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A brief history of early settlement of Steiner Ranch

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Posted: Wednesday, March 9, 2011 2:08 pm

You might wonder who previously settled the present-day area around Steiner Ranch. Getting here from downtown (such as it was in the 1800s) took a day-long ride by horse, and there were not many places to cross the Colorado River. Our area became popular with the discovery of crossings such as Lohmann’s Crossing and Marshall’s Ford, the site of the original Marshall Ford Dam and the present-day Mansfield Dam.

German Immigrant John Henry Lohmann landed in Galveston with a wife and four small children during the winter of 1842. They made their way northward by ox-cart, stopped briefly at Hornsby Bend, then settled on a tract of land on a hill overlooking the small community of Austin. Lohmann called the place Ridgetop, but it is better known today as the site of the University of Texas.

  Lohmann established the first dairy in Travis County in 1845. His herd of 11 cows supplied enough milk for the entire Austin community, which included about 35 primitive dwellings and a crude capitol building. Lohmann continued the operation until 1861, when he homesteaded a fertile site along the river about 17 miles northwest of Austin and built a large stone house and five tenant cabins.

  He also built and maintained a private road to a shallow river crossing, or ford. According to Lohmann, the crossing at normal river level was “up to a horse’s belly, but a man could jump across it during a drought.”  In time the access became known as Lohmann’s Ford Road but the name was somehow changed through local usage and one “n” was dropped from the name. 

Lohmann’s Ford was one of several such accesses that enabled pioneer families to cross the Colorado River, socialize with friends in neighboring communities and grind their corn at Anderson Mill.  Today it is shown on local maps as Lohman’s Crossing Road.

  The Hudson Family settled here in 1854 on land near the Colorado River bend which bears their name. The 1860 Census recorded a Wiley Hudson, his wife Catherine and their children. It also listed a household headed by his father, James Hudson. The Hudsons acquired four of the 25 original surveys made on the 4,000-acre Hudson Bend tract.

  Another prominent area name is Stewart. Benjamin K. Stewart came here by covered wagon from Tennessee in 1850. He purchased 1,500 acres of river-front land at Hurst Creek inlet and built a homestead on the site now known as Vineyard Bay. In addition to his ranching operation, Ben served in the militia and fought Indians. Many of his descendants live in the Austin area today.

  Bee Cave’s name was the result of an oddity. In the 1870s Carl Beck operated a store on Highway 71. A swarm of bees built a nest under the eave of his store and, as it grew in size, it gradually took on the appearance of a cave. People passing by stopped to marvel at the grotesque “bee cave” until the oddity became the name of the location. Some researchers claim that the building known as Buck’s Place today was part of Beck’s original store.

  The two main communities in 1900 were Bee Cave and Teck. The name for Teck also came about as an oddity. Its original name was Eck Community, after Leonard Eck who operated a general store. The original Eck community school was a one-room building on Eck Community Road (now Kollmeyer). When Eck applied for a post office for his store, postal authorities required a name with at least four letters. Leonard solved the dilemma by adding the letter “T” to Eck and everything became Teck instead of Eck.” 




Sources: C. L. Dowell, “Dams and Reservoirs in Texas: History and Descriptive Information” (Texas Water Commission Bulletin 6408); Barker Texas History Center, University of Texas at Austin; and “Lakeway, the First 25 Years,” by Byron D. Varner.


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