Round Rock, TX 1994… This is where our not so little family landed after a decade of sun and beach in Southern California and having acquired three children with another soon to arrive… It has been a wonderful place to raise a family. We were ahead of the wave of folks arriving from both coasts and have watched this sleepy little Texas town explode with growth. City officials have been pretty smart about managing this growth and Round Rock has truly become one of those really special places.
When we arrived this little community had a population of about 42,500 and today it is estimated to be over 121,000. There is anything and everything you would expect of a community that is now a small city with so many new commercial developments and rooftops. But, they have managed to maintain a sense of small town sensibilities and community.
Old Downtown Round Rock looks very similar to the way things were when it was first built. The buildings are historic and have been saved from modernization on the outside. The only exception to their quiet history being that it is now the year 2018 and it is a thriving and bustling downtown with celebrations, restaurants, cute shops and bars. Very hip and happening…
Michael Dell fell in love with this part of Texas when he was a student at University of Texas in Austin and chose Round Rock specifically as home base for his company, Dell Computer. Many other high tech firms followed suit. Round Rock welcomed them with open arms and offered a fantastic quality of life and affordable cost of living to the thousands of employees that now call Round Rock home. Life in this part of the country is pretty sweet! The Dell’s have been an amazing asset to this community in every way.
They have build baseball fields like the Dell Diamond in Round Rock and hospitals like Dell Children’s Hospital in Austin. The hospital was wonderful to our family when a precious grandchild was in need of specialized care. He and his wife Susan founded the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation in 1999 and to this date have committed more than 1.38 billion dollars. Yes, that is billion with a capital B.
“And in little and big ways, we move every child closer to the opportunities they deserve in life to achieve more.” ~Michael&Susan Dell Foundation
Memorial Park in central Round Rock is where you will find the famous ‘Round Rock’ where the town got its name.
In 1848, Mexico signed Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo relinquishing its claim to Texas. By census in 1850, this area in Williamson County now known as Round Rock had a population of 250 and a post office was established the next year. In 1860, the population of then Brushy Creek was 450 people.
By 1865, the Civil War had ended but the area was still finding its feet with Tonkawa, Shawnee and Comanche Indians who were being pushed out of the area. It was an unsettled time.
By 1870, the population was now 800 and the Chisholm Trail had cemented Round Rock as an important stage coach stop and low river water crossing. It was part of a cattle trail and trade route to Kansas City. The ‘rock’ was a landmark and the creek still has grooves from wagon wheels.
Round Rock has some interesting notoriety…
Bank robbers and infamous shoot outs to world famous donuts and world class BBQ (even by Texas standards). Sam Bass is Round Rocks’ own personal Old West Texas Outlaw!!!
Sam Bass and his gang… This is the only known photo of ‘The Black Hills Bandits’ Sam Bass, Joe Collins, John E Gardner and Joel Collins. They became legendary in the area for many stage coach robberies but feeling they needed a bigger payoff they soon moved up to train robberies. One in particular in Nebraska was particularly profitable with a take of over 60K in freshly minted $20 gold pieces from Wells Fargo. Sam and a fellow bandit were even kind enough to join soldiers and detectives in the search for their notorious gang.
Sam split off from the Bandits and headed to Texas. He picked up few new buddies to join him in what would soon be known as the Sam Bass Gang. They continued robbing trains all over Texas and generally causing mayhem. They were definitely the most wanted men in Williamson County and probably all of Texas as the Texas Rangers were called and the ‘Bass War’ began.
One day in Round Rock, Sam and his gang planned to rob a bank in downtown Round Rock. While they were casing out the area, one of his fellow gang members, Jim “Judas” Murphy sent a letter off to the Texas Rangers and filled them in on their plans. Well, things did not go well.
Sam was spotted by Deputy Sheriff AW Grimes of Williamson County so they shot and killed the curious sheriff in Kopperal’s General Store. A shoot-out ensued. Deputy Sheriff Morris Moore of Travis County heard the commotion from outside the door and Texas Ranger Ware who was getting a shave across the street came running. Sam was shot in the hand and Moore was shot in the chest piercing a lung. Running for their horses in the ally as Texas Ranger Harold and a local citizen were shooting after the three gang members with rifles.
Seaboarn Barnes was shot in the head dead on the spot. Frank Jackson gathered up Sam on his horse and held the Rangers at bay as they endeavored to escape. Sam had been hit and was in bad shape falling off of Franks horse more than once and bleeding out. Sam asked his friend to leave him and flee but Frank stayed nearby. Searchers found Sam proper up against a tree the next morning barely alive and brought him to Round Rock where he later died after telling his story on his 27th birthday. Who shot the fatal bullet is still unknown.
Above is the original grave stone for Sam Bass which is now located in the RRLibrary. Both Sam Bass and AW Grimes now reside eternally in Round Rock Cemetery on Sam Bass Road. Sam’s grave stone had to be replaced as folks came and chipped away at it (both locals and tourists). It is said that Frank came by horseback and watched his friends funeral from a distance and shed a tear. He had made quite a name for himself.
Frontier Days are celebrated in Round Rock to commemorate this famous Shoot-out and Outlaw every July.
Another famous place in Round Rock is of course Round Rock Donuts – World famous since 1926. They are handmade and yellowish in color because they are made from real ingredients and they are fabulous!!! You can choose regular or Texas sized. Always rated as best donut in Texas and quite possibly the world!
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention The Salt Lick BBQ in Round Rock off of Hwy 79 right by the Dell Diamond. The original is in Driftwood but it is pretty amazing BBQ right up the street and the pit is after all what its all about….
For more information about Round Rock go to http://www.roundrocktexas.gov
For more information about the Michael & Susan Dell Foundation go to http://www.msdf.org
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