Rocks of Ages: Northwest Austin's Historic Quarry

Print PDF
(3 votes)

October 31, 2010 -  

When my two children were young enough to enjoy monkeybars and swingsets we spent many pleasant hours at Austin's Northwest Park (since renamed Beverly S. Sheffield Northwest District Park after an early parks administrator).  We swam in the park's pool, tossed bread crumbs to hungry ducks meandering the grounds, watched fish guard their eggs in the shallows of the pond, and climbed among the large chunks of limestone jutting out along a short bluff lining one side of the park.  At the time I gave little thought to these rocks, in appearance no different than any other I had seen scattered by the thousands across the Hill Country landscape.  But one day, instead of racing with my two excited offspring up the steps to the swimming pool gate, I paused to read the historic marker situated unobtrusively near the entrance.  I had always assumed that the marker merely offered a mundane rendering of the park's creation.  I was wrong.  For the land comprising Northwest Park had once belonged to George W. Davis, whose nearby family cemetery I have already noted on this website as a rare reminder of Austin's earliest Anglo heritage.  And in the early 1850's Davis and the state of Texas turned to the rocky terrain during construction of nothing less than the new state capitol.

Add a comment

Read more...

When Rabies Was King

Print PDF
(4 votes)

October 25, 2010 -

"Texas Disposal Systems" and "exotic game ranch" are two phrases that would seem so disparate as to never be used in the same sentence.  Slap the two together, though, and you come up with the name of one of the most popular sites for charity events in Travis County.  A recent invitation to an event at the ranch gave me my first glimpse of the place, but even before we turned onto the property my eyes fixated on the historical marker adjacent to the entry gate.  "Is that for the ranch?" I asked my host.  "No," he replied, it's for the cemetery."

Add a comment

Read more...

The Republic of Austin is Launched

Print PDF
(2 votes)

October 14, 2010 -

Thanks to everyone who attended the release of The Republic of Texas (Waterloo Press) at the Texas Capitol last week.  I was pleasantly surprised at the large turnout.  My expectation had been that I would stand around drinking punch and chatting with fellow Texas history buffs but, to my surprise, I spent the entire two hours signing books.  Ray Spivey, the book's illustrator, and I greeted many old friends but also made many new acquaintences as we sat at Representative Edmund Kuempel's desk and scribbled our names.  Ray and Representative Kuempel go way back; Representative Kuempel was kind enough to lend us his office for the event.

Add a comment

Read more...

A Bully Poker Player

Print PDF
(6 votes)

September 21, 2010 - 

Below is another excerpt from my upcoming book The Republic of Austin, in which I present 24 true stories of life in and around the Lone Star capital during the days of the Republic of Texas.  Maps, photographs, and Ray Spivey's illustrations supplement the text.  Waterloo Press plans an early October release, highlighted by a reception at the Texas Capitol October 6, 4:30-6:30 PM in Room 3N.6 which Ray and I will both attend.  We also plan a book signing October 9 12-2 PM at Read It Again And Again in Houston (5300 North Braeswood) and will appear at the Waterloo Press table at the Texas Book Festival in Austin on October 16.

Add a comment

Read more...

Star Hill Ranch: A Dream Come True

Print PDF
(7 votes)

September 3, 2010 -

"The only way to make it happen," said Adam Woolley, shifting his feet nervously among the dusty rocks at his feet, "is for you to sell that land."  Adam stood on a hilltop near Bee Cave under a starry Texas night sky.  His mother absorbed the words of her son while looking around her at the darkness of the cedar forest surrounding them.  Finally, she looked Adam in the eye and replied, "What are you going to call it?"

Add a comment

Read more...

Danger in the Night

Print PDF
(4 votes)

August 22, 2010 -

What follows is an excerpt from my upcoming book The Republic of Austin, to be released through Waterloo Press October 1, 2010.  If you like what you read, please let your local bookseller know and ask them to contact me for information about stocking the book.  My email address is This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Add a comment

Read more...