Driveover County

John W. Pinkerton

We often hear the states between the East and West Coasts referred to as “flyover country.”  The implication is that these states between New York and Los Angeles don’t count for much by folks in these metropolitan areas.  Texas is part of flyover country.  If you extend this metaphor to a more local level, Burleson County might be referred to as “driveover country.”  Burleson County is perceived by many as just an empty space between Bryan-College Station and Austin, between Houston and Waco.

Folks trying to drive through Burleson County quickly take Highway 21 if traveling East or West and Highway 36 if traveling North or South.

For a couple of years now, Highway 60, which runs through Snook to Lyons from College Station, is being turned into a four lane highway.  Snook said, “No thanks,” and the improved highway was forced to go around the town instead of through it.  I’m sure most people would see this as “backward,” but I’m not too sure about this conclusion.  Snook, apparently, is satisfied to be off the beaten path, and they want to keep it that way.  Bless their hearts.

By comparison, Caldwell, the county seat founded in 1846, is progressive…kind of.  They even have a nine-hole golf course and a hospital and a huge fire department.  You know they’re looking to grow because they’ve built a huge stone sign shouting “look at me” which declares when they were established.

Well, Burleson County is pretty empty: a grand total of a little over 17,000 souls.  Caldwell, the county seat, has a little over 2000 folks; Somerville has about 1300; Snook, around 500.  Unincorporated communities include Deanville, a little over 100; Chriesman, about 30; Cooks Point, about 60; Black Jack, a scattered collection of farms; Harmony, undetermined population; Hogg, don’t know; New Tabor, the same; Lyons, about 360; Tunis, about 150; Frenstat, a few farm dwellings; Rita and Hix, are on each side of Dam Creek with a total population of around 85.

Burleson County is surrounded by mostly more populated counties: Brazos County has a population of over 200,000, Washington County over 43,000, Lee County close to the population of Burleson County with about 17,000, and Milam County with about 24,000.

Only about 6% of us are Irish, my heritage; there are a lot of Czechs and Germans, 13.1% are African Americans and 20.1% are Hispanic.

Heck, I like all ethnic groups: they all have something good to contribute as individuals and as groups.  Years ago a good friend of mine told me that he liked working in a school with a good mixture of the various races because he felt everyone was treated better in such circumstances.  I hope that’s true on a county-wide basis.  I feel that it might be.

Folks seem to get along well with each other here.  I think part of the reason for this is the lack of funds to waste; however, we seem to be better off than our big neighbor, Brazos County.

Burleson County’s household income is $49,000; Brazos County, $39,000.  Burleson County is about a thousand dollars ahead in per capita income: $23,223 as compared to $22,243.  I’m a little surprised by these figures, but I’m shocked by the comparative poverty figures: Burleson County, 16.2%---Brazos County, 26.4%.

I strongly suspect that most of the money earned by Burleson County residents is paid by employers in other counties because there ain’t much industry here unless you count raising cattle and selling tractors.

We have a county-wide weekly newspaper which usually consists of stories about the schools’ athletic teams, 4-H and FFA activities, the occasional arrest, and the occasional auto accident…wait a minute, we’ve had a couple of bank robberies, Snook and Deanville.

There’s not a lot of law enforcement in the county, but they do a good job, and we ain’t mad at any of them.

Of course Linda and I live in Burleson County, and we know of a lot of good stuff going on over here, but we prefer not to share those with you folks in the surrounding counties ‘cause ya’ll might want to move here and screw things up.  I’m with Snook: build your damned road around us.



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