Michael has a BA in History & American Studies and an MSc in American History from the University of Edinburgh. He comes from a proud military family and has spent most of his career as an educator in the Middle East and Asia. His passion is travel, and he seizes any opportunity to share his experiences in the most immersive way possible, whether at sea or on the land.

Texas Hill Country Trail Region

Markers (click on a topic to jump to that section.)
American History, Center for | Austin History Center | Barton Springs | Camp Mabry | Carver Museum, George Washington | Daughters of the Republic of Texas Museum | Driscoll, Clara | Eanes History Center | Major John B. Jones | Jourdan Bachman Pioneer Farm | Mount Bonnell | Neill-Cochran Museum House | Ney Museum, Elisabet | O. Henry Museum | Old Rock Store | Smith Visitor Center | Steele, William | Texas Military Forces Museum | Travis County
Uncommemorated and Unmapped Sites
Coleman's Suffer Indian Attack | Donaldson, Captain George M. | Travis County Indian Encounters
Uncommemorated Sites (click on a topic to jump to that section.)
Bastrop Indian Attack | Camp Austin | Fort Colorado | Hibbons Story | Indians Steal Coleman Fort's Remuda | Lieutenant Wren's Ambush

Map of Travis County

1861 Central Hill Country
Civil War Era-Austin

Center for American History

Museum Name: The Center for American History
Mailing Address: Sid Richardson Hall 2.101
City: Austin
Zip Code: 78712
Street Address: 2313 Red River
Area Code: 512
Phone: 495-4515
County: Travis

Austin History Center

Museum Name: Austin History Center
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 2287
City: Austin
Zip Code: 78768-2287
Street Address: 810 Guadalupe St.
Area Code: 512
Phone: 499-7480
County: Travis

Barton Springs

Marker Title: Barton Springs
Address: Barton Springs Dr.
City: Austin
County: Travis
Marker Location: Barton Springs Drive, at entrance to pool house. Austin.
Marker Text: Clear and icy, these springs over the years have drawn Indians, pioneers, and tourists to this spot. The waters are brought from the limestone strata to the surface by the Balcones Fault, which bisects Central Texas. Average flow is 27,000,000 gallons daily. During 1730-1731, Spanish friars located three missions here. Colorful settler William "Uncle Billy" Barton patented the land about 1837, naming two of the springs for his daughters Parthenia and Eliza. His two tame baby buffalos soon began to attract sightseers to his place, in spite of constant danger from Indian attacks. As the place gained in popularity, one astute Austin merchant installed a merry-go-round here and rented bathing suits to swimmers. In 1871 he and several others built ice-making machines at the springs. In addition, flour mills, sawmills, and a quarry appeared along the creek banks. About 1875 the riverboat "Sunbeam" ran excursions to Barton's at 50 cents a round trip. At one period a ferry was located here on a main road to Austin. Between 1901 and 1913 A. J. Zilker, leading merchant, bought this land and in 1918 and 1931 deeded it to the people of Austin for use as a park.

Camp Mabry

Marker Title: Camp Mabry
Address: W. 35th Street, Loop 1
City: Austin
County: Travis
Marker Location: Camp Mabry ground, near W. 35th St. entrance, Austin.

George Washington Carver Museum

Museum Name: George Washington Carver Museum
City: Austin
Zip Code: 78702
Street Address: 1165 Angelina Street
Area Code: 512
Phone: 472-4809
County: Travis

Daughters of the Republic of Texas Museum

Museum Name: Daughters of the Republic of Texas Museum
City: Austin
Zip Code: 78752
Street Address: 510 E. Anderson Lane
Area Code: 512
Phone: 339-1997
County: Travis

Clara Driscoll

Marker Title: Clara Driscoll
Address: 2312 San Gabriel Ave.
City: Austin
County: Travis
Marker Location: 2312 San Gabriel Ave., Austin.
Marker Text: Patriot, philanthropist, writer, public figure. Born at St. Mary's, Refugio County; daughter of Robert and Julia Fox Driscoll, and descendant of a hero of San Jacinto; was educated in Texas, New York and France. In 1903 came her finest hour. When the public was shocked at plans for destroying The Alamo in San Antonio, she saved the shrine by buying it to give the State of Texas time to redeem and preserve it. In 1905-06 she published two novels, "The Girl of La Gloria" and "In The Shadow of The Alamo", and had on Broadway a musical comedy, "Mexicana". In 1992 organized the Pan-American Round Table in Austin; served as Democratic National Committee woman from Texas,1928-1944; was president of Daughters of the Republic of Texas, the Big Bend Park Association, and Corpus Christi Bank and Trust Company. This headquarters building of the Texas Federation of Women's Clubs is a monument to her generosity, for her 1939 gift of $92,000 paid off debts against it. In 1943 she gave her home, Laguna Gloria, to the Texas Fine Arts Association, for a museum. She died in Corpus Christi, leaving the bulk of her estate to a foundation for the care of crippled and diseased children. Outstanding Women of Texas Series, 1967.

Eanes History Center

Museum Name: Eanes History Center
City: Austin
Zip Code: 78746-6416
Street Address: 204 Eanes School Rd
County: Travis

Major John B. Jones

Marker Title: Major John B. Jones
City: Austin
County: Travis
Year Marker Erected: 1964
Marker Location
: Camp Mabry, on W 35th St., just W. of Loop 1 overpass, Austin.
Marker Text: Famed defender of the frontier. Instilled ideals of excellence into Texas Rangers. Born in South Carolina. Came to Republic of Texas 1839. Educated at Old Baylor and Rutersville, where students had to defend school from Indian attacks. In Civil War, 1861-65, served with Terry's Texas Rangers and Speight's Texas Infantry Battalion. Was appointed May 1, 1874, by Governor Richard Coke to organized and field the Frontier Battalion, Texas Rangers. Duty was to stop Indian depredations, bandit raids from Mexico,and lawlessness that resulted from federal Reconstruction. At once put six Ranger companies at frontier post 100 miles apart. In first six months patrolled 22,250 miles. Defeated Indians in numerous engagements, sending them back to their reservations. Broke up rustling. Brought end to famous and violent outbreaks, including Mason County War, Horrell-Higgins feud, Kimble County trouble, El Paso Salt War. In 1878 brought to justice San Bass gang of train and bank robbers. Became adjutant general of Texas, January 1879. In 1880-81 directed tracking down and quieting of Victorio's Apache Indian bands. Buried in Oakwood Cemetery,

Jourdan Bachman Pioneer Farm

Museum Name: Jourdan Bachman Pioneer Farm
City: Austin
Zip Code: 78754
Street Address: 11418 Sprinkle Cut Off Road
Area Code: 512
Phone: 837-1215
County: Travis

Mount Bonnell

Marker Title: Mount Bonnell
Address: Mt. Bonnell Rd., Mt. Bonnell Park
City: Austin
County: Travis
Year Marker Erected: 1969
Marker Text: Rising 775 feet above sea level, this limestone height was named for George W. Bonnell, who came to Texas with others to fight for Texas Independence 1836. Was commissioner of Indian affairs in Republic of Texas under President Sam Houston Moved in 1839 to Austin; there published the "Texan Sentinel" 1840 Member Texan-Santa Fe Expedition, 1841. Was captured but released in time to join Mier Expedition, 1842. Was killed in camp on Rio Grande, Dec. 26. 1842. Frontiersman W. A. A. "Big Foot" Wallace killed an Indian he met face to face while crossing a narrow ledge 50 feet above the river, 1839. He also took refuge in a Mount Bonnell cave to recover from "Flux", but was missing so long that his sweetheart eloped. In the mid-1800s, Mormons moved on West. Mount Bonnell was a site of picnics and outings in 1850s and 1860s, as it is today. Legend has it that as excursion to the place in the 1850s inspired the popular song, "Wait for the Wagon and We'll All Take a Ride." As a stunt in 1898, Miss Hazel Keyes slid down a cable stretched from the top of Mount Bonnell to the south bank on then Lake McDonald below. (1969).

Neill-Cochran Museum House

Museum Name: Neill-Cochran Museum House
City: Austin
Zip Code: 78705
Street Address: 2310 San Gabriel Street
Area Code: 512
Phone: 478-2335
County: Travis

Elisabet Ney Museum

Museum Name: Elisabet Ney Museum
City: Austin
Zip Code: 78751
Street Address: 304 E. 44th Street
Area Code: 512
Phone: 458-2255
County: Travis

O. Henry Museum

Museum Name: O. Henry Museum
City: Austin
Zip Code: 78701
Street Address: 409 E 5th Street
Area Code: 512
Phone: 472-1903
County: Travis

Old Rock Store

Marker Title: Old Rock Store
Address: 6266 Hwy. 290W
City: Austin
County: Travis
Year Marker Erected: 1970
Marker Text: Influenced by the style of early German rock buildings in central Texas, James Andrew Patton (1853-1944) supervised the construction of this building in 1898. A German mason laid the stone. Patton fought Comanches as a Texas Ranger and was a civic leader and local postmaster. He was known affectionately as "the mayor of Oak Hill." He and his family, followed by others, operated a general store here for many years. The building also housed a local Woodmen of the World lodge hall on the second floor. Recorded Texas Historic Landmark - 1970.

Smith Visitor Center

Museum Name: Smith Visitor Center
City: Austin
Zip Code: 78744
Street Address: 5808 McKinney Falls Pkwy
Area Code: 512
Phone: 243-1643
County: Travis

William Steele

Marker Title: William Steele
Address: W. 35th St., at entrance to Camp Mabry, W. of Loop 1
City: Austin
County: Travis
Year Marker Erected: 1963
Marker Text: Born New York. Graduate West Point. In Seminole and Mexican Wars. Resigned U. S. Army to serve Confederacy. Colonel, 7th Texas Cavalry. In New Mexico Campaign General. Commander Indian Territory 1863 and Galveston Defenses 1864. Led Cavalry Division Red River Campaign. Gave Distinguished service various Louisiana actions against invasion of Texas. As Texas Adjutant General after reconstruction rebuilt Texas Rangers to restore order and control Indians. Erected by the State of Texas, 1963.

Texas Military Forces Museum

Museum Name: Texas Military Forces Museum
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 5218
City: Austin
Zip Code: 78763-5218
Street Address: 3500 W 35th St. (78703)
Area Code: 512
Phone: 465-5659
County: Travis

Travis County

Marker Title: Travis County
Address: 1715 W. 1st, near Austin High
City: Austin
County: Travis
Year Marker Erected: 1936
Marker Location: 1st St. and MOPAC (under the bridge) at pedestrian crossing, Austin.

Bastrop Indian Attack

May 14th, 1836, a band of ten to fifteen Comanches carrying a white flag approached men working in the Hornsby's field. John Williams and Howell Haggard were speared and shot down. The other men took cover and the Indians eventually decided against another attack and departed with a hundred head of cattle from the neighborhood.

Camp Austin

In 1846, during the Mexican War, a detachment of the 2nd Dragoons of the U. S. Army was moved from Indian Territory to Austin. Their camp, like many other holding camps at the time had no name. Two years later, the camp was named Camp Austin and was more involved with paperwork than patrols. When the Civil War broke out, the camps arsenal manufactured cannons and cartridges. Following the Civil War, 26 regiments of Federal infantry and cavalry were stationed here to restore order in Texas. Camp Austin at this time consisted mostly of tents with a mess hall, kitchen, bakery, and quarters. In August of 1875, the camp's garrison was closed and troops were moved to the frontier.

Fort Colorado
Camp Coleman Picture
Fort or Camp Coleman, also Fort Colorado

After Texas gained its independence, Sam Houston authorized the formation of Texas Rangers and the establishment of blockhouses to protect settlers from Indian attacks. Two facilities were near Austin in 1836. The Texas Rangers established Camp Coleman, or Fort Colorado, as it would later be called. It was on high ground above the north bank of the Colorado River just west of Walnut Creek and six miles southeast of Austin in present-day Travis County. Built during 1836 by Colonel Robert M. Coleman, it was first garrisoned by two companies of his battalion. Lieutenant William H. Moore was the last commander of the fort when it was abandoned in April 1838. There are no remains of the blockhouse, abandoned as the frontier moved westward.

Hibbons Story

January 20th, 1836. Ten miles northwest of Austin. The following story is from the book, The Texas Rangers, by Walter Prescott Webb:

    The Rangers were an irregular body; they were mounted; they furnished their own horses and arms; they had no surgeon, no flag, none of the paraphernalia of the regular service. They were distinct from the regular army and also from the militia…

    Major Robert McAlpin Williamson Picture
    Major Robert McAlpin Williamson
    The crutch (pictured above) was needed because he wore a wooden leg thus the nickname Three-legged Willie. He previously commanded a Ranger company in 1835 in Col. Moore's battalion. He liked to tell a story about laying an ambush for some Indians that had been trailing his company for days. He ordered an extra large camp fire built that evening and had the men wrap their blankets around logs so it would appear the whole company was asleep. The Indians attacked their prey with knives and by the time they realized they were striking wooden logs, they were wiped out by Ranger gunfire.

    The officers of this ranging corps were elected on the night of November 28. The captains were Isaac W. Burton, William H. Arrington, and John J. Tumlinson. R. M. Williamson and James Kerr were nominated for the office of major. Williamson was elected. Noah Smithwick served under Tumlinson and R. M. Williamson, and has left us some account of what these Rangers did. Texas had an army of five or six hundred men, and was preparing to invade Mexico. The Indians took advantage of the situation and began to raid the frontier and murder the citizens. 'So,' says Smithwick, 'the government provided for their protection as best it could with the means at its disposal, graciously permitting the citizens to protect themselves by organizing and equipping ranging companies.'Since Smithwick's account gives such an excellent idea of the nature of the Rangers' work in this early period, it is given in his own words. Click on picture below for his account.

    Noah Smithwick Picture
    Noah Smithwick
Indians Steal Coleman Fort's Remuda

In April of 1837 at Fort Coleman, Lieutenant Nicholas Wren and a handful of men took the company's remuda up the creek to graze. A band of Indians swept down at a full run, yelling and whistling, stampeding the herd. A portion of the horses ran toward the fort and Ranger Smithwick opened the gate. Ranger Felix McCluskey had just mounted his horse at the fort and took out after the Indians and the rest of the herd. He was joined by Smithwick who later wrote:

"Old Isaac Castner, who had left the service and was then living at Hornsby's, had been up to the fort and was jogging along leisurely on his return. He had crossed the creek and gained the open prairie when he heard the clattering of hoofs coming in his rear. He turned in his saddle and took one look behind. The frightened animals pursued by McCluskey and myself were bearing right down on him. We had lost our hats in the wild race, and our hair flying in the wind gave us much the appearance of Indians. Uncle Isaac, who, as previously stated, weighed about 200 pounds, laid whip to his horse, which was a good animal, and led off across the prairie to Hornsby's Station, about a mile distance, the horses following in his wake and we trying to get in ahead of them. McCluskey's sense of fun took in the situation. "Be Jasus," said he, "look at him run!" and the reckless creature could not refrain from giving a war whoop to help the old man along.

Hearing the racket, the men at Hornsby's fort ran out, and seeing the chase, threw the gate open. Breathless from fright and exhaustion, Castner ran in, gasping, "Injuns.""

On the 28th of April, the Indians raided Fort Smith's remuda on the Little River, escaping with an even larger portion of Captain Daniel Monroe's Rangers horses but Lieutenant Wren was singled out to be reprimanded by President Houston for allowing his horses to graze outside the fort without mounted guards. An early valuable lesson not forgotten by later Rangers.

Lieutenant Wren's Ambush

Around March of 1837, Captain Andrew's Rangers were enjoying the evening on the Colorado River at Coleman's Fort, also called Fort Colorado or Houston. Noah Smithwick wrote:

"The older men were smoking and spinning yards, the younger ones dancing, while I tortured the catgut. The festivities were brought to a sudden close by a bright flame that suddenly shot up on a high knoll overlooking the present site of Austin from the opposite side of the river. Fixing our eyes steadily on the flame, we distinctly saw dark objects passing and repassing in front of it. Our scouts had seen no signs of Indians, still, we knew no white men would so recklessly expose themselves in an Indian country, and at once decided they were Indians."

The Rangers found and attacked the Indian band, killing several and capturing all their horses and equipment but lost a good man in the process, Ranger Philip Martin.

Coleman's Fort Leg
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