ROUND ROCK TEXAS
Tracing it's history from the Chisholm Trail Days to modern Day Development
THE EARLY DAYS OF THE ROUND ROCK REGION
The original inhabitants of the region that became known as Williamson County were Native Americans that go back as far as 12,000 years ago. As these original small groups of hunters made their way south to warmer climates, other Native Americans settled in the region. By the mid 1500's, the area was home to the Tonkawas, Tawankonis, Comanches, Wichitas, Wacos, Delawares and Lipan Apaches.
Most likely, the first Europeans to pass through what would become Round Rock was
the Spanish Friars scouted the area in search of mission sites along the San Gabriel River just to the northeast of the Round Rock region.
established a chain of missions along the San Gabriel River in an effort to Christianize the Indians in the region.
San Francisco Xavier de Horcasitas was built in 1746, and San Ildefonso and Nuestra SeŮora de la
Candelaria were built in 1749.
A Texas historic marker that stands overlooking the mission site reads, "Established by Franciscan missionaries in 1749 with the hope of civilizing and
christianizing the Coco, Mayeye, Orcoquiza, Karankawa, and other tribes of
Indians. The martyrdom of Padre Jose Ganzabal and the circumstances
connected therewith caused the departure of the Indians and the friars and the
removal of this mission to the San Marcos River in 1755. Reestablished in 1762
on the San Saba River for the conversion of the Lipan Apaches with the new
name of Mission Santa Cruz de San Saba".
Disease and unfriendly Indians caused the Spanish to abandon the sites in
the mid-1750s. The Tonkawa Indians were generally friendly toward missionaries in the eighteenth and settlers in
the early nineteenth centuries, but the nearby Apaches and Comanches always presented a threat to white settlers.
EARLY DAY ROUND ROCK SETTLERS
In the spring of 1838, Dr. Thomas Kenney, Joseph Barnhart and others built Kenney Fort near the banks of Brushy Creek, between Lake Creek and Dyer Branch at the intersection of the military road from Austin and the Double File Trail. Several settlers moved into the fort compound (included four log cabins) including Major John Chenneyworth, Mr. And Mrs. Joseph Weeks, Jim Rice, Henry Cattleberry, Jack Angel and others.
Soon after the Fort was built, Davis Chandler settled on the north side of Brushy Creek at the place afterwards called Wadkins Crossing, and Capt. Ladd settled near the junction of Brushy and Chandlers Branch. A short time later, Capt. Merrill settled one half mile above Barnhart on the same side of the branch.
In the mid 1840's, Anglo-American settlers began arriving in sizeable numbers in the Round Rock region with the threat from the Comanche war parties dimenished by the arrival of Texas Rangers and the settlement of nearby Austin. However, skirmishes with the Comanches continued to occur until after the Civil War.
WILLIAMSON COUNTY IS CARVED OUT OF MILAM COUNTY
In the 1820s, Williamson County was still part of Milam County that was organized as the ďMunicipality of MilamĒ covering roughly one sixth of the entire state of Texas.
With the defeat of Santa Anna's army at San Jacinto in April of 1836, Texas became a republic.
Soon thereafter, fifteen counties including Williamson County were carved out of the original Milam County along with parts of eighteen additional counties.
BRUSHY CREEK SETTLEMENT (1840's)
The town of Round Rock initially grew out of a settlement called Brushy Creek that sprang up on the north bank of Brushy Creek near the "round rock" in the stream bed in Brushy Creek. The old round rock in the stream bed of the crossing marked the spot for a safe crossing for early-day Indians and later for pioneer settlers as they arrived in their covered wagons in the 1840's.
This old round rock still can be seen adjacent to a low water crossing used by pioneer wagons, horses and later cattle as the crossing became a feeder road to the Chisholm trail.
Early settlers at the Brushy settlement included Washington Anderson who had settled a short distance downstream from the round rock in 1843 and built a gristmill. When that Gristmill was washed out in the flood of 1845, Anderson built another mill just a few hundred feet west of the round rock on Brushy Creek.
In 1848, Anderson was joined by another businessman, Jacob M. Harrell who established a blacksmith in the growing settlement of Brushy Creek.In 1850, the St. Charles Hotel was built just up the hill from the Round Rock and the town was on its way.
Early-day Brushy Creek settlement later renamed Round Rock (1851)
BRUSHY CREEK ASSIGNED A POST OFFICE (1851)
By 1851, the settlement of Brushy Creek grew in population to the point that they had a stage coach line (the stage stop was build a few hundred yards southwest of the round rock landmark in Brushy Creek) and the settlement was ready for its own post office. Thomas C. Oatts was assigned as the first postmaster in 1851 and he ran the post office out of his store.
First Round Rock postoffice (officially called Brushy Creek until 1854)
Later, postal officials asked Oatts to submit another name since there was another Brushy Creek post office in Texas. So, on August 24, 1854, the town officially became Round Rock named after the round rock limestone outcrop in the middle of Brushy Creek. Later when Round Rock developed further east, this section of Round Rock became known as "Old Town".
PALM VALLEY SETTLEMENT ESTABLISHED EAST OF ROUND ROCK (1853)
In 1853, Anna Palm and five sons moved to what is now Palm Valley, north of Brushy Creek. The family initially lived in tents until the family bought 400 acres of land north of Round Rock and built themselves a blockhouse. Anna Palm was a resolute and enterprising woman who was like a mother to the young Swedish newcomers who soon followed the first group of Swedes to Texas.
The Arvid Nelson family also settled in Palm Valley. They brought with them from Sweden a handloom and a wagon. After arriving in Texas, Mr. Nelson bought a yoke of oxen, and the family traveled in their wagon to Williamson County, where they settled between Palm Valley and Georgetown.
Arvid Nelson and his wife, Anna Lena, had two sons and two daughters. The eldest son, Andrew, built several wagons, bought oxen, and started hauling freight to the Gulf ports. During the later years of the Civil War, Andrew and August were both in the transport service of the army. Andrew received his pay in gold, which he hid in nail kegs and sent to his home, where the kegs were buried. When the war was over in 1865, the brothers returned home and took up farming and cattle ranching.
During the years following the Civil War, S. M. Swenson, Andrew Nelson, and other pioneers were instrumental in providing passage for other friends and relatives in Sweden who wanted to come to America. This growing group of Swedish immigrants first worshipped in a log cabin erected in 1861 by Andrew John Nelson and three of his hired men, Carl Klint, Gottfried Anderson, and C. J. Swahn. The log cabin was also used as a school. The first church at Palm Valley was organized November 27, 1870, and was called Swedish Evangelical Lutheran Brushy Congregation. A Finnish pastor, the Rev. D. N. Tillman, was the first pastor of the congregation of 62 men, 33 women, and 61 children. Records indicate Rev. Tillman delivered his farewell sermon on April 21, 1872, after a sometimes colorful and controversial ministry.
In 1872, a second church was built to replace the little log church. The church was also used as a school until the consolidation of Palm Valley school and Stoney Point school which was located a few miles east. In 1883, an additional five acres of land north of the cemetery were donated by Hedda Sandahl.
The cornerstone of the present church was laid June 19, 1894, and the church was dedicated April 12, 1896, as Brushy Lutheran Church.
In the 1860's, a wool-carding factory opened in Round Rock followed by the Greenwood Masonic Institute in 1867 and a cotton gin in the 1873.
CHISHOLM TRAIL CUTS THROUGH ROUND ROCK
With the end of the Civil War, many of the returning soldiers found work as trail drivers rounding up the longhorn cattle running wild in south Texas and driving them northward to markets in Kansas. The feeder roads for the Chisholm trail came up from San Antonio and through Round Rock to Salado, Waco and northward. Over the next 15 years, hundreds of thousands of longhorns were driven past the old Round Rock on Brushy Creek and down the main streets of Round Rock on their long journey north.
COMING OF THE RAILROAD (1876)
In 1876, the International-Great Northern Railroad came through Williamson County which greatly affected the growth pattern of Round Rock like it did so many other small towns like Liberty Hill, Bagdad, Butter Cup and others. moving eastward to align with the tracks of the railroad.
The community began to move toward the railroad and the south bank of Brushy Creek, building at first a tent city that was referred to for a time as "new" Round Rock.
One of the major builders was Engstrand who built his own home just a couple of blocks east of the main section of the newtown.
The original site near the round rock on Brushy Creek was largely abandoned and was called Old Round Rock in official records.
Within a year after the coming of the railroad, Round Rock had a dozen businesses and professional offices, several hotels, a new broom factory, a lime plant operated by William Walsh, and two short-lived newspapers.
FAMOUS OUTLAW, SAM BASS KILLED IN FOILED BANK HOLDUP
Sam Bass and his gang were notorious outlaws that held up stage coaches and trains, mostly in Nebraska and north Texas. In 1878, with the Texas Rangers on his trail, Bass and a group of followers decided to head south to avoid capture and made their way to the town of Round Rock where they planned to rob a local bank.
With the help of a gang member informant, Texas Rangers and area sheriffs were alerted to his plans and gathered in Round Rock to capture the gang. However, Sam Bass and several gang members were spotted at Kopperal's Store in Round Rock where a shootout occurred. One gang member was killed and Sam Bass was mortally wounded. He was later captured in old town Round Rock where he died from his wounds and was buried in the nearby Round Rock Cemetery. Several years later, his sister erected a small tombstone at his grave. This marker was chipped away by souvenir hunters over the yearsand eventually a modern marker was placed at his grave immediately in front of the old marker.
Round Rock cemetery is also the final resting place of Deputy Sheriff A.W. Grimes, who was killed in the shootout with the Bass gang in 1878.
Grimes was a former Texas Ranger who was working as a Deputy Sheriff of Williamson County when the Bass gang rode in to Round Rock. Grimes spotted the gang members carrying hand guns which was then illegal within the Round Rock city limits. Grimes asked the men if they were carrying hand guns and gang members replied in the affirmative and opened fire on him, killing Grimes. Grimes' is buried on the opposite side of the cemetery from Sam Bass.
The capture and death of Sam Bass after a shootout that year are commemorated annually during the town's Frontier Days celebration. The actual Round Rock bank building that the Bass Gang were attempting to hold up has been relocated to Fort Tumbleweed in Liberty Hill (see www.forttumbleweed.com).
In 1879 the Round Rock Searchlight newspaper was established and became the Round Rock Leader in 1896 which is still operating today. Trinity Lutheran College was established in the community in 1906; it merged with the Lutheran College of Seguin in 1929. The Lone Star Bakery opened in 1926. The Round Rock Cheese Factory opened in 1928 and operated until the early 1970s.
LONE STAR BAKERY OPENS ITS DOORS (1926)
In 1926, Reinhold R. Moehring opened the Lone Star Bakery in 1926 in one of the Round Rock Main Street buildings. Moehring and his wife ran the bakery for over 30 years. Moehring began experimenting with dough recipes in the 1930s and by the early 1940s he had perfected the Round Rock doughnut.
The Round Rock doughnut's reputation spread throughout the U.S. by servicemen whose mothers sent doughnuts as well as love. Some tourists, alerted by word-of-mouth, stampeded the bakery door to get a taste of the original doughnut.
At the same time he was experimenting with doughnut recipes, Moehring and an associate, Mrs. Louise Johnson, developed the popular Swedish rye bread which became another Lone Star Bakery tradition. The bread comes from Mrs. Johnsonís basic Swedish rye recipe, with changes in proportions added by Moehring. Molasses gives the bread a dark and sweet flavor; very little rye is evident in the taste. The bread is popularly known as brown, dark or German black bread.
Selma Erlanson, Louise Johnsonís sister, became the second owner of Lone Star Bakery in 1943 when she bought the shop from Mr. Moehring. Selma and Louise ran the bakery from 1943-46, when it was sold to third owner Roy Hester. After Hesterís short stay, the bakery returned to original owner Moehring. In 1949, after a previous move, Moehring moved the bakery to the building that now houses Rubioís Grocery.
Louise Johnson, fourth bakery owner, bought it from Moehring in 1960. Moehring stayed with the business awhile as part-time baker. Mrs. Johnson continued traditional Moehring favorites and added fruit pies, spice cookies, and baked cinnamon rolls (from the coffeecake dough) to the bakeryís repertoire.
Mrs. Johnson, who owned the bakery from 1960-65, remembers making 200 loaves of Swedish rye a day. She had several out-of-state customers who ordered 100 loaves at a time. One fellow picked up his bread via private plane. Swedish rye is still the most popular bread sold at the bakery.
Charlie Baird, fifth bakery owner, bought it from Mrs. Johnson in 1965. Lack of parking space downtown prompted Baird to build a new Lone Star Bakery in 1970 on West Liberty, its present location. While under Bairdís bakership, the Round Rock Doughnut was declared the best doughnut in Texas by Texas Monthly writer Richard West. Baird retired from the bakery business in 1978 when he sold the bakery to Jan and Dale Cohrs.
MAJOR GROWTH COMES TO ROUND ROCK (1970-2006)
Beginning in the early 1970s, Austin expansion brought large-scale development to Round Rock as the town became home to several computer-related industries and over 300 retail businesses.Then in the late 1990's, Dell Computers located in Round Rock spuring tremendous growth to over 71,000 citizens today.
NEW GROWTH ALONG CHANDLER ROAD (NOW CALLED UNIVERSITY DRIVE)(2005-2006)
NEW COLLEGE WITH ADVANCED DEGREES AND FED GRANTS (2005)
The creation of the new 100 acre campus for the Round Rock Higher Education Center (RRHEC), with a 126,000-sq. ft. facility that opened in 2005 is attracting major growth in the area.
The RRHEC (Round Rock Higher Education Center) combines the efforts of Texas State University-San Marcos, Austin Community College, and Temple College at Taylor to offer educational opportunities in Williamson County.
OTHER DEVELOPMENTS IN ROUND ROCK (2003-2006)
Retail heavyweights Wal-Mart and HEB have completed major developments along U.S. Highway 79 in Round Rock. Walmart has about 20 acres at the northeast corner of Highway 79 and CR 122 that houses a Wal-Mart SuperCenter.
Randall's Food Markets has a 59,000-square-foot grocery store at the southeast corner of Gattis School Road and A.W. Grimes Boulevard.
Nearby are several other major new developments including a 15,000-square-foot Eckerd store and a mjor new subdivision.
DELL DIAMOND EXPANSION (2004)
In October 2004, the Round Rock Express made the teamís most distinguished announcement since bringing the franchise to Central Texas in 2000. The Express announced it was moving to the highest level in Minor League Baseball, as a member of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League.
Express president Reid Ryan, changed the future of baseball in Round Rock, when he announced the Expressí ownership group, Ryan-Sanders Baseball, had purchased the Triple-A Edmonton Trappers, of the Pacific Coast League and intended to move the franchise to Round Rock. The Double-A franchise would then move to Corpus Christi and continue play in the Texas League.
The Dell Diamond, located approximately 4 miles south of the property, now has 7,816 permanent seats, with room for 3,500 more fans on the grass berm. The expansion will add 1,000 seats and six luxury suites, each holding 20 people each. The stadium now has 24 suites. In 1998, Round Rock voters authorized the city to spend revenue from its hotel occupancy tax to help pay for the $25 million stadium. The Express contributed $17.6 million and the city of Round Rock $7.3 million. The team has a 38-year lease for the stadium.
SCOTT & WHITE EXPANSION (2005)
Scott & White officials are building an $81 million medical complex on the rapidly evolving Chandler Road corridor (being renamed University Drive), 2 miles west of a planned Seton Healthcare Network medical center.
Scott & White's 68-acre complex just east of Interstate 35 in North Round Rock is scheduled to open in early 2007. Seton's 74-acre medical center facility is slated for a late 2007 opening. Both facilities would be operated by nonprofit hospital systems. Their openings would give Round Rock three hospitals and Williamson County five.
The Temple-based Scott & White medical complex initially will contain a 196,000-square-foot, four-story hospital that's ultimately designed to grow from 76 to 300 beds; a diagnostic imaging center; and a medical office building. That building, the first of planned multiple medical office buildings, will house a clinic and nonaffiliated private practice physicians. It is scheduled to open in fall 2006.
The new medical complex, including its clinic, enters the realm of highly advanced specialty care. The medical complex is near the site of the Round Rock Premium Outlets mall that opened in 2006.
Jane H. DiGesualdo and Karen R. Thompson, Historical Round Rock, Texas (Austin: Eakin Press, 1985). Clara Stearns Scarbrough, Land of Good Water: A Williamson County History (Georgetown, Texas: Williamson County Sun Publishers, 1973). Vertical Files, Barker Texas History Center, University of Texas at Austin.
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Leonard Kubiak, PO Box 1479, Cedar Park, Texas 78630.
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