Grab your hat—the cattle drive’s coming to town
These days, Georgetown’s Austin Avenue is a bustling city thoroughfare lined with upscale restaurants and shops. But in the post-Civil War era, the road was part of the famed Chisholm Trail that cattlemen used to move herds from ranches in Texas to railheads in Kansas, where the cattle could be shipped east and sold at higher prices.
The annual Chisholm Trail Days event, which the Williamson Museum has sponsored since 2006, gives local residents a chance to see what life was like in Georgetown during the time of the big cattle drives.
The 10th annual Chisholm Trail Days takes place on Saturday, October 17, in San Gabriel Park. Highlights of the event include a recreation of the famous Sam Bass shootout, western demonstrations, cowboy music, chuck wagons, and a longhorn cattle drive along the San Gabriel River that begins at noon. New offerings this year include a petting zoo and living history areas, and all activities are free and open to the public.
The day concludes with the annual Cattleman’s Ball, which honors an individual or family who has had a positive impact on Williamson County. This year’s honoree is Nancy Rabb, the matriarch of the Round Rock family whose house is now owned by that city’s Parks and Recreation Department. Nancy is a founding member of the Greater Round Rock Community Foundation. Tickets for the event are $75 per person.
Music, cowboy poetry, demonstrations, kids’ activities—and to top it off, the longhorns (the kind with real horns, that is) will make their way down the river bank. Chisholm Trail Days events take all ages back to Georgetown’s historic past!
For a complete schedule of events, visit upthechisholmtrail.org, where you can also purchase tickets for the Cattleman’s Ball.
Did You Know?
Cattle ranching in Williamson County during the days of the Chisholm Trail often turned violent as ranchers took the law into their own hands to deal with rustlers. The violence escalated to a particularly bloody end for one southeastern Williamson County family, the Olives, who after the Civil War built up a large operation by branding and laying claim to free-ranging longhorn cattle along the San Gabriel River and Brushy Creek. Instead of herding stolen cattle away, gangs of rustlers at the time simply skinned and butchered purloined cattle on the spot and sold the meat in Austin. The Olive brothers (Print, Jay, Bob, and Ira) waged a bloody war complete with gun battles—and the death of Jay—against the Yegura Gang, but eventually the surviving Olive brothers took their operations to Nebraska. Read more about the Olives and other Williamson County ranchers at www.williamson-county-historical-commission.org.
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