The Texas Hill Country

Lampasas in 1882

East Third Street looking West from Northwest corner of Public Square

The History:

Lampasas is presently a small town of about 8,000 people nestled in the rolling hills of Central Texas, and surrounded by seven mineral springs; two of which produce more than 3,000,000 gallons of water daily.

There are several theories on how the name Lampasas came to be. The Texas Almanac states the word came from a Spanish word for "lillies" that are found in nearby streams. Another source states the word comes from the Spanish word "Lampazos", the name given to the river by the Spanish Aquayo Expedition in 1721. It is believed the name was inspired by a Mexican town that also had beautiful springs.

Tonkawas, Apaches, and Commanches were frequent visitors to these medicinal springs long before the first white settler came. Flowing springs, rivers and streams filled with fish and a countryside teeming with game made the area a popular spot for the Indians to camp.

The first white man to come to the Lampasas Sulphur Springs was Moses Hughes. Mr Hughes had heard of the healing springs from the Indians. He came to the springs in 1853 seeking relief for his wife who had dropsy. She soon became well and from the time this fact became known, hundreds of people came to the springs seeking relief from their illnesses.

On 26 April 1838 John Burleson received 1,280 acres of land for his services in the Texas Revolution. Soon after he heard of the springs being located near his land, Mr. Burleson came to the newly settled territory. He was the first man to settle on his own land in what is now Lampasas County, and the settlement around the springs was locally called Burleson, but it was never named such, as a post office.

In 1850, Bell County was created by an act of the Legislature and that part of the present Lampasas County in the watersheds of the Brazos River, including the townsite of Burleson was attached to Bell County. When Coryell County was created in 1854, that part of the now present Lampasas County was attached to Coryell County.
On 1 February 1856, Lampasas County was created by an act of the sixth Congress. The act specified that "the county seat shall be at the present site of Burleson, which shall be called Lampasas," the same as the county name. The City of Lampasas was chartered in 1873 and officially incorporated in 1883, the same year the stone courthouse was completed.

The first business of major importance to the new settlement was Hughes Mill on Sulphur Creek. It was located near the present fourth Street bridge.This Mill and the Hughes' log residence were the first buildings in the town of Lampasas.

The first store near the springs settlement was located south of Sulphur Creek near the Chestnut Street Bridge. It was owned by Ben Gooch.

The first church was of Baptist denomination. It stood on Main Street between Third and Fourth Streets. It was a plain wooden, box-like building.

The town grew and prospered with the coming of the railroad in 1882. The settlers no longer had to haul lumber and supplies from the railhead in Round Rock, and Lampasas became a supply stop for those traveling west. Spas and resorts were created. Schools and churches were built, and by the time I came along it was a good size town.

My Recollections:

My Shelton grandparents moved to Lampasas in the early 1900's, and I was born there in 1938. My memories are of the old Leroy Theater where my cousins, my sister, and I spent many Saturday afternoons watching the King of the Cowboys, Roy Rogers , put away the bad guys. Admission was 12 cents, eventually the fare went up to a quarter.
We loved the old musicals that played on Sunday, and passed many a day using Grandma's porch as a stage for our re-enactments of the singing and dancing of the musical stars like Doris Day, Gordon MacRae, Ann Miller and many others. I remember the Candy Kitchen on the square where Grandma and Grandpa would take us for ice cream after the show. We would sit in those old ice cream parlor chairs that you now see in antique shops. Then we would stroll around the town square.

Lampasas had the largest and the best public swimming pool in the entire state of Texas. It was spring fed from Hancock Springs, the water was a constant 72 degrees, cold and clear as glass. This was the local kids "hangout", and we should have pitched a tent, because that is where we spent the summer. One day I told my mother, "I am going to the pool and I am not coming home til I know how to swim" and I did it too! That was a many long year ago because I barely remember not knowing how to swim.

I started school there in 1944, and my first grade teacher was Mrs. Casbeer. I don't remember much about any other teachers until I entered middle school. I loved to sing and my favorite was Mrs. Brooks who taught music. I fondly remember Mrs. Betsy Page, a wonderful, motherly woman who was the Principle of Junior High. The Mrs. Elsner, author of the book "Lamplights of Lampasas" from which I took the above written history, was my sixth grade teacher. I remember her as giving me a hard time on occasion, as I was prone to daydreaming. Still do.
I hated math, loved history, and my grades went accordingly. I read all the Nancy Drew books in the school library, and played a lot of jump rope and jacks with great skill.
I never ate a meal in the lunch room that I can remember, but I can still taste the chili dogs served at the Red Hop across from the school house where most of us went for lunch.

I loved my school and my football team, the Lampasas Badgers, and I am still a fan of theirs though I never see a game there anymore. I can still remember the first game ever played between Lampasas and Hamilton. It was sleeting hard, and cold as the devil on those bleachers. We had a one point lead, but Hamilton had a first down on the goal line, and almost two minutes on the clock. Well, we won that game and Mickey Bozarth was carried off the field as the deciding factor in preventing Hamilton from scoring. I thought my mother was going to fall off the stands she was so excited. The Dallas Cowboys give her that thrill now.

I would say Lampasas was a great place for a kid to grow up. I skated those sidewalks and rode my bicycle all over that town and life was pretty simple then.
Old men sit on the town square whittling on wood, once in a while talking. My grandpa was one of those who could be found there most afternoons, and was good for a nickel or dime, with which you could buy a candy bar and a RC Cola in those days.
Window shopping on the square on Saturday night was a popular activity, or just sitting in your car and people watching. This was long before television of course; when socializing was in fashion. I really think we have lost something along the way.


Links: City Of Lampasas


Notes and Sources:

Photo and historical information on Lampasas taken from the book "Lamplights of Lampasas" by Elsner





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