Williamson County
Historical Commission



Round Rock Texas


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The Time Capsules stories are prepared by Bob Brinkman
Texas Historical Commission

Planting the Seeds of Settlement

             1746 - Visitors have found Williamson County to be at the crossroads of activity for generations. Lying at the boundary between a broad coastal plain and the rolling hills of Central Texas, the area has long been a mixture of plants, animals, and people. When Spain ruled the land, their first major expedition through this country was in 1716, crossing Brushy Creek and the San Gabriel River on their way to their easternmost possessions in Louisiana. This expedition named Brushy Creek Arroyo de las Benditas Animas, or Creek of the Blessed Souls, and named the San Gabriel in honor of San Xavier, names by which these waterways were known for a century more. The Upper Road (Camino Arriba) through present Williamson County served as an alternate route to the more familiar King’s Highway (Camino Real) further south that connected Louisiana, San Antonio, and New Spain.

             The Spaniards were impressed with the natural resources they found, and returned to establish missions to educate and convert the native tribes of Central Texas, including the Tonkawa and Apaches. The Spaniards also hoped that their efforts would lead to permanent settlement in the area. Franciscan missionaries from the College of Santa Cruz in Queretaro in New Spain sponsored the missions, while the Spanish military built a presidio nearby for protection from Indian attacks. Three missions were established between the San Gabriel and Brushy Creek, near the current Williamson-Milam county line: San Francisco Xavier de Horcasitas, San Ildefonso and Nuestra Senora de la Candelaria. The missions were built a short distance apart between 1746 and 1749, with the presidio, San Francisco de Gigedo, added in 1751 to protect the missionaries from hostile native groups. At its height the mission complex served more than 400 Indians, making it the largest settlement in the Texas province between San Antonio de Bexar and Nacogdoches. Repeated attacks by Comanches and other hostile tribes forced the missions to relocate to the San Saba and San Marcos rivers in 1756. Today virtually nothing remains of this early attempt to settle the countryside. But their ten year mission here lay the foundation for more permanent settlement of the region.

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