Why is Tomball Called Tomball? How Houston Area Neighborhoods Got Their Names

In 1907, the little Texas town of Peck was renamed Tomball, in honor of Thomas Henry Ball, A.K.A. Tom Ball. Who is Tom Ball, you ask? Well, in 1914, Ball unsuccessfully sought the 1914 Democratic nomination to run for governor of Texas, vowing to institute Prohibition across the entire Lone Star State.

That didn’t go so well.

Bell’s opponent, “Constructive Democtrat” James E. Ferguson, circulated photographs of Bell in saloons, and claimed Woodrow Wilson’s endorsement of Ball was a sign of D.C. meddling in Texas politics.

Ball’s Houston law practice mostly represented railroads and large corporations. He promoted Texas port facilities while he was in Congress, and served as general counsel for the Port Commission of Houston. Ball was a delegate at the 1892, 1924, and 1928 Democratic National Convention. You can read more about Tom Ball in Joe Holley’s excellent Houston Chronicle series, Native Texan.

But Tomball isn’t the only Greater Houston Area local with an interesting story behind its name. Mental Floss reports:

Houston is a city that prides itself on having no official zoning, and Houston neighborhoods have a decidedly freewheelin’ feel. Management districts butt up against municipalities and unincorporated areas, which overlap with wards, which are part of super-neighborhoods, which are often referenced by other names.

Looking at the origins of those names gives a glimpse at the movers and shakers (and Quakers) of Houston’s past. It’s a past populated with farmers, industrialists, ministers, soldiers and philanthropists, not to mention a postmistress, a murderer, and a saloon-owning Prohibitionist.

Read more here.

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