the 1906 tornado
Photo courtesy Jimmy Williams
a Pecan Shell
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
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
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
Briggs's 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.
photos courtesy Jimmy Williams
The 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,
November 07, 2006
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