before the 1906 tornado|
Photo courtesy Jimmy Williams
in a Pecan Shell|
Settled on the headwaters of spring-fed Berry Creek,
the community was first called Springs and then Gum Springs. The first settlers
(in the mid 1850s) were from Missouri and Tennessee. In the 1870s settlers came
from Alabama, Mississippi, the Carolinas, and Kentucky.
After early settler
Stephen Taylor built a gin (and a store) the area that became known as Taylors
Gin. In 1888 the town was granted a post office under that name. The name didn't
sit well with one Dr. Hazelwood who petitioned for a name change in honor of his
mother-in-law, Mrs. Henry D. Briggs.
Being the town doctor carries weight
and the town was renamed in June of 1898. Two years later the town was platted
and Briggs had a population of 100.
|From 1906 to 1928,
the town thrived despite a 1906
tornado that destroyed the school. The population was nearly 300 by the 1920s.
Fires in 1928 took out several buildings which were never rebuilt. When
highway 183 was built, many citizens began commuting to Killeen
and Copperas Cove.
population reached its zenith with 520 people in the mid 1930s. The figures seesawed
between 250 and 300 until the late 1960s. It then declined to less than 100 and
the town's school merged with the Burnet ISD. |
Texas Forum Remembering
photos of the 1906 Briggs
tornado led me to the Briggs site & brought back some memories. My dad's first
cousin, Dossie (Lane) Cottle, & her husband Sherman had a ranch outside Briggs
in the '40s through the '60s. We went to Briggs often to visit them.
In those days there was a musical group in the area called The Briggs Hayloft
Gang. It was very popular in the area & played in other small towns around Briggs
as well as in the Briggs school. Dossie sang with the group. I've often wondered
if it still performs.
In the fall of '57, on a Friday night, my folks
& I went to a Hayloft Gang concert at the school. That night I met a girl I hadn't
seen since I was in the 3rd grade at Ridgetop in Austin & she was in the 4th.
She'd been married & divorced--apparently about that fast--and was living with
her folks on a place near Briggs. We spent the intermission together, playing
'do you remember' and 'whatever happened to.'
The next day Dad, Sherman
& I went into Briggs--I don't recall why--and it was all over town that I had
proposed to the girl & we were setting a date to get married. Talk about small
town gossip! I was a senior in High School & certainly not thinking about marrying
anyone, especially not a girl I hadn't seen in 9 years before that night.
I missed seeing a photo of the Briggs telephone office. The operator's name
was Sara. She lived in a small frame house on the west side of the road. It was
also the telephone office. I can remember a bundle of telephone wires about a
foot in diameter coming in the south window of that house's front room, and the
huge switchboard in the room. Briggs at the time still had crank telephones--the
wooden ones that hung on the wall--and calling Briggs from Austin was an adventure!
- C. F. Eckhardt, Seguin, Texas, November 07, 2006
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