Williamson County
Historical Commission

 

  Monadale / Springtown or Stringtown
Community
Historical marker
Monadale, Williamson County - Texas


 
     
 

MONADALE, TEXAS. Monadale is on Mustang Creek and Farm Road 1660, thirty miles northeast of Austin in Williamson County. It was once called Springtown or Stringtown but was renamed for Mona House, daughter of Edward Mandell House, friend and advisor of President Woodrow Wilson. Colonel House owned a large farm at Monadale, inherited from his grandfather, and visited it occasionally. A gin was built at the community in 1899, and some French immigrants lived there. House offered ten acres for a school, but the community wanted the school building elsewhere. The school became part of the Hutto system in 1949. In the early 1980s only farmhouses and a scattered population remained.

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Clara Stearns Scarbrough, Land of Good Water: A Williamson County History (Georgetown, Texas: Williamson County Sun Publishers, 1973).

 


 

 

 

 
 

road map 1


road map 2


Satellite Map

GPS Coordinates
Latitude: 30.589584- Longitude:-97.534221


 

 

 


The Monodale  Community
Historical Narrative by Bernie Downing

The farming community of Monodale was located south of Mustang Creek at the northeast corner of the present junction of County Roads 100 and 132, five miles north of Hutto. Today, only a few scattered farm houses remain to mark the site of this early settlement.

In 1870 when Texas was readmitted to the Union, the land surrounding what was to become Monodale was a broad blackland prairie owned by three landlords. The southwest side was owned by Hugh Burns; the west side made up the Weiss farm; while some 1215 acres on the north and east side were owned by a wealthy Houston business man, Thomas William House (1814-1880). [1]

After House's death in 1880, the land belonging to his estate passed to his youngest son, Edward Mandell House (1858-1938) [2]. Born in Houston, the younger House was educated in the east, including several years at Cornell University. After his return to Texas he married Loulie Hunter on August 4, 1881. From his home in Austin, where they moved in 1895, House kept an active and continuing interest in his Williamson County farm. However, despite his vested interest in agriculture for some 30 years, his main interest was in public affairs. He played an influential role in the successful campaigns of Governors Hogg, Culbertson, Sayers and Latham during the 1894-1904 period. Sources vary as to whether it was Governor Hogg or Governor Culbertson who rewarded House by bestowing the honorary title of "lieutenant colonel". Having become a powerful political force in Texas politics, House played a major role in securing Woodrow Wilson's nomination as the Democratic candidate for President in 1912. After Wilson's election he was offered a choice of Cabinet positions although he never accepted a Cabinet seat. As the president's trusted advisor, he undertook several important European missions for the president when the United States became involved in World War I, and was instrumental in winning the support of Britain and France in accepting Wilson's Fourteen Points as the basis for peace. Before his retirement in late 1919, he represented Wilson at London in drafting the League of Nations covenant. [3]

As more and more families settled in the area then commonly known as Stringtown, [4] it became evident that a school was needed. The farmers did not have time to get their children to and from the nearest schools five or more miles away in Hutto or Taylor. In 1893 Col. House donated an acre of land on the southwestern corner of his property, [5] and together the farmers subscribed money to build a one room school building, 22' x 28'. House's overseer, J. A. Barclay, suggested the school be named "Monadale" [6] after House's daughter, Mona; and the community also adopted that name. Being appreciative of Col. House's gift of land, they did intend for the school to be named in Mona's honor. However, it was officially recorded as the "Monodale" School District, [7] and this became the generally accepted
pronunciation and spelling, as evidenced by early student report cards.

By 1896 the area had become rather thickly settled. Taylor had become a major rail center, and cotton was a major crop in this part of Williamson County. Dick Smith purchased some of the land belonging to the Weiss ranch, in turn selling to five farmers. The House ranch had been put into cultivation, with Barclay as overseer. Hugh Burns also put his land into
cultivation and built rent houses for tenant farmers. [6]

By 1899 the farmers had organized a gin company known as the Swedish Gin of Stringtown. This gin played a vital part in the economic history of the community. In 1904 the gin was sold to Harvey Trueman Stearns and sons, who were currently operating six gins in Williamson County. Paul Nelson of Hutto purchased the gin from Stearns in 1906 and operated it until it was decommissioned in 1964. [4]-[8]

By 1912 the one-room school had become too small to accommodate the students, and another room was added. By 1921 still another room was built, and residents voted to tax themselves for the purpose of maintaining the building and adding basic necessities. [9]

During the 1920's a great deal of consolidation was taking place throughout the state, and many small rural schools were being vacated. Although the Monodale School District lacked the 9 square miles usually required for a school district, it was allowed to remain active because of the unusual interest of the local families and the academic interest of the Monodale students who went on to schools of higher grades. The Monodale school, with grades 1 through 8, remained active until 1949 when it consolidated with Hutto. [4] The building was then purchased by the Hutto Baptist church and moved to Hutto where it now serves as the church kitchen and dining hall.

From 1919 to 1936 the author of this history lived approximately 75 yards south of the school, which he attended through the 5th grade. His father, 0. B. Downing (1889-1973), built a baseball field and served as unofficial coach for both boys and girls softball teams. In 1912, the author's uncle, Sam Downing (1873-1958) purchased some 500 acres of land from Col. House which included the one-acre tract where the school stood. Subsequently the property passed to Sam's son, Bennie, who sold it to the current owner, Norman Fuessel, in 1961. [10]

Monodale school was unique, not only for the fact that a nationally prominent person and close confidant of a president of the United States donated the land upon which the school was built. Many of the residents, who were predominantly of Swedish or Czeckoslovakian origin, were recent immigrants. All had a deep-seated respect for education. The school was a beacon of hope - the first step in escaping the back-breaking drudgery inherent in farming before mechanization.

In October 1984 some 120 ex-students of the Monodale school met for their first reunion to reminisce about school days and picking cotton by hand. They also paid their respects to all their former teachers: Maimie Anderson, Gertrude Beach, Vera Bushing, Winnie Dahl, Hugh Davenport, Edna Frisch, Moody Galbreath, Margie Hamilton, Kate Hays, Irene Cravens, Pearl Highsmith, Irene Keeling, Mrs. Howard Lindell, Mrs. McCluny, Edna Louise McMaster, H. M. Roark, Max Roark, Gladys Rydell, Lenita Torn, Eloise Voss and Mr. Zorn.

Annual reunions on the third Sunday in October have continued since 1984.

Researched and written by:
Bernie Downing

 

                         

                              view other communities pages