- I was born in Smithwick, Texas in 1896. I lived at Smithwick
until I was 45 years old and I've been living near Burnet for the
past 35 years. My grandparents came from Bosque County to
Smithwick Mills in 1866 and they bought the mill from some of
Noah Smithwick's descendants. He had gone to California in
1861 and sold the mill to his nephew John Hubbard. Hubbard
was murdered later and his body thrown into Cow Creek, at the
point now known as Hubbard Falls.
- My grandfather and his brother came here to buy that mill
because they were millers by trade. Their father had built the
Stinnet Mill at Salado. My grandfather was George M. Stinnet
and his brother was Thomas. The Smithwick Mill was
closed in the fall of 1901 because there was a store and a gin in
another part of the community that was easier to get to; also they
didn't need the waterpower anymore.
- I remember watching them gin cotton and grinding wheat and
corn at the old Smithwick Mill in 1901. Another gin and mill were
built about three miles from there; those were run by steam power.
People had come from long distances to the Smithwick Mill,
especially to bring wheat.
- The site was known as Smithwick Mills -- that was the official
post office name. They carried mail there from Austin on a
packhorse. John Turner took the mail from Austin to three
or four post offices on the south side of the Colorado River and
crossed at Smithwick. Of course there wasn't any such thing as
parcel post ; just a few papers and letters. Turner lived
at Smithwick Mills and made the round trip twice a week.
- When the mill closed in 1901, the name was changed to just
Smithwick, since there wasn't a mill there anymore. T. A.
Stinnet was postmaster there for quite a while, and a Mr.
Cox, and my father Frank Lewis. I was an
assistant postmaster during my father's term.
- My mother was Florence Stinnet Lewis. My father was
born in the southeast part of Burnet County and moved to Smithwick
when he was 2 or 3 years old. His father bought a place that took
in Eagle _________ on the Colorado River. He had a farm and ranch
there for 50 years. The big problem in those days was water and
they had to have some place near the river or that had plenty of
springs on it.
- I went to Smithwick School up to the 8th grade, and then to
the R. E. Lee School, of which R. J. Ritchie was the
superintendent. The Smithwick School was near the mouth of Post
Oak Creek; then it was moved to near the store and post office, 3
or 4 miles north of the first location. There is now a small
store at that place. The main store burned while my father owned
it. Then he moved about a mile and a half and opened another
store. Then he closed that store and discontinued the post
office. Then another party named Hall started up where
there's a little store and filling station now.
- We had two rooms and two teachers; a pine, box
building with a partition. My first teacher was a young lady
named Crawford. Professor Riddel, grandfather of
Sheriff Riddel, also taught. Another good teacher was
R. A. Mobley. He also taught in private schools during
vacation. Public school only lasted about 4 or 5 months. I had
the privilege of going to private schools some. The private
schools tried to teach on above the public schools, above the 8th
grade. Ancient history and other things that we didn't have in
lower grades were taught. We didn't have many discipline
problems, but when the teachers were sure that correction was
needed, they occasionally did whip some people.
- There were quite a number of people in my class. One of my
buddies was Ross Cox, grandson of the founder of the store
and post office at Smithwick--who built the building that's there
now over 100 years ago. That building is still in good
condition--a good dining room on the ground floor and the Masonic
Lodge uses the upper floor. Will Jackson was also in my
class, and Ary McClish (?), Otto Faith (?) and
Emma Cox, Stella Shaford (?) who later became
Stella Skaggs, a well-known lady of this part of this
country; and Lonnie, her brother.
- Most people in that area farmed and ranched, and grew corn,
cotton and oats, or maize. I remember when they began to fence
that country. At first there wasn't any fences except their
fields they farmed, but when I was very young, five or six years
old, they began to fence off the land. It took several years for
everyone to get that done. They were mostly barbed wire, but the
older ones were rock fences, rail or picket fences, or even brush
I worked on the old Company Ranch as far back as sixty years
ago. People pastured their cattle there and when I married, my
wife had six cows out there. A few days after I married I saddled
by horse and went out to get these six cows out of all the other
stock that was on an 8,000-acre ranch. They were branded and it
didn't take too long to find them by going to the waterholes at
the right time of day. No one lived there then, just some people
who were cutting cedar at that time. The place was sold several
times. A man named Word owned it, and another one named
- I've heard stories about the gold buried out there for as long
as I can remember, but I can't really tell you anything about it.
There were lots of stories about Jacob's Well over there too
because it was an area of lots of water. Water was a big thing
then and it was just sort of a natural well so people knew about
it. I guess it was about 25 feet from the ledge around it down to
the water and it just looked like a well but nature put it there.
- The Masonic Lodge at Smithwick began meeting in that building
in 1875 when that lodge was about 10 years old. It had started at
Turkey Bend; right on the Burnet-Travis County line. My
grandfather and his brother were charter members of the Henry
Thomas Lodge. A. M. Cox, who built the store and post
office, was the man who had gotten the lodge going at Turkey Bend.
Where they moved it to, where it is now, was a more convenient place
and more people had access to it. Henry Thomas was a noted
mason and helped found several lodges. In 1869 a Henry Thomas
chapter was established in Georgetown. Thomas was a good friend
of Mr. Cox.
- [Highway]1431 hasn't been paved much more than ten years, but
there was a lot of traffic on it even before then, people going to
Austin. The first car I can remember seeing was in Marble Falls
and it belonged to Bob Evans, the most wealthy man in town
then. The car was at a blacksmith shop, getting a grease job.
There wasn't any such thing as a garage then, about 1911. That
was quite a novelty. Everybody couldn't get a car at once, and
then I guess it took about 15 years for most people to switch from
horses and buggies to cars; over a period of years anyway.
I owned my first car in 1919; a Chevrolet that cost $550
- My wife's maiden name is Avis Susan Jackson. I saw her
at gatherings quite often and finally I made arrangements to see
her. We went driving on Sundays, picnics, or Kodaking. The house
I was born in was built by my grandfather in 1882 and it's still
in good repair. It's about 8 1/2 miles east of Marble Falls,
about 1/2 mile off 1431.
- There were a lot of people living at Smithwick when I was
young. The Shafors, three different Hood families,
Halls, several Jackson families, McClish
families, all lived there. There were usually about 90 to 100 in
the school. The principal took the older grades and the other
teacher had the younger half. At recess we had lots of athletics; mostly baseball. At the end of the school term we had a
big party and homecoming each year. We started each day at school
with the National Anthem or some patriotic song. And prayer.
- [Transcriber's Note:
- Virgil Eric LEWIS, b. 13 June 1896, d. 11
December 1979; buried in Smithwick Cemetery, Burnet County, Texas.
- Son of Francis Porter Lewis and Florence M. Stinnet.
- Married (1)
Estelle MAXEY 18 August 1915, b. 2 August 1896, d. 3 March 1925;
- Married (2) Avis JACKSON 11 September 1926, b. 7 March 1902]