Monday, September 7, 2020



When I was a little girl, I went to school with two twin boys. Their names were Wayne and Dwayne. I won’t say the last name. Even though they have both passed, they still have family – so they shall remain nameless. Wayne and Dwayne were the youngest in their family, having an older sister and two older brothers who were fairly vocal with bold personalities. Not so with these two little boys. They were timid, keeping to themselves as many twins do, almost having a language of their own.

I can vividly recall our first day of school. Not kindergarten, we didn’t have one of those in our tiny school district. Our pre-k was the woods, the fields and the pastures, while our keepers were old plow horses and older hunting dogs. Another noteworthy fact was that our schools were consolidated, so I didn’t know all of my classmates. There were a few of us from my small farming community and we were seated together on one side of the room – Wayne and Dwayne were seated beside me – one on one side and one on the other.

Anyway, on our first day of first grade, we assembled together with our teacher, Miss Willie Woods. All 35 of us. In fact, my graduating class numbered only 35. I was valedictorian, but out of 35 there’s not much room for bragging rights.

Once we were seated in our desks, all lined up – it hit me. I was stuck at school and my mama was not there. I remember panic setting in and the tears began to flow. When I began to cry, Wayne and Dwayne began to cry. We comforted one another the best we could, but Miss Willie made us stay, even though we begged to be released from our unfortunate incarceration.

But that’s not the focal point of this story. Back to the twins.

Folks around our small town would see Wayne and Dwayne wandering the streets hand-in-hand, wearing their normal uniform of coveralls and a red shirt or rolled up blue jeans and a blue striped T-shirt – or at least that’s the way I remember them. Once, while riding my bike, I came upon them playing with a garter snake they’d caught. I was scared to death of snakes and was afraid they’d chase me with it or throw it at me, but they didn’t. The boys were too gentle natured to even think such a thing – which leads me to the main thrust of this anticdote…

One day, the boys were playing around the old Masonic lodge which was near to their house. They were crawling beneath it, peering through the window, then climbing the stairs to try the doors. As luck would have it, they got caught by some well-dressed gentleman who knew they had no business pilfering around such an esteemed, yet somewhat ramshackle building. He called them, yelled at them, chastising the twins for trespassing – even caught them by the scruff of their shirts. “Who are you boys?” he asked, probably intending to tell their parents of their misbehavior. I don’t remember which boy answered, I don’t guess it matters, because he answered for them both. “We ain’t nobody, Mister.”

You might wonder where I was at in all of this commotion and I’ll tell you. I was with my Mother who had arrived about that time to decorate the lodge room for an Eastern Star meeting. I witnessed the whole episode and so did my Mom. In fact, I can remember her relating the incident to my dad and others, laughing at their answer. “We ain’t nobody, Mister.”

Wayne and Dwayne’s motivation for remaining nameless was to stay out of trouble – but that’s not how it hit me. Considering their humble nature, it always bothered me that they chose to identify themselves as nobodies. While they didn’t achieve greatness in their life, they were certainly somebody.

Everybody is somebody.

In my newest book that launches in early October – The StormYou Chase – the hero, Clint Wilder, has spent a lifetime not knowing his roots. His mother was stolen from her birth parents and raised in foster care. His father, who disappeared when Clint was seven, was estranged from his family and never shared where he came from or who his relations might be. This lack of a tangible past haunted Clint. When he grew up, he bought a ranch on a road named Nameless, next to the historical one-room schoolhouse of the same name – Nameless School. Clint felt a kinship with the place and would wander down and sit in the darkness of the small white clapboard building, imagining young students sitting at the old-fashioned desks, all waiting for the bell to sound so they could run out of the old double doors into the bright sunshine of the Nameless community.

While Clint is fiction, the small community of Nameless is not. In fact, that clapboard schoolhouse, a cemetery, and what remains of the oddly named community lies about nine miles from my house. I drive by it often, the wildflowers grow profusely on the small two-lane highway and the Balcones Preserve butts up to the road, allowing for the sighting of much wildlife. I’ve seen two strange things on the road – one was a ring-tailed civet and the other was a small monkey – swear to God. I’d like to think it was a baby Bigfoot, but who knows.

Of course, there is a story behind the Nameless community. In the 1860's pioneers settled along Sandy Creek, about a half day’s horseback ride northwest of the capitol building in Austin, Texas. The residents of the tiny rural community primarily made their living cutting cedar posts and raising cotton. Eventually, the neighbors decided they needed improved mail service. They banded together to petition Washington for a post office for the growing hamlet. In order to do so, they needed to give their village a name. Over a period of time, six different names were submitted to the bureaucrats in charge, but each suggestion was shot down. The community representative was so frustrated that he threw up his hands and declared – “Let this place be nameless and be damned!” Thus, the town of Nameless was born.

The post office was founded and opened for business in the year 1880, bearing the name of Nameless. By 1884 the small community featured a church, a school, a general store and 50 residents. But growth for Nameless was not in the cards. For all of the trouble it took the residents to get their post office, it only lasted a decade before it was closed in 1890. The buildings of the town were torn down or fell into disrepair over the years. The town's cemetery, as is often the case, remained and became an epitaph not only for the individuals laid to rest there but also the entire community it once served.

Below is a picture of the only building that remains today - the old Nameless school house. It was constructed in 1909 on a site that was used for a school going back to the 1870's. It continued to serve classes up through 1945. The schoolhouse also served as a church and polling location in the past. It serves as the only architectural reminder of the town without a name, that name being Nameless.

In the late 1800’s another historical oddity occurred in the same area. A Yankee named Barrett moved to Nameless from Illinois. There’s not much known about Mr. Barrett other than he appreciated a good story – which is a condition that I can easily relate to.

The best story anyone from Nameless could relate, other than how the town got its name, was the story about the local hermit, a man who lived in a nearby cave filled with treasure. (Of the 6000 or so caves located in the limestone region of the Texas Hill Country, many of them are either haunted or supposedly filled with treasure – or both. I have ghost hunting equipment, now all I need is a metal detector.)

Upon hearing the story of the old hermit and his treasure, Barrett was hell-bent on finding it. An article in the June 18th, 1885 edition of the Austin Daily Statesman reported that Mr. Barrett invented a mineral rod – which must have been akin to a dousing rod – that when held just above the earth, would reveal the location of filthy lucre in mineral form. One stipulation to the rod’s usage was that you couldn’t be carrying loose change in your pockets – too much interference, I suppose.

Though the treasure had been lost for years, at the time of the writing of the Statesman’s article, everyone in the area could tell you the location of that cave. They all claimed it was located on a high bluff overlooking Big Sandy Creek, about 200 feet above the water on the side of a sheer cliff. Due to the inaccessibility of the location and the fact that it was supposed to be haunted – people weren’t falling over one another to explore the place.

Except Mr. Barrett.

On the morning of June 16th, he emptied his pockets of loose change, and set out to brave the cave. Accompanied by a friend who lowered him in a basket down the side of the cliff, he took his rod, his pick – and set out to discover treasure.

Sure enough, he found a cave full of beautiful stalactites columns which flowed from floor to roof – but the real oddity stood in the middle of the cavern. The hermit sat on a stone chair like a king on his throne. Unfortunately, the cave’s resident wasn’t alive – he was petrified. His right hand rested on the head of a bust of Napoleon and his left hand, holding a crucifix, was pressed to his heart. A petrified dog lay at his feet. The room also held the remains of furniture and utensils. The only thing that wasn’t in the room – was any treasure.

Barrett did not give up, however. He was convinced there were other rooms farther back in the cave and he was determined to explore them.

The article relates that Mr. Barrett did not wish to be interrupted and would report to the public once he made a discovery. Since no other articles on that subject can be found in the Statesmen or any other news source of the era, we can assume Mr. B either did not find the treasure or chose not to reveal it when he did so.

Of course, it’s fitting that the cave doesn’t have a name. After all, it was in the vicinity of Nameless, Texas.

Thank you for listening to me ramble –


                                             This is the NAMELESS SCHOOL

And this is where I envision Clint’s ranch is located – right nextdoor. We call it Sunset Ranch.


Julie Lence said...

Excellent blog, Sable! I learned a little bit of history and was thoroughly entertained, especially with the twins. I think they need to be added to a book...

Peggy said...

I so enjoyed reading your post. Interesting, historical tidbits that would weave into an amazing book. Thank you! Blessings

Jo Powrrz said...

As I always say, I can see what you've written. I can picture those 2 boys along with hermit in the cave. I love your ability to tell a story and that you make me want to find out more about the places you mention in your books.

Jo Powers said...

Apparently I cant spell my own name today

Elaine Swinney said...

I love stories like these. You always have great stories to tell. Thank you for sharing!!!!