the first Irishman in Southlake / Jellico and will not be the last. R.E. Wilson would no doubt be shocked to see Jellico today. The cotton fields are paved over and planted with lavish McMansions and where there was once a humble horse and cart, there now races a Starbucks-sipping Lexus-driver, late for their botox treatment.

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