Once Upon A Time - A Bedtime Story
By Doris Besperka
This is the first in a series of articles about Lakeway area history which were published in a Greater Lakeway Residents Association publication, The Homeowners News, in 1999-2002.
By Doris Besperka: Information from "Lakeway, the First 25 years and Earlier Times Along the Colorado River" by Byron Varner. The stories go until 1988.
ONCE Upon a time....as long ago as 3,000 years before the birth of Christ...people lived in our part of the Hill Country. Geologists have found rocks charred from camp fires, flint weapons, and other tools. Former campsites are called Indian mounds and there are many of them in Lakeway...especially between the Lakeway Inn and Comet.
The clump of trees in front of 304 Lakeway Drive and the intersection of Challenger and Edgewater Cove that runs along the ridge to about 603 Robindale were main campsites. The area along Hurst Creek as far as the waterfall on the Hills Golf Course was a major campsite.
The Indians native to this area in recent times were the Tonkawas. They were driven out by the Comanches, Apaches and the Mescaleros. In turn, they were driven away when the Spanish missionaries arrived about 1700.
Now we'll jump ahead a few years to 1827 when Stephen F. Austin obtained a land grant from the Mexican Government with permission to locate a colony along the Colorado River. And it was just a river....not a lake. He called it the Little Colony with headquarters at Mina (Bastrop).
William Barton homesteaded upstream in 1836 near Barton Springs. They have been flowing for a long time! Soon a community was developed about where the Congress Avenue Bridge is today. It was named Waterloo.
Mirabeau B. Lamar was so impressed with the area that he recommended it for our State Capitol. Waterloo was renamed Austin. The city incorporated in 1839 and the first government building was erected. Do I seem to be name dropping?
The Little Colony became Travis County in 1840. Can you imagine....everything a Texan describes is BIG...but this was something else! It was larger than the combined area of Connecticut, Delaware,Massachusetts,New Hampshire,New Jersey and Rhode Island.
In 1842 John Henry Lohmann immigrated from Germany with his family and settled on a hill overlooking Austin ... which had about 35 houses. He started the first dairy farm with 11 cows. This supplied the whole community. His farm is now the University of Texas, I don't know whether it was the rapid growth of the community, the politics, or the traffic...however, a few years later he moved to the suburbs. He homesteaded on some fertile land about 17 miles upstream near a natural ford across the river.
In normal times, the water came to a horse's belly ... in dry times a man could jump across it. He maintained a private road to the ford and it became Lohman's Crossing Road. The ford was about halfway across our lake between the Lakeway Inn Boat Ramp and the east cove in Point Venture. On the Lakeway side, the road once ran from the lake to Highway 71. It ran behind the houses on 1001-2-3-5 and 7 Challenger. On the Point Venture side it still goes to FM 1435. When Travis County took over the road they built a small bridge.
Early pioneer families used it to socialize with friends on the other side of the river and to take their corn to be ground at Anderson's Mill. Anderson's Mill is now a museum and may be visited.
Lohman hated war. It was one of the reasons he left Europe and he refused to serve in the Confederate army. A band of Southern sympathizers objected to this and started to hang him. However, some friends rescued him at gunpoint and cut the noose.
James Hudson settled his family in the area we call Hudson's Bend in 1854. He owned a large property, but most of it is now under the lake.
The Hill country was ready for the ranchers .. .and huge tracts of land often changed owners. I'll tell you more about that in my next story.