Noose Road gets name change in Ellis County

Published: Jun. 17, 2020 at 8:41 AM CDT
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A portion of road in Hays will soon be renamed after recent scrutiny given its controversial name.

Noose Road, which stretches west of town, is reportedly named for the 1869 lynching of three black soldiers by Hays townspeople. The soldiers, who were stationed at Fort Hays, were accused of murder.

"Frankly, I didn't know that Noose Road was named after a rope with a knot in it. A lot of things around here are named after Civil War heroes, Civil War people. That's when they did a lot of naming," Ell County Commissioner Dustin Roths said. "When I found out it was named after (the lynching) it was like, 'okay, that strikes me as pretty insensitive."

Tiger Media Network reported Public Works Director Bill Ring asked for the item to be added to Monday’s meeting agenda. Three individuals spoke out about the name change.

Ahead of that meeting, Ellis County public works employees recently removed street signs for the road.

For the most part, locals say the county is moving in the right direction with the anticipated decision to rename the road.

John T. Bird has lived on Noose Road throughout his life. He said he's personally embarrassed with the road’s name and wrote the commission earlier in the week urging for Noose Road to be renamed.

“When I recently moved back out to the farm, I had to register to vote, and it requires that you give a physical address where you reside,” Bird said. “And, that’s the first time I had had to write that (street name) down on a piece of paper. I hate having to order anything delivered out there.”

The second speaker was Gail Palmberg, a current resident of the road. Unlike Bird, Palmberg believes the road should not be changed, citing social media as the reason for the recent local outrage.

“To me, before the social media outburst, there was no problem with Noose Road,” Palmberg said. “To me, a noose is a rope with a knot in it. What you do with it, that’s your choice.”

Palmberg continued to question the recent calls for the name change.

“It’s always been Noose Road; it’s been there for 30 years,” Palmberg said. “Black Matter Lives (sic) came up earlier; nothing was ever said about Noose Road. But, all of a sudden, now it’s bad.”

Palmberg also discussed the difficulties current residents might have changing their addresses.

“Changing addresses, that is complicated,” Palmberg said. “It’s not just changing your checkbook. You got credit cards, businesses, insurance, banks and passports.”

The third person to approach the podium was Paul Brull, who first stated he was representing both he and his grandfather, TMP science educator Randy Brull. Brull described the roots his family has in Ellis County, then explained his stance on the issue.

“I personally think that when it comes to the issue of Noose Road, it’s incredibly important that the name be changed,” Brull said. “Because the historical context of it was named specifically after the lynchings that happened in the context of this town.”

Brull also made the point that the history of the road cannot be forgotten altogether, but also explained the ramifications that could come if the name stayed.

“The historical context behind it can’t be removed,” Brull said. “And, to simply ignore that and step past it is to acknowledge and allow racism within our community.”

A resolution will be put in place to change the street to Rome Avenue. This new name is an ode to the 1860’s settlement near what was once called Hays City.

Tiger Media Network is a media partner of KWCH12. Read the rest of the story