Oatts family are among area pioneers

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


Oatts family are among area pioneers

This month we celebrate the pioneer spirit of one of Round Rock's earliest families. Thomas C. Oatts was born in October 1815 in Monticello, Kentucky. He and his brother H. R. were in Central Texas by 1838. Thomas married Elizabeth Killough about 1845, and by 1850 the two were living on Brushy Creek with three children. Oatts opened one of the first general stores in the village that formed, and in 1851 he was granted the first post office, named Brushy Creek. Three years later Oatts changed the name to Round Rock, recalling the many times he and his friend the late Jacob Harrell would fish from atop the limestone formation in the middle of the creek. Oatts' store is at the corner of Chisholm Trail and Emmanuel, one of the oldest structures still standing in Round Rock.

The Oatts family helped begin many of the traditions in the developing town of Round Rock. Thomas helped form the Masonic Lodge # 227 in 1858.

In 1860 he turned over the post office to Robert J. Hill. By 1862 he had opened another store with Dudley Snyder on the east side of the Austin-Georgetown highway.

This building, which was later the Inn at Brushy Creek, is also still standing. Eventually Oatts owned several of the lots in the town. In 1863 Oatts and Snyder helped form the Round Rock Academy, an early school which gave way to the Greenwood Masonic Institute in 1867. Snyder married the Oatts' eldest daughter Mary Ann in 1864. In April 1871, Thomas accompanied the Snyder brothers on a cattle drive that took three months to reach Schuyler, Nebraska. In 1876 Oatts' son William opened the first Round Rock Broom Factory. In 1883 the 68-year old Oatts helped lead another cattle drive to Nebraska, and on both occasions he kept a journal to record his adventures. Thomas died in 1885, and he, Elizabeth, and three of their five children are buried in the Round Rock Cemetery. Thanks to pioneers like the Oatts family, our town received a firm foundation and a bright future.