HISTORY OF LIBERTY HILL FROM 1853 TO MODERN TIMES
Leonard Kubiak, Texas Historian and author
Welcome to Len kubiak's Texas History Series
HISTORY OF LIBERTY HILL - THEN AND NOW
Less than 200 years ago, the Liberty Hill region was the home of native Tonkawas, Comanches, Apaches, and Hueco Indians while the territory was claimed as a part of Spain, France, and Mexico.
Then the Mexicans won their indepence from Spain and the territory became part of Mexico.
In a little over 30 years, the territory changed hands again becoming the Republic of Texas in 1836.
Over the next couple of decades, a flood of European settlers from the eastern United States found their way into the Texas hill country. With the continuing threat of war with Mexico, the Republic of Texas moved to join the United States as the state of Texas.
In 1846, the Republic of Texas became a part of the U.S.
With U.S. citizenship came the might of the U.S. army. A fort was established to the west of the Liberty Hill region in 1849 (Fort Croghan). In 1851, the Bryson stage coach stop was founded to serve the Austin to Fort Croghan stage line. Then came more settlers eager to claim the free land grants being offered by the legislature in nearby Austin.
SETTLERS ATTRACTED TO LIBERTY HILL REGION
Around 1850, the area that came to be known as Liberty Hill, began to attract settlers from the Carolinas, and Tennessee areas. A poster advertising free land grants to settlers was widely circulated in South Carolina and other adjoining states in an attempt to get settlers into the territory claimed by the Comanche Indians.
Some of the early day families that were attracted to the offer of free land
included the Bacons, Barnes, Brysons,
Chamberlains, Carruthers, Dycus, Forbes, Grants, Hodges,
Jacksons, Logans, Matthews, Millers, Myracks, Pooles, Queens,
Rays, Russels, Snyders, and the Whites to mention a few.
Soon after their arrival in old Liberty Hill, the Bryson family,
with the help of their neighbors, constructed a log house
that was to serve as a combination Methodist church and school for the Liberty Hill
Charter members of the Liberty Hill Methodist Church included
John and Amelia Bryson, their oldest daughter, Mahulda, and
Mr. and Mrs. Anthony Smith.
JOHN AND AMELIA BRYSON HOME AND STAGE COACH STOP (1852)
JOHN T. & AMELIA BRYSON FAMILY REUNION (1894). JOHN AND AMELIA ARE SEATED OUT FRONT AND THEIR CHILDREN AND GRANDCHILDREN ARE SEATED BEHIND THEM.
STAGECOACH MAKING A STOP AT THE BRYSON STOP
IN THE 1850's. QUITE A CREW!
LIBERTY HILL POST OFFICE ASSIGNED (1853)
By 1853, the region along the Military Trail (Comance Trace, Old Doublefile Trail) northwest of Bagdad and Buttercup had enough settlers to officially have their own post office and town name, Liberty Hill. The first postmaster was the Reverend W.O. Spencer.
As the area west of Liberty Hill continued to prosper and the Indian threat dimenished, Fort Croghan was closed in 1855. However, towns sprang up west of Liberty Hill along the Comanche Trail (renamed the Military trail and eventually Texas State Highway 29)and the stage coach traffic increased.
Then in 1861, Liberty Hill found itself changing flags again and becoming a state in the Confederacy although Governor (and former President of the Republic of Texas) Sam Houston strongly opposed it. Texas joined with the southern states that left the union to join the Confederate States of America.
LIBERTY HILL GROWS AFTER WAR END
After the civil war, Liberty Hill entered a period of growth and prosperity. The town growth had shifted a couple of times eastward as the post office and stage stops changed. By several accounts, the town population had now grown to over 450.
In 1870, construction began on a new building for the Liberty Hill Methodist Church and a new downtown business, called Stubblefields.
The Methodist Church construction began in 1870 on land donated by T.S. Snider.
When completed in 1871, the Liberty Hill Methodist Church and the Liberty Hill School moved from their original location across from the Bryson Home (now 16450 W. HW29) into the new building which also served as the meeting place of the Liberty Hill Masons until 1883 when the Liberty Hill Masonic Building was completed.
NEW LIBERTY HILL METHODIST CHURCH COMPLETED IN 1871.
In the early 1880's, a series of events put in place by the burning of the Texas Capital, led to the shift from a stagecoach town to a train town as businesses rushed to relocate along the tracks of the Austin and Northwestern Railroad when it completed it's railroad lines to Austin. Local business men were quick to recognize the potential of the railraoad that carried granite to Austin to build a new capital.
LIBERTY HILL PETITIONS FOR A COLLEGE
With the coming of the railroad, progressive minds of the Liberty hill citizens turned to thoughts of a college for its citizens. A petition was widely circulated: "The population of Liberty Hill was over 450, and the town had a new school building had five good school rooms, and four of the rooms were well seated with good patent desks, a good office, library and an undergound cistern. The school grounds were under fence and clear of debt".
The State Legislature granted the charter and the Liberty Normal and Business College held its grand opening in 1885 with E.M. Coleman president, and P.T. Coleman, secretary.
Liberty Normal and Business College was completed in 1885 and opned for first classes on September 6, 1886. E.M. Coleman was president of the new college and his wife, P.T. Coleman was the college secretary.
In a major announcement in the Williamson County Sun on August 12, 1886, the following college promotion was run for the new college:
REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD ATTEND THIS SCHOOL:
1. Because the institution is thorough, practical and economical.
2. You can go cheaper and do better than at any other institution.
3. Seven courses are sustained.
4. Our methods are modern.
5. Study is made a pleasure and not a burden.
6. This Institution is permanent and it will be creditable to graduate here.
7. We sustain a course in telegraphy.
8. We sustain a thorough and comprehensive commercial course.
9. It is the only true Normal school in Western Texas.
10. The citizens and teachers are social and kind, and will make Liberty Hill a home for the student.
11. We have beginning and advanced classes in all common branches each term.
12. Students are not crowded over what they do not understand.
13. Beginning students are not neglected for those more advanced.
14. This school is better adapted to the wants of the masses than any other school in the state.
15. Its success is unparalleled in the west.
16. It is the largest and most progressive Normal in the state.
17. Board is only $10.00 per month.
CHARACTER OF WORK DONE HERE
We believe and teach that all successful study on the part of the pupil must be cheerfully and voluntarily done. To that end, no teacher in the Normal ever assigns a lesson as a task. As a result, study among the pupils becomes an ever increasing delight.
Many who come to us from other institutions with the idea that school work is irksome and that to shirk a duty is honorable, change their habits in the course of a few weeks. The entire spirit of the school is opposed to any course of conduct that is either unmanly or idle. The efforts of our pupils are exerted upon the best possible stimulus and the very highest results within the capacity of each one is obtained. Such a state of things keeps each class in a healthy state of activity and a generous rivalry prompts each member to an excerise of the most accurate perception and vigorous originality.
We have no sympathy with half-way attainments of either teacher or pupils.
Perhaps nowhere in the country is to be found classes characterized by so much enthusiasm as here. Each feature of the lesson assigned is subjected to a rigerous analysis and its essential principles clearly brought out. No one could be present in any of our classrooms without being profoundly impressed with the fact that each member is anxious to attain the highest results in his study.
Nor are we satisfied with a knowledge anone of the general principles that underlie a given subject. On the contrary, the constant effort is to secure to each pupil such a knowledge of facts and skill in handling as will enable him to meet occasions of responsibility with every assurance of success.
We are aware that our pupils must and ought to stand upon the real merrits of acquired, as well as native ability. That we actually succeed in accomplishing these results can be abundantly shown by a reference to the history of the pupils themselves.
For Catalogue, address E.M. COLEMAN, President; or P.T. COLEMAN, Secretay.
First Term Begins: September 6, 1886
Intermediate Examination: Jan 19, 20, 21, 1887
Second Term Begins: Jan 24, 1887
Commencement: June 7, 8, 9, 19; 1887
The above photo and information curtesy of Sonny Dodson via his mom, Fay Dodson and Mrs. W.C. Paterson who originally got it from Mary Rebecca Atkinson.
Clara Bowmer, graduate of Liberty Normal and Business College of Liberty Hill in the late 1800's.
By 1886, Liberty Hill supported the college, two cotton gins, numerous businesses, a post office, town park, and two stage stops.
The John Munro family and the John Bryson family were prominent
members of early day Liberty Hill and were instrumental in the building of the Methodist church
and the Masonic
This photo, curtesy of Charles W. Munro
of Flint, Texas (grandson of John Monroe) shows
the 'old' Munro family in the home built
by John Monroe.
Charles Monroe is a member of the
Liberty Hill Masonic lodge (the same lodge where his grandfather had his membership in the
LIBERTY HILL NEWSPAPER FOUNDED IN 1886
The Liberty Hill Observer Newspaper was founded by Reverand R.F. Cates in 1886. Another newspaper, The Church Helper, was founded in 1880's by Reverand S.C. Lockett but later moved to Hutto in 1890.
HISTORIC BUILDINGS ALONG THE MAIN STREET OF LIBERTY HILL
Many of the old cut-stone buildings that formed the town of Liberty Hill in the late 1800's and early 1900's are still standing today.
The first tall building in this picture was the Bank building constructed in 1906 and now housing the Liberty Hill Chiropractic Center. The next building over is the Liberty Hill Masonic Building completed in 1883 (currently the Liberty Hill Masonic Learning Center). The next building is the Liberty Hill Feed and Seed and the last building now houses the Music and More down. These are magnificant old cut stone buildings that stand as living memorials to a tough breed of settlers that lived in the area in the 1880's.
Across the street at the intersection of Myrtle Street is perhaps the oldest of the downtown store buildings. This was the Stubblefield Building completed in 1871.
S.P. Stublefield ran various businesses in this building during the old west era. The building was purchased and restored by famous sculptor, Mel Fowler in 1973.
THE VFW PARK INCLUDES MEMORIALS TO ALL AREA SERVICESMEN AND THOSE THAT GAVE THEIR LIVES FOR THEIR COUNTRY
Other other old early-day Liberty Hill buildings, located across the street from the park, have been restored and support new businesses.
RURAL LIBERTY HILL
Much of the economy of early-day Liberty Hill was based on ranching, and farming, mostly cotton. This old photograph taken the 30's shows many of the rural citizens that helped to support Liberty Hill.
CULTURE COMES TO LIBERTY HILL
In 1976, local sculptor and artist, Mel Fowler assembled a group of international sculptors who created a variety of stone and metal sculptures as their contribution to the United States Bi-centennial celebrations.
SOME OF THE MANY INTERESTING SCULPTURES CREATED FOR THE US BICENTENNIAL CELEBRATION IN 1976
These famous sculptures were initially created in the Liberty Hill city park but later moved to a ten acre tract adjacent to the middle school. This site, dedicated by the wife of Governor Clements (Rita Clements), was designated the Liberty Hill International Sculpture Park. This famous park is located a few hundred yards east of the original village of Liberty Hill on Texas highway 29.
LIBERTY HILL BECOMES AN INCORPORATED CITY (1999)
With high growth in the area, it was bound to happen. Liberty Hill was incorporated on January 16, 1999 with the first election for council held in March of 1999. Nathan Wetzel was elected first mayor of Liberty Hill.
Liberty Hill today has four school complexes including a new high school campus, a middle school with Sculpture Garden, an elementary school, and an Intermediate School.
Growth is also evident along the HW 29 corridor with new businesses springing up almost monthly. New banks are appearing and numerous large gas station/convenience stores now populate much of the HW 29 frontage. This surge infrastructure growth is supported by the large subdivisions that are springing up in many of the old Liberty Hill Ranches.
PRESERVATION ACTIVITIES AT THE ORIGINAL VILLAGE OF LIBERTY HILL
Over the years, most of the buildings from the original village of Liberty Hill were lost but the John T. and Amelia Bryson home, barn and out structures remained intact and served as home for the Walley family until the 1940's.
In the 1970's, Leonard Kubiak of Round Rock purchased and began restoring the property with the aid of his two sons, Randall and John Kubiak. In 1978, the original Liberty Hill Site was listed on the National Register of historic property and in 1982 was listed in
the Texas Register of Historic Property.
HISTORIC BRYSON HOME, RESTORED AND HOME OF THE MUSEUM STORE
KNOWN AS THE OLD STAGE COACH SHOP
The original application for addition of the property to the national register of historical property reads,"It was on this site in 1850, that John T. and
Amelia Bryson constructed a log and milled cedar, open-dogtrot home that doubled
as the stage coach stop for the military stage line running between Austin and
John and Amelia Bryson and their oldest daughter,
Mahulda were founding members of the Liberty Hill First Methodist church. The
congregation met in a log structure that also served as the school house for
this frontier community.
In the early 1850's, John Bryson with the help of
his wife and sons, established the Bryson Stage Coach Stop to provided fresh
horses, water and supplies for the military stages and weary travelers that
rumbled down the rocky trail back and forth between Fort Croghan and
In the late 1970's, Leonard Kubiak purchased the original Liberty Hill village and continued his own privately-funded restoration and expansion of the site
by purchasing and moving in several historic buildings from the central Texas area. One of these
buildings was none other than the historic bank of Round Rock (last holdup
attempt of outlaw Sam Bass). This is a fitting place to relocate the bank since
the Bryson records indicate young Sam Bass and his gang once watered their
horses at the Bryson spring and hid out in a nearby cave (Longhorn Cavern near Inks Lake).
Outlaw Sam Bass
(left), Bass Gang (right)
OTHER NEW ADDITIONS TO THE SITE OF THE LIBERTY HILL FRONTIER SETTLEMENT
Other new additions include a log cabin
from a village known as Dodd City (Buttercup) and another log cabin and another log cabin from a ranch near San Angelo that served as a pony express office.
THIS OLD CABIN WAS LOCATED ON BUTTERCUP CREEK NEAR PRESENT DAY CEDAR PARK.
There's also the home of the famous Round Rock builder, J.A. Engstrand, the
blacksmith shop from Gabriel Mills, and a general store from the Andice area-all dating back to the 1800's.
LIBERTY HILL BULLETIN BOARD
Reveived the following email regarding early day Liberty Hill:
Date: Sun, 27 Jul 2008
Subject: OLD LIBERTY HILL, Texas
Found your WONDERFUL website while searching Williamson Co Tx history and was wondering if you had ever heard of the old Rogers place in the area.
I am searching for the homeplace - farm - of Rev. Benjamin Andrew Rogers - who was Rector of St. David's Episcopal Church in Austin and when he retired in December 1874 he bought a farm near Liberty Hill.
He lived there with his wife, Susan Pursey Rogers and their young daughter, Susan Rogers. He also had another son by a previous marriage, William "Willie" Rogers, who married Gertrude (who?) but William died there of pneumonia in 1878 - his doctor was C. Baker - Willie Rogers was buried in Oakwood, the oldest Austin Cemetery.
Rev. Rogers lived there on his farm at Liberty Hill number of years. He must have gained an affection for the area long before moving there as he and Bishop Gregg in April 1868 held the first known episcopal service in Georgetown - at that time, there were 5 commnicants - Col W. H. Henderson, Capt F. L. Price, Miss Annie Price, Mrs. M. I. Beale, and Miss Callie C. Beale.who became Mrs. Capt Price - - perhaps they met in a home of one of the communicants. In fact the first recorded marriage of the Price couple was on May 17, 1870 -- performed by Rev. B. A. Rogers
Rev. B. A. Rogers was also rector of the mission at Georgetown of Grace Episcopal church from Dec 1879 to April 1880 and then went to St. Paul's church in Waco from April 1880 to June 1883 - retired again due to illness and then went back to Grace Church on June 10, 1883 until Aug 4, 1894 - - his daughter Susan "Susie" served as organist too - she was about 20 years old then - for a time, Grace built a rectory - which was financially supported also by Rev Rogers - but he kept his farm during that time and he also preached at a number of other communities in the area - and even in 1892 he lived too in Houston, to become interim rector for Christ Church Cathedral -and at St. Bartholomew's at Hempstead, TX but kept his service to Grace until 1894 - upon retiring again - he never really seemed to retire but was fatigued by illness and age (he was born in 1823 in Northfield, NH), he finally moved to Houston Heights about 1895 where he began a non-denomination service in the new community of Houston Heights - holding services in the Houston Heights Hotel, built by the Omaha and South Texas Land Company, developer of Houston Heights - he lived in Houston until he died in 1904. I suspect he sold his farm near Liberty Hill mid 1890s.
I actually restored a home built by Rev. B. A Rogers in Houston Heights in 1903.
If you can help me I certainly would appreciate it - or if not, could you refer me to anyone else?.
Thanks so very much,
1407 Heights Blvd
Houston, TX 77008
SCHOOL AND TOUR GROUP LIVING HISTORY TOURS
On an appointment basis, we conduct living history tours for school children and other history-minded tour groups (we like to limit the size of each tour group to 30, or less). We can take you back into the 1800's with a log cabin filled with primitive tools, tour a dirt-floor museum barm filled with relics of a bygone era. We can also take you back thousands of years and chip and use flint tools, grind grain, make primitive weapons and talk about life in the region before the coming of the Europeans. We also have an abundant collection of native fossils dating back 90 to 120 million years ago when the area was a shallow sea home to mossasarus (swimming dinasaurs), giant sharks, ammonites, and other ancient critters.
For more information on the history tours, see:
Information about Fort Tumbleweed History Tours
Also see our history links near the bottom of this webpage. I spend a great deal of time researching Texas history and adding topics of interest to our website for our internet viewers.
The site is constantly growing. Bookmark us and come back often (and tell your friends about us).
Also see our history links near the bottom of this webpage. I spend a great deal of time researching Texas
history and adding topics of interest to our website for our internet viewers.
The site is constantly
growing. Bookmark us and come back often (and tell your friends about us).
LEONARD KUBIAK's ONLINE TEXAS HISTORY WEBPAGES
For detailed histories of other Texas historic towns, SEE:
Fort Tumbleweed Main Page.
For questions or comments, send me an Email at
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