Archive for the 'people' Category

History Day 2013 – Travis County Law Enforcement

We thank everyone who came out to celebrate our 6th annual Travis County History Day! Held on October 25, the event focused on the topic of Travis County law enforcement history and was a great success! The program was emceed by Commissioner Margaret Gómez and featured special speakers Doyne Bailey, Sheriff of Travis County from 1981-1992, and Mike Cox, historian and award-winning author, who shared stories and their personal experiences with law enforcement in Travis County.

Exhibits in the Hall of Government featured a variety of display boards, photographs, and artifacts, including uniforms, patches, and badges from the Sheriff and Constable offices, contraband items from the Travis County Jail, motorcycles, and even a 1930s Tommy Gun from the Sheriff’s Office. Video displays included a virtual tour of the old Travis County Jail on top of the Courthouse, photographs, and video of blues musician Freddie King playing in the Jail in 1976.

Travis County History Day was generously sponsored by the Austin Bar Association, the Austin History Center, the Travis County Archives, and the Travis County Historical Commission. We sincerely thank these sponsors for their commitment to helping put on a successful event year after year. We also thank the Travis County Sheriff and Constable Offices, former Travis County Sheriffs, and the Sheriffs Association of Texas, who contributed items to the exhibits. Special thanks is extended to Chief Deputy Jim Sylvester, who has completed an extensive amount of research on the history of the Sheriff’s Office and was an invaluable contributor and resource in gathering much of information, photographs and artifacts on display.

Please visit our FlickR album to view all photos of the event, and like our Facebook page to keep informed of future events!

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Travis County History Day 2011

The fourth annual Travis County History Day was held on Friday, October 21, 2011.  The event was in celebration of all past and present county elected officials, who are an important part of our county’s history.  The event was held at 700 Lavaca, in the future site of the Commissioners Courtroom.  It was very well attended, and featured special speakers and exhibits of historical photographs and documents.

County Judge Sam Biscoe served as the Master of Ceremonies, and special presentations were given by Dwayne Holman, formerly of the Texas Association of Counties, and Judge Bob Perkins. Judge Perkins, the second longest-serving judge in Travis County history, has served a combined 36 years as a Justice of the Peace, County Court at Law Judge, and District Court Judge.  Mr. Holman and Judge Perkins spoke on the history, development and importance of county government in Texas and in Travis County.

Nearly 300 photographs of county elected officials throughout history were on display at the History Day event.  The Travis County History Day committee sincerely thanks the current and former officials and family members who helped us in gathering so many images.  Most of the images are now also part of the Travis County Archives collections.  We welcome any further additions of photographs and images of elected officials to the Archives.

Also on display at the event were some of our county’s earliest election records, campaign memorabilia, short histories of each elected office, and the names of all individuals who have served in those offices. Nearly 1,000 individuals have served as elected officials in Travis County history.

History Day was a great success, and many current and former elected officials were in attendance, including F.W. “Joe” Horton, the last County Superintendent of Public Instruction, and Rubert Ceder, a former Commissioner who served in the 1960s.  We are grateful for everyone who came out to celebrate History Day with us!

Special thanks and recognition go out to the sponsors of Travis County History Day: the Austin Bar Association, the Travis County Archives, and the Travis County Historical Association.  The support of these organizations has been instrumental in the success of Travis County History Day.

Please click here to view photos from the event.

Travis County Elected Officials, 1840-present

An alphabetical list of all current and former Travis County elected officials is now available on the Travis County Archives site:  The list includes nearly 1,000 individuals.

Precinct 4

Precinct 4 Commissioner Lawson Boothe with staff, 1957.

Lawson Boothe was the Precinct 4 Commissioner from 1948-1970. County Commissioners are responsible for overseeing the construction and maintenance of roads and bridges within their respective precincts.

Origins of Travis County Community, Landmark and Road Names

Have you ever wondered where the community, landmark, and road names you see around Travis County come from?  Many are named after early settlers and individuals who were significant in the history and development of Travis County and of Texas.  Here are just a few:
Anderson Mill Road – Named after a mill and its owner, Thomas Anderson, who lived in the vicinity in the 1850s.
Barton Springs – Named for William Barton, early settler who lived on land near the springs around 1837.
Burleson Road – Named for early area settler Gen. Edward Burleson, a statesman, surveyor, and soldier in the Texas Revolution army.
Burnet Road – Likely named for David G. Burnet, interim President of the Republic of Texas in 1836 and 1841.
Decker Lane – Named for Isaac Decker, early colonist and shoe cobbler who in 1835 was granted one league of land located in what is now south central Travis County.
Del Valle – Named for Santiago Del Valle, a politician who received ten leagues of land south of the Colorado River from the Mexican government in 1832.
Enfield – Named by Elisha M. Pease, Governor of Texas, after the town in Connecticut where he was born.
Garfield – Probably named for President James A. Garfield, who was in office when the community’s post office was established in 1881.
Hamilton Pool – Named for Morgan C. Hamilton, who owned the property in the 1860s.  His brother, Andrew J. Hamilton, was the 10th governor of Texas.
Hornsby Bend – Named for Reuben Hornsby, soldier, surveyor, and one of Stephen F. Austin’s earliest colonists.  Hornsby was granted one labor of land from the Mexican government in 1832.
Hudson Bend – Named for Wiley Hudson, an emigrant from Arkansas who secured a land grant in 1854 near a bend of the Colorado River.
Jollyville Road – Named after John Grey Jolly, a Civil War veteran who farmed, ran a store, and raised a family in the area in the latter part of the 19th century.

Lamar Boulevard – Named for Mirabeau B. Lamar, president of the Republic of Texas from 1838-1841 and key founder of Austin.

Manor – Named after Tennessee native James Manor, who followed Sam Houston to Austin and settled in the region east of Austin.
McKinney Falls State Park – Named for Thomas F. McKinney, trader and stock raiser who purchased part of the Del Valle tract in 1839.  The ruins of McKinney’s homestead are preserved in the park.
Moore’s Crossing – Named for Col. Moore and his family, early area settlers who opened a store there in the late 1800s.  Although its location has been moved slightly, the store is still in existence and in operation today.
Pease Park – Named for Elisha M. Pease, Governor of Texas from 1853-1857 and 1867-1869.
Pflugerville – Named for Henry Pfluger, who brought his family to the area from Germany in 1849.
Slaughter Lane – Named for Stephen F. Slaughter, an early settler from Kentucky who received a land grant for one league of land on Onion Creek in 1835.
Waller Creek – Named for Edwin Waller, surveyor of the city of Austin and its first mayor.
Webberville – Named for John F. Webber, retired physician and one of the earliest settlers in the Travis County area; he was granted land by the Mexican government in 1832.
Wells Branch – Named for Martin Wells, an early settler in Stephen F. Austin’s Little Colony who lived near Webber’s Prairie.
William Cannon Drive – Named for William Cannon, an early colonist from Ireland who was granted one league of land west of the Colorado River from the Mexican government in 1835.
Zilker Park – Named for political figure and philanthropist Andrew Zilker, who came to Austin in 1876.  He was the last private owner of Barton Springs.

The Heman Marion Sweatt Travis County Courthouse

The following video, about the history of the Heman Marion Sweatt Travis County Courthouse, is part of the Travis County Historical Markers video series. It was produced in 2009 by Travis County Media Services in collaboration with the Travis County Archives.

Travis County Officials in 1840

Travis County was established on January 25, 1840, by an act of the Fourth Congress of the Republic of Texas, days after the community of Waterloo had been renamed Austin and approved as the capital city.   The county was in operation as early as 1839, prior to its official establishment.  The first election for county officials was held in February of 1840, at which time the population was reported to be 856.
County officials in the year 1840 included:
Chief Justice (later called the County Judge): James W. Smith
Commissioners Court: Martin Humpff, Jno. D. McLeod, B.F. Johnson, A.C. Hyde, W.Y. Woods, David Laughlin, A.I. Adkison, Thos. A. Duggan, S.J. Whatley
Constables: Reuben Towers, Beat No. 1; Moses Woods, Beat No. 2; Matthew Moss, Beat No. 4
County Clerk: M.C. Hamilton, Pro Tem; James C. Harrelson, Pro Tem; Muhlenberg H. Beaty
County Sheriff: Wayne Barton
County Surveyor: William A. Force
County Treasurer: William H.H. Johnston
District Clerk: B.D. Bassford
District Judge: John T. Mills, 3rd District Court
When officials are elected or appointed to office, official bonds and oaths of office are filed with the County Clerk.  Official bonds guarantee the honest and faithful performance of the official’s duties as prescribed by law, including the honest account of all monies entrusted to the official while in office.  Oaths of office are formal affirmations taken by individuals prior to undertaking the duties of an office.  The oaths bind them to perform their duties conscientiously and in good faith.

Official Bond of B.D. Bassford as Clerk of the District Court, 1840

Oath of Office of James W. Smith as Chief Justice, 1840

Official Bond and Oath of Reuben Towers as Constable, Beat No. 1, 1840

The Travis County Archives has a number of Travis County official bonds and oaths of office in its collections, many of which date back to the Republic of Texas days.  For more information, view the County Clerk collection finding aid.

Flickr Photos

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