Corn Hill, Texas History
Population: 239 (1900)
The late town of Corn Hill laid two miles south of
Jarrell in the north central Williamson County. The town was settled by
Judge John E. King around 1855 and stared out as a stage stop and a post
office was established in 1855. The
Bartlett and Western Railway
would bypass Corn Hill in 1909 so a new town, Jarrell, was started on
the proposed new line and the many people and buildings were moved to
Jarrell. Corn Hill made a living with it's Cotton ginning because it had
a large steam gin.
After Corn Hill was bypassed by the Bartlett and Western Railway, this steam engine moved much of the town to nearby Jarrell in 1915.
Gift of Clara Stearns Scarbrough
Joseph Cmerek & Agnes Kubocak
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A special thanks to Mary Harrison Hodge of Salado, Texas for these great photos -
click on thumbnail photo for an expanded view
click on thumbnail photo for an expanded view
Historical Maker text
Settled primarily by settlers from Texas and southern states, corn hill was one of the earliest communities in Williamson County. John e. King, county judge from 1858 to 1860, named it for the home he built on a hill and nearby cornfield in 1852. The dispersed agricultural community was the first stop on the stage line running from Georgetown to Fort Gates (Coryell County).
A post office opened in 1855 and by the 1860s, an influx of new residents settled here. In 1878, George g. Grant established Corn Hill Academy male and female school, built on land donated by Judge King. It thrived and in 1886 moved to a new two-story building with four classrooms, a bell tower and an auditorium, which provided meeting space for local church services. By 1893, a public school opened as part of Corn Hill independent school district.
By the end of the 19th century, Corn Hill had a saddle club, several churches, two local cotton gins, Corn Hill College, fraternal lodges and school organizations. By the early 1900s, community residents became active in populist politics and in the farmers’ union. Industrial activity of the early 1900s included the Corn Hill and Gravis telephone company, a waterworks, and an envisioned interurban to Bartlett.
The settlement began to decline in 1909 when the Bartlett Western Railway bypassed two miles to the north, establishing the town of Jarrell. Steam engines helped move homes and businesses to the new townsite, and others moved to the village of New Corn Hill, but many residents chose to remain here. Today, the dispersed Corn Hill Settlement survives as a reminder of the area’s early agrarian heritage.
(2007) marker is property of the state of Texas
History of Corn Hill, Texas
CORN HILL COMMUNITY
Historical Narrative compiled by Bob and Steph Brinkman
What is now northern Williamson County was the home range of several nomadic tribes in the 18th and early 19th centuries including, the Tonkawa, Comanche, Delaware and Lipan Apache tribes. The first effort to subdue the Native Americans and pave the way for permanent Anglo American settlement came in 1835 with the establishment of Tumlinson's Fort, a Texas Ranger outpost on the headwaters of Brushy Creek. The area was first assigned to Milam County, which at that time covered all or parts of twenty-three current counties, including Williamson County. The earliest permanent settlement in Williamson County was Kenney's Fort on Brushy Creek in present day Round Rock. Early families included Dr. and Mrs. Thomas Kenney, Eli Chandler, Major John Cheneyworth, Robert McNutt and others. In 1848, Williamson County was created and organized, and in addition to existing settlements at Brushy (later Georgetown), Brushy Creek (later Round Rock) and Blue Hill (later Rice's Crossing), families primarily from Arkansas and Tennessee began settling all over the new county.
Corn Hill is one of the earliest communities of Williamson County. It is located near Willis Creek, approximately 12 miles northeast of Georgetown. The Republic of Texas land grants in the area included parcels granted to John E. King, A. A. Lewis, John Carothers, Jonathan W. Wilbarger and Antonio Menchaca  Another 1840s settler was Daniel Harrison, a blacksmith  The settlement was named Corn Hill by John E. King for his home built on a hill and nearby a cornfield in 1852. King later served as Williamson County Judge from 1858-1860.  A post office was established in Corn Hill on July 9, 1855, and operated continuously for sixty-seven years. The settlement was also the first stop on the stage line, running from Georgetown to Fort Gates (Coryell County). Big Foot Wallace was one of the stage drivers on that line, and Colonel W. C. Dalrymple contracted with the line to deliver corn to the Fort Gates soldiers.  Until the mid-twentieth century, Corn Hill was a county voting precinct.
George Rumsey was the Methodist minister in Corn Hill's early years, settling there in the 1850s. Other early establishments included Charlie Morell and Charlie Hogan's Store, D. W. Proctor's Mercantile Store, R. W. Laws, blacksmith, Dr. S. H. Weatherford Drugs and millinery shops of May Terry, Sally Dean and Betty McCarty. 
Corn Hill, like many communities in the South, experienced the effects of war, economic growth, and an influx of new settlers throughout the 1860s. In 1861, Corn Hill was mentioned in the Williamson County Commissioners Court minutes as one of twelve locations of patrols under the jurisdiction of Captain John J. P. Ake "to exercise jurisdiction over the slaves of Georgetown."  In 1869, Major T. H. Lea built a store nearby, stocking it with "everything a farmer needed."  The Corn Hill community included Germans, Austrians, Czechs, Slovaks and Moravians as well as other settlers from Arkansas and Tennessee. 
In early 1878, George G. Grant, a graduate of the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, established a tuition school at Corn Hill. Judge King donated land for a framed school and also a church. The first term was in July 1878, closing with examinations and exhibitions on August 1 — 2. Clara Scarbrough's county history states that "such a large audience arrived on the first night that Mr. King's new gin house was pressed into use for the occasion and was crowded to overflowing." 
"Corn Hill Academy Male and Female" began its second term in September 1878, offering German, French, Spanish and music in addition to regular courses. The location was advertised as healthy, accessible, quiet and pleasant, with "no grog shop within 15 or 20 miles." The next year, the academy was under the management of Professor W. M. Lee of Louisiana, who noted the school had preaching twice a month, Sabbath school every Sunday and "prayer meeting every Sunday night, which affords the young people an opportunity to spend the small hours of each Sabbath night in a little innocent flirtation." 
The school thrived for many years, and in 1886 built a new two-story building on four acres on the west side of present IH-35. Renamed Corn Hill College, the building had four large classrooms and an auditorium, a flat roof and a large bell tower. Church services of various denominations in Corn Hill were held in the auditorium as well as social events such as plays, debating society meetings and band concerts. A public school and the Corn Hill Independent School District were established by 1893, one of the first ISDs in the county. The building burned and the college closed in about 1915. 
Industry grew during the 1870s and 1880s. The Corn Hill cotton gin opened in 1871, and D. W. Proctor built a large steam gin in 1878. There were as many as five doctors at one point in the 1880s, including George Rumsey, W. K. Grayson, J. T. Huggins and John Galt.  Corn Hill reached the height of its activity in the 1880s and a series of newspapers reported weekly news. M. L. Hair published the Weekly Gazette in 1880, which changed its name to the Express the following year and continued until at least 1883. The Enterprise was published in 1881, followed by the Clipper in 1886. The last known newspaper published at Corn Hill was the Chronicle in 1890. 
Corn Hill was poised to prosper in December 1887, when H. C. Mills of McGregor, George W. Tyler of Belton, Huling P. Robertson of Salado, A. J. Robertson of Corn Hill, Emzy Taylor of Georgetown, John T. Haynes of Round Rock and James Nalle, W. H. Tobin and A. P. Wooldridge of Austin chartered the Austin and McGregor Railroad Company. Joseph Nalle of Austin was elected president of the company, with Taylor vice-president and Wooldridge secretary and treasurer. The envisioned line would pass through Round Rock, Georgetown, Corn Hill, Salado, and Belton, but ultimately failed to materialize. 
In 1889, John D. Black opened a hotel in the 1872 John Wesley Shaver two-story frame home, which today is the only historic building still standing in Corn Hill. Lumber for the building was hauled by ox teams from Grimes County (90 miles east). In the last quarter of the 19th century, Corn Hill organized a saddle club, had several active churches including, Baptist and Methodist, Corn Hill College, Masonic Lodge No. 567 and Odd Fellows Lodge No. 345, Order of the Eastern Star, a school debating society and a uniformed brass band.  T. B. Taylor of Corn Hill was district master workman of district assembly no. 78, Knights of Labor, which covered half of Texas, in 1896.  Throughout its existence, Corn Hill was a dispersed agricultural community and never incorporated as a city, but official United States census returns give Corn Hill a peak population of 239, both in 1890 and 1900. 
W. I. Dunn, C. C. Foster, and T. N. Dunn chartered the Corn Hill Waterworks Company in 1900, with a capital stock of $2,500.  The Board of Trade of Bartlett discussed building an interurban electric railway to Corn Hill in 1903, but the effort never came to pass.  The post office initiated rural free delivery in Williamson County in 1903, and Corn Hill was one of the first five post offices to have routes established  Corn Hill was active in Populist politics in the 1900s, highlighted by W. D. Lewis being chosen to the national Populist convention in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1902, and Lewis serving as chairman of the Populist Party in the 10th Congressional district in 1904.  Corn Hill clubs in the 1900s included Woodmen of the World and the Fanners' Union.  In 1910, businesses in Corn Hill included Corn Hill and Gravis Telephone Company, Alex Smith and J. E. Condra, druggists, Virgil Harvill, Fred Harrison and J. S. Hays, ginners, J. C. Foster, cotton buyer, William H. Buchanan and James T. Haralson, general stores and Thomas B. Thoma, who ran a store with a post office in the back from 1906-1912. There was also a community tabernacle for religious and social events. 
In the 1900s, area students attended classes either at Corn Hill or the nearby Mount Prospect School. However, according to an interview with Rosa Jones in 1969, there was no school for African American children. J. Conrad Foster, a teacher at the Corn Hill School, came to the home of Julia Elizabeth Ross Jones, the cook at John D. Black's hotel, and taught her six children to read, write and do arithmetic three nights a week. Rosa Jones told Clara Scarbrough, "He [Foster] taught us to add and subtract by lining the grains from an ear of corn in two rows on the table. We learned our letters by taking a plain sheet of paper, rubbing it with hog lard and wiping it off to make it transparent. Then he placed the paper over letters and we traced them to learn our alphabet." 
The demise of Corn Hill as a cohesive community came in 1909 when the Bartlett Western Railway, extending from Bartlett towards Florence, bypassed Corn Hill two miles to the north. The railway company established the town of Jarrell and sold lots in December 1909. Since all the buildings in Corn Hill were of frame construction, nearly every business, house and residence was moved by a steam engine to the new Jarrell town site.  The Corn Hill post office was discontinued on March 8, 1912, and moved to Jarrell. 
German, Moravian and Czech families associated with Corn Hill also established the nearby communities of Theon, Walburg and New Corn Hill. In 1912, a Bohemian Athletic Club was active in Corn Hi11.27 The Holy Trinity Catholic Church built a new sanctuary in 1914 at New Corn Hill, three miles southeast of Corn Hill, designed by San Antonio architect Leo M. J. Dielmann.
Even after Corn Hill lost viability as a community once the post office, churches and stores had mostly moved to Jarrell, some families still called Corn Hill home. Preston Smith (1912-2003), son of Mr. and Mrs. Charlie Smith, was born into a tenant farming family of thirteen children on the family farm two miles south of Corn Hill. He attended the nearby Mount Prospect School in the 1918-1919 term.  His family later moved to Lamesa, Texas (Dawson County), where Preston graduated from high school. After graduating from Texas Tech and establishing a movie theater business, Smith served twenty-nine years in state government beginning as a State Representative in 1944. Smith was elected to the Texas House for twelve years, the Texas Senate for six years, Lieutenant Governor for six years and Governor for four years from 1969-1973. He and his wife Ima. Mae (Smith) (1920-1998) are buried at the Texas State Cemetery in Austin. 
Corn Hill is one of the most historic settlements in Williamson County. It was an early stage stop and corn-growing area, contributing to local settlement and economy. It was a progressive town in education, with a late-nineteenth century academy and college, as well as one of the first independent school districts in the county. Corn Hill was also involved in important farming debates of the day, being active in Populist politics and the Farmers Union at the turn of the twentieth century. Corn Hill's most famous resident to date is Preston Smith, who served 29 years in state government, including two terms as Governor. Today only the 1872 Shaver House/Black Hotel and the Corn Hill Cemetery remain to mark the site of one of the county's most prosperous rural settlements.
1 Texas General Land Office, Lure of the Land. College Station: Texas A&M University Press 1988, pp. 156-157.
2 Mary Harrison Hodge, Daniel Harrison: A Williamson County Texas Pioneer, 1997, available at Round Rock Public Library.
3 Williamson County Genealogical Society, Williamson County, Texas: Its History and Its People. (Austin: Eakin Publications, Inc. 1985, p. 4).
4 Clara Scarbrough, Land of Good Water. (Georgetown: Williamson County Sun Publishers, 1973), 146¬147.
5 Scarbrough 335.
6 Scarbrough, 183-184; Williamson County Commissioner's Court minutes, Vol. II, 122-123.
7 Scarbrough 335.
8 Scarbrough 220.
9 Scarbrough 253: Williamson County Sun (Georgetown), July 25 and August 22, 1878.
10 Scarbrough 253: Williamson County Sun, September 12, 1878, May 15, 1879.
11 Scarbough 253-254; "Williamson Finances," Dallas Morning News, August 24, 1893, p. 2; Austin American, March 16, 1961; Williamson County Historical Museum, Georgetown, Corn Hill Photo Collection.
12 Scarbrough 335-336.
13 Scarbrough 267.
14 "Austin and M'Gregor," Dallas Morning News, December 21, 1887, p. 9.
15 Scarbrough 336; "The Day in Fort Worth," Dallas Morning News, October 11, 1896, p. 3; "The Grand Lodge," Dallas Morning News, December 3, 1896, p. 6; "Odd Fellows of Texas: Installations," Dallas Morning News, January 11, 1897, p. 8.
16 "State Labor Union," Dallas Morning News, June 12, 1896, p. 8.
17 Scarbrough 346.
18 "Charters Filed," Dallas Morning News, March 16, 1900, p. 3.
19 "Improvements at Bartlett," Dallas Morning News, Jan. 31, 1903, p. 2.
20 Scarbough 269: Williamson County Sun, August 20, 1903.
21 Dallas Morning News, Feb. 13, 1902, p. 10, May 5, 1904, p. 3.
22 Dallas Morning News, June 5, 1905, p. 3, April 16, 1907, p. 1, Oct. 11, 1907, p. 7.
23 Scarbrough 336. "New Texas Charters," Dallas Morning News, March 20, 1909, p. 2; Williamson County Historical Museum, Georgetown, Corn Hill Photo Collection.
24 Scarbrough 337.
25 Williamson County Historical Museum, Georgetown, Corn Hill Photo Collection.
26 Scarbrough 422.
27 Dallas Morning News, Mar. 30, 1912, p. 3.
28 Scarbrough 386-387.
"Preston Smith (Texas)," entry from , accessed Dec. 30, 2006; Wanda Evans,
Preston Smith: The People's Governor (Lubbock: Millenia Books, 1999); E. Preston Smith Papers, 1930¬1975, Southwest Collection, Texas Tech University, Lubbock.
Corn Hill / Cornhill Cemetery
Corn Hill Cemetery
- Historical Marker Text
Established in 1886 on a two-acre site deeded to Cornhill Masonic Lodge No. 567 by Mr. and Mrs. B. F. Bridges. Interred here are community leaders, three Civil War soldiers, and veterans of other wars. Maintained by Cornhill Cemetery Association since 1953. Area now six acres.
James G. Wilkinson, Jr. was the grandfather of Sylvia Lula Wilkinson Harrison. He served in the Army of the
Fought in the Battle of San Jacinto;
participated in the second, third and fourth Congresses of the Republic;
and was the first Chief Justice of Burleson County, Texas.
His wife, Amanda Hope Wilkinson, descended from
a family of patriots. Her father, James Hope, was one of the “Old
Her three brothers and a brother-in-law, as
well as her husband, fought in the battle of
The gravestone placed here was moved from the
original burial site on a farm once belonging to the Wilkinson’s located
near Dime Box in
The remains of James G. and Amanda Hope Wilkinson
now lie in the
Corn Hill, Texas by The Handbook of Texas Online