AM Brown Cabin Historical Marker - In 1848, the Texas Legislature authorized the organization of Williamson County. In 1853, A.M Brown settled the land now the Garey property and built a cabin on his claim. His chimney and fireplace were made by hand in native stone. From 1909 to 1966, T.L, Annie, Charles Hughes, and his wife Lois Headrick Hughes lived in the home and expanded it to satisfy their needs and family. In 1966, Garey restored the house, and it became a historic landmark in 1974. The home has since been removed, leaving the chimney as the only piece of evidence of its existence.
AM Brown Historical Marker Text
When Asa M. Brown cut cedar, elm, and oak trees and built this cabin on his 317-acre State of Texas claim in 1853, this land was on the frontier. His chimney and fireplace were of hand-hewn native stone, the floor of dirt. William Wood, one of the many later owners, enlarged the home. In 1909-66, L. M., T. L., Annie, and Charles Hughes by turns owned and occupied the property. Mr. and Mrs. Jack Garey restored the cabin after their purchase, 1966. Recorded Texas Historic Landmark - 1974
A. M. Brown Cabin Photo Courtesy University of North Texas
A. M. BROWN CABIN
Williamson County has a colorful history, one of the cowboys, wagon trains, farmers, outlaws, and Indians. Early settlement in Williamson County is primarily due to the San Gabriel River, drawing people to live in this area for over 10,000 years. Many Indian tribes settled in the area due to the location of the river and the fertile soils as it was also well known for its buffalo and hunting grounds. Approximately four different tribes called the area home.
It has been said that Williamson County was first explored by Europeans in the late seventeenth century when Captain Alonso De León looked for a route between San Antonio and the Spanish missions in East Texas that would serve as a better route instead of the Camino Real. The new route passed through the area along Brushy Creek and the San Gabriel River and was called Camino de Arriba. In 1716, Louis Juchereau de St. Denis and Domingo Ramón, two Spanish explorers, led an expedition that traveled through the area and camped on Brushy Creek and the San Gabriel River, naming them Arroyo de las Bendítas Ánimas (Creek of the Blessed Souls) and Rio de San Xavier. The San Xavier missions were founded in the mid-eighteenth century and occupied a series of sites along the San Gabriel River.
The Garey Ranch is set in the beautiful Texas hill country and encompasses 525 acres on the San Gabriel River. The Greys, Jack and Cammile, have owned the ranch since 1966 and built a 6,500 square foot home for themselves in 1995. There are many places on the ranch that hold a historic value: the San Gabriel River and structures such as the free-standing chimney and the A.M. Brown Cabin.
A. M. Brown Cabin
#1 Ownership list of land where the log cabin is located.
State of Texas to Asa M. Brown by Patent #269, Vol. 18 (Photostat of patent accompanies this material) Abstract #85, Certificate #5, 3rd class recorded in General Land Office and dated Nov. 17, 1858. The log cabin was located on 317 acres, the land to which Mr. Brown was entitled by virtue of a law passed Jan. 22, 1845, and amended in 1853 giving to settlers pre-emption claims. The original survey was made on June 26, 1954, and certified on Aug. 15, 1854, in the Surveyor's Records Book L, Page 172, Williamson County, Texas (All further records referred to in this ownership list are recorded in Williamson County, Texas.)
Samuel J. Davidson paid $400.00 for 407 acres, approximately $1.00 per acre, on October 26, 1859, recorded Vol. 8, Page 555 of the Deed Records. This included the original 317 acres plus a 90-acre tract contiguous to that original tract. Davidson sold to M. A. Robins who paid $1,300.00 for 407 acres, about $3.19 per acre, on November 11, 1872, recorded Vol. 14, Page 139, Deed Records. Robins sold to John A. Cloud who paid $1,500.00 for 283 acres, $5.30 per acre on March 25, 18/6 recorded Vol. 17, Page 259, Deed Records. The log cabin was on the 283 acres sold to Mr. Cloud. The other 124 acres were retained by Mr. Robins.
John A. Cloud died in 1880 intestate and left his 283 acres undivided to his children. He had five children with his deceased first wife. They were J. W. Cloud; J. E. Cloud, G. W. Cloud, M. E. Cloud Abraham, and S. A. Cloud Harris. He also had three (3) children with his deceased second wife. They were Mattie Cloud Roach, Pearl Cloud Roach, and Grace Cloud Goggolz.
J. W. Cloud sold his undivided interest in the 283 acres to G. A. Cloud for $2,000.00, approximately $7.06 per acre, on November 22, 1888, recorded Vol. 53, Page 292, Deed Records.
M. E. Abraham sold her undivided interest in 283 acres to S. A. Harris, her sister, for $200.00, about $4.25 per acre, on July 27, 1889, recorded Vol. 53, Page 288 of the Deed Records.
S. Allie Harris then sold her interest to Wm. Wood on November 18, 1889, for $400.00 ($4.25 per acre). $200.00 paid in cash and a $200.00 note bearing 10% interest and due on January 1, 1891, recorded Vol. 53, Page 294 Deed Records. The $200.00 note with interest was paid on May 26, 1900.
On November 27, 1889, Wm. Wood redeemed 177 acres of the 283 acres for payment of $8.63 in back taxes not paid by J. W. Cloud for the year 1887 recorded Vol. 53, Page 310 Deed Records.
G. A. Cloud sold his interest in 283 acres to Wm. Wood for $200.00, $4.25 per acre, on February 15, 1890, recorded Vol. 53, Page 297, Deed Records.
J. E. Cloud sold his undivided interest in the 283 acres to Wm. Wood on December 2, 1890, for $200.00, $4.25 per acre, recorded Vol. 59, Page 543, Deed Records.
G. W. Cloud sold his interest to Wm. Wood on November 30, 1895, for $200.00, $425 per acre, recorded Vol. 79, Page 434. A xerox copy of the note for $200.00 given to G. W. Cloud by Wm. Wood accompanies this material.
On July 29, 1899, a Quit Claim Deed was recorded in Vol. 93, Page 567 to Wm. Wood from the survivors of S. J. Davidson for consideration of $1.00 because in 1872, when Davidson sold to M. A. Robins, there were some irregularities in the deed due to two notes which had long since been paid but not properly released.
On December 14, 1903, Wm. Wood used his interest in 277 acres, including the cabin site, for collateral to borrow $1,600.00 at 10% interest due on or before five (5) years. He borrowed the money from John W. Hamilton with $10.00 paid to F. W. Carothers as trustee; recorded Vol. 18, Page 170, Deed of Trust Records. The note and interest were paid in full and the Deed of Trust was released by Carothers to Wood on May 11, 1909, recorded Vol. 133, Page 140, Deed Records.
On October 6, 1905, Mattie Cloud Roach and Grace Cloud Goggolz each sold their undivided interest in the 283 acres to Wm. Wood for $133.33, about $2.84 per acre, recorded Vol. 108, Page 241, Deed Records.
The last holdout was Pearl Cloud Roach who on April 24, 1906, sold her interest to Wm. Wood for $66.65, only $1.42 per acre, recorded Vol. 117, Page 463, Deed Records. She waited for the longest to sell and got the least for her share.
It took Wm. Wood from November 18, 1889, to April 24, 1906, to purchase all rights to the property where the log cabin stands. He paid a total of $1,209.61, an average of $4.27 per acre. During the time Mr. Wood owned and occupied the cabin, he added to the original structure, including more rooms and approximately three (3) times as many square feet of living area.
L. M. Hughes bought the 283 acres plus 554 acres contiguous to it for a total of 837 acres from Wm. Wood for $7,910.00 cash and notes for $4,550.00 divided into notes 1-10. #1 for $150.00 due 1-1-1910, #2 - 8 each for $200.00 due Jan. 1, 1911 and each Jan. 1 through 1917, #9 and 10 each for $1,500.00 due January 1, 1918 and 1919. Each note bearing interest of eight (8%) percent per annum, Recorded Vol. 131, Page 401, Deed Records.
L. M. Hughes was something of a rolling stone according to his descendant, Charles Hughes. Leander, Texas. He moved to the ranch from Weir, Texas. It wasn't long before the urge to move on overtook him, and he talked his nephew and niece, T. L. and Annie Hughes, into buying the ranch so he could be on his way.
On November 12, 1910, T. L. and his sister, Annie, paid $7,500.00 for 837 acres, $8.96 per acre. They paid $2,586.00 cash and assumed the notes payable to Wm. Wood in the amount of $4,914. Warranty Deed with Vendor's Lien recorded Book 147, Page 112, Deed Records.
Soon after they purchased the ranch and made their home there, their brother Will E. Hughes and his wife, Mable, and their 4-year-old son, Charles, came to live on the ranch. They shared the house which included the log cabin and the additions which had been made by Wm. Wood. Charles E. Hughes lived on the ranch from 1912 to 1962 in this house. Mr. Hughes was very helpful in relating and confirming much of the cabin history included in this report.
Annie Hughes died on July 12, 1950. Charles E. Hughes, her nephew, inherited her undivided 1/2 interest in 526 acres including the land where to cabin stands. The other 311 acres originally purchased by the Hughes had been sold previously. Probate #4640 T. L. Hughes died Aug. 26, 1957, and left his half of the 526 acres to Charles Hughes, his nephew. The property was valued at $35.00 per acre for inheritance tax purposes for a total value of $18,410.00. Probate #5408 Mr. and Mrs. Jack Garey, the present owners of the property, paid $89,126.00 for 523 acres on September 4, 1966. (3 acres having been donated to the highway dept. for purposes of straightening and widening the road) $170.41 per acre, recorded Vol. 490, Page 457, Deed Records.
#2 Proof of date the log cabin was erected.
According to the Pre-emption certificate for Asa M. Brown File 1211 Milam 3rd class, Asa M. Brown resided upon and cultivated the 317 acres where the log cabin is located for three consecutive years, and the settlement and improvement were commenced previous to February 13, 1854. According to the last section of the field notes, Asa Brown swore that he settled upon vacant Public Domain on February 7, 1853.
The original copy of the Pre-emption certificate and also the field notes are at the General Land Office, but copies of both documents accompany this material. Also included is an affidavit signed by Charles Hughes, previous owner, testifying to facts related to him by his predecessors in title confirming the building of the cabin by Asa M. Brown.
#3 Motivation for Erecting the Log Cabin
Mr. Asa M. Brown built and occupied the present cabin as a homesite in order to acquire free land under a homesteader law passed by the State of Texas in 1845. This land was made available by the State of Texas to settlers to encourage immigration and development of the State. From the size of the cabin and the materials used, it seems safe to assume that Mr. Brown was a pioneer of modest means. The times were predominantly agricultural. The cabin was located near the rich river bottomland. Undoubtedly, Mr. Brown hand cleared the best land of native oaks, elm, and cedar in order to cultivate it for the production of crops of the era.
The cabin provided the shelter necessary to protect Mr. Brown and his family from the elements and hostile Indians in the area, and the land provided the means for his livelihood through the production of crops.
#4 The builder of the structure and short histories of cabin owners.
The builder of the log cabin was Asa M. Brown. He settled on 317 acres on the S. San Gabriel River and built the log cabin to enable him to homestead the land pursuant to an act passed Jan. 22, 1845, granting to settlers on vacant public domain pre-emption privileges. In the attached affidavit Mr. Brown swore he had lived on this land since February 7, 1853. He sold the land to Samuel J. Davidson on October 6, 1859. He lived on and worked the land for 6 years and 9 months.
The next owner on whom any information could be located was John A. Cloud. He bought the land on March 25, 1876. He outlived two wives and fathered eight children, three boys and two girls by his first wife and three girls by his second wife. He died in 1880 intestate leaving the property on which the cabin stood to his children, but ownership was undivided.
The next owner was William Wood. He had the onerous task of acquiring all of the undivided interests in the property from the Cloud children. It took him seventeen years to do this. According to Charles, Mr. Wood lived on the land and added to the log cabin to make a home for his wife, and several children. In addition to being a farmer and rancher, Mr. Wood was reported to be an old Indian fighter according to stories passed down to Mr. Hughes from his Uncle who was well acquainted with Mr. Wood.
Wm. Wood sold to L. M. Hughes on December 10, 1908, two years and nine months after he had acquired complete title to the land. Mr. Hughes came from Weir, Texas and according to present descendants was a rolling stone. He owned the land for almost two years, but wanting to move on, he talked his nephew and niece, who also lived at Weir, into buying the ranch.
T. L. and Annie Hughes thus became the next owners. They moved into the house which included the log cabin along with another brother Will Hughes and his wife Mabel and 4-year-old son, Charles. They farmed and ranched the land and Charles went to school in Leander as he was growing up. When Annie and T. L. died, in 1950 and 1957 respectively, Charles inherited each of their half interest in the ranch and the cabin. Charles married and brought his bride to live on the ranch. They lived there with their children and Charles' parents until 1962 when they moved into the town of Leander.
No additional information could be located on the previous owners of the log cabin.
#5 There were no architects or contractors as such.
#6 Description of the structure as it was originally built.
The log cabin has only one room which measures 15' x 15'. It is one story and originally had a dirt floor. There were no porches, but cedar staves were inserted high in the outside walls to support canvas-covered lean-to structures for added "rooms". The cabin had a hand-hewn stone fireplace, two doors, and one window. The window was on the same wall as the fireplace. There was a hand-dug well located about 30 yds. from the cabin (described in #7).
The materials used on the exterior were oak and elm logs shaped on two sides only with an ax. The spaced between the logs were filled with small rocks and mortar. A more detailed description follows in #7.
#7. An account of the construction of the log cabin.
The log cabin was built of oak and elm logs. These were used both because they were plentiful in the area and because the timber on the land to be used for fields would be cleared anyway. The logs were flattened on two sides with an ax and half-notched on the ends to facilitate joining them together. The spaces between the logs were filled with relatively flat rocks placed at a 45° angle in order to better shed rainwater to prevent pocketing of water or leakage to the inside of the cabin. The rocks were gathered from a natural outcropping of shale type limestone rock on the sides of nearby hills. To hold the rocks in place, they used a mortar consisting of pulverized natural lime from limestone mixed with wood ashes and water. The type of limestone suitable for this purpose was located at shallow depths on nearby hillsides.
The chimney was constructed of native rock using the same mortar described above. The chimney was constructed with a small protrusion of thin rock above the roofline to better shed rainwater so it was deflected, preventing it from running into the cabin or causing the roof to leak. At the top of the wall in the Southeast and Northeast corners just under the roof, the logs and mortar were carefully shaped in an oval to leave a hole approximately 6" in diameter, ostensibly for purposes of allowing the occupants to put a rifle barrel through the hole in order to ward off attacking Indians or other marauders with maximum protection to the cabin occupants. These holes, with original logs and mortar, have been carefully preserved and are intact as originally constructed.
Holes approximately 1" in diameter can presently be seen where they were bored into the exterior surface of the logs approximately 6' from ground level. According to information obtained, these holes were used to hold cedar staves or poles to form a support for canvas tent-like exterior rooms. The holes can still be seen in the logs on three sides of the cabin.
It is interesting to note that the only cedar used in the construction of the cabin were these staves and cedar joists used to support the roof.
A hand-dug well is located approximately 30 yds. to the West of the cabin. It is about 30' deep and 4' in diameter and is lined bottom and sides with native rock. Two cedar posts were erected on either side of the well and a pulley was used to hoist water up in wooden buckets. The well provided pure sweet-tasting spring water and remains functional (with occasional cleaning operations) to the present time.
Mr. Leroy Behrens of Round Rock, Texas, a carpenter with many years of experience and a descendent of early-day settlers, did the actual work of restoring the log cabin. Mr. Behrens did additional research into types of construction used during the period in which the log cabin was built and attempted to simulate these methods as closely as possible.
#8 Influences which caused the owner to build this type of residence.
The cabin was located in the rich bottomland fields. The cultivated land was approximately 40 acres adjacent to the banks of the South San Gabriel river in a small valley surrounded by timbered upland. The cabin was located a sufficient distance from the river so there was no danger from flooding. It allowed near proximity to fields as well as being in a location where ample drinking water was available. Also, it was in a relatively open area which afforded a greater degree of protection from Indians or other marauders who might try to attack the cabin.
From both the size and the materials used, one would suppose that Mr. Brown hadn't much time or money when he built the cabin. He used materials that were closest at hand and methods of building that were the least time consuming and most economical. Because there was danger from Indians, it was probably important to get the cabin built as quickly as possible so they would have some protective shelter.
#9 Additions and Alterations
The log cabin has never been moved from its original site. It has had some additions, however, through the years.
An early addition was that of flooring. Wide lumber was put in using square-headed nails by Wm. Wood shortly after he first started acquiring title to the property. He also built onto the cabin. Using the cabin as the West end of his house, he added several rooms onto the Eastside. He also added porches on the North and South sides.
Later, when the Hughes family moved in, they covered the outside walls with an imitation brick tarpaper. The roof was of shingles that had started to leak, so it was also covered with tarpaper. Inside, the walls were papered thickly with old newspapers.
When the present owners bought the property in 1966, the log cabin was covered both inside and outside so that it was not identifiable from casual inspection.
A bulldozer had been hired to doze down the old barns, brush, etc., including the old house built around the cabin. During the closing of the sale of the property, the seller, Mr. Hughes, made a chance remark in reference to the existence of the old log cabin located under the tarpaper covering the old house. The bulldozer operator was stopped in the nick of time just as he was about to start dozing down the old house surrounding the log cabin.
#10 Current Condition, Upkeep, and Future
The log cabin has been completely restored to as close to its original structure as we could determine that to be. It is weatherproof inside, and the outer structure is protected from further weathering by a silicone covering.
The present and future owners of the land will be responsible for its upkeep. The present owners plan to furnish the cabin with antique furniture of the time, and documents relating to the history and ownership of the cabin will be kept in the cabin. The cabin will be used to preserve an original type of housing used by early settlers.
#12 Not applicable.
#13 Role of Cabin in Community
From 1853 until 1967 the cabin has been used as a family dwelling. It provided shelter for families who settled this area and farmed the land to provide food and other agricultural products for the pioneer community.
#14 Reasons to Commemorate Structure
The cabin with its type of construction is an example of homes used by our pioneer agricultural society. The cabin represents one type of shelter used by our forebears and the type of shelter that was prevalent in Texas during the middle 1800s.
Very few log cabins are still in existence, and most of those that exist in this area are in very poor repair. It is the intent of the present owner to have this one restored and commemorated to preserve this era in history.
#15 Bibliography and Oral Interview Sources
Abstract #Wi 154
Williamson County, Texas
General Land Office
Stephen F. Austin Bldg.
17th 6 Congress
Austin, Texas 4-19-74
State of Texas Archives Library
12th & Congress
Austin, Texas 4-19-74
1104 E. Liberty Contractor for the reconstruction of log cabin
Round Rock, Texas
Charles E. Hughes Former owner of property numerous discussions concerning the history of Leander, Texas cabin
Mrs. Don Scarbrough
1318 E. University Ave.
Several discussions concerning cabin during March & April, Georgetown, Texas 1974