County 1907 postal map (from Texas state map #2090)
Texas General Land Office
nephew, Karl Martin, built a store at Hedwig's Hill - the first
store west of the Llano.
But the early years were tough for the Germans at Hedwig's Hill.
They had no experience with slavery and no sympathy for the Confederacy,
and that attitude put them at odds with many of their neighbors.
A cattle rustling epidemic in the 1870s deepened resentment between
the two groups.
Then in February 1875 a group of Germans broke into the Mason County
Jail, drug two suspected cattle thieves from their cell, and lynched
them from an oak tree. The Mason
County Hoo Doo War had begun.
Six months later
a Hoo Doo soldier named George Gladden received a note requesting
his presence in Mason.
The next morning Gladden rode north from his home in Loyal
Valley. A friend, Moses Baird, rode along.
But the note was a trick, delivered by an informant for $50, to
lure Gladden into an ambush.
Knowing Gladden would travel through Hedwig's Hill, the main road
into Mason County
from the south, Sheriff Clark and about 60 German ranchers waited
there undercover to see that Gladden never got to his intended destination.
There was an uneasy stillness in Hedwig's Hill when Gladden and
Baird rode into town that day. The two men dismounted, tied their
horses to the hitching post, and walked in the direction of Keller's
Store to refresh themselves.
When they were
about 30 paces from the store, Sheriff Clark stepped out on the
porch with his rifle in hand and threw a cartridge into the chamber.
Without a word being said "the firing commenced."
Gladden and Baird were caught completely by surprise in a deadly
Baird got the worst of it, but Gladden saved him by throwing him
over the saddle of the nearest horse and climbing on behind. Thus
mounted the two men took off at a gallop.
But the sheriff and his posse caught Gladden and Baird about 4 miles
south of Hedwig's Hill, near Hilda
at the crossing of Beaver Creek. Baird died on the creek bank -
a victim of lead poisoning. George Gladden, with 9 bullet wounds,
After the Hoo
Doo War, a delicate calm settled over Hedwig's Hill like fog
on a fall morning. The store, now owned by Karl Martin's widow Anna,
prospered. Anna made
a killing of her own selling groceries, ammunition, and barbed wire.
For a time Hedwig's Hill was a happening place. It had a store,
a church, and a school.
But beginning in the early 20th century, cars, better roads, and
cheap gasoline gave country people easier access to bigger stores
in larger towns. Business in Hedwig's Hill declined. The population
dropped. The post office closed in 1907. By the end of the 20st
Century the population was 10.
| What's left
of Hedwig's Hill is just north of the Llano
River on Highway 87 between Fredericksburg
Today motorists barrel through Hedwig's Hill at 70 mph not knowing
it was once a place of some importance. Most travelers are unaware
they passed through a "place" at all.
© Michael Barr
15, 2016 Column
Mason County News, February 5, 1976, "Mason County Roundup," p9.
Mason County News, December 20, 1979, "Mason County's Unsettled Years,
1860-1880," sec. 2, p50
David Johnson, The Mason County Hoo Doo War, 1874-1902 (Denton: The
University of North Texas Press, 2006).
Small Town Sagas