THE W. Y. PENN HOME
Historical Narrative by Clara Scarbrough
The land upon which the Penn Home stands has
been owned by the following persons, as indicated by
Abstract of Title No. 45409 of Williamson County:
LETTER OF PATENT
1. On Aug.
19, 1844, Clement Stubblefield was granted by the
Republic of Texas one-third league (1476 acres) of land
as his headright "as a collinest or setler by Emigration
to this Republic." Stubblefield had come to Texas from
his native Tennessee in February 1836 and was living in
Jasper Municipality (later County) when Sam Houston
signed the grant of land to him. The land was located in
Milam Municipality--the section later to become
Williamson County and, more specifically, a portion of
Georgetown. The grant of 1844 was filed Sept. 29, 1851.
(Deeds Vol. 2, 366)
2. On Oct.
10, 1848, Clement Stubblefield's sale of 1476 acres to
Thomas B. Huling (a land speculator operating throughout
Texas) for $150 was recorded. (Williamson County Deeds
Vol. 1, 20-22) This transaction was also recorded in
Jasper County. Neither Clement Stubblefield nor Thomas
B. Huling is known ever to have lived in Williamson
3. On April
12, 1850, Thomas B. Huling's transfer of the same
property was filed, the sale having been made the same
month. George Washington Glasscock, Sr., was the
grantee. He had become a partner of Huling's in land
development and speculation, and beginning in 1848 when
Williamson County was formed, had sold considerable
acreage in that area. In the Huling to Glasscock deal,
Huling transferred all the land which he had owned and
which Glasscock had already sold, prior to Huling's
revoking of Glasscock's power of attorney, in the
aforementioned tract to Glasscock. The unsold portion of
the tract was to be divided--half of that south of the
South San Gabriel River at Georgetown to go to
Glasscock, the other half and all other portions of the
tract to remain the property of Huling. (Deeds Vol. 1,
4. On April
27, 1855, G. W. Glasscock sold to Mary Williams 25 acres
of land from the tract for $50. (Deeds, Vol. 6, 51)
Marriage records for Williamson County (Vol. 1, 155)
reveal that Mary Williams was married to Wm. E.
Bouchelle on Sept. 7, 1856.
G. W. Glasscock, likewise a land speculator,
through his partnership with Ruling, a state legislator,
knew of the pending formation of Williamson County in
1848, and Glasscock had persuaded the new county's
temporary commissioners to select the site of Georgetown
for the county seat. Glasscock and Ruling owned the land
on this site, and offered to give
it with the stipulation that it become the
county seat and be named Georgetown for George
Washington Glasscock, one of the donors. Tile offer was
accepted and the town was so-named. Glasscock had
purchased considerably more land in the area, or had
traded for it through his services as a surveyor, and it
was some of this land that Mary Williams and her future
husband would own after 1855. Glasscock lived at
Georgetown from 1848, venturing in a number of
businesses, especially real estate and milling, and in
1853 moved to Travis County. He served as representative
from Travis and Williamson counties in the State
Legislature the tenth and eleventh terms, and died in
1868, the result of injuries sustained when he fell from
a mule he was riding at his Webberville farm. He had ten
children, a number of whom remained in Williamson
County, and numerous descendants still lived there in
1974. William E. Bouchelle in the mid-1850s described
several of the early roads and trails through Williamson
County, including the Double File Trail, and the roads
from Kenney Fort (Brushy Creek) to Coleman Fort and to
Austin. This early description is extant. [Land of Good,
Water, pages 124-127, 149-150]
5. On March 2, 1857, the tract of land in
question again changed hands (filed Dec. 29, 1857 in
volume 7, page 282, Deed Records). William E. Bouchelle
and Mary Bouchelle sold ten acres of their land to
Thomas P. Hughes of Georgetown for $125.00, and, at the
same time, Hughes also purchased an adjacent tract from
G. W. Glasscock, the latter transaction dated Feb. 16,
1857 and recorded in volume 7, page 59 of Williamson
County Deeds, and was for $221.87 for 17 acres.
Thomas P. Hughes came to Georgetown early in
1851 to set up a law practice. He became active in
business and civic and political affairs of the town and
community. Descendants of his still live in Georgetown
in 1974. He practiced law, was a delegate for his county
to the secession convention in Austin begin of the Civil
War, and, about 1880, Sam Houston's second youngest son,
William Rogers Houston, read law in his office. The
tract of land which he purchased is now a residential
section of Georgetown, but at that time it was south of
the town and was referred to as Judge Hughes' farm.
Hughes engaged in the cattle business during the 1870s,
advertising his cattle brand in the local newspaper. A
map in the abstract delineating Hughes' property shows
that it included "Block B" in Georgetown, the same block
later housing the Penn home. Block B was at that time
bordered by Elm Street, Magnolia Street, Myrtle Street
and Palmetto Street. The names Myrtle and Elm are still
in use, but the other two have become numbered streets.
This section was a part of the Hughes "farm" and on
another part, a short distance to the northwest, in 1860
Judge Hughes began "improvements" on three acres of his
seventeen-acre farm. His improvements included a stone
home fronting on University Avenue on the north, and
near Church Street which ran to the west, but labor was
difficult to obtain during the Civil War, and the home
was not completed until afterwards. His family moved
into the large two-story residence, and members of the
family lived in it until it was torn down after the
death of the second Mrs. Hughes in 1922. Thomas P.
(Proctor) Hughes married, and he and his wife, Sue, had
three children, John D. Hughes, Mattie R. Hughes
(married C. C. Cody), and Louetta Hughes (married A. A.
Booty). Mrs. Sue Hughes died about 1871; Judge Hughes
remarried in 1877. One child by him and his second
wife, Mrs. Jennie Hughes, was Thomas P. Hughes, Jr.,
their only offspring. Thomas P. Hughes, Sr.,
died December 31, 1899, and his widow, Mrs. Jennie
Hughes, died April 29, 1922. After her death the old
home was torn down and the property divided among their
heirs. [Genealogical information from the Abstract;
other information from Land of Good Water, pages
156-157, 184, 194, 211, 231, 242, 247] Judge
Hughes was also on the board which formed the Georgetown
Railroad Company and built a tap line to Round Rock to
intersect the county's first railroad, the International
and Great Northern, there, in 1878. He was also an early
and staunch supporter of Southwestern University, which
was moved to Georgetown in 1873.
6. Block B remained unsold by T. P. Hughes
until Dec. 31, 1894, when he conveyed it to his
daughter, Mrs. Lou Ella (sic in abstract) Booty (filed
Feb. 26, 1895, volume 71, p. 593). The transaction for
Block B, which was 240 feet square, was for $1400.
7. On June 13, 1895, A. A. Booty and Mrs.
Louetta Booty sold the north half of Block B to W. Y.
Penn for $700 (filed Mar. 26, 1896, volume 75, p. 528).
Their new lot was 240 feet by
120 feet in size. "Immediately after purchase • • • W.
Y. Penn. . . enclosed same by a good and substantial
fence and erected a two story residence and other
improvements" and occupied the house as his home. This
is the home now being considered for a medallion.
[The following history of W. Y. Penn was furnished by
his niece, Mrs. Tom E. Johnson, Rt. 7, Box 928, Austin,
Texas, in a Feb. 1974 letter to Mrs. Estha Scoggins of
and in another letter dated March 1, 1974, to Mrs. Clara
Scarbrough of Georgetown, and from a newspaper story
from the Williamson County Sun of Georgetown dated Dec.
7, 1950 J.
William Y. Penn was born in San Felipe, Texas, Nov. 12,
1860, received early education in a rural school there
and, with his brother, worked a small farm which their
father had provided. As William Penn was plowing the
land preparatory to planting a corn crop in February
1877, his father's brother arrived for a visit. The
father purchased half interest in his brother's book
store in Austin, and informed his son, William Y., that
he was to return to Austin with his uncle to learn the
business, leaving at once. The next morning, the young
teenager was in Austin clerking in the book store. In a
short time, his father, Robert Rives Penn, had disposed
of his Austin County interests and moved to Austin. In
1880, he sold his interest in the book store there and
moved his family to Georgetown in July of that year.
There the son, William Y. Penn, immediately opened a
book store, where he also offered cigars and
confections. In 1887 he sold the cigar and confection
rights to Carl Burkhart and bought the jewelry business
of W. D. Pfaeffle, combining it with his books. In an
interview of later years, Mr. Penn recalled that
"November of 1887 was an eventful time, namely election
day; a circus was in town and in the evening of that day
he became the `husband of the charming Lizzie Robertson.
He was one of Georgetown's early City Aldermen and
Mayor, serving one year as Alderman and two terms as
Mayor. He was a member of the First Methodist Church of
Georgetown, was on the official board for twenty years,
was Past Master of San Gabriel Lodge No. 89 A. F. and A.
M., and a Past Chancellor of the Knights of Pythias.
Files of the Georgetown newspaper The Williamson County
Sun, for 1894 and 1895 reveal bits of information about
Penn. On October 11, 1894, he advertised "spectacles to
fit any eyes" and also offered a patented adjustable
aluminum frame for glasses. These advertisements
continued through November. On November 29, 1894, the
paper announced that W. Y. Penn was closing his "Bargain
Store" (apparently a dry goods store) on January 1 "on
having to give up the house I now occupy." He
continued, however, with his optical advertising well
into 1895. The March 28, 1895 issue noted that Penn &
Stone were advertising real estate "in south end
addition," and were also offering loans and insurance.
In August 1895, the paper carried a story about building
in the town, noting that during the previous 12 months,
new buildings had included a 3 story public school, and
31 other buildings, mostly in the "Southern part of the
town." These 31 included the "South side" residences of
W. Y. Penn and his neighbor, J. A. McDougle, who built
similar imposing Victorian homes, as well as about a
dozen more in this new development. Penn continued to
advertise eyeglasses and his jewelry store through 1895
and through December 31, 1896. His business, political,
and civic interests heretofore mentioned, suggest that
he was a substantial and respected citizen of the town.
8. On January 1, 1907, W. Y. Penn and his wife,
Lizzie, conveyed the north half of Block B, on which
stood the Penn home, to the Georgetown District of the
North West Texas Conference of the Methodist Episcopal
Church South for $4500. The deed was filed in Williamson
County Jan. 15, 1907, volume 123, p. 3. W. Y. Penn moved
to San Antonio that year, and died there April 15, 1951,
is buried in the Penn Family lot in the Odd Fellows
Cemetery, Georgetown, with his father, mother, and one
sister. His wife, Lizzie Robertson, who had lost a
(earlier) baby by her first earlier marriage, is buried
in the Robertson
lot by her first baby, also in the
same cemetery. Her first husband "must have died very
young because she was quite young when she married Uncle
Will in 1887," writes their niece, Mrs. Elizabeth (Tom
The Penn home, beginning in 1907, was occupied
by the Presiding Elder or the District Superintendent,
of the Methodist Church. On March 4, 1927, a paving
ordinance) passed by the City of Georgetown, included
the block on Elm Street on which the Penn home, or
Methodist District Superintendent's parsonage stood.
*(See page 10-a for list.)
9. On July 28, 1945, John C. Kuhlman, acting
for the trustees of the Georgetown District of the
Central Texas Conference of the Methodist Church, to
which jurisdiction the Georgetown church had been
changed, sold to M. C. Hodges the north half of Block B
for $7,750. The church trustees had decided that they
did not desire "to repair and improve" -the, horns as
the district parsonage.
Marvin C. Hodges was a druggist in Georgetown,
and owned and operated the Hodges Drug Store for many
years. His wife, Melvola Hodges, was a school teacher.
Mr. Hodges died on April 4, 1965, at the age of 76.
10. Mrs. Melvola (Marvin C.) Hodges continued
to live in the "Penn Home" after his death. On December
15, 1966 (Vol. 492, p. 414), Melvola Hodges sold to Dr.
Van C. Tipton and his wife, Ann Estelle, after which Dr.
and Mrs. Tipton lived in the home. Dr. Tipton is
a physician, now retired. Mrs. Hodges and both
of the Tiptons are all living as of this writing in
11. Robert Vernon Allen and his wife, Joanne
Oesterreich Allen, purchased the Penn House in February
1973 and have lived there since that time. Mr. Allen is
employed by the Gulf Telephone Corporation.
The following is a list of the Methodist
ministers who lived in the Penn House from 1907 until
1945, during which time it was owned by the Methodist
Church and used as the parsonage for the District
Superintendents, earlier known as Presiding Elders:
B. R. Bolton (1906-08)
(date indicates years served in this
W. H. Vaughan (1909-11) office)
W. H. Armstrong (1912-16)
W. B. Andrews (1917-18)
John M. Barcus (1921-23)
Sam G. Thompson (1924-26)
D. K. Porter (1927-30)
T. Edgar Neal (1931-32)
John W. Bergin (1933-34)
Gaston Hartsfield (1935)
John N. Rentfro (1936-37)
Ed R. Barcus (1938-43)
R. C. Edwards (1944-49)
Residents of the J. A. McDougle Home, located
in the same block with the Penn Home, were Dr. and Mrs.
John R. Allen between 1901 and 1910. Allen, a Methodist
minister, with his wife served as directors of the
Ladies' Annex at Southwestern University for many years.
Sometime during the Aliens' residence in the McDougle
Home) he made a trip to the Holy Land and brought back
olive trees from there. They were planted in his lawn,
and two trees which came from them still stand on the
adjacent Penn property. The trees bear prolifically and
seed the area around them.
William Y. Penn had his home built "immediately
after purchase" of the lot, that date being June 13,
1895. The two story residence, a "good and substantial
fence," and other improvements are mentioned on pages
68-69, Abstract of Title # 45409, Williamson County.
As noted previously, W. Y. Penn was involved in
a number of businesses in Georgetown, including a real
estate venture in the south of town where he built his
home. He was also no doubt, a man of means, judging from
his business history, and wished a suitable residence
for himself and his family. He could also have felt that
erecting a substantial and attractive home on the
property might promote sales for similar home sites
within his addition.
The personal history of the various owners has
been noted previously.
C. S. Belford Lumber Company of Georgetown, a
large and well-known firm in Georgetown during that
period, contracted to build the Penn Home. The Belford
Company is credited with erecting many of the finest old
homes and other substantial buildings in Georgetown. The
company was active for more than half a century.
It is noteworthy that the Penn Home is one of
three homes built the same year by Belford Lumber
Company, adjacent to each other, of quite similar (but
not identical) plans, and all three intact and in good
condition in 1975. They, along with two other homes and
an early and historic church (already marked r, comprise
a district worthy of consideration by the National
Register. One of the other homes is applying for a
marker at this same time--the J. A. McDougle Home.
*First United Methodist Church of Georgetown.
The Penn House, erected in 1895, contained
eight main rooms including the butler's pantry, plus
small closets, bath, a large corridor or hallway both
upstairs and down, and three porches downstairs, plus
one upstairs porch. There were three fireplaces with
mantels downstairs, and three upstairs, she all with
different style mantels, one of them marble, the others
tile with wood trim. The downstairs back porch had a
cistern underneath, and the northeast front porch had a
rounded extension on the corner, covered with rounded
roof with turret.
The porch ceilings and the kitchen were
finished with beaded wood paneling outside trim is in
the Victorian style and includes carved pieces
decorating the eaves, the porches, the doors, and window
frames. The windows were shuttered outdoors. Stained
glass was used in the front and back doors, in one
window each of the living and dining rooms, in a window
of a downstairs room leading to the back porch, and in
three attic windows both the living and dining rooms are
hexagon al in shape.
An outbuilding was originally a servant's room,
One stairway leads upstairs with two landings;
at the second landing, the stair divides, with separate
steps leading both to the east and to the west rooms.
Although the home is quite similar in appearance,
construction, and floor plan to the McDougle House,
built adjacent to the south also in 1895, the split
stairway arrangement is unique to the Penn House.
Cypress siding was used, as well as other fine
materials already mentioned, many of them unobtainable
now, such as the beading, stained glass, and Victorian
Alterations and/or additions to the home have
been minimal and have not changed the basic structure
nor its appearance.
The Hodges family enclosed the back porch,
making it into a room, but retained the original beaded
walls inside. The cistern, which was located on this
porch, is concealed underneath the floor. The Hodges
added two bathrooms upstairs.
They also installed a dumb waiter leading to
what was formerly a sleeping porch or bedroom, which the
Hodges converted into a recreational room. Mr. and Mrs.
Hodges renovated the kitchen, adding cabinet and storage
Dr. and Mrs. Tipton enclosed the downstairs
south porch. They moved the servant's room farther away
from the main house, added a carport to it, and attached
it to the main house by a breezeway.
Mr. and Mrs. Allen have made no structural
changes in the house, but have reroofed and repainted
it, and repaired the shutters and screens. In addition,
Mrs. Allen has obtained sufficient beaded paneling to
use inside the "servant's room" and plans to restore it
with this finish and make into a playroom.
The home is sound and in good condition. The
family living in it appreciate its historic and
architectural significance and plan to continue their
care of it. It is an attractive, spacious and livable
home, as well.
The Methodist Episcopal Church, South, bought
the home in 1907, located just a block from First
Methodist Episcopal Church, South, of Georgetown. From
1907 until 1945, (by which time the church's name had
been changed to First Methodist Church) the Penn House
was the parsonage for the District Superintendent.
The place has been home to several leading
citizens of the community, and to thirteen Methodist
ministers and their families, all of these families
deeply involved in the life of the community.
The present owners, Mr. and Mrs. Allen, wish to
commemorate the structure because of its distinctive
architecture and materials, because of its added
significance in the community due to its location near
the First Methodist Church and its ties with the
church's history, and because they feel that the home is
worthy of preservation.
Abstract of Title No. 45409, Williamson County.
Deed Records cited in foregoing history.
Clara Stearns Scarbrough, Land of Good Water (Takachue
Pouetsu). A Williamson County. Texas. History.
Mrs. Tom E. Johnson, Rt. 7, Box 928, Austin,
letters of Feb. 1974 and March 1, 1974.
Williamson County Sun (Georgetown), Dec. 7,
1950; also files for 1894 and 1895, specific dates cited
Files of First United Methodist Church,
Georgetown, listing District Superintendents.
Interviews with Mrs. Marvin C. (Melvola)
Hodges, Dr. and Mrs. Van C. Tipton, and Mr. and Mrs.
Robert V. Allen, 1974-75.