The frontier days of Georgetown were rough. Streets were
either dusty or muddy with
horses, buckboards, and wagons kicking up dust or making mud ruts in the
streets. People walked on board sidewalks (if they were lucky) to stay out
of the droppings and mud on rainy days.
Narratives from the Georgetown's Yesteryears Book).
Early Georgetown (1850 to 1870) was
on agriculture. Most people worked and lived an agrarian lifestyle on small farms and ranches
growing staples and livestock. The early settlers that migrated to
Georgetown came mostly from our southern states and Europe, which included a large influx of
Georgetown's growth was stunted by the
Civil War and after the Reconstruction period growth became rapid. It
grew from a pioneer village to a bustling town. Faster growth started with
the cattle industry, which gave it a cow-town atmosphere for a while.
Texas cowboys drove more than five
million cattle and a million mustangs up the
Chisholm Trail (which passed
through Georgetown from 1867 to 1885.)
With the arrival of
1878 Georgetown was changed forever. Now cattle could be moved by rail and
by 1890 cotton became an important cash crop that could now be shipped easily
to eastern markets. Goods could now be transported quickly by rail from all
over the country to local stores which
helped fuel the local economy.
Part of Georgetown's economic, cultural,
and architectural development came impart from the decision by the Texas
conferences of the Methodist Church to consolidate their schools in
Georgetown. The city lobbied for the Texas University and 2 years later was
South Western which opened in 1873 (and later became
Southwestern University). Georgetown
became an early educational hub and enjoyed an influx of educators and
families seeking a better education for their kids.
Part of the city's growth was also do impart
because it was the county seat. The population and wealth of the county
increased in the late 1800s and so did the city's fortunes. The county began
constructing an elaborate
Victorian courthouse in 1878 which helped
the downtown businesses grow. The 1878 courthouse was later replaced by a
larger courthouse in 1911 (view
Williamson County Courthouse history).
With the advent of automobiles Georgetown
started to pave the downtown streets and add sidewalks which improved the
downtown commercial district.
The little town was growing up.
(For more history of the
architectural history you can read the Georgetown Heritage Society's book
"Sentimental Journey" and view the short videos links below. You can read
and enjoy more local history at
also view The Texas
Historical Commission write up on -
University Avenue - Elm
Street Historic District
Williamson County Courthouse Historic
Take a photo tour of