Williamson County
Historical Commission

contact Wayne Ware (512) 863-2202


Jollyville,
Texas est. 1866

Population: 15, 813 (2000)

 

Historical marker for Jollyville. The town was named after John Grey Jolly, an early settler who set up a blacksmith shop and a store, and provided land for an early school.

 

Courtesy of Karen Thompson

 

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THE HISTORY OF JOLLYVILLE TEXAS
Historical Narrative by Karen R. Thompson
 
The earliest pioneer of the Jollyville area was Henry Rhodes who took up a headright land grant of 1260 acres, # 1-35, in the extreme southwestern corner of Williamson County in the 1840's. [1] On the 1850 Williamson County United States Census, Henry Rhodes is shown as age 74 years and living in the household of his son Elisha Rhodes. Elisha Rhodes is age 55 years, a farmer worth $1900.00 and his wife Rachel is age 56. Children are Vina Rhodes, 20; Henry Rhodes, 18, also a farmer; Margaret 16; and Elisha Jenkins. Henry Rhodes, 74, is also shown as a farmer worth $100.00 [2] The Rhodes Cemetery located in Jollyville is named for Henry Rhodes and he and many of his descendants are buried there.
 
Another early settler was Thomas V. Strode. Strode bought the W. S. Baker survey, # 1-267, in 1845 [3] The Baker survey is next to the Rhodes survey. Thomas Strode is shown on the 1850 Williamson County U. S. Census as age 46, a farmer, worth $1,000.00, with wife Emaline, age 35 and 5 children. [4] Thomas Strode was the postmaster of Pond Springs in 1857. [5] Mr. Strode said "in those days, the oxen gave the first warning of the approach of the Indians. When the oxen pulling the plow, suddenly stopped in their tracks, threw their heads high and began to sniff the air, the early pioneer knew to unhitch them, go to the house, get his gun and ammunition ready. [6] Thomas and Emiline Strode are buried in the Jolly Cemetery.
 

Elisha Prewitt is the other Jollyville area resident shown on the 1850 Williamson County U. S. Census. He is 30 years old and his wife Frances (maiden name Rhodes) is age 29. He is a farmer worth $900.00 with others in the household listed as Byrum Jenkins, 12, and Eliazer Jenkins, 10 [7] Elisha Prewitt was a veteran of the Battle of San Jacinto during the Texas Revolution serving in Captain Jesse Billingsley's Company. [8]
In 1866 John Grey Jelly bought 160 acres in northern Travis County and southwestern Williamson County.  Jolly established the village known as Jollyville. John Jolly was born January 31, 1825 in Tennessee. He married Nancy Isabelle Cuill, born October 14, 1825, on July 29, 1847 in Tennessee. They moved to Travis County Texas in 1852. Jolly served in the Confederate Army for four years. On the 6th of July, 1861 the "Travis Mounted Rifles" was organized at the Little Walnut Schoolhouse, in Travis County, and belonged to the Mounted Rifle arm of the service. The muster-roll list J. G. Jolly as a private. [10] Jolly served four year in the Southern Army and was badly wounded. It was after he returned from the Civil War that he purchased the acres at Jollyville and he died their March 8, 1899 [11] Jolly gave land for a school, which was also used as a church, and land for a cemetery. A now Jollyville School was built in 1878. [12]

In 1882 the Jollyville School #19 had a teacher names Maggie Jackson and she was appropriated $68.40 that was set aside by the county. [13]  On June 10, 1895 the Jollyville School trustees circulated a petition that said "Jollyville, Texas, June 10, 1095. To our fellow citizens: We, the citizens of Jollyville, having undertaken to repair our schoolhouse, respectfully solicit contributions in any form convertible into money or lumber; and we assure those who feel disposed to assist us, that any assistance thus rendered will be gratefully and thankfully received. we appointed as soliciting committee: W. L. Carter, J: T. Rutledge, William Thompson, A. Thorp and John Evans." Seventeen people contributed $18.50 and one of those signing was Travis County Judge John W. Hormsby. [14]

The one-room Jollyville School hired teacher S. J. Matthews on August 24, 1896 for the salary of $40.00 per month. The school trustees hiring Matthews were W. H. Thompson and W. L. Carter. Matthews held what was known as a Third Grade Certificate. Jollyville School District No. 63 hired S. J. Matthews again in 1897. In a report to the State of Texas Jollyville School Trustees Misters' Thompson, Thorp and Carter certified they had hired Matthews for $40.00 per month. In a Monthly Report of Public Free Schools, S. J. Matthews reported that in 1897 he had a total of 88 pupils enrolled in the Jollyville School. [15]
 
Besides the school, Jollyville had a store and blacksmith shop run by John Grey Jolly. The Jolly's had six daughters and were known as the "patriarchs of the community". Jollyville residents learned to think of Nancy Jolly as its "vertable Mother" when "in those far-away pioneer days the skill of physicians failed and her still greater intuitive skill was of no avail in the fight for life of a babe, child in the bloom of youth, a life in full of strength of maturity of body wasted by the weight of years, hers was the voice that brought peaceful resignation to the providences of God as she counseled.....and she truly did live a happy consistiad Christian life". [16]
 
Jollyville did not have a post office. The closest one was at Pond Springs a couple of miles north of Jollyville. In early times the Stage Coach did stop at Jollyville at the Wm. H. Thompson place (on the site for this historical marker) where the Jollyville School was located just across the road about 200 feet from the marker. [17]
 
 The Jolly Cemetery is located on one acre of land that is in 1/2 Travis County and in Williamson County. Fourteen graves have nice rock stones giving name and dates of birth and death. Names of those families buried in the cemetery are: Jolly, Thorp, Hudson, Venable, Johns, Robinson, Strode and Taylor. [18]
 
In 1903 the Jollyville School consolidated with the Pond Springs School and the students attended the Pond Springs School. [19] The Jollyville School was torn down in the 1920's. [20 In 1920 about a dozen families lived in the Jollyville area and they were: Walden, Millegan, Warren, Glenn, Prewitt, Carter, Sanders, Thompson, Dearing, Dittrich and Rader. [21]
 
Other Jollyville merchants were Mate Walden, J. M. Forbes, N. N. Turner (saddlery), "Uncle Mack" Hays. Drs. Harrell and Webber were often called from Round pock for serious medical problems, but a local phrenologist "Old Doc" Cunningham, an Englishman who rode a donkey-drawn gig often substituted for the village doctor. [22]
 
Jollyville continued as a small, mostly farming community, from those early times until the construction of a Texas Instruments plant there in 1969. In 1966 about twenty-five families lived in Jollyville. According to the 1980 census at least 10,000 people live in the area known as Jollyville. Jollyville never consolidated into a town but it has appeared on Texas official Highway maps since early times.
 
Seven former Jollyville School students later became teachers and they were: Walter Jenkins, Walter Glenn, Green Mays, George Mays, Pony Prewitt, Frankie Prewitt, Eva and Nannie Thorp. [23]
 
Four Jollyville resident: served in the Confederacy during the Civil war. already mentioned John Grey Jolly was a Confederate soldier and the other 3 were Elisha Rhodes, Wm. H. Thompson and Jamb: Bryon Jenkins. [24]
 
view footnotes PDF

 



 
 Jollyville Community and School
Historical narrative by Karen Thompson
 
John Grey Jolly was born January 31, 1825 in Tennessee. John married Nancy Isabel Guill, who was born near Nashville, (or Memphis) Tennessee on October 14, 1825. John and Nancy married in Tenn. on July 29, 1847. In 1852 they moved to Austin, Texas. The Jolly's had 7 girls.  [1]Martha Ann "Matt" born in 1850, married Will Lee in about 1870. [2] Rachel was born in 1852 and married Byram Jenkins about 1872. [3] Mary Tennessee "Tennie" was born May 13, 1854 and married Milton Ashford Thorp. [4] Emma was born in 1856 and married James "Jim" Jolly (a cousin) about 1876. Bell Jolly never married, she was born in 1858. Jane Dean was born in 1860 and married Edward A. Hudson. [7] Julia John Jolly (no birth date) married George Milam first and ?????  McDonald second.
 
John and Nancy Jolly lived in Austin from 1852 until 1861 at the start of the Civil War, when they moved to Fiskville which was to be their home until the war ended. After the Civil War the family moved to the area that wasto become known as Jollyville. The Deed Records of Travis County, Texas Book P 209-210 certifies that the Company known as the "TRAVIS MOUNTED RIFLES" was organized at Little Walnut Schoolhouse, Travis County, Texas on the 6th of July 1861 under the provisions of an act approved February 15, 1858, and belongs to the Mounted Rifle of the service, and that the same correct Muster-Roll was organized on the 6th day of July, A. D. 1861. Captain was James A. Thompson, First Lieut. was Joseph Lee, Second Lieut. was Jas. D. Doxey, Third Lieut. was P. Nowlin and First Sergt. was R. H. Wilkins. Of the additional men of 47 Privates, John G. Jolly is listed as number 39 as a Private in that company. Frank Browns Annals of Travis county says Jolly served four years in the Southern Army and was badly wounded (Jolly served about two years in Co. F, 31st Tx. Dismounted Cavalry). In 1901 Mrs. Jolly started receiving Confederate Veteran Widows pension and received it until her death in 1921.)In 1866 John G. Jolly moved his family to a tract of land of 160 acres, located in Travis and Williamson counties, most of which was in the southwestern portion of Williamson County in the James D. Goode and Henry Rhodes surveys.

Jolly established and laid out the village and gave land for a school/church. Here Mr. Jolly became the "village blacksmith", storekeeper and patriarch of the community. Williamson County population increased ten percent in the years from 1860 to 1870 with a total of 6,368 persons living in the county in 1870. When the tax collector made his rounds of the county in the 1870's he visited Jollyville.
 
Jolly gave one acre of land for a family and community cemetery. The cemetery has fourteen graves that display identification. John (1825-1899) and Nancy Jolly (1825-1921) are both buried in the cemetery. Other graves are: Jennie Thorp 1848-1881; Sadie Hudson 1892-1909; Margaret Venable 1807-1883; Joseph Elmer Venable 1879-1912; Hosea Johns (Masonic Emblem) 1808-1877; Mary Johns 1827-1899; Margaret E. Robinson 1861-1872; Emaline Strode 1813-1885; T. V. Strode (Masonic Emblem) 1803-1880 also the Postmaster of Pond Springs in 1857; Missouri Strode 1899-1922; Virginia Taylor 1840-1921; and Charles Strode 1845-1929. Additional footstones have "EAKY" and "NJK ". Several unmarked graves are evident. Today the cemetery is taken care of by Karen Thompson, and a Jolly Cemetery Fund is at Farmers State Bank in Round Rock.
 
The Jollyville School was opened by 1878 in a log school house built on the land given by John Grey Jolly. The old Jollyville School was located on the old Burnet Highway (now relocated as old Highway183 in front of the J.F. Thompson farm).  The school building measured forty by sixty feet, was made of heart lumber, and was sealed inside. It was also used as a community church building. Benches were used for desk except in the back where some boards were nailed to the wall for use of the older children. The younger ones sat astride the benches when writing. The school was ungraded, taught by teachers with second and third grade certificates and was held for six months of the year, eight years was scholastic age.  In the very early  days, there was an average attendance of ten to twelve students. Many of the children had to stop to help with crops. It is said that Methodist and Presbyterians held church services in the school house.
 
As we stated, the Jollyville school was started by 1878. Throughout the 1880's and 1890's the school averaged about 60 to 80 students. In January 1897 Jollyville School had 82 students enrolled. In early days the people of the community undertook the responsibility of school house up-keep. A copy of the following petition was framed and presented to Pond Springs School by the David Thompson Family. The petition reads: "Jollyville, Texas June 10, 1895. To our Fellow Citizens: We, the citizens of Jollyville having undertaken to repair our schoolhouse, respectfully solicit contributions in any form convertible into money or lumber, and we assure those who feel disposed to assist us, that any assistance thus rendered will be gratefully and thankfully received. We appointed as soliciting committee: W. L. Carter, J. T. Rutledge, Wm. Thompson, M. A. Thorp, and John Evans." The committee received a total of $ 18.50 from 17 people. Official petition for Jollyville School was received in the Williamson County School Superintendents office in Georgetown on July 19, 1882 and again on July 31, 1883. Jollyville School was #19, and Maggie Jackson was teacher. Trustees were G. R. Kyle and J. H. Rutledge.
 
The years of 1896 and 1897 seem to be the largest years for enrollment in the school. On August 22, 1896 A Teacher's Certificate from Williamson County School Superintendent J. D. Hudson issued a "third grade" certificate to S. J. Matthews. On August 24, 1896 Jollyville School Trustees W. H. Thompson and W. L. Carter hired S. J. Matthews to teach at the Jollyville Public School for $ 40.00 per month. Records indicate S. J. Matthews was also paid $ 40.00 per month in 1897, and during Mr. Matthews teaching time in 1897 the school had a total enrollment of 82 students.
 
In 1903 the Jollyville School consolidated with the Pond Springs School located about two miles north. At the time of consolidation the schools had 52 students.
 
Although the school building was only used for community and church meetings after 1903 the community remained and has been known as Jollyville since the 1860's. The community never incorporated but has been on Official Texas Highway maps since early days. Since John Grey Jolly's first store and blacksmith days, atleast one store has been open in Jollyville. Families like the Jollys,  John Dittlinger,  Dittrich's,  Toungates,  Waldens, Forbes, Turner, Hays, Hills, have operated stores in the community. Jollyville did not have a Post office like Pond Springs did, but it did have a Stagecoach stop at the W. H, Thompson place. The west corner of the Thompson home, where the fire place still stands was the stagecoach stop building in early times. In 1948 Jollyville had four businesses and a population of 70. In 1960 about 20 families had homes in the Jollyville area. In 1970 the small farm community experienced rapid growth from Austin, and indeed was included in the Austin ETJ. Now many families live in Jollyville and it strains to keep any identity alive. The schools in the area have consolidated with the Round Rock Independent (in 1969)School District.  Austin city limits run up the new four lane highway that runs through Jollyville, slightly by-passing the old "city" area. At least 20,000 residents live in what is known as the "greater Jollyville area". A Jollyville Community School, sponsored by the RRISD serves over 3,000 area residents a year with classes. A large plant of Texas Instruments Corp. is located at the southeastern edge of Jollyville and it employees over 2,000 people from through the Austin area. Many new housing developments and shopping areas have been built in the last ten years, indeed the 1970's have seen great changes in Jollyville.
 
also view Jollyville Community and School with photos - PDF

 


 

 

  Confederate blacksmith settles Jollyville
 

John Grey Jolly and Nancy Isabel Eskew married in 1847 in their native state of Tennessee, but soon thereafter they caught Texas Fever, the term for settlers coming to Texas for land.

 

John and Nancy were living in Merrelltown in 1860 when the census was taken for Travis County. Both are listed as age 34 and John’s occupation as blacksmith.

 

In 1865, when John returned to Austin following his service to the Confederacy, he wanted to settle in the country. They purchased a couple of hundred acres where they could raise their six daughters, Matt (Mary), Rachel, Emma, Tennessee (Tennie), Jane Deen, and Julia.

 

They bought land along the Travis and Williamson County line. Their first home was a log cabin with the kitchen added to the back. It wasn’t long before the area became known as Jollyville. John opened a store and blacksmith shop. He was a friendly man, and devoted Methodist. Any time a preacher, especially Methodist, came to the area they were invited to stay at the Jolly home.

 

In the 1870s and 1880s, this was a popular stagecoach route. If they were lucky, they could make the trip in one day and reach Lampasas before dark. As the stagecoach left Austin, along the Colorado River bend, the driver knew it was uphill to reach the top of the Balcones Escarpment.

 

The horses could rest when they reached Jollyville and the W. H. Thompson place. [The homestead is now the Red Barn Garden Center, see p. 7] The next possible stop would be Pond Springs, several miles away. But Jollyville was just in the right location for Austin travelers. In those days, Pond Springs and Jollyville were separate communities.

 

School was important for area children and the Jolly family gave land for the Jollyville School to be built. A one-room wooden schoolhouse was used for first through sixth or seventh grade. One teacher was all that was needed.

 

In 1895, the school building needed a new roof. Instead of raising taxes, trustees W. H. Thompson and W. Carter circulated a petition through the community asking for cash donations or materials. They got enough roofing material and cash to do the job.

 

Nearby neighbors in the Jollyville area were the Prewitt, Thorp, Rhoades, Jenkins, and Thompson families. Elisha Prewitt had fought in the Battle of San Jacinto on April 21,1836 when Texas gained independence from Mexico. Besides Jolly, W. H. Thompson, Elisha Rhodes, and J. Byron Jenkins were all Confederate veterans. Several men served in World War I, including Charlie Carter, Buddy Prewitt, and John Finis Thompson.

 

John Jolly died in 1899 at age 74. In 1872 he had given land to start the Jolly Cemetery at 8600 Spicewood Springs Road. That year, Margaret Evergreen Robinson died becoming the first burial in the cemetery. About two dozen are buried in the cemetery, including five Citizens of the Republic of Texas, and Confederate veteran Charlie Strode, the last person to be buried there in 1929.

The passing of Nancy Jolly at age 96 was a blow to the Jollyville community. She had been a mid-wife for many of the 55 years she lived in the area.

 

With John and Nancy Jolly deceased and school closing, most of the activity in the area was concentrated in Pond Springs. In the 1930s, some businesses were built in the 13000 block of US 183, and this area became known as Jollyville.

 

The 140-year-old Jolly log house is restored on a private farm near Pflugerville. By the front door of the cabin is a peg where Jolly hung his shotgun, so he could grab it quickly if he needed to.

 

Thompson’s account of saving the circle tree:

In 1988 Diamond Shamrock [now Valero] announced they were building a gas station at the site of the original property, 8656 Spicewood Springs Road. On the site was a 200-year-old tree with a larger limb that had grown into a circle. Since the tree was so unusual, I showed slides of it in many school history presentations.

 

I called to see what was to happen to the tree and found out it would be torn down. I made some phone calls and got the Round Rock Leader to write an article. The article ran with a quote across the headline from a Diamond Shamrock vice president, “Tell Mrs. Thompson that trees don’t pay taxes.”

I was irate. I organized letters, posters and got kids to help me march in front of the site with signs. We put notes, ribbons, etc. on the tree. The TV and radio stations picked up the story. Hundreds of people signed a petition to save the tree.

 

Diamond Shamrock got tired of seeing me on TV, and changed their mind. It cost more than $190,000 to move, but it has been almost 17 years, and the tree is still healthy.

By

Karen R. Thompson, March 2007
 







 

 

click on thumbnail images of Jollyville, Texas for an enlarged view


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Jolly Girls


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Child with Bell


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Thompson Children at Large Tree at Jollyville
 


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Nancy Jolly, wife of confederate Veteran John Gray Jolly. The Jolly’s bought land in the southwestern corner of Williamson county in 1865, donated land for a school and cemetery, built a log cabin and raised 6 daughters. Jollyville is noted for the “Jollyville Circle Tree”.

 


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Jollyville Girl Scouts


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Kathy Thompson in Snow in 1970's


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Home Garden



view Jolly Cemetery - Historical Marker

 


 

 

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