For a very long time, I thought the name Texas came directly from Caddo Native American word for "friend", tejas. After all, it's what my generation was taught in school, but it turns out that might be only half the story. Little did I know Texas could have a whole backstory that goes all the way back to Spain.

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I recently came across a Texas Standard article from 2019 detailing a theory by historian and archeologist Jorge Luis García Ruiz, who moved to San Antonio from Madrid and began digging into Texas' past after hearing the friendly origin of our state's name.

According to Ruiz, the popular story is that a friar by the name of Damián Massanet was stationed at a mission in East Texas in the 1600s, and that the native Caddo started calling him "teycha", meaning "friend" or "ally". When he wrote home about it, it's said, Massanet wrote the word as "tejas", which eventually morphed into Texas.

But Ruiz is challenging that old story.


Ruiz says maps and documents by Spanish explorers demonstrate that they were using the word tejas to refer to areas of Texas well before Friar Massanet made friends with the natives.

So, if that's the case, where did the term really come from?

Ruiz says his studies led him to a 15th-century Spanish dictionary in which the words "tejo" and "teja" can be found, and that they refer to a type of yew tree.

According to his theory, Spanish explorers in what's now Texas spotted bald cypress trees that bore a striking resemblance to the familiar yews from back home in Europe, and decided to use the word "teja" to refer to this strange new place. (Maybe it made them feel more at home?)


Ruiz's theory is interesting, but not as whimsical as the idea of our state being named for a word that translates to "friendly". Even Ruiz admits that his theory isn't likely to be widely accepted, and that the popular origin story is more "marketable".

What do you think? Would it bother you if Texas' name was rooted (no pun intended) in its natural beauty rather than the spirit of friendship? Tap the Chat button in our free app and let me know.

Top 15 Under the Radar Cities in Texas

Texas is booming, and as more people move here, they'll be looking at areas like Austin or Houston to settle down. There are plenty of others places they ought to consider, though.

Using data from the U.S. Census Bureau, along with data about home sales and public school ratings, Orchard recently ranked and graded the Top 15 Under the Radar Cities in Texas.

These are unexpectedly good places to make a life for yourself and your family in the Lone Star State. Did your hometown make the list?

Test Your Texas: How Many of These Jeopardy! Questions Can You Answer?

Jeopardy! as we know it has been on the air since 1984, but the show got its start way back 1964.

Over the decades, the writers have managed to keep coming up with challenging questions to test the intellectual might of America's best and brightest (and sometimes softball questions for celebrities).

Texas is a place packed with personality, culture, and history, and there've been hundreds of questions/answers about the Lone Star State. Let's take a look at a few recent ones, and keep an eye out because we'll add more soon to test your Texas trivia skills and challenge newcomers.

How many of these can you get right without Googling?


10 Things You Can Thank Texas For


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