Friday, December 30, 2011

The Historic Johnson City Settlement

On December 10th the Historic Johnson City Settlement was open in the evening, as part of the area Christmas festivities. We enjoyed the evening tour and then returned a few days later for pictures of the outlying buildings and property.

In 1856, prior to the establishment of Johnson City as a formal city, Jessie Thomas Johnson and his younger brother Samuel Ealy Johnson Sr. (Grandfather to our 36th president, Lyndon B. Johnson) purchased 320 acres of property located 12 miles North of the city of Blanco. At that time Blanco was the source for goods, and was a days ride through hostile Indian lands. The brothers built a one room cabin (the right half of his structure), and began establishing a cattle driving operation. Samuel joined the military and fought in the Civil War until its end. He married Eliza Bunton in 1867 and they moved into the one room cabin the brothers had built. In 1868 another room was added (the left side of the cabin). This style of cabin was popular for the times and is called a dogtrot cabin. The name is derived from dogs passing through the center and enjoying the shade there. In states further south they are often referred to as possum trot cabins! The open center served as shade, storage, and interestingly, as an early form of cooling the home. The breeze would channel through the shaded area between the two rooms of the cabin. In the Winter the open dogtrot would be closed-up thereby adding warmth and an additional room.

This is the original right side of the cabin. The door goes to the porch on the backside of the cabin. At the foot of the bed is a large fireplace. The chinking between the logs at the time would have been clay and sticks.

This is the same room looking out the door to the front of the cabin.

This is the room in the left side of the cabin. It has a large fireplace to the left, as you enter the room, and is set-up as a kitchen. The couple only had one child while living in this cabin, but went on to have 9 children. They lived here from 1867-1872.

This barn is one of the original structures built in the 1850s by the two brothers.

Samuel and Jesse Johnson established one of the largest cattle driving operations in 7 counties. From 1870-1873 they drove several herds of cattle in a season. The herds of cattle ranged from 2,500-3,000 head each.

This is the water cooling house where fruits and vegetables would be preserved. Check out the extra nice windmill design.

This is the view from the back porch looking toward the barn and windmill. With a decline in the cattle market, Samuel and Jessie got out of the cattle driving business, and sold this property to their nephew, James Polk Johnson. In 1879 James offered the property to the local settlers, as a location for establishing a formal community. By popular vote of the settlers, it was decided that the newly established community would be called Johnson City in his honor.

This barn was built in a popular German architectural style in 1884 by John Bruckner. The stonework, arched entry, and doors give it an aire of belonging with a castle. This structure sits next to the original cabin.

Here is a look at the back of the barn.

Now that you know the individual features, here is an overview entering the property. It is a very serene place to visit. It has free admission and is open to self guided tours.

There is a nice museum on the property with lots of pictures. The Historic Johnson City Settlement is well worth visiting.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas At The LBJ Boyhood Home

During the month of December the LBJ boyhood home, the LBJ Ranch, and the Historic Johnson City Settlement are decorated for Christmas and open on a few special evenings for viewing. Typically they only have daytime tours.

This is the LBJ boyhood home. All the oil lamps you'll see are electric, but are very nice replicas. The home was built in 1901. The Johnson's moved to this home in 1913. Lyndon was 5 years old at that time. He lived here for most of the years up to 1937. His father Sam Ealy Johnson, Jr. was a state legislator, and his mother, Rebekah Baines Johnson, was one of few college educated women in the area. Lyndon had one younger brother and three sisters.

This is they entry. To the right, you step into a central dining room with a fireplace and large dining table. I was so busy going to all the rooms that come off every wall of the dining room, that I forgot to get a picture of it.

As you step into the dining room, there is a door to the left going into Lyndon's 3 sister's bedroom.

Across the dining room from the girl's room is the parent's bedroom. Through the doorway at the back of the parent's room is Lyndon and his brother's room.

At the back of the dining room, you enter the kitchen. To the left of the kitchen is an entrance to a large screened-in porch. To the right of the kitchen is a screened breezeway leading to the bathroom.

The house seems to have existed at a time when plumbing was just beginning to be brought into homes. There is a bathtub, but no toilet or sink. There is a nearby outhouse.

The boy's room is accessable through the bathroom or parent's room.

The living room is located to the front of the house. You would access it by stepping from the entryway into the dining room and going to the right. It is a very pleasant home.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Johnson City Christmas Lights

During the Christmas season, Texas Hill Country has what is called, The Trail of Lights. Below is a map of the communities involved. Each community goes all out decorating.

We are located at the junction of Highway 290 and 281.

One of the first spectacular displays of Christmas lights you'll see in Johnson City is this lighted grove of trees on the Pedernales Electric Company's property. The picture doesn't do justice to how amazing it is. Each tree is fully wrapped in lights right out to the small branches. We're told that when it's time to remove the lights, they are cut away.

Another great display is the complete lighting of a small downtown park.

Here's Texas Santa with a cowboy hat, big Texas shaped belt buckle, cowboy boots, and a horse pulling the sleigh!

The grand lighting on the courthouse and carriage rides around town top off the festiveness. The lights and carriage rides run from the day after Thanksgiving until January 1st!

On the edge of town is a private homeowner that fully decorates his long driveway and home. He welcomes the public to enjoy his wonderland. The pictures don't do it justice, as we had to take them through the truck windshield, as we moved along with the flow of visitors.

His home is what you see all covered in white lights. Check out the total wrapping of the trees in lights. We still have Marble Falls, Burnet, and Fredericksburg to travel to for Christmas lighting. Wow, I never knew Christmas without snow could be so festive!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Let Christmas Begin!

In central Texas there is a tradition of lighting the courthouses for Christmas. The day after Thanksgiving we attended the ceremonial turning on of the downtown Blanco Christmas lights. There was caroling at the courthouse square and the flipping of the switch!

Stores all around the square were decorated, open for shopping, and offering tasty goodies.

A small park across the street from the courthouse is lit up like a wonderland.

It's a fun walk amongst the lights that succeeds in putting a person in the Christmas spirit. Check out Santa holding a lasso!

We checked out the Redbud Cafe on the square. It serves deli style foods and beer.

It's a nice place to enjoy live music, the company of friends, and some libations.

Sunday, November 27, 2011


We spent Thanksgiving with our large Miller Creek RV Park family. Everyone brings a prepared dish to contribute to the meal, as well as, a nonperishable food item for the local food pantry.

The tables along the wall hold a variety of foods to accompany the 6 turkeys, 6 hams, and two beef briskets provided by the park. The lady standing in the foreground is Judy, one of the RV Park owners.

Roy and another park resident (Ron), took shifts through the night monitoring the temperature for the 12 hours it takes to smoke the beef. They achieved their goal of perfection!

There were lots of desserts to choose from!

The couple to the left are the RV Park's workkamper cooks. Not only did they do an excellent job with the Thanksgiving dinner, but they cook an excellent meal every Wednesday for all to partake of. On the right is Paul, Judy's husband and RV Park co-owner.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Veteran's Day Parade

Blanco held a parade for Veteran's Day. Here are a few glimpses.

A couple of cute spectators!

Here comes the Miller Creek crew! That's Roy to the left holding the banner.

The golf carts are from the Miller Creek RV Park. That's Fran, the office manager, driving the star spangled cart.

Cool car, with a patriotic passenger.

This little cutie was able to trot along the parade route untethered. It was following a group of cowboys and horses, so maybe Mama was up ahead. Waaaaaaaay cute!!!!

Riding a rocket! Now that's an interesting bike!

The sign says it all: Thank-you veterans! Very nice hometown parade!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Pecan Street Brewery

The Pecan Street Brewing Pub & Restaurant in Johnson City had its grand opening August 27th. It is the newest brewery in Hill Country.

As you walk through the front doors, you enter a spacious room with the bar and brewery to the right, and lots and lots of tables. The atmosphere is casual with beer, burgers, and pizza as the main fare. There is free wi-fi, pool, darts, and live music Friday and Saturday nights.

Through the back door of the main restaurant is an attached Quonset Hut where the live music is performed. Food is also served there, but the atmosphere is so laid back that a person could go weekends just for a beer and a show! On Fridays the RV park has planned outings. The diners pictured are from the park. Check out the huge ceiling fan.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Good Food And Culture

El Charro in Johnson City is one of our favorite places to get breakfast tacos. They can be eaten at the restaurant or picked up as take-out. Several of us at the RV park enjoy them as take-out.

For just $2.99 you get 3 hearty breakfast tacos filled with eggs, potato, cheese, and your choice of sausage, bacon, or chorizo. They are all excellent! I love the red taco sauce, although, there is a hotter green sauce.

Out of curiosity I decided to look-up the translation of the restaurant name, El Charro. El means "The", and a charro is a traditionally attired Mexican cowboy........

..or cowgirl. I found that there are charro associations and that charros perform in charreadas (Mexican rodeos). Wow, so much learned from two little words!

During my research into charros, I came across pictures of these odd boots. They are called Mexican Pointy Boots, and are a fad designed in Matehuala, Mexico for dancing to a form of music called, Tribal. I haven't seen any in person, yet, but the fad has made it's way into the southern states, especially where there are communities of Mexicans from Matehuala!