By: Marilyn M. Sibley

Type: General Entry

Published: April 1, 1995

Updated: June 21, 2017

No-Tsu-Oh, a carnival patterned after the New Orleans Mardi Gras, was celebrated annually in Houston from 1899 until World War I. The festival, designed to stimulate commerce by bringing people to the city, customarily filled a week in November and featured parades, balls, and a football game between the University of Texas and the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas (now Texas A&M University). The carnival was characterized by much backward spelling. No-Tsu-Oh, for example, is Houston spelled backward; black citizens celebrated the De-Ro-Loc (colored) Carnival; and King Nottoc (cotton) reigned over the early festivals until King Retaw (water) replaced him to celebrate completion in 1914 of the deep-water channel to Houston (see HOUSTON SHIP CHANNEL). Traditionally, a prominent local businessman reigned as king, and the most blue-blooded debutante of the season as queen. Among the kings were John Henry Kirby, Jesse H. Jones, and William T. Carter. The queens included Frankie Carter (see RANDOLPH, FRANKIE CARTER), who became a liberal Democrat leader in the state. The carnival was suspended with the advent of World War I and was never revived.

Charles Orson Cook, ed., "John Milsaps's Houston: 1910," Houston Review 1 (Spring 1979).

Time Periods:
  • Progressive Era
  • Houston
  • Upper Gulf Coast
  • East Texas

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Marilyn M. Sibley, “No-Tsu-Oh,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed July 05, 2022,

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April 1, 1995
June 21, 2017

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