Saturday, July 9, 2016

Spicewood Springs, Travis County Road Books

This is another in a series of working notes looking forward to preserve and commemorate (e.g. through a historical marker) the prehistory and history of Spicewood Springs -- the springs and community that grew up around the springs -- as part of the Austin Oaks PUD / development / zoning / Austin Oaks Charrette process that is going on. 

Travis County Clerk records has road books, field notes and plats of county roads in Travis County commissioner's precincts 1-4 from 1898 to 1902, showing starting point, directions and lengths of road, and landmarks. Spicewood Springs is in Precinct 2 book. Here's some of interest relating to Spicewood Springs.

To get a good look at the maps, click on the map, save it, then open with image viewing software that lets you zoom in.

Link to Portal to Texas History ..

Jollyville Road Map

Here's the Jollyville Road map; lots of interesting stuff on this map. 


Spicewood Springs Creek

Shows the main spring for Spicewood Spring (blue circle); but also notice "Spice Wood Spr. Branch" (sic) which flows from the springs, crosses Spicewood Springs Road (onto Austin Oaks property) the flows across (under) the rail tracks, eventually emptying in Shoal Creek. What is not shown on the map is the additional spring around along today's Woodhollow that also empties into the creek on Austin Oaks property.

Notice also that Spicewood Springs continues across the rail tracks. At first glance one might think this is Anderson Lane today (I did at first). It's actually today's Foster Lane. And today you can follow the creek (concreted in) north of Foster Ln, then dipping south before entering Shoal Creek. Other maps seem to indicate that at some point the road made a sharp turn north, then east again (today's Anderson Lane) and continued on past the Old Georgetown Road (today's Burnet Rd .. not one discussed below).


County Poor Farm

Notice the County Farm across from Spicewood Springs; this is the County Poor Farm .. Wilbarger (Indian Depredations) mentioned as being here (it was later down around Windsor). This appears it may have been the first, original location. So in use here ca. 1879-1908. Mail from Travis County Archivist
There *should* be a mention of any property purchase or lease for the Poor Farm in the Commissioners Court minutes (although there’s no guarantee, I’m not sure how thorough record-keeping was back then), and I am slowly working my way through them (I’m currently in 1884). It appears the Poor Farm moved from the Spicewood Springs location in 1908 (when the land was sold), so the question is when it moved there.  So far, I’ve found the following references that may be helpful (some are only references to the drawing of roads in the area, not necessarily the poor farm itself). I’ll keep looking and send any additional info your way:
 Original Poor Farm property, 1879 (303 acres):
o   (deed E pg. 8, describes the property as east of Colorado, 5 mi. north of Austin):

·         Road from Lower Georgetown to Spicewood Springs proposed and drawn, 1879:

·         Upper Georgetown and Spicewood Springs Roads, 1880:

·         Reference to Poor Farm and Bull Creek Road, 1881:

·         1883 description of Poor Farm references Upper Georgetown and Bull Creek roads:  


Burnet Road

Notice Burnet Road on this map; this was 2222 .. other maps show "Burnet Road" running all the way to four point, on beyond to Burnet. Other old maps show 2222 as BULL CREEK ROAD .. those two roads (Bull Creek and Burnet) have a twisted history in Austin ! Here's an old section of BULL CREEK ROAD parallel to 2222 :

And here's OLD BURNET ROAD just where it went under LAKE TRAVIS .. the BURNET ROAD the map here would have gone west out to Four Points and beyond, hooking up w/ this OLD BURNET ROAD which then works its way to BURNET, TX .. a route more down in the canyon area, as opposed to the 183ish route up on the prairie going through LEANDER which we generally use today (old SH 29)


McCall Springs?

I read this article on a neighborhood website years ago; originally written in 1954

One of the things that really caught my attention was this one sentence
"One of the numerous Indian burial mounds along the creek is near the old McCall Spring just west of the street now called Balcones Trail. It is about seven feet high and covered over with rock shale."
I had looked all over the place for "McCall Spring" with no luck. Then on this map I one J.D. McCall, just south of Spicewood Springs, with residence or land just west the old Jollyville Road, AKA Balcones Trail, AKA Balconies Drive, AKA MoPac access road :)

MoPac impact archeology report mentions other sites along the escarpment at springs -- one near Far West and MoPac -- although no mention of a burial .. but I'd say the McCall spring she had in mind was right in there.


Bull Creek & Spicewood Springs Road Map

This is another map featuring Spicewood Springs Road. Couple of things worth noting ..

First, what is today the MoPac Service Rd was Jollyville Road. Remnants of Jollyville Road remain in the Northwest Hills neighborhood, south of 360 but come to a halt at 360, then resume on the north side running parallel to Research Blvd. Sections of Balconies Drive used to be called Balconies Trail, and before that Jollyville Road. Yes, there was a Jollyville :-) If you are looking for the old Jollyville (as opposed to the newer shown on Google maps) look for the Jollyville Cemetery .. you can move the town on a map, its tougher to move the cemetery

Another thing to note. What we call today Old Spicewood Springs Road, was on this map called Bull Creek Road. Bull Creek Rd has a murky past ;-) 2222 was apparently also once called Bull Creek Rd .. get on Google Maps sometime and search "Old Bull Creek Rd" .. you'll see a segment that runs parallel to 2222.


Upper Georgetown Road Map

This map is labeled the "Upper Georgetown Road Map"; the old Georgetown Road was the road that ran to Georgetown from Austin. This is today's Burnet Road.

Notice first, Spicewood Springs Road runs all the way east to and past what is now Burnet Road. Notice below it, the County Poor Farm; so from the map above we know the County Poor Farm ran from just across the tracks at Spicewood Springs, all the way east to today's Burnet Road.

Notice also north of Spicewood Springs Road there is an Oran Roberts. He was the Governor of Texas from 1879 to 1883. His land ran all the way over to the tracks as well. The Austin Weekly Statesman newspaper from Thursday, August 9, 1883, reported an update on a "young bandit" that had been reported in the area. The newspaper stated "Ex-Gov. Roberts owns a large farm in the neighborhood of Spicewood Springs" which had apparently been a target of the bandit. So his farm was north of the Spicewood Springs.

To better pin-point where Gov. Oran Roberts land was at, here's a snippet from a Travis County Roads 1898-1902 map (may be available at from the Travis County Clerk?). For reference, in orange are Jollyville Road, Spicewood Springs, Travis County Poor Farm, Georgetown Road (today's Burnet Rd). Robert's farm is in yellow, so Jollyville Road on the west, Burnet Rd on the east.

No comments:

Post a Comment