Cedar Creek History: A Stephen F. Austin Colony

Cedar Creek is located 11 miles west of the city of Bastrop. It lies on Texas Highway 21 where the highway crosses the town’s namesake, Cedar Creek, a tributary of the Colorado. The San Antonio Road, as Highway 21 was known in Texas colonial times, was an important trail between San Antonio and the rich agricultural and timber producers of the central and eastern portions of the state.

In 1831, Stephen F. Austin acquired the land in and around Cedar Creek in eastern Bastrop County as part of the “Mina Municipality.” This was the Mexican government’s second major land grant to Austin. It included much of what is today Central Texas. There were few settlements further west of Bastrop that a single day’s ride by horseback could reach. What kept settlers close to Bastrop was the threat of Indian attacks by the feared Comanche tribes and, to a lesser extent, the Tonkawa.

As early as 1832, settler Addison Litton was granted a parcel of blackland prairie located on both sides of Cedar Creek totaling 4,605 acres. Litton, later to serve in the Texas Revolution, and his wife, Mary Owen Litton, soon established their home there. They were joined by other pioneers, such as Jesse Billingsley, who later served in the State House and Senate of the new Republic of Texas. John Day Morgan, builder of the first log cabin in Cedar Creek, opened the settlement’s first post office in 1852.

Cedar Creek’s Historic Farm and Ranch Legacy

In 1837, ambitious growers brought cotton and slaves to the area to take advantage of the region’s 270-day growing season and deep, waxy clay and loam soils. Under strong influence from local church groups, Cedar Creek citizens voted against secession prior to the Civil War.

But “King Cotton” was favored over all other crops for the next fifty years. The local stand of loblolly pine forest, unique in the region, helped fuel additional growth and prosperity. The timber was the nearest and most affordable pine with which to build in San Antonio and Austin throughout the middle of the 19th Century.

Local ranchers saw a tripling of livestock, primarily in cattle, beginning in the mid-19th Century. Ranching grew steadily throughout Bastrop County well into the 1980s. Oil strikes and testing occurred throughout the county starting in 1913. In 1928, an oil field was discovered on Yost Farm, located four miles east of Cedar Creek. Like other oil finds in the area, it was dependable but unspectacular. Recently, farmers have found success with sorghum, watermelon, peanuts and pecans.

At the dawn of the 1990s, residents of Cedar Creek and throughout Bastrop County were managing both the opportunities and challenges that Austin’s spectacular growth brought to the region, as well as further opportunities for agricultural and industrial diversification as land use shifted more toward single-family residential use.

Cedar Creek’s Timeless Lifestyle

While other small communities deal with growth pains, Cedar Creek has long enjoyed being a tight-knit community. While the town proper — still unincorporated — has never had a population greater than 600 citizens, the community includes the surrounding farms, ranches and other homes in the vicinity taking the population to near 9,000. The community’s schools, churches and businesses have dependably served the population for decades.

One recent welcomed addition is Cedar Creek Park, providing recreational fields and a community gathering place that can accommodate nearly the entire town — and sometimes does. Given all of the love, care and hard work of local citizens to secure and literally construct portions of Bastrop County’s first park, it seems certain the town’s early settlers would be proud.