History on Highway 79

A special thanks the Round Rock Leader for letting the Historical Commission post these wonderful articles.

The Time Capsules stories are prepared by Bob Brinkman

Texas Historical Commission


History on Highway 79

Driving east on Highway 79, you pass through an area that has been significant in the history and development of Texas. Palm Valley has been a popular home for about as long as anyone can measure. Archaeologists find evidence of tools and artifacts dating back thousands of years near the bubbling springs that feed Brushy Creek. Native Americans made good use of the creek's bounty for centuries. In the 1830s and 40s, this spot was also the site of Kenney’s Fort, the first permanent settlers’ home in what would become Williamson County.

Soon after, the area developed into a nucleus of population for immigrants from Sweden. Swedish immigration to Texas had begun in the 1830s, and with the assistance of Swante Swenson many thousands of settlers crossed the sea to live and work on Texas’ fertile and boundless land. In 1853, the widow Anna Palm and her six sons arrived east of Round Rock, and the village of transplanted Swedes that sprang up was later named Palm Valley in her honor. In the first 50 years of Swedish immigration to Texas, the region between Round Rock, Georgetown, Taylor and Manor included twenty percent of all Swedish immigrants in the state.

Some of the families that became leading citizens of the towns included the Dyers, Nelsons, Olsons, Carlsons and Andersons.

Many of the families came from the same region in Sweden, and settled near each other here. The community of Palm Valley held church and school services soon after settlers started arriving in the 1850s, but it was on Advent Sunday in November 1870 that the Lutheran church was formally organized with 150 adults and children in attendance. Pastor D. N. Tillman of Finland conducted the service entirely in Swedish. After outgrowing this church and a later structure, the congregation built the present Palm Valley Lutheran Church in 1894.

It cost $10,000 at the time, with an exterior of red compressed bricks from Belford Lumber Company of Georgetown. The church steeple, designed to be seen for miles around the surrounding countryside, is still visible from miles away. Mass was conducted all in Swedish until 1928, when every other service was in English. The last all-Swedish ceremony was held in 1941. The impressive Gothic Revival style church building is now a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark. It remains a focal point in a valley rich in history.