Williamson County
Historical Commission

 

 

Old Stage Coach Inn
Round Rock, Texas


From The Historic Round Rock Collection


From The Historic Round Rock Collection


from The Historic Round Rock Collection
901 Round Rock Ave.

 


 
 

 
Old Stage Coach Inn - Round Rock

(By Mabel Christie Halley, McGregor, Texas)

 

 On the crest of a hill overlook­ing Brushy Creek at Round Rock is one of the oldest and best pre­served of any of the old stage stops in Texas. The work on the building was begun by John Har­ris, the owner, in 1848. It was completed in 1853. At that time the stage from Brownsville to Salado, carrying mail and pas­sengers, passed through the little town of Brushy (as Round Rock was then called) once a week. An out of state line from Helena, Arkansas, to San Antonio also passed this way. 

 

According to the late Mr. Walter Oatts of Austin, whose father was the postmaster at Brushy, the driver of the stage would blow his horn when the stage was about a mile away. When the horn sounded almost everyone in the vicinity would trudge up the hill to the Inn to be on hand when the stage came in. Mr. Oatts recalled that "the arrival of the stage was heralded by the honks from a large flock of geese owned by the inn." 

 

The inn was always used for an exchange station for the horses and a place for the passengers to rest. Probably because of its nearness to Austin it was not al­ways necessary to furnish food or provide lodgings for the travel­ers, except in extremely cold or wet weather. At such time, the passengers would probably have to stay for a week or longer. It is said that John Barrie was a genial host and his wife, the former Susie Anna Tisdale, a gracious hostess who always looked after the comfort of the guests. 

 

It was Mr. Harris’ boast that every bedroom in the inn had its own feather beds. This explains the geese. 

 

After the railroad came to Round Rock (1876) the need for an inn at this point gradually decreased. However, John Har­ris operated the inn for a few years longer before he bowed to the changes brought about by the beginning of a new era in transportation and closed the Inn. Upon his death at the age of eighty seven, the house became the property of his son, Jack Harris, who with his wife, the formers Annie Graham, lived there for many years and reared a family of five children, two of whom are now living. They are Mrs. Leona Hanle Carlson of Round Rock and Miss Nom Harris of San Antonio. 

 

Built by its original owner, more than a century ago from the rocks taken from the hill upon which it stands, the old inn retains all of its original charm combined with an added mellowness of age. The floors of a large front room and the wide en­trance hall were originally of cedar that was hauled from Brenham by oxcart. After years of usage, the floors bad taken on a dull gloss and found to be in good condition when they were recently covered with oak flooring. Mrs. Leona Harris Carlson, granddaughter of Inn-Keeper Harris, retails that when the floors were scrubbed a delightful aroma of cedar filled the house. 

 

Intrigued by the charm of the old inn, Donald Joseph, a noted Texas writer, bought it. He made many changes in the interior to add to the comfort of modern living. The exterior has been left unchanged and looks as it did in the early days. The approach to the double doorway leading into the wide hall is included under the same roof as the house itself. Rooms project from either side of the entrance. Two enormous chimneys flank the North and South ends of the house, and a fence built of native rock sun rounds it and follows the rugged contour of the hill. 

 

THE OLD ROUND ROCK STAGECOACH COACH INN was owned by Mrs. Harold Richard, who made it her home. On some days there were many visitors.  Mrs. Richards enjoyed showing people through this old inn that links the busy present to a fast receding past, but her main pleasure lied in showing her pants and beautiful flowers that add so much to the attractiveness of the Rice. 

 

Other than the two granddaughters mentioned above, the living descendants of Inn Keeper Harris and wife Anna are 5 great-grandsons who are as follows: Hiram Jack Harris Boyd (adopted son of Judge Ewing Boyed of Houston) who lives in California; Edwin Harris ("Garlo”) Carlson of Round Rock, Floyed R. Carlson of Round Rock, Leon Ernest Carlson of Round Rock, and Carl Jack Carlson of Austin.. . .

 

The writer is indebted to Mrs. Leona Harris Carlson of Round Rock for moth of the material obtained in this sketch.

 

 (Published February 2, 1956) - - Note – the inn was The Gumbo Restaurant

 


 

Harris Stagecoach Inn

 

Twenty miles north of Austin on D. S. Highway 81 is Round Rock, widely known as the scene of the last raid and the burial place of Texan bandit, Sam Bass. There too is the Harris Stagecoach Inn; one of the oldest and best preserved of the old stage stop in Texas.

 

Situated on a crest of a hill, overlooking Brushy Creek from the south, the stone structure was built in 1848 by John Harris. It served stagecoaches carrying mail] and passengers that traveled from Brownsville to Salado and also the stage line from Helena, Arkansas to San Antonio in the early days of the stagecoach inn, the town was called Brushy, On August 24, 1854, the name was changed to Round Rook, since the United States postmaster would not accept the name as there was already a Brushy, Texas on the Sabine River in east Texas. Denial of the first name caused Jimmy Harrell and Thomas B. Oatts to submit the name of Round Rock. This name woe chosen because travelers would delay their journey to water ani­mals in the spring-fed Brushy Creek by an old "round rock".  

 

The Harris Stagecoach inn was built of stone collected from the hill on which it stands. The floor was of cedar hauled by ox-cart from Bren­ham, Many illustrious visitors stopped there, among them were John Wes­ley Hardin, known as the “fastest gun in the West”; Soapy Smith, the notorious confidence man of Alaska; Ira Aten, known as the "Lone Star Man"; Prist Olive, noted cattleman from Williamson County who helped supply the stage line with a remuda of horses which were stabled south of the inn; and of course, Sam Bass “Texan, Beloved Bandit". 

 

In 1853 and years following, citizens of the area would gather at the stagecoach inn to view with curiosity the arrival of the stage and its travelers. Everyone knew when the stage was coning, as about one mile from Round Rock, the driver would blow a horn. Immediately after the sound of the horn, a large flock of geese owned "op John Harris would begin honking. The flock of geese was kept as (sic) the inn for the curlicue of supplying feathers for pillows and beds available to the overnight guests. 

 

John Harris and his wife, Susie, were gracious host. They provided clean, comfortable room; and served delicious meals of chicken and dump­lings, which was quite a change from the "hard tack' and dried beans offered at some of the other stage stops. 

 

The strategic location of the stagecoach inn is verified by the fact that later the main Brushy Creek crossing of the Chisholm Trail was very near the stage Stop, When the railroad Came to Round Rock in 1876, making it the western most terminal, need for the stagecoach inn gradually demolished, However, for many years the cattle drives along the Chisholm Trail continued to pass by the inn. 

 

Please help to preserve the old inn - read this article from the Austin American Statesman written by Cristina Pena -
 12-1-2013 -- click here for PDF

 


 

   
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