History of Junction, Texas by Frederica Burt Wyatt
A half-century or so after the establishment of a village at the forks of the North and South Llano Rivers, the townspeople of Junction voted to form and incorporate a municipal government. The citizenry felt a need for the benefits of municipal government, and on the 29th day August 1927, H. O. Denman and 152 others presented a petition to Kimble County Judge J. B. Randolph asking that an election be called for the sole purpose of submitting a vote on the question of whether or not the territory should be incorporated for municipal purposes. Opposition to the incorporation issue was rampant, and handbills from the “anti” group were distributed throughout the town. Judge Randolph called the election for Sept. 13, 1927, and 274 qualified votes were cast “For Incorporation” and 116 “Against Incorporation.” Results of the election were certified Sept. 27, and the township became a General Law city. A city officers’ election was duly held Oct. 13, 1927, with the slate of newly elected officials including E. Holekamp, mayor; Will Emsley, city marshal; Edgar Jordan, W. B. Buster, J. A. Heyman, Frank Bissett and N. C. Patterson, aldermen. On page 6 of the first volume of City Council minutes, there is a copy of the Commissioners’ Court Minutes dated Nov. 14, 1927:
“Be it remembered that on this day the Honorable Commissioners Court of Kimble County, Texas, met in regular session at the Courthouse of Kimble County in Junction, Texas, and there were present the following members, to-wit: J. B. Randolph, County Judge presiding; A. B. Hodges, J. F. Ragsdale, R. W. Fisher, and H. W. Bierschwale, County Commissioners; Dee Gibbs, Sheriff; and L. R. Hodges, County Clerk.
The Court having been regularly opened, the following proceedings were had in open Court: Among other things, this order, to-wit:THE STATE OF TEXAS
COUNTY OF KIMBLE
To the Honorable Commissioners Court of Kimble County, Texas, Greetings and Appeal.
Here comes before you, seven children of the Great United States and full fledged citizens of Kimble County, Texas. They have recently been elected and now obligated officers of the New Born City of Junction, Texas.
They come before you, Your Honor, pleading with you, they have no money, no house nor shelter. They ask for your hospitality in your abode, the Courthouse and County Jail of Kimble County, Texas. The Courthouse to be placed at their disposal, to hold their business meetings, and such other transactions as may be necessary, and the Jail to be used by them to place therein any violators of the laws of the City, as needed, until such time as other arrangements can be made. We further plead with Your Honor, should this request be granted, and you cause this matter to be placed of record in the minutes of your Court, for future reference. We also plead with you and your co-officers for your cooperation with the newly elected officers of the City of Junction, Texas, as far as possible, not interfering with your own official duties. Assuring you that peace and harmony will prevail. Respectfully submitted, /s/ E. Holekamp, Mayor IT IS THE ORDER OF THE COURT that the above and foregoing request be and the same is hereby fully granted, as in all things prayed for. There being no further business, Court adjourned this 14th day of November, A. D. 1927. Attest: /s/ L. R. Hodges, Clerk of the /s/ J. B. Randolph, County Judge Presiding County Court, Kimble Co., Texas.
It will be remembered this was the courthouse built in 1885 and razed in 1929 to be replaced by the present structure. The city office was later to be housed in the “new” courthouse until a municipal building and fire station was erected in 1939-40. W. N. Hardeman was engineer for the project, and D. C. Maddux was the architect. Dr. H. E. Wright was mayor at the time and in later years he recalled the WPA program furnished labor, and the concrete walls were hand-poured by a bucket brigade.
A new fire station was erected in the 1980s, and in the mid-1990s the city purchased a building in the 700 block of Main Street to be utilized as a City Hall. The police department occupies the structure built in 1939-40.
With the city government set in motion in 1927, the City Council considered the health and safety needs of the people and passed a number of ordinances, many that are still in force and effect. The waterworks system was purchased from the Llano River Irrigation and Milling Company for the sum of $18,000. Improvements have continued to the system, including a water filtration plant completed in 1975. A sewer system was built in 1929, and updates are continuing through the years. A modern landfill has replaced the original “city dump,” and contractors now attend to garbage and refuse collection. Subdivisions have been added to the original limits, and the city continues to expand its perimeter. A municipal swimming pool was built in 1955, and the Kimble Water Control and Improvement District-Junction installed a dam on the Llano River in 1965. The office of City Marshal was abolished in 1956 with the establishment of the Police Department.
Site of the town was midway along a later transcontinental highway known as the Old Spanish Trail. In the 1970s, Highway Interstate 10 bypassed Junction, but city limits have been extended to include that area.
The City now has approximately 2,700 residents. A large number of local residents have given their time and expertise to serve on the City Council. Of that number, the 15 mayors have included E. Holekamp, T. B. Phillips, Emil A. Loeffler, H. E. Wright, Joe Bissett, W. P. Hendrix, Aubrey E. Fife, C. W. McCarroll, Frederica Burt Wyatt, LaRue Newby, W. Keaton Blackburn, Luke Hagood, Gordon A. Robbins, Jamie Roy Jacoby and Alan Herring. Appropriately, the town had assumed its name from its geographical location at the “junction” of the streams, and the City of Junction was born.
In its formative years, the settlement had been variably known as Denman in honor of the township’s surveyor, Marcellus J. “Sel” Denman. First postmaster for the fledging town was Harriett Lindamood Kountz. Three months later, on Aug. 26, 1876, the name was changed to “Denman City.” The following year, in June, 1877, the appellation of “Junction City” was adopted. Finally, on May 5, 1894, the post office became known as just “Junction.”
Although far removed from the hustle and bustle of more-densely settled parts of the state, this part of Texas was a part of the land grant issued to Francis Fisher, Buchard Miller and Joseph Baker. Comprising some three million acres of land between the Llano and Colorado Rivers, the Fisher and Miller Colony was a part of free land granted by the Republic of Texas to encourage settlement of the new frontier.
The earliest real estate transaction of record was a certificate issued by the Colony to one Joseph Schertz for a section of land lying at the confluence of the Llanos. Schertz’s assignees, Gustavus Schleicher and J. S. McDonald, were subsequently granted a patent for the land on July 23, 1855. Signing the instrument was Texas Governor E. M. Pease. The land was described as “six hundred and forty acres in Bexar County between the North and South forks of the Llano River, about fifty-four miles northwest from Fredericksburg, and twenty-three miles north 80 degrees east from Fort Terrett, known as Survey 541, in Section 7, by virtue of Certificate 324, issued by the commissioner of Fisher and Miller Colony on August 11, 1851, and transferred to said Schleicher and McDonald ...” J. S. McDonald passed to his reward in Bexar County in 1856, and appraisers of his estate included Samuel A. Maverick, R. P. Kelley, Francis Girand and G. Schleicher. The interests of J. S. McDonald were subsequently sold, on Jan. 30, 1858, to his surviving partner, the afore said Gustavus Schleicher.
By that time, white settlers had begun to move to this part of the wild Texas frontier, and the creation of Kimble County from its mother county, Bexar, became a reality. Organization of the county government was delayed another 18 years, and the area was attached to Gillespie for judicial purposes. Little or no real estate activity concerning the Schertz survey transpired until Feb. 14, 1872, when William McLane purchased the original property. In August of that same year, he gave the real estate to his minor grandchildren, then living in Karnes County, Texas. The even numbered lots in town were sold to County Judge William Potter on 29 August of that year. The transaction is referenced in future transactions; however, the original instrument was lost in the devastating courthouse fire of 22 April 1884. The Kimble County Commissioners Court, on 14 December 1880, designated a local attorney, W. A. Williamson, as Commissioner to sell the afore-mentioned even numbered town lots that were “there to fore unsold.”
The settlement prospered, and The Galveston Daily News reported, on Feb. 28, 1882: “Junction City, the county seat of Kimble County, has about three hundred inhabitants; is located immediately at the junction of the North and South forks of the Llano; has a good courthouse and jail, two stores, general merchandise, and a furniture store, all doing a profitable business. There is lumber now on the ground for the construction of a Christian church. The Methodists are also on the eve of building. A good school will be opened the first Monday of next month. The Western Texan is a new issue from Junction City with J. F. Lewis, editor and proprietor ...” By deed of partition on his 21st birthday anniversary, William McLane III of Concho County, Texas, became the owner of the odd-numbered lots in Junction. The same day, Aug. 31, 1883, young McLane sold the lots to G. W. Ragsdill, H. H. Allen and W. A. Williamson.