Blanco County, Tx.
named for the Blanco River
Blanco County is located in the Hill Country of central Texas, west of Austin and north of San Antonio. The State of Texas formed Blanco County in 1858 from portions of Burnet, Comal, Gillespie and Hays Counties. The city of Blanco served as the county seat from 1858 to 1890, when it was moved to Johnson City.
Two significant rivers, the Blanco River (which the county is named after), and the Pedernales River, flow through the county.
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Adjacent counties are; Burnet County, Travis County, Hays County, Comal County, Kendall County, Gillespie County, and Llano County.
Blanco County, Tx. History:
Capt. James Hughes Callahan and Eli Clemens Hinds built homes on the Blanco River in 1854, thus becoming the first white settlers in what is now Blanco County. Later that year Joseph Bird established Birdtown, now known as Round Mountain, in the northern part of the county.
In the same year, Gen. John D. Pitts came to settle in the Blanco County area. Pitts, with Callahan, Judge William S. Jones chartered the Pittsburgh Land Company. The first church in the county was built in 1854 by a Methodist circuit rider named Daniel Rawls. As more and more settlers moved into the area, missionaries from various Christian churches also established themselves in Blanco County. Although about a tenth of the residents were natives of Germany, the County was settled predominantly by natives of Tennessee and Alabama, mostly Anglo-Saxon Protestants.
Through the efforts of the people of northern Comal County and members of the Pittsburgh Land Company, Blanco County was formed on February 12, 1858, from parts of Comal, Hays, Burnet, and Gillespie counties and named for the Blanco River.
It was stipulated that the county seat should be called Blanco and the location was to be determined by election. The Pittsburgh Land Company donated a 120-acre tract of land and Blanco was founded. A courthouse was erected on the town square in 1860. It was replaced in 1885 by a limestone structure that came to be known as the Old Courthouse, which fell into private hands after Johnson City became the county seat; the Old Courthouse was restored in the early 1990s.
The county lost a large part of the land on its southwestern border when the legislature established Kendall County in 1862. The legislature compensated this by giving it additional parts of Hays and Burnet counties. When all the changes were complete, Blanco County comprised the 714 square miles of land it occupies today, but the town of Blanco was no longer at its geographical center. James Polk Johnson and other settlers on the Pedernales River began to agitate for a new county seat. In 1891 Johnson City became the county seat.
Education in Blanco County began with one-room schoolhouses. In 1874 the Masons of Blanco chartered Blanco Masonic University which failed due to lack of funds. A few years later citizens in the community formed a corporation to raise money to build a high school. Blanco High School was chartered in 1883 and built on the unused university foundation. The first class graduated in 1887. The school system grew slowly, as many of the young men who attended seem to have dropped out, possibly to work on family farms or ranches.
During the Great Depression farm and ranch values plummeted and crop production fell. The effects of the depression on the county were also tempered by a marked rise in government projects in the area, many of them acquired through the influence of Lyndon Baines Johnson, who had developed a close relationship with President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Many of the county’s roads were paved, and the federal government’s Civilian Conservation Corps worked to improve state parks in the area. Perhaps most importantly, the New Deal introduced full electric power to the area through the Lower Colorado River Authority and the Pedernales Electric Cooperative.
Farm and ranch supply stores have been the most prominent businesses in the two population centers of the county, Blanco and Johnson City. However, tourism has also become an important part of the local economy since the 1960s, as many visitors are attracted to Blanco State Recreation Area just south of Blanco, Pedernales Falls State Park in the northern part of the county, and to the Lyndon Baines Johnson Birthplace, Boyhood Home, and Ranch.
Other places in Blanco County:
Major highways include; U.S. Highway 281, U.S. Highway 290.
Part of the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park is in Blanco County.