After exploring the fantastic Inner Space Cavern (see blog), I took a Lyft to the small town of Georgetown, Texas to visit Blue Hole Park. Just five blocks north of the downtown square, Blue Hole Park is a lovely swimming hole that is surrounded by limestone bluffs. It lies along the southern fork of the San Gabriel river.
Blue Hole Park
I took one look at the blue/green water and couldn’t wait to get in. Conveniently, there is a bathroom at the end of the short walk through the park. I changed, asked a group if I could share their shady tree, put my backpack down, and waded in. I ended up coming back to get my trusty sun umbrella, then holding it over my head, I swam out to a rock and boosted myself up onto the part extending into the water. Sitting there with the water up to my waist, I stayed perfectly shaded by my umbrella. Little fish nibbled at my feet (they didn’t hurt), while a mockingbird sang in a nearby tree. Anytime I got too hot, I slipped off my rock, submerged fully, then returned to my stone seat. Bliss in 100 degree heat!
There are no lifeguards at Blue Hole Park but the water is calm and flat. The only risks are if you decide to join the teenagers who like to jump off the bluffs into the water. They don’t “allow” it, but of course there’s no one there to enforce it. I saw a guy jumping, and he looked like he was having fun, but you sure need to make sure it’s safe before you do it! Obviously, the water level rises and falls depending on the season, and there are rocks.
After my dip, I changed again and walked the five blocks to downtown Georgetown. The main street is very nice, with old buildings from the late 1800’s. There are many antique shops, a few retail shops, and restaurants. I ate inside a cute deli called Laurie’s Cafe. By all rights, the chicken sandwich I had shouldn’t have been that good, since it was rather simple: grilled chicken, too much mayonnaise, no mustard, tomato, pickle, and light “wheat” bun; but the heat had worked up an appetite in me and it tasted GREAT. The deli is cute, and the service fine. I recommend it for a nice lunch.
After lunch I looked around a couple of cool antique stores, searched in vain for an ice-cream shop that actually had indoor seating (two out of three had removed chairs due to old covid rules, and the one with chairs didn’t have chocolate), walked by the historic courthouse, and ended up taking shelter in the little Williamson Museum. Now that was a find!
The Williamson Museum
The Williamson Museum is located in an old building that used to be the Farmer’s State Bank. It was nice and cool, which was great because the heat was starting to make me feel sick. Although the museum does not have a lot of displays, it is just the right size for a casual visit while touring the town. What really makes it special however, are the docents.
The great thing about historians is, they love to share their knowledge. If you are receptive, they will talk and talk. When I walked in, two docents, a man and a woman, greeted me, and since I was willing to listen, they inundated me with local history. A few minutes later, a man by the name of Ron walked in and joined us. Ron leads free tours of the courthouse and he was there trying to drum up business. The three of them told me the following history:
Dan Moody and the Ku Klux Klan
In 1923, a traveling salesman (who sold socks) by the name of Robert Burleson, refused to leave town when “ordered to” by the Ku Klux Klan. Burleson had been having an affair with the town widow, but it so happened that one of the leading klansmen was “sweet” on her. So the KKK flogged and tarred Robert Burleson. Fortunately, a local attorney named Dan Moody came to Burleson’s defense and prosecuted the Klan. He secured five convictions and prison sentences against the guilty parties. It was the first time the KKK had been successfully prosecuted in the US, though ironically, it took the victimization of a white man to do it. Still – it was a start. Attorney Dan Moody went on to become the youngest state attorney general, and in 1926, became the youngest governor of Texas.
After listening to this bit of history, I walked farther into the museum to look at the displays. Ron wandered back there and saw me looking at something, and bless him if he couldn’t help but teach me more. It was endearing, and I really did appreciate it. He’s also an amateur actor and very good at telling stories. Here’s the legend he told me about a real-life pioneer woman named Hattie Cluck. Any mistakes in the telling are mine.
Hattie Cluck on the Chisholm Trail
In 1871, Hattie Cluck, pregnant with her fourth child, insisted to her husband, George, that she and their children accompany him driving their large herd of cattle up the Chisholm Trail. Now the Chisholm was one of the toughest trails: 800-plus miles of canyons, badlands, and fast-flowing river crossings, along with cattle rustlers and hostile Indians. The trail started south of San Antonio near the Rio Grande, went through Indian Territory, and ended in central Kansas. It took about two months to complete. But Hattie was a determined woman, so she, her husband and children, accompanied by ten or so drovers (cattle drivers) started up the Chisholm Trail.
They all did fine going through Texas. But soon as they crossed into Indian Territory (what is now Oklahoma), they were accosted by cattle rustlers. Hattie, her children, and all the drovers (who didn’t come to fight), hid behind the chuck wagon, while the lead rustler told George that he was taking their cattle and there was nothing he could do about it.
George argued and didn’t back down, and as the arguing continued, Hattie got madder and madder. She was only 5’1″, but she got out a double-barreled shotgun, marched right up to the lead-cattle rustler, held the gun at his head, and told him he better take his gang and leave right now or she’d blow his head off. Well, the rustler hemmed and hawed but Hattie stood her ground. Finally, he said his mama had raised him to never hurt a lady, and he wasn’t about to start now. He told his men they could clear out, they would find cattle elsewhere. George and Hattie were able to continue driving their herd of cattle up the Chisholm Trail until they arrived safely in central Kansas.
If you go to Austin (see blog), I recommend taking a day to visit Georgetown, Texas. It’s only 30 minutes away, but it feels like another world: with caverns, a swimming hole, and a quaint downtown. And if you go to the courthouse or museum, ask for Ron. Please tell him I sent you.
Stay tuned for one more blog on Austin, Texas, and if you like this blog, please remember to share it! Thanks!