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Williamson County, Texas

Williamson County, Texas
The Williamson County Courthouse after renovation in 2006–2007
Seal of Williamson County, Texas
Seal
Map of Texas highlighting Williamson County
Location in the state of Texas
Map of the United States highlighting Texas
Texas's location in the U.S.
Founded March 13, 1848
Named for Robert McAlpin Williamson
Seat Georgetown
Largest city Round Rock
Area
 • Total 1,134 sq mi (2,937 km2)
 • Land 1,118 sq mi (2,896 km2)
 • Water 16 sq mi (41 km2), 1.4%
Population
 • (2010) 422,679
 • Density 378/sq mi (146/km²)
Congressional district 31st
Time zone Central: UTC-6/-5
Website .orgwilco
Confederate statue at Williamson County courthouse
A part of Courthouse Square in Georgetown

Williamson County (sometimes abbreviated as "Wilco")[1] is a [4]

Williamson County is part of the Austin-Round Rock, TX Metropolitan Statistical Area. It was included with Austin in the Best Cities to Live in for 2009 by the Milken Institute[5] It is located on both the Edwards Plateau to the west, consisting of rocky terrain and hills, and Texas Blackland Prairies in the east consisting of rich, fertile farming land. The two areas are roughly bisected by Interstate 35.

Contents

  • History 1
    • Prehistoric 1.1
    • Thrall Flood 1.2
    • 1997 tornado outbreak 1.3
    • Modern growth 1.4
  • Geography 2
    • Topography 2.1
    • Environmentally protected areas 2.2
    • Endangered species 2.3
    • Adjacent counties 2.4
  • Demographics 3
  • Government and politics 4
    • Commissioners Court 4.1
    • Congressional and state representation 4.2
    • Presidential election results 4.3
  • Sun City Texas 5
  • Economy 6
    • Agriculture 6.1
    • Business 6.2
  • County Courthouse 7
  • Williamson County flag 8
  • Education 9
    • Higher education 9.1
  • Media 10
  • Transportation 11
    • Major highways 11.1
    • Minor highways 11.2
  • Communities 12
  • Notable people 13
  • In popular culture 14
  • See also 15
  • References 16
  • External links 17

History

Prehistoric

This Clovis point is from a period of habitation of approximately 11,200 years ago.

Much of Williamson County has been the site of human habitation for at least 11,200 years. The earliest known inhabitants of the area lived during the late

  • Eye on Williamson – Liberal political blog
  • Williamson County Conservative – conservative political blog
  • Williamson County chapter of the Native Plant Society of Texas
  • Williamson County Weather and Climate Data

Blogs and other sites

  • Williamson County government's website
  • Williamson Central Appraisal District web site
  • Williamson County Historical Commission
  • Williamson County Historical Commission Photos
  • Robert Williamson Father of County
  • Robert M. Williamson's entry in the Biographical Encyclopedia of Texas hosted by the Portal to Texas History.
  • Williamson County from the Handbook of Texas Online

Government & Non-Profit Sites

External links

  1. ^ http://www.wilco.org Williamson County, TX Home Page
  2. ^ a b "State & County QuickFacts". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved December 29, 2013. 
  3. ^ "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved 2011-06-07. 
  4. ^ Robert McAlpin Williamson Handbook of Texas entry
  5. ^ "Austin-Round Rock, Texas MSA".  
  6. ^ "Handbook of Texas Online, "Gault Site" entry". Retrieved 2010-07-18. 
  7. ^ Thompson, Karen R.; Jane H. Digesualado. Historical Round Rock Texas. Austin, Texas: Nortex Press (Eakin Publications). pp. 4, 7. 
  8. ^ "Pre-history" Handbook of Texas entry
  9. ^ a b c "Williamson County" Handbook of Texas entry
  10. ^ "Significant Weather Events of the 1900s".  
  11. ^ "Major and Catastrophic Storms and Floods in Texas".  
  12. ^ "2010 Census Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. August 22, 2012. Retrieved May 12, 2015. 
  13. ^ Jordan, Terry G. "Hill Country". Handbook of Texas Online. Retrieved November 7, 2009. 
  14. ^ United States Fish and Wildlife Service. "Overview". Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge. Retrieved 2010-03-21. 
  15. ^ U.S. Senate, Committee on Appropriations. 2006. Prepared statement of Friends of Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge. Senate Hearings, Department of the Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations, HR 2361, pp. 174–175.
  16. ^ United States Fish and Wildlife Service. "Welcome". Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge. Retrieved 2010-03-20. 
  17. ^ Barrios, Jennifer (September 30, 2004). "Grant will help creepier residents. $2.35 million to save beetles, spiders and other endangered species".  
  18. ^ Doolittle, David (October 23, 2008). "Plan to protect species gets OK; U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service gives approval.". Austin American-Statesman. 
  19. ^ "Annual Estimates of the Resident Population for Incorporated Places: April 1, 2010 to July 1, 2014". Retrieved June 4, 2015. 
  20. ^ "U.S. Decennial Census". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved May 12, 2015. 
  21. ^ "Texas Almanac: Population History of Counties from 1850–2010" (PDF). Texas Almanac. Retrieved May 12, 2015. 
  22. ^ Texas Almanac: City Population History from 1850–2000. Population 1850–2000 (PDF).Texas Almanac. Retrieved June 20, 2014.
  23. ^ "American FactFinder".  
  24. ^ Novak, Shonda. "Builders Pulte, Centex to combine in deal with national significance: Merger might be sign of industry rebound". Austin American-Statesman: B–07. 
  25. ^ a b Ward, Pamela (December 29, 1996). "On course for a grand opening in sun city". Austin American-Statesman: B–1. Retrieved 2010-07-18. 
  26. ^ "Del". 
  27. ^ Banta, Bob (April 10, 2008). "Mayoral hopefuls let their work talk". Austin American-Statesman. pp. W–01. 
  28. ^ McLemore, Andrew (August 15, 2010). "Cotton County". Williamson County Sun. 
  29. ^ THE COURTHOUSE OF WILLIAMSON COUNTY, Georgetown, Texas
  30. ^ commission.org/Courthouse/Williamson_County_Texas_Courthouse.htm "Williamson County Courthouse" . Williamson County Historical Commission. Retrieved July 16, 2010. 
  31. ^ [6]Austin Business Journal, Austin, Texas, November 11, 2010, by Sandra Zaragosa,
  32. ^ "Plans revealed for Austin Community College." Austin Business Journal, Austin, Texas, September 3, 2008. Retrieved July 7, 2010.
  33. ^ "Plans revealed for Austin Community College." Austin Business Journal, Austin, Texas, September 3, 2008. Retrieved July 2, 2010.
  34. ^ [7] "Texas A&M Health Science Center Opens" KBTX-TV, Retrieved July 21, 2010
  35. ^ [8] "Now Open – National American University" Community Impact Newspaper, Retrieved August 2, 2012
  36. ^ Trollinger, Ben. Cox to purchase Round Rock Leader, The Williamson County Sun, October 18, 2006. Retrieved July 16, 2010.
  37. ^ "Community Impact Newspaper, About Us". JG Media. Archived from the original on March 26, 2010. Retrieved July 16, 2010. 
  38. ^ "Rates and Circulation". Austin American Statesman. Archived from the original on September 1, 2013. 
  39. ^ "Paul Womack's Biography".  
  40. ^ antlers.com "The Antlers" . 
  41. ^ Pack, MM (October 23, 2003). "The Killing Fields: A culinary history of 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre' farmhouse".  

References

See also

In popular culture

What was the original Chainsaw Massacre movie house was moved in 1993 and restored to become a restaurant at The Antlers Hotel in Kingsland

Notable people

Communities

Transportation

The Austin American-Statesman also has significant coverage in Williamson County as well.[38]

[37] In 2005

The newspapers that serve Williamson County include the Round Rock Leader, Williamson County Sun (Georgetown), Taylor Daily Press, Hutto News, Hill Country News (Leander), ''Liberty Hill Independent'', and Tribune-Progress Bartlett).[36]

Media

Austin Community College also purchased a site in Leander, Texas in 2010 for an additional future Williamson County campus.

Higher education

The following school districts serve Williamson County:

Education

The stars on the flag surrounding the state of Texas represent the thirty-three viable communities identified by Clara Stearns Scarbrough in her 1973 book, Land of Good Water. In 1970, these communities ranged in population from twenty (20)people in Norman's Crossing to more than 10,000 residents in Taylor. It is difficult to establish how many communities exist in Williamson County today, because the determination of "community" is subjective and without set criteria. However, in Williamson County in 2004, there were 11 towns with populations of over 1,000 people and seven towns with populations above 5,000.

Williamson County flag

The current courthouse, built in 1911, is an example of Neoclassical Revival architecture.[29]| The courthouse has had a tumultuous past, surviving three major renovations and many modifications including the demolition of its key architectural features in 1966. With the assistance of the Texas Historical Commission and preservation-minded county citizens and officials, the courthouse was returned to its original 1911 state during a major 2006–2007 renovation, once again becoming a focal point of the county.[30]

Image courtesy of the Williamson County Commissioner's Court

County Courthouse

Today the largest employer in Williamson County is Austin Community College campus which opened in 2010. The Round Rock campus is ACC's single largest campus in their system, providing two-year degrees as well as training in the high tech sector, nursing and other specialties.

Business

Williamson County's only "full-service" hotel, with ballrooms, dining and executive meeting rooms, is the Austin North Marriott located in the La Frontera portion of Round Rock.

Other agriculture activities, farming and dairy were also a part of rural Williamson County east of the Balcones fault, and ranching occurred to the west in the Hill Country area. Both gradually gave way to more modern business, services, and retail as the overall area begin to become more urban. However, still today cattle ranching is a major business in some areas of the county, and cotton is still a significant crop east toward Hutto and Taylor.

(to remove the cotton seeds, and compressing the cotton into bales to transport by rail. cotton ginning in eastern Williamson County became the primary center for cotton production, Taylor. The town of Missouri–Kansas–Texas Railroad, which eventually was merged into the Missouri Pacific, and the International-Great Northern Railroad Primarily to transport bales of cotton, the county was served by two national railroads, the [28] Williamson County was an agrarian community for most of the 19th and early 20th centuries. The

Agriculture

Cotton bolls ready for harvest

Economy

But by and large the community has been welcomed and well accepted into the Georgetown populace. In the 2008 city elections, for example, two residents of Sun City were the only two candidates for Mayor of Georgetown. They also were both formerly elected city council members.[27]

As originally planned the project would double the size of Georgetown's population.[26] Sun City Texas is made up mostly of single-family dwellings, but also has duplexes. . The Sun City project includes three golf courses.(Legacy Hills, White Wing, and Cowan Creek)[25] Although the community attracts residents from all over the majority come from within Texas to stay close to their original home. There has been vocal opposition to the project at times, especially at the start during the zoning process, with arguments against the size of the community, its effect on Georgetown as a family-oriented town, concerns about the costs of providing city utilities, and concern about lowered city and Williamson County property taxes which are fixed for retirees under Texas law, and the disproportionate effect of City voting.

Sun City Texas pool at one of several recreation centers.

One of the most significant growth factors of modern day Williamson County is the location of a new Sun City community in Del Webb Corporation (now a division of Pulte Homes) [24] Residency is restricted to persons over age 55 (at least one person in a couple has to be 55 or older) and the community is generally oriented toward retirees.[25]

Sun City Texas

Also of note is that election turnout reflects the tremendous growth of Williamson County as the 1960 total votes cast were only 3,650 while in 2012 over 163,000 votes were cast.

Williamson County was traditionally a very solidly Democratic county. For example, in 1976 voters in Williamson County voted for President John McCain received 55% of the vote to Barack Obama's 42% in the 2008 election. In 2012 Republican Mitt Romney defeated President Obama by a total of 59% to 38%.

Presidential election results

Williamson County includes three Texas House of Representatives Districts: District 20, District 52, and District 136. District 20 is represented by Republican Marsha Farney, who was unopposed in her campaign. District 52 is represented by Republican Larry Gonzales who was reelected in 2012 with over 70% of the vote. District 136 was newly created after the 2010 census and was won by Republican Tony Dale, a former Cedar Park city councilman, with 53% of the vote to 41% for his Democratic opponent and 6% for the Libertarian.

All of Williamson County is within Texas Senate District 5, and is represented by State Senator Charles Schwertner (R). Both Carter and Schwertner were easily reelected in November 2012.

Williamson County is located in Texas's 31st U.S. Congressional district which is represented by Congressman John Carter(R).

Williamson County is a strongly Republican county. Every elected official in the county is a Republican.

Congressional and state representation

County Judge-Honorable Dan A. Gattis Precinct 1-Commissioner Lisa Birkman Precinct 2-Commissioner Cynthia Long Precinct 3-Commissioner Valerie Covey Precinct 4-Commissioner Ron Morrison

The Commissioners Court consists of five members. The County Judge presides as chairman over the court, and is elected every four years by all voters in the county. Four Commissioners are elected by single-member precincts every four years. Currently, all five elected members of the Williamson County Commissioners Court are Republicans.

The Commissioners Court is the overall governing and management body of Williamson County. The Commissioners Court is responsible for all budgetary decisions and setting the tax rate each year. Among the duties of the Commissioners Court is administration of all the business of the County, including the building and maintenance of county roads and bridges. The use of a Commissioners Court as the governing body of county government is used in several US states, including Texas. The principal functions of the commissioners' court are legislative and executive. Although referred to as a court, commissioners' courts generally exercise only limited judicial powers.

Commissioners Court

Williamson County Precinct Map – Image courtesy of the Williamson County Commissioners Court

Government and politics

The median income for a household in the county was $60,642, and the median income for a family was $66,208. Males had a median income of $43,471 versus $30,558 for females. The per capita income for the county was $24,547. About 3.40% of families and 4.80% of the population were below the poverty line, including 5.40% of those under age 18 and 5.90% of those age 65 or over.

In the county, the population was spread out with 28.7% under the age of 18, 11.9% from 15 to 24, 31.6% from 25 to 44, 23.2% from 45 to 64, and 8.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years.

There were 111,514 households out of which 39.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 57.9% were married couples living together, 10.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.9% were non-families. 21.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 17.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.74 and the average family size was 3.20.

As of the census[23] of 2010, there were 422,679 people, 152,606 households, and 111,514 families residing in the county. The population density was 373 people per square mile (144/km²). There were 162,773 housing units at an average density of 144 per square mile (55/km²). The racial makeup of the county was 80.9% White, 7.1% Black or African American, 1.3% Native American, 5.8% Asian, 0.3% Pacific Islander, 6.9% from other races, and 3.2% from two or more races. 23.2% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.

Municipal Population History [22]
# Largest Cities in Williamson County 1950 1960 1970 1980 1990 2000 2010 2013 (estimate)
1 Round Rock 1,438 1,878 2,811 11,812 30,923 61,136 99,887 109,821
2 Cedar Park 202 385 692 3,474 5,161 26,049 48,937 61,238
3 Georgetown 4,951 5,218 6,395 9,468 14,842 28,339 47,400 54,898
4 Leander - - - 2,179 3,398 7,596 26,521 31,717
5 Hutto n/a 400 545 659 630 1,250 14,698 19,728
6 Taylor 9,071 9,434 9,616 10,619 11,472 13,575 15,191 16,233
Williamson County total 38,853 35,044 37,305 76,521 139,551 249,967 422,679 471,014

Demographics

Adjacent counties

Williamson county is home to five endangered species. Two endangered species are songbirds protected by the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve in Travis and Williamson counties. (See above). The other three are invertebrate species found only in Williamson county and which live in the cave-like fissures on the west side of the county. Karst topography is the name for the honeycomb type limestone formations (including caves, sinkholes and fissures) that are typical in the county's limestone geology west of Interstate 35. In the 1990s a group of concerned landowners, individuals and real estate developers formed the Northern Edwards Aquifer Resource Council (NEARC) with the goal of obtaining a United States Fish and Wildlife Service 10-A permit (known as an Incidental Take Permit) for the entire county by identifying and preserving a sufficient number of caves with endangered species to ensure survival of the species. These species would be preserved through voluntary donations of land rather than required setbacks, grants,[17] and other involuntary means typically enforced on landowners without an incidental take permit. The group transferred their successful work on an Environmental Impact Statement to the county in 2002 and a county-wide 10-A permit was obtained in October 2008.[18] Property owners are able to participate in the County's 10-A permit by applying through the WCCF at www.wilco.org/wccf. [5]

Endangered species

Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge is located in the Texas Hill Country to the northwest of Austin, Texas including parts of western Williamson County.[14] The Refuge was formed in 1992 to conserve habitat for two endangered songbirds: the Golden-cheeked Warbler and the Black-capped Vireo and to preserve Texas Hill Country habitat for numerous other wildlife species.[15] The Refuge augments a similarly named preserve in Austin called the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve. The vegetation found in the Hill Country includes various oaks, elms, and Ashe juniper trees (often referred to as "cedar" in Texas). The endangered Golden-cheeked Warbler and Black-capped Vireo depend on different successional stages of this vegetation. Both of these birds nest in the Edwards Plateau, the Warbler exclusively.[16]

Environmentally protected areas

West of the Escarpment is the beginning of the "upland" Texas Hill Country, characterized by rocky terrain with thin layers of soil lying on top of limestone.[13] Some ranching occurs in the uplands, but mostly it has been the target of residential development because of the rolling terrain, vistas, hardwood trees, abundant wildlife, and rivers and streams (the very same reason that early Indians camped in this area). The Hill County areas are characterized by their porous "vugular" (honeycombed) rock where rain water slowly percolates down to replenish the underground Edwards Aquifer. For that reason development restrictions are in place and several endangered species are being protected by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. (See Endangered Species Section below). Interstate 35, the main artery of Williamson County, runs along the fault line dividing the two distinct regions.

The eastern portion of Williamson County lies within the low-lying prairie areas east of the Balcones Escarpment (the escarpment is also known locally as the Balcones Fault) although it is not an active fault. It begins a Piedmont, a foot friendy fall line of slightly sloaping land downward to the coastal area, an area which is made up of the Blackland Prairie consisting of rich, fertile, clay-like soils where the land is still used for agriculture, growing cotton and other crops, and for raising cattle. These prairie lands essentially run from Williamson County all the way down to the Gulf Coast and have a rich heritage of being farmed by German, Polish and other settlers.

Topography

The area is divided into two regions by the Balcones Escarpment, which runs through the center from north to south along a line from Jarrell to Georgetown to Round Rock. The western half of the county is an extension of the Western Plains and is considered to be within the eastern fringes of Texas Hill Country and has an average elevation of 850 feet (260 m). It features undulating hilly brushland with an abundance of Texas live oak, prickly pear cactus and karst topography. Eastern region of the county is part of the Coastal Plains and is flat to gently rolling with an average elevation of just 600 feet (180 m). It consists of flatter land, with dark clay and rich fertile lands for agriculture, but is quickly being developed as the county's population continues to increase and expand out.[9] Williamson County is drained in the center and south by the San Gabriel River, which is the only river in the county, and in the north by creeks that run into the Lampasas and Little rivers north of the county line.[9]

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,134 square miles (2,940 km2), of which 1,118 square miles (2,900 km2) is land and 16 square miles (41 km2) (1.4%) is water.[12]

Geography

Williamson County's fast growth rate is due in large part to its location immediately north of Premium Outlet Mall, the IKEA-area retail, the La Frontera mixed-use center in Round Rock. Health care and Higher Education have both become major factors in the growth of Williamson County as well. Two new colleges and two new hospitals have opened within the last five years. Another very significant factor has been the opening in of the North Loop 1 toll road and Texas State Highway 45 toll road which have made a major difference regarding the accessibility of Williamson County to and from Austin.

Modern growth

On May 27, 1997, Williamson County was hit by the worst tornado outbreak in county history. The 1997 Central Texas Tornado Outbreak caused 20 tornadoes including an F-5 (the strongest rating used for tornadoes on the Fujita Scale), which remains the only F-5 to strike Williamson County. The F-5 tornado killed 27 people and completely destroyed the Double Creek Estates neighborhood in the city of Jarrell, Texas, Texas, located in far northern Williamson County. Another strong tornado, an F-3, struck the City of Cedar Park, killing 1 person. Two F-2 tornadoes also struck Williamson County. The outbreak cost the county over $190 million USD in damage and a total of 30 fatalities.

1997 tornado outbreak

On September 9 and 10, 1921, the remnants of a hurricane moved over Williamson County. The center of the storm became stationary over Thrall, a small farming town in eastern Williamson County, dropping a storm total of 39.7 inches of rain in 36 hours.[10] The 24-hour rainfall total ending 7 am on September 10, 1921 (38.2 inches) at a U.S. Weather Bureau station in Thrall remains the national official 24-hr rainfall record. Thrall rainfall was 23.4 inches during 6 hours, 31.8 in. during 12 hours, and 36.4 in. during 18 hours.[11] Eighty-seven people drowned in and near Taylor, and 93 in Williamson County.This storm caused the most deadly floods in Texas, with a total of 215 fatalities.

Thrall Flood

The earliest known historical native American occupants, the Tonkawa, were a flint-working, hunting people who followed the buffalo on foot and periodically set fire to the prairie to aid them in their hunts. During the eighteenth century they made the transition to a horse culture and used firearms to a limited extent. After they were crowded out by white settlement, the Comanches continued to raid settlements in the county until the 1860s. There also appear to have been small numbers of Kiowa, Yojuane, Tawakoni, and Mayeye Indians living in the county at the time of the earliest Anglo settlements.[9]

[8]

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