Rollingwood, that cozy little neighborhood of custom homes just southwest of downtown, officially got its start as an independent city about a decade after a developer purchased a big chunk of land there.
But its history tracks much deeper, dating back to an 1835 Mexican land grant.
In 1826, a man named Benjamin Rush Milam landed a contract to settle 300 families between the Guadalupe and Colorado Rivers north of San Antonio Road. The government issued 53 land titles to settlers in the original Milam Colony in 1835.
Milam, a soldier and entrepreneur, had been among the Federalists who frequently traveled to Mexico as Texas and Mexico both sought to solidify their independence. He became a colonel in the Mexican Army, and went on to become a hero of the Texas Revolution
Milam’s work creating the settlement, which set the stage for what would become Rollingwood.
One prime piece of land was granted to 28-year-old Henry P. Hill, according to state records. He was a lawyer from Georgia. He was listed as single, but he had a family by the time the land title traded hands, giving him a larger piece of property.
It wasn’t until Hill’s land had traded hands, presumably after Hill moved back to Georgia, that it became the Rollingwood addition.
George B. Hatley bought several hundred acres of land in 1955. By 1963, the community incorporated as a municipality with its own mayor and city council. At the time, fewer than 400 people lived there.
It was a quiet area, more rural than urban. Residents then — and now — enjoy the neighborhood because it is relatively quiet while still being just outside of downtown Austin.
Rollingwood has grown substantially since Hatley began its development, but its boundaries haven’t allowed the type of exponential growth in population seen in some Austin communities.
Rollingwood’s population nearly doubled to 780 by 1970, reaching 1,376 by 1988 and 1,412 in 2010.