Waughs and the Bat Colony

Late last month in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, we posted a message about the Waugh Drive Bridge in Houston and its bat colony. Patrick Kurp, who maintains a weblog called “Anecdotal Evidence” and lives in Houston, has provided the following response:

“Thank you for the note. … “Waugh” is pronounced as you might expect, roughly the way Evelyn would have spoken his surname. Given various Texas accents, it comes out “Waw,” rhyming with “claw.”I drive over the Waugh Bridge on my way to work and back home again. Here’s what I have found online, though you may have seen this already:
An online search discloses more stories. Not a happy event for anyone.…Patrick” 
Another reader, Dave Lull, found an email exchange by Texas A&M University students and graduates on the pronunciation of “Waugh”. Most concurred with Patrick’s conclusions. A&M is, however, not in Houston but is located in College Station between that city and Dallas. Some respondents also claimed to have heard the name pronounced Waff (as in “laugh”).
The bridge and street are named for Tyrell Thomas Waugh (1897-1918), a US Marine from Houston who died in WWI. He was the son of T L Waugh (1864-1944), at one time Houston’s Street and Bridge Commissioner. No apparent relation to Waughs of Midsomer Norton, Somerset, but the accessible internet records go back to a Rev John Waugh born in Scotland c. 1630 who emigrated to Virginia where he died c. 1706. Evelyn Waugh mentions his great-great-great grandfather was named Thomas Waugh, was a member of the Scottish Secessionist Church and lived in Berwickshire. A Little Learning (1973, p. 10)
Several streets in Houston owe their names to WWI heroes, according to the Houston Chronicle. Waugh Drive was previously known as Euclid Street, acccording to a 1913 map. The bridge of that name, made famous by the bat colony, was built in 1922-24 to replace what is known in Texas as a “low water crossing”–i.e., something you drive through when it hasn’t been raining, otherwise not. One wonders whether the bats will rebuild under the bridge. They may have learned by now that living under a bridge spanning something called a “bayou” in Texas may not be a good survival strategy, but my guess is that, when it all dries up, the bats will find their way back home.


Thanks to Patrick and David for their responses.

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