The Truth About Deaf Smith County: A Forgotten Pronunciation
It's no secret that the Texas panhandle is home to all manner of wild tales and frontier legends. Deaf Smith county is home to its fair share, and I've covered a few. Today, while doing some digging I realized I might owe Deaf Smith an apology.
Apparently there is a forgotten pronunciation I was unaware of when it comes to Deaf Smith County.
Hooked On Phonics Worked Too Good For Me
You always have to start at the beginning. I don't make the rules. I just barely follow them.
In the beginning was a kid named Erastus Smith. As a child, Erastus suffered hearing loss. As is the case with anything that sets a young child apart from the rest of the crowd, it earned him a nickname.
Thus, the name Deaf Smith came into being.
Except it wasn't pronounced the way you would think. It was pronounced deef.
Deaf Smith, The Texas Spy
Deaf Smith lived a pretty incredible life. He was a frontiersman. He was a part of the Texas Revolution. Smith even eventually led a company of Texas Rangers.
After he died, a marker was placed at an Episcopal church. The engraving on it reads "Deaf Smith, the Texas Spy." To make matters even more interesting, no one is really sure where his remains are actually buried.
He died in 1837.
Deef's Legacy Lives On
Such an incredible life must be celebrated, and it has been. Deaf Smith has been portrayed in several films. There's even been peanut butter named after him.
The biggest tribute, literally, is the naming of an entire county in the Texas panhandle after him. This is where my apology to Deaf Smith begins...sort of.
Pretty much everyone and their three-legged dog says Def Smith. I haven't heard a single person say Deef Smith County. It's safe to say none of the 18,500 or so people who live there say Deef Smith.
Everyone says Def Smith. But, does that make it right?
Either way, once again Deaf Smith County comes away with another "most interesting story of the day."