Lakeway History Continued

Relics & Red Men


Relics of a more recent age, beginning about 3,000 BC are inconspicuous to the untrained eye, but plentiful nevertheless. These are rocks charred from campfires, flint weapons, and tools, bones, and the opened shells of mollusks. They are vestiges of the people who occupied the Hill Country and Lakeway from early times until white settlers arrived here in the 1800s.

Whether of ancient days or more recent times, these native people are called Indians and their former campsites are known as Indian mounds.

Many Indians occupied the area from the present Inn site along Lakeway Drive to Comet Street and along both sides of Comet. A clump of trees in the front yard of 304 Lakeway Drive is a well-defined Indian mound.

Many other mound areas include Challenger Drive, Edgewater Cove, Hurst Creek, and World of Tennis Boulevard.

Indians native to this area in recent times were the Tonkawas, who made pottery and used the abundant supply of flint to shape arrow points and tools. Bands of marauding Commanches from the High Plains and Apaches and Mescaleros from the San Angelo area eventually drove the Tonkawas away.

The same environment that enticed the white settlers - temperate climate, abundant wildlife and streams - attracted the Indians to the Hill Country. The Colorado River's serpentine course through the limestone canyons was a beauty of nature to red men and white men alike."

Pioneering Families


From Page 6: ...."German Immigrant John Henry Lohmann landed in Galveston with a wife and four small children during the winter of 1842. They made their way northward by ox cart, stopped briefly at Hornsby Bend, then settled on a tract of land on a hill overlooking the small community of Austin. Lohmann called the place Ridgetop, but it is better known today as the site of the University of Texas.

Lohmann established the first dairy in Travis County in 1845. His herd of 11 cows supplied enough milk for the entire Austin community, which included about 35 primitive dwellings and a rude capitol building. John continued the operation until 1861, when he homesteaded a fertile site along the river about 17 miles northwest of Austin and built a large stone house and five tenant cabins.

He also built and maintained a private road to a shallow river crossing, or ford. According to Lohmann the crossing at normal river level was 'up to a horse's belly, but a man could jump across it during a drought. In time the access became known as Lohmann's Ford Road but the name was somehow changed through local usage and one 'n' dropped from his name. Today it is shown on local maps as Lohman's Crossing Road.

Lohmann's Ford was one of the several such accesses that enabled pioneer families to cross the Colorado River, socialize with friends in neighboring communities and grind their corn at Anderson Mill.

The Hudson Family settled here in 1854 on land near the Colorado River bend which bears their name. The 1860 census recorded a Wiley Hudson, his wife Catherine and their children. It also listed a household headed by his father, James Hudson. The Hudsons acquired 4 of the 25 original surveys made on the 4,000 acre Hudson Bend tract.

Another prominent area name is Stewart. Benjamin K. Stewart came here by covered wagon from Tennessee in 1850. He purchased 1,500 acres of river-front land at Hurst Creek inlet and built a homestead on the site now known as Vinyard Bay. In addition to his ranching operation, Ben served in the militia and fought Indians. Many of his descendants live in the Austin area today.

Bee Cave's name was the result of an oddity. In the 1870's, Carl Beck operated a store on Highway 71. A swarm of bees built a nest under the eave there and, as it grew in size, gradually took on the appearance of a cave. People passing by stopped to marvel at the grottesque "bee cave" until the oddity became the name of the location. Some researchers claim that the building known as Buck's Place today was part of Beck's original store.

The two main communities in 1900 were Bee Cave and Teck. The name for Teck also came about as an oddity. Its original name was Eck Community, after Leonard Eck who operated a general store. The original Eck community school was a one-room building on Eck Community Road (now Kollmeyer). When Eck applied for a post office for his store, postal authorities required a name with at least four letters. Leonard solved the dilemma by adding the letter "T" to Eck and everything became Teck instead of Eck."

Cedar Chopper & Deer Skinners


"Journalist Winston Bode described some of the early settlers in the Hill Country as "a proud, independent, robust tribe of transplanted Southerners who came here to flat-cut cedar and burn charcoal." Locals referred to them as "cedar choppers."

J. Frank Dobie wrote that when he came to Austin in 1914, "the hills were populated by cedar choppers who hauled charcoal to town by wagons. In addition to cooking over live coals, most ironing was done by flatirons heated over charcoal burners."

Mountain cedar is a close-grained, light-weight, brown wood. Burning it while green avoids reducing the ash to fine powder and produces a hard char. Men placed several cords of cedar in a kiln or pit, covered it with dirt to shut out air and burned it for two or three days until the coal was ready.

The choppers hauled large cypress logs from the Pedernales River to a sawmill site called Shingle Hill, so named because of the many cedar shingles made there.

Hunting in the early days was more a means of survival than a sport. People hunted to put food on the table as well as for income. The deer were plentiful and hunters killed them for hams and saddles and sold the hides as buckskin for clothing and decoration.

That Water Over There


"Mention the name Johnson in the Texas Hill Country today and Lyndon B. Is the one that most often comes to mind. In the Bee Cave area, however, the William Henry (Bill) Johnson family is equally well known. "Old Man Bill" purchased 160 acres near Hamilton Pool Road in October 1871. He paid $75.00 for it and moved his family there the following year. The Johnson family maintains that homestead today.

Bill's son, Tom Johnson, was a rancher, a road builder, a good Samaritan and a voice of influence for this country community. He and his wife Lois founded the Johnson Trading Post on Highway 71 in 1935. The store and restaurant quickly became a favorite meeting place for ranchers, hunters, fishermen and Bee Cave area residents. They enjoyed its good food, hospitality and Saturday night dances.

... By the time Johnson started his Trading Post in 1935, area land values had increased to $5 and $6 per acre - due mainly to the anticipated construction of a huge dam near Marshall Ford.

According to Old Man Bill Johnson, "This land was nothin' until they put that water over there, referring to Lake Travis. "A man'd get a purty good crop started, then a big rise in the river'd wash it all away."

Storms throughout the Hill Country had long caused major flooding of the towns and lowlands along the Colorado River. It was not unusual for downtown Austin to be inundated and, more than once, water reached the first floor of the State Capitol Building. Torrential rains periodically flooded farm lands, causing crop damage in the millions of dollars.

Someone once remarked, "It rains about 37 inches a year in Austin. You should have been here on the day it fell!"

Since the civil war era people talked about getting a major dam built and several tried to get something started. General Adam R. Johnson drew plans in 1885 for Hamilton Dam, to be located 12 miles west of Burnet, but nothing came of it at the time.

Austin Dam was the first major structure to span the Colorado River. Its completion in 1893 was hailed as a giant step toward future flood control. The newly created Lake McDonald was the site of a colorful regatta held as part of the opening ceremonies that attracted visitors from cities and towns across Texas. Unfortunately, raging waters destroyed this dam in 1908. The city rebuilt Austin Dam in 1911. A reverse kind of catastrophe occurred in 1918 when a severe drought caused the lake to go completely dry. The dam was devastated by another deluge in the 1930's and it was rebuilt a third time in 1937. City officials renamed it in honor of Mayor Tom Miller, who worked unceasingly for flood control. They changed the name of Lake McDonald to Lake Austin at the same time.

New Community on the Lake


With the opening of the Lakeway Inn behind them, the developers centered their attention on adding more amenities, promoting the new community and selling property. However, Sawtelle wasn't pleased with the Inn's food operation and wanted Pierre Caselli, his Deck Club manager at the Commodore Perry Hotel, to take over as manager of the Inn. Pierre was cool to the idea. He thought Lakeway was too remote and he was concerned about schools, living accommodations for his family and hospitals. His wife was expecting another child. Spencer Lloyd served as the interim manager until Sawtelle convinced Pierre the move would be good for his career. The day that Caselli decided to take the job was one of great significance for the Frenchman. It occurred on Bastille Day 1963 and his wife Billie presented him with a new baby boy.

The Casellis occupied a room at the Inn until they found larger accommodations. Later, they built a large house at 426 Eagle. Pierre played an important role in both Inn management and public relations and, next to Lee Blocker, became the most visible and publicly known employee.

Although he was an "executive", Pierre sometimes had to put on his apron and cook breakfast for guests. If the regular cook hadn't arrived by 6:30 am, they awakened Caselli to substitute. The meals were decidedly improved by his culinary skills, but his own disposition may not have been.

Blocker took over the on-site management soon after the Inn opened and arranged for Andy Kivlin to build a temporary sales office on Lakeway Drive near Sailfish. Sylvion Kivlin served as the company's real estate broker for several years. David Roche and Ed Bleker worked briefly as salesmen, but Thad Phillips, Jack Laws and Dan Boone became the sales force.