C e l e b r at i n g 1 5 0 Y e a r s
A Look Back in Time Living in Round Top The Churches and Schools of Round Top Four Women Set the Tone A Place Like No Other – Festival Hill Institute The Magic of Memories Round Top Today Thoughts About The Future
Photographic print copy of the plat map of Round Top, Texas drawn by Surveyor H. R. Von Bieberstein in April 1872. Lot A-D and 1-10, 13-29 are shown. Streets are Flack, White, Washington, Live Oak, Rock, Mill, First, Second and Third. The roads to Ledbetter, La Grange and Brenham are shown. Photo courtesy of Fayette Heritage Museum & Archives.
C e l e b r at i n g 1 5 0 Y e a r s
A Look Back in Time Living in Round Top The Churches and Schools of Round Top Four Women Set the Tone A Place Like No Other – Festival Hill Institute The Magic of Memories Round Top Today Thoughts About The Future
COVER: Old cars in Round Top Fourth of July Parade c. 1983. Photo courtesy of Fayette Heritage Museum & Archives.
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Celebrating the Sesquicentennial of the Incorporation of the Village of Round Top, Texas
May 6th, 1870 Compiled & Written by Sally Reynolds
Downtown Round Top c. 1866.
Once you start, you are never finished! This collection of memories and historical facts is far from complete, but I do hope you will enjoy your trip down memory lane as much as I have enjoyed coming to know all who made our journey possible.
PUBLISHER’S NOTE: This Magazine was published by the Fayette County Record for the Town of Round Top.
Copyright© 2020 by Sally Reynolds. All Rights Reserved.
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Round Top Firemen and Fire wagon. Photo courtesy of Fayette Heritage Museum & Archives.
A lOOook Back in Time Hundreds of years ago, some of the roads we travel today were Indian trails. The Karankawa, Kiowa, Lipan, Tonkawa and Comanche roamed these hills, hunted the woods, and traveled and fished in the flowing creeks and rivers. As AngloAmericans began arriving in the 1820s to the area we now know as Round Top, they faced Indian skirmishes and other challenges. But here was opportunity to own virgin land. On March 31, 1831 one league of land was granted to James Winn through Stephen F. Austin and by the state of Coahuila y Texas. The Town of Round Top is situated today on a portion of land of the James Winn League. The early Anglo American settlers of this area established farms and plantations and either brought or acquired slaves to plant and pick cotton and to farm. Among the early settlers were the Townsends, Taylors, Ledbetters, Flacks, Hills, Robinsons, Gaithers and others. Some of these families had fought for the independence of Texas from Mexico in 1836. And in 1842 the Texas Congress gave authority to its president to grant vast tracts of land to those willing to draw entrepreneurial and hard working settlers to its borders. This was rough land, totally uncultivated land. Cabins needed to be built and the abundant cedar trees provided the logs and lumber. Water wells were dug and fences were built. Livestock was sustenance and the gardens provided vegetables to these early families. These men and women rose to the challenges with great perseverance. In time, these plantation owners and farmers began to parcel and sell their land. Some left Texas or relocated to nearby counties.
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Farming Family. Photo enhanced by Neale Rabensburg.
Photo courtesy of Fayette Heritage Museum & Archives. Richter Cemetery. Alex Rosenberg Building. Photo courtesy of Fayette Heritage Museum & Archives.
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Conrad Schuddemagen house. Photo courtesy of Round Top Area Historical Association.
Adelsverein Texas was truly the land of opportunity and opportunity was the key word for change to many Germans experiencing great hardship in their homeland. For that reason, German noblemen formed Der Verein zum Schutze Deutscher Einwanderer in Texas or The Society for the Protection of German Emigrants in Texas. In 1842, Adolph, the Duke of Nassau hosted the first general assembly of the association and is the source for the name of the Nassau Plantation. This Society, the Adelsverein, managed to effectively settle thousands of Germans on the Texas frontier. Representing the Adelsverein, Joseph Count of Boos-Waldeck purchased 4,428 acres of the Jack League in Fayette County in January of 1843 for $3,321 or 75 cents per acre. The Nassau Plantation, as the land came to be called, played a key role in this focused quest to cultivate the land, enrich its value, and provide a solid plan for German opportunity. Ultimately, between 1846 and 1847, the Society mortgaged the plantation to supply food to hundreds of immigrants without resources stranded in Lavaca Bay. In the mid 1840s, the Adelsverein enabled the German immigrants to buy parcels of land from the plantation owners and land speculators. Self reliant, self taught, independent, thrifty and determined, the Germans diversified the cultivation of the land and firmly planted themselves in this emerging community. Not only did they raise cotton, but they also grew their own fruits and vegetables. They cared for their chickens, hogs, and cows. They took care of their families and each other. These hard working families set the tone for the area we call Round Top. In the 1850s Round Top had a population of 150 people, two stores, two blacksmiths, 2 taverns, a post office and stagecoaches visiting three times a week. Germans started buying town lots. Ehrgott Bauer and Conrad Schuddemagen were the first to buy lots in the town of Round Top. And this parceling and selling of land has continued through the decades in Round Top and surrounding areas.
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A Town’s Name And how did Round Top get its name? Imagine yourself jostling along on a fast moving stage coach between Austin and Houston, and it is time for a rest stop. An early settler, John York, had built his house about 1½ miles north and east of town and his place became a stopping place for the cargo wagons and later the stagecoach drivers to exchange horses and quickly refresh. He had built an eight sided tower on top of this house, with narrow windows as a lookout for hostile Indians. Its roof was round and could be seen from the dusty road. So when approaching, and the stage coach driver could see that round roof, he would yell, “Round Top, Next Stop!” John York’s house was briefly owned by another man who sold it in a few months to Alwin H. Soergel, a journalist and writer. The surrounding area came to be known as Soergel Hill. About two miles south of present day Round Top, Stephen Townsend and his wife bought 400 acres on the south side of Cummins Creek. This became known as Townsend Settlement. The Townsends operated a coach inn and another opportunity to exchange horses. They founded a Presbyterian Church and called it Florida Chapel, after their daughter, Florida. It appears the Round Top of today is just about in the middle of these two stage stops.
Round Top Square prior to 1895 as seen from entrance to Henkel Square. Photo courtesy of Round Top Area Historical Association.
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Edward Henkel sitting on a stool, reading a magazine, and enjoying a smoke on his long pipe. c. 1880-1890. Photo taken by Friederike Recknagel; Photo enhanced by Neale Rabensburg; Photo courtesy of Round Top Area Historical Association.
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Logs for lumber on Courthouse Square. Photo courtesy of Round Top Area Historical Association.
North Side of Square prior to 1900. The middle building is where Royer’s Café is now. Public scale was on the square to weigh the hogs brought in for sale. Photo courtesy of Round Top Area Historical Association.
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Round Top CourthTHouse A wooden courthouse was built in 1885 on land given by Edward Henkel on Live Oak Street adjacent to the Apothecary Shop and across from the town square. The courthouse burned in 1924 and the courthouse we know today was built in 1925, anchoring town meetings and festivities, and providing opportunities for small fairs, family picnics and wonderful concerts. In 1888, Edward Henkel built the Apothecary shop for Edward Recknagel, his friend. The Apothecary shop, now the shop, Wimberley, and the Henkel house, now Royer’s Pie Shop, are the only two buildings on their original sites in Henkel Square. And in the old blacksmith shop on the corner of Knutzen Square the metal is still pounded and the sparks still fly! On May 6, 1870, the town of Round Top was incorporated. It was the smallest incorporated town in Texas, listing 65 people and 20 of those listed were children. Early on and for almost 90 years, the town people ran grocery stores, dry good stores, feed stores, blacksmith barns and were mechanics. Families grew their own vegetables, and raised their own meat on the family farms. A few families ran very successful egg businesses, and the entire family candled the eggs, sized the eggs, cleaned the eggs and boxed them to sale and for transport. As time went by, the farms were passed from one generation to another. Some of the children moved away and the farms were sold. And the Town of Round Top began its transformation, which continues today.
Photo courtesy of Fayette Heritage Museum & Archives.
Photo courtesy of Fayette Heritage Museum & Archives.
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Round Top Bank Five people founded the Round Top Bank in October, 1912. Each contributed $5,000 to establish operating capital. In those early days, when the bank was open, the doors were open, the windows were open and the bank vault was open! Today, in addition to the home location in Round Top, Round Top State Bank operates six other branches and in the tradition of the early bank, is thoughtfully responsive to the banking needs of its customers. Photos courtesy of Fayette Heritage Museum & Archives.
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4TH of July Parade On July 4, 1851 Round Top hosted its first 4th of July parade. Hamilton Ledbetter served as the first grand marshal. This red, white and blue parade has never missed a year since its inception, including the years of the Civil War, and Round Top’s parade is recognized as the longest continuously running 4th of July parade west of the Mississippi. Extraordinary floats, sometimes pulled by a tractor, decorated cars, bicycles, and flatbeds filled with musicians playing much loved brass band music, define this historic American holiday. Festive crowds line the streets each year as the parade captures the love of country and the spirit of the unique town of Round Top. Flags are waving, friends and families are together, and almost everyone tops off the day with delicious BBQ and a beer at the Rifle Hall. With more music for dessert!
Fourth of July Parade prior to 1924. Sackes & Emmrich Garage and Barbershop in background. Photo courtesy of Ronny Sacks.
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DYD Club Float c. 1936 Photo courtesy of Ronny Sacks.
Parade Float c. 1937 Photo courtesy of Ronny Sacks.
Ella Sach’s Parade Entry. c. 1936 Photo courtesy of Ronny Sacks.
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ShooOOting Club In the German tradition, marksmanship has always been recognized and celebrated. In 1873, the men of Round Top organized a shooting club, the Round Top Schützen-Verein. Between 1881 and 1882, German craftsmen built the Rifle Association Hall. Basic hand held tools were used to build the foundation which was held together by wooden slotted pegs. Electricity in Round Top was still almost 60 years away. Two thousand people were in attendance to celebrate the opening of the 50 x 60 ft. dance hall. In 1888, the members of the Schützen-Verein formally adopted the club’s constitution. Today, the Rifle Hall Association continues to acknowledge extraordinary marksmanship at the annual Schützen-Verein marksmanship competition. A winner is crowned with a cedar crown and lifted to a cheering crowd. The special beer keg is unplugged and the hall is filled with lively German music, dancing, laughter, and of course, great German beer!
Schützen Park c. 1895 Round Top Rifle Association. Photo courtesy of Ronny Sacks.
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Lifting the King. Pictured are Left-Dave Weishuhn, 1994/2006/2008 RTRA Schützenkönig, Center-John Wantland, 2019 RTRA Schützenkönig, and Right-Cullen Weishuhn. Directing, with back to camera is Ronny Sacks, 1989 RTRA Schützenkönig.
Toast to King. Left is John Wantland, 2019 RTRA Schützenkönig and right is John Slaughter, Paulaner distributor who provided the ceremonial keg, imported from Germany. Photos courtesy of Round Top Rifle Association (RTRA).
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Round Top School 1906. F. Rauch, Principal 1906-1909. Miss Minnie Andre, Asst. Photo courtesy of Fayette Heritage Museum & Archives.
Places to Worship and Places to Learn The Churches and Schools of Round Top During the early years of the village of Round Top, the formal education of the children was minimal, but as time went by, several schools were organized. In 1854, the Round Top Academy was established on a section of the Hamilton Ledbetter property near the entrance to what is now the Richter Cemetery. Tuition for a five month session ranged from ten to twenty dollars. There was a $5.00 extra charge to study German, Spanish and French. The “elementary branches” prepared the student for the advanced classes which included philosophy, chemistry, algebra and Latin. Round Top Academy closed in 1867. A year earlier, in 1866, Pastor Johann Adam Neuthard established a day school and boarding school in his home adjacent to Bethlehem Lutheran Church. Providing a full curriculum, the school served the Round Top students and those of the surrounding areas. Pastor Neuthard was a dedicated and accomplished educator. He closed the school in 1878. Reverend Neuthard died in
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1902 and his house remained empty until 1938 when it was torn down to make room for the Warrenton School house. In 1878 the first public school was organized on land donated by Robert Zapp on Mill Street just east of the town. In 1912 the public school moved to property on Bauer Rummel Road near the Bethlehem Lutheran Church and near to what had been Pastor Neuthard’s school years earlier. The Round Top – Carmine schools were consolidated in 1944, however the school remained at the Bauer-Rummel location until 1953 when a new school was built as an elementary school at the current location on Hwy, 237. The high school students moved to the Carmine school location. In 1954 the Round Top – Carmine Independent School District was formally named and John G. Banik served at the first Round Top-Carmine ISD Superintendent.
Bethlehem Lutheran Church
Completing his theological studies and graduating from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at St. Chrischona, Switzerland in 1860, J. Adam Neuthard sailed to the United States, landing in Galveston. He journeyed to Round Top where 129 farms were owned by German settlers. Within a year, Pastor Neuthard was installed at the Bethlehem Church on January 13, 1861. The American Civil War brought hardships and many challenges to the residents of Round Top. Some families lost family members. The church was the source of strength and faith. In 1865, Elizabeth and Charles Flack sold two acres to the people of the Bethlehem Lutheran congregation for a church and cemetery. The cornerstone was laid in May, 1866 and Carl Bauer, a seasoned mason and designer, with other German born craftsmen, planned, designed and built the church. Simple in design, the framing was cut from local cedar trees and the sandstone for the church walls came from the adjacent one acre cemetery. Bethlehem Lutheran is one of the earliest stone churches built in the area. Bethlehem Lutheran Church was formally organized on January 13, 1867 and the Wandke organ was dedicated the same day.
their two daughters, sailed from Bremen to Galveston, arriving in La Grange in 1855. In March of 1863, he bought a lot in Round Top near the property which would become the site of the church, and built a stone house which served as his home and shop until his death in 1870. That structure is now Prost! Johann Wandke built seven pipe organs in Texas and three are still known to exist. His organ at Bethlehem Lutheran, built in 18661867, is entirely made of indigenous cedar wood. The pipes as well as the dowels and screws, which hold the parts of the case and the chest together, are all carved from cedar wood. The sounds from this extraordinary and historic organ provided the music so important to the German immigrants of Round Top. Beloved by its members and the Round Top community, the church continues to uplift all who walk through its doors. And, the rich sounds of the historic Wandke organ remind all that music is the universal language. Bethlehem Lutheran Church as it appeared in 1966 at the 100th Anniversary. Photo courtesy of Gesine & David Koether and Bethlehem Lutheran Church.
Johann Traugott Wandke, a native of Prussia, accompanied by his wife Christiane and
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Concord Missionary Baptist Church and School c.1900. Photo taken by Friederike Recknagel. Madison Knotts, teacher.
Concord Missionary Baptist Church
After the American Civil War, many of the African Americans residing in the area struggled and persevered to build a new life for themselves. Many began to relocate to surrounding areas to find job opportunities. Those who stayed came together and founded the Concord Missionary Baptist Church in 1867. They established the Concord Colored School in 1890, adjacent to the church and directly across from land that would become the location of Round Top’s Mercantile Store. In 1912 this school was moved to Mill Street and continued to function until 1953. Those students relocated to the Round Top Negro School in 1953 on Jaster Road and after the Civil Rights Act in 1964, the schools were desegregated. In 1965 the Round Top and Carmine schools
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were consolidated. The Concord Missionary Baptist Church, now known as the City of Refuge Church, continues to preserve the legacy of its founders and to be a vibrant place of worship.
Round Top Church Christian Fellowship
The Round Top Church Christian Fellowship grew out of a Bible Study Group which began in 1997. Drawing from residents of Round Top and surrounding areas and visitors, the church serves people of many denominations and is open to anyone. In addition to its Sunday School and the Sunday Church service, the church sponsors an after school program for children between 7 and 12 years during the school year. The newest of the three churches in Round Top, The Round Top Church Christian Fellowship welcomes all seeking the peace and love of God.
L to R : Louise , Eduard, Friederike Recknagel. Friederike Recknagel was an accomplished photographer, documenting the people and the town of Round Top. Photo courtesy of Round Top Area Historical Association.
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Living in Round Top Just about everyday, the men gathered to get the latest news and to drink beer. At different times, there were up to seven beer joints! The Koenig Saloon, on the Courthouse Square across from what is now the Round Top Real Estate offices, offered beer and gambling and many of the men played skat, a German card game. In addition to sewing, gardening, maintaining the home and cooking up to five meals a day, the women socialized at The Mother’s Club, playing bridge and helping at the school. The roads were dirt or gravel until 1931 when Washington St. (Highway 237) became the first paved road in Round Top. Main Street, Live Oak Street and Mill Street, bordering the town square, were paved shortly after. Bluebonnet Electric Company brought electric power to Round Top, Carmine and Fayetteville in 1940. For those living just a little farther from the town square, there was no electricity outside the city limits. There was no septic system in Round Top until 1950. Everyone had an outdoor “privy”. Most water wells were 35 feet deep, with the deepest well going down 80 feet. So everyone had a cistern collecting roof water and the water was hand pumped at the kitchen sink. Early on, many women cooked on a wood stove and heated water to fill the No. 3 washtub for family baths. As time went by, clothes were washed in a machine with a roller to squeeze out the water, and then hung to dry. Everyone spoke German. As the older family members who spoke only German died, and television brought English into the homes every day, did the townspeople, particularly the children, begin to embrace English. Don Nagel, a Mayor of Round Top, had the first television set, and generously invited some of the boys over to watch wrestling! In those days, there were only three channels, ABC, CBS and NBC. The stations signed off about 10:00 p.m. with the America Flag flying on the screen as you listened to the Star Spangled Banner. Such memories!
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An early Round Top family. Photo courtesy of Round Top Area Historical Association.
Celebrating the Wild West. Photo courtesy of Round Top Area Historical Association.
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Adolph Becker’s Saloon. The little boy holding the beer is Aldoph Becker, Jr. c. 1905. Photo courtesy of Fayette Heritage Museum & Archives.
Town of Round Top Jail c.1879. The County Court of Fayette County contributed $50.00 to “assist in erecting a suitable jail in the Town of Round Top.” Photo courtesy of Round Top Area Historical Association.
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The names are still visible of those who participated in the Meat Club. Photo courtesy of Sally Reynolds. Taken on the property of Robert Leonhardt, Sr.
The Meat Clubs Round Top had meat clubs. Once a week, the club’s butcher would cut up a steer donated to the club by one family. Hanging the family’s meat on a nail or peg, the distribution of the choicest meat down to the ordinary cuts would be rotated between the approximately 25 participating families each week. So some weeks, delicious sirloin would be yours and another time, the family would be ready for stew. Usually a family would take home between 10 and 20 pounds of meat per week. Some of the meat would be fried immediately and some pieces would be put in jars with lard for preservation. For one club, Waldemar Noak, Sr. was the butcher for 45 years.
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Photo courtesy of The Collection of Round Top Festival Institute, c.1857, toned lithograph, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. John G. Banik.
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Artist: William Von Rosenberg, Sr.
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The Etzel Band. Photo courtesy of Fayette Heritage Museum & Archives.
For thTHe love of Music As the German immigrants established their homes in this new place, they brought with them their love of music. Music was simply a necessity. Every social gathering brought together not only dancing, but the energy of music, and it is almost a certitude that a brass band was playing lively music at the first 4th of July parade! On record a brass band played at the 1881 Schützenfest. During the early 1900s, the Etzel Family Band provided entertainment and the brass instruments for the Oompah music so loved at celebrations of any description. After World War I and World War II, the availability of musicians dwindled as young men moved to the larger cities and more and better paying jobs. For a period of time, the local Czech orchestras provided musicians to play the brass instruments to set the tone for festive gatherings. The Round Top Brass Band we know today started in 1971. Round Top had no brass band to perform in the 4th of July parade. Ronny Sacks and George Koudelka decided to do something about that and brought together their friends who were accomplished musicians. The original members of this new brass band were Ronny Sacks, Larry Schmidt and Jerry Hogue on trumpet; Jimmie Legler and Stanley Beard on baritone horn; Lynn Wessels and Cliff Collier on trombone; Herbert Cresswell on tuba; and George Koudelka on drums. In the grand tradition of all their fellow musicians who came before them, the Round Top Brass Band is beloved by all and has performed happy music around the state. The band celebrated 50 years of spirited performances on July 4, 2020, a fitting date in keeping with its first performance also on the 4th of July!
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Round Top Brass Band performing. c. 1970. Photo courtesy of Round Top Rifle Hall.
Round Top Brass Band Album and CD covers. Photo courtesy of Ronny Sacks.
Round Top Brass Band. Photo courtesy of Ronny Sacks.
Round Top Brass Band. c. 1970. Photo courtesy of Round Top Rifle Hall.
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Members of the Do Your Duty (DYD) Club c. 1964. Photo courtesy of Douglas Knutzen.
Do your Duty Club The Do Your Duty club, known as DYD, was organized in 1935. Seven women met to formally organize a club to beautify the town square and Alma Sacks was named the first President. Raising money through bake sales and turkey dinners, bingo at the town hall and sometimes at the Rifle Hall, the members raised the money to make the improvements to beautify the square. As time went by, the DYD raised money to contribute to a variety of opportunities. DYD bought the first fire truck for the town! The DYD members continue to sponsor a Christmas celebration in the Town Hall and to creatively bring unique opportunities to raise money. Their generous contributions to the community are widely acknowledged and greatly appreciated.
The names of the members handwritten on the back of the photo.
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Women of Round Top. Photo courtesy of Round Top Area Historical Association.
Woman with horse and buggy. Photo courtesy of Round Top Area Historical Association.
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Miss Ima Hogg, James Dick, and Faith Bybee. Photo courtesy of The Collection of Round Top Festival Institute.
Four Women Set a New Tone Hazel Ledbetter, Ima Hogg, Faith Bybee, Emma Lee Turney
Well, it all starts somewhere! In the early 1960s, Barbara Dillingham introduced Miss Ima Hogg to the Stagecoach Inn in Winedale, owned by their friend, Hazel Ledbetter. Miss Ima bought the Inn and the 190 acre complex. Today, The Winedale Historical Center is a Division of the Center for American History at the University of Texas at Austin. During the Winedale renovations, Ima Hogg discovered Round Top. Her commitment to preserve America’s finest antiques and her eye for the best caused her to stop the car and buy right off someone’s front porch! In addition to restoring Winedale, Ima Hogg introduced James Dick to Round Top and generously supported his early and important
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efforts as he began to bring students to the area. The Round Top Festival Institute grew from this early clear and important commitment to James Dick’s vision. Faith Bybee’s housekeeper, Isla Noak, who spoke only German until she finished high school in La Grange began working as the housekeeper for Faith and Charles Bybee and she spoke fondly of Round Top. So, the couple began to drive the beautiful countryside. Traveling through Round Top in 1964, they called it “The little village that time forgot.” and they were enchanted. Over the next several years, they bought land, antiques, and early houses and buildings. Relocating some
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The Round Top Antiques Fair. Photo courtesy of The Fayette County Record.
of these historic houses and buildings to aptly named Henkel Square, they began what came to be a major collection of Texas pioneer furnishings and decorative arts. To oversee this collection, they created the Texas Pioneer Arts Foundation. Hazel Ledbetter, in addition to the Winedale Inn, owned several early 19th century houses and some buildings just off the town square including the Schwarz Grocery, Feed and Beer Joint. Emma Lee Turney had acquired several early Texas houses in the late 1960s and enjoyed a very successful business, Antiques Productions. With an eye to the future, Hazel Ledbetter invited this astute business woman to lunch and artfully suggested that a first rate antiques show needed to be established in Round Top. And that was the beginning! In October, 1968 Emma Lee opened the first Antique Fair and chose the Round Top Schüetzen Verein (Rifle Hall Association) as the venue. Within a very few years with a waiting list of over 80 dealers, Turney decided to find a good tent man and the White Tent, adjacent to the Rifle
Hall opened with 88 dealers to compliment the 32 in the Rifle Hall. At its peak, the Rifle Hall served BBQ to 3,000 people over a three day weekend, and the car parkers parked customer cars in the additional property rented across the road. And there were years when the vendors unloaded their fine antiques in the mud and the buyers loaded their new acquisitions also in the rain and mud! With a keen eye and a commitment to fine quality, Turney expected everything to be done just right…and she was the boss. She was also a caring and generous person. She then added the Antique Annex on 237 across from Festival Institute, secured another venue at the Carmine Dance Hall, and in 1995 bought the land and built the Big Red Barn. In 2005, Emma Lee Turney sold the show and the venue to Susan Franks. From its inception, the Round Top Antiques Fair spearheaded significant change in Round Top and, reflecting great success, fostered many new and wonderful venues.
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James Dick and Larry Birkelbach. Photo courtesy of The Collection of Round Top Festival Institute.
A Place Like No Other The Round Top Festival Institute
James Dick’s kindergarten teacher, Nadine Peterson, told his parents he loved to play percussion. They thought the piano might be a better direction and bought a piano! His parents always showed great interest in Jimmy’s playing, and he would often practice duets with his mother. After graduating from The University of Texas with special honors in piano in 1963, Dick received two Fulbright Fellowships and over the years was the top winner in many prestigious competitions. His love of music was fully enriched by his joy in teaching others. After returning from a trip to Europe, the idea of a summer institute for young and very talented musicians which had been simmering finally crystallized in Dick’s mind.
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Ima Hogg had heard him play and listened to his visions of a summer festival over lunch at her home, Bayou Bend. She asked, “Have you ever heard of Round Top?” James Dick grew up on a farm in Kansas and he loved the beauty of the countryside. His first performance in the Round Top area was in the barn at Winedale and in 1971 concerts were held in the Round Top Town Hall, on the porches of historic homes in Henkel Square, and on other rented or borrowed facilities. Miss Ima and generous Round Top residents provided places for students to practice. Two years later, six acres, on Jaster Road that included an old Round Top school building, became available, and the same year the
Institute acquired a large outdoor portable stage moving it from Minnesota to Texas. It would take some time to build a permanent concert hall and this stage would serve well for several years.
Hall is the “crowning jewel” of James Dick’s vision. Imagine a gigantic open space, a pasture, what could be more perfect to hear and feel the sounds of all time? Engineered to withstand a 150 mile an hour gale, this structure will remain in place. Built by local German and Czech carpenters and craftsmen, with no architectural drawings for the finish work, the space is one of the most visually arresting performance halls anywhere. Eight stars, one on top of another, form the forty point star, and the point of each star is the point of origin of each swirl of energy in the ceiling. Stunning! Tuned by James Dick’s ear and listening over and over to the sounds in the hall, the acoustics of this Concert
Acquired with great perseverance, Round Top Festival Institute today owns more than two hundred acres. Eighteen buildings make up the campus, including the William Lockhart Clayton House and the Menke House which provides housing and dining, teaching and practice rooms. The Institute’s offices are located in the back of the Concert Hall as well as a gallery and the Faith P. and Charles L. Bybee Library and Study Center on the second floor. The campus includes the Edythe Bates Old James Dick. Photo courtesy of The Chapel, the former home of Collection of Round Top Festival Institute. the Travis Street Methodist Church in La Grange, which houses an 1835 Henry Erben pipe organ. The grounds of Festival Hill are covered by several beautiful and unique gardens, the oldest of which is The Cloister Garden, planted originally in the early 1980s for the Menke House kitchen. Culinary plants named for the Virgin Mary and saints have been planted in a quiet retreat of stonework which resembles Roman ruins. The expansive meadows, small streams, woods, walking paths, and formal gardens are a testimony to the Institute’s ongoing commitment to the beauty and the peace of nature. But all would agree the extraordinary Festival Concert
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Hall are truly remarkable and the hall has been described as “acoustically perfect”. The irregular wooden surfaces on the walls, the balconies, and the quilted ceiling, guide the sound, so it moves flawlessly throughout the hall. Each weighing approximately 600 pounds, the chandeliers, cast in Bastrop, were built in the hall of aluminum and wood. It took twenty years to build and finish the Concert Hall and it is a tangible testimony to building a dream. James Dick was not alone in his vision of this far reaching project. In 1971 Richard Royall joined Dick, contributing his legal expertise at the inception of the planning and a year later he was named the Founding Managing Director. Royall’s timeless vision and creativity are imprinted everywhere on this extraordinary campus. In 1976 Lamar Lentz joined the team and is the Director of the Library and the Museum Collection, followed by Alain G. Declert, Program Director, overseeing student admissions and
programs. The musicians, writers, audiences, contributors, volunteers, and dedicated staff, continue to nurture the magic of this unique place. All who know Round Top, Texas recognize the importance of the Festival Institute to this small community. There is no other rural area in the United States that is home to such a place. The Round Top Festival Institute is the result of an incredible sense of purpose, the ability to grasp ideas, perseverance, and the wonder of creativity. With a clear commitment to its heritage, the Institute will continue to expand and grow, supported by alumni, faculty, financial contributors, and all who love music, education and the arts. This is a place of uplifting natural beauty, a place where seeds are planted from which music, the universal language, truly touches the hearts of all. As James Dick has said, “It is important to seize your dream and to always grow where you are planted!”
The concert hall at Round Top Festival Institute. Photo by Bernard Mendoza.
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James Dick in the Rummel Haus, Round Top Family Library. All photos on this page courtesy of Round Top Festival Institute.
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Round Top Family Library during restoration. Photo courtesy of The Round Top Family Library.
The Round Top Family Library Built in 1925, the Hope Lutheran Church in Buckholts, Texas was sold so that a new church cold be built. For 25 years, the farmer who purchased the church used the old building to store hay. In 2000, Chris Travis, an architect and historic restoration builder, who always had an eye out for old and interesting buildings, spotted the abandoned church in a pasture. And this was the beginning of a dream. Early on, Cheryl and Chris Travis asked architect Ed Mattingly to be a part of their team. Together, with enthusiastic individuals, they focused expertise, talent, energy and resources to grow the Round Top Children’s Library into the library the town so loves today. In 1999, leasing the land from the Faith P. & Charles L. Bybee Foundation for $1.00 a year, The Round Top Children’s Library was housed in the historic Rummell Haus. Recognizing the importance of the vision of several insightful members of the community, Sterling and Marianne McCall paid to move the church to its present location and for its complete restoration. Chris Travis oversaw the restoration. Responding to an ever expanding mission and scope of services, the Board of Directors changed the library’s name to the Round Top Family Library. And in 2012, The Round Top Family Library purchased the library property from the Bybee Foundation. Together with a generous endowment from Sterling McCall, and a committed librarian and Volunteer Board and Advisory Board, many generous organizations, foundations, and individuals have contributed to expand the vision of the library, transforming the surrounding land into a happy park for children, a garden for junior Master Gardeners, and a quiet place for reflection. The historic Rummell Haus has been repurposed as a unique and beautiful place for meetings, receptions and small family gatherings. The recent acquisition of the Howk property, now known as the Annex, provides the perfect spaces for a variety of children’s enrichment programs. A town with a library is truly endowed with the possibility of dreams. To all ages, The Round Top Family Library provides the path to remember what has been. It is a place to formulate and ferment ideas; it is a place to create, and a place to learn. Finally, it is a place to reach out and into the future.
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Round Top Family Library during restoration. Photo courtesy of The Round Top Family Library.
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The Magic of Memories There has always been a real love affair with the land. After all, they’re not making any more of it! In the beginning, Round Top was a very small community where everybody knew everybody and cared for each other. There was no traffic and it was a place of back country roads. There was no stop sign on 237 and there were no big trucks. You could call your neighbor by dialing just four numbers on the telephone. The people were good and grateful country people ready to help, and still are. If you happen to break down on the road, someone has always been there to help you. In Round Top, the locals always wave to another car or truck! Dr. Keike was the only doctor in Round Top. He did just about everything including swabbing throats with iodine. The old timers of Round Top are all related and are loyal to one another. And, if you wanted a house or a part of a house on a different pasture or even in a different town, you just move it! This is truly the place of “Come and bring a side!” A festive gathering has a plethora of tastes and a generous plate from everyone. Good German food is supplemented by good beer, happy conversation and music. The women are industrious, thrifty, dedicated, honest straightforward, kind, generous and have beautiful souls. The men are dedicated to their families and to their work. They have always been good providers, and at the end of the day, many enjoyed a cold glass of beer. There have always been beer joints in town and there was a time when there were seven: Schwarz, Birkelbach, Richter, von Minden, Schlaback, Schults, Weyand, and maybe more. It seems the rounds would be made at the end of the work day and there were a couple of men who tried very hard to drop in on each one. Naturally a good glass of beer as the workday comes to an end is always refreshing. Growing up in Round Top meant you helped your parents and you would help your neighbors, if needed. You would make fada by cutting corn stalk toppings, drying them, tying the dried stalks together and standing them up in the barn. You would help pick cotton and be hired out to help others. Then you would help bale the cotton and then ride to the cotton gin in Burton on the cotton trailer pulled by two horses. After the cotton was sold, you were off to Schwarz’s store for summer sausage, cheese and Delaware punch. You could thrash pecan trees with big 20 feet cane poles, then pick up the pecans and put them on drying racks.
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There were horses, cows, dogs, cats, hogs, chickens, even turkeys, to watch over, not to mention raising worms for fishing! And you would catch your fish for dinner right out of the pond. After hunting coon and possum and your chores were finished, you would just sit and watch the sky and listen to the bugs. Watching over the turkeys was real work! Once a turkey laid her egg, it would have to be taken to the house to protect it from snakes and other varmits. Turkeys would lay 12-15 eggs and during the next 30 days and they wouldn’t eat or drink much. Then the hens were put in different parts of the coop so they wouldn’t interfere with each other while waiting for their eggs to hatch. When the time came, the turkeys were sold for Christmas money to buy a box of apples and a sack of oranges. Naturally, the tom turkey and 8 to 10 hens were kept for future eggs. Of course, during the holiday, one or two turkeys ended up on the dining room table! The day would come when it was time to butcher a pig, usually on a cold day. You would kill the pig, scrape it, and cut it up for sausage, pork chops and ham. The liver and gizzard would be boiled in a black kettle in the yard. You would clean the intestines and stuff them with hand grinded pork meat. The sausage would be smoked for days, and sometimes longer for dry sausage. Fat could be cut off the pork and made into lard and the pig skins were cooked for lye soap. Everyone went to the old Round Top School with the first through the third grades in one room. And the school had an outhouse for the lavatory! The day started with all reciting the Pledge of Allegiance to our country’s flag, followed by the Lord’s Prayer. You would either bring your lunch, peanut butter and jelly with bacon was a favorite, or you could buy a lunch card for 25 cents and have it punched. Naturally, an apple or orange and fruit juice or tea were a part of each lunch bucket. And if you needed lunch money, Mr. Banik would stop the bus at the bank just as Mr. Fricke was opening up for business. Mr. Fricke would go inside, open up the round bank vault, and out would come $5.00 or $6.00 for lunch! Every noon before the meal all the students would recite the noon blessing: Come Lord Jesus be our guest, and let this food to us be blessed.
Bar at t Bar
Students at Round Top High School c. 1946 Photo courtesy of Fayette Heritage Museum & Archives.
Barnell and LaVerne (Aschenbeck) Albers at the State Fair c. 1959. Photo courtesy of Barnell and LaVerne Albers.
Round Top 1910 Baseball Team Photo courtesy of Fayette Heritage Museum & Archives.
Crowd shot of dancers at the Molly B concert in 2019. Photo courtesy Round Top Rifle Hall.
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Phillips 66 Station on State Hwy 237. Photo courtesy of Fayette Heritage Museum & Archives.
Royer’s Café on the Square in Round Top. Photo courtesy of Dr. Karen & Bud Royer.
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One of the teachers remembered with great affection and respect was Mr. Joe Knutzen. He not only shod horses, he was the fifth grade teacher and taught beautiful penmanship. He encouraged the boys to bring their pocket knives to school so they could build kites from the Georgia cane. At Christmas time, the girls were given nice green cedar trees and the boys got the dead ones! The end of school was always very special for Mr. Knutzen’s class. He would take the students to his family farm for wieners, then later swing by his blacksmith shop and show everyone how to make nails by hand. Many of the children of Round Top had horses and in the summer would ride down to Cummins Creek, to the Round Hole, and go swimming. Imagine most of the day splashing in that creek! Or, you could go fishing with cane poles and hooks bought at the general store. At that time, Cummins Creek was the largest tributary to the Colorado River. Bicycles provided freedom, too and then there were the church softball and volleyball leagues and the Round Top Red Socks, the baseball team which challenged its big rival from Carmine on the baseball diamond behind the Rifle Hall. Flunkie Sacks called the shots as the umpire. And, at the end of the day, you could always just lay back and look at the stars. A great highlight in the summer was when the Medicine Man came to town! Uncle Toby and Aunt Bertha would bring out their ukulele and set up in the field next to the Red & White. The snow cones and cotton candy tasted better than ever when you could watch the monkey perform monkey business! While their monkey entertained everyone, you could buy an orange glass bottle of a liniment that smelled bad and cured everything, including snakebites and sore throats. There was always a show filled with wondrous magic tricks, singing a rendition of Blue Suede Shoes and accordion music. You could buy taffy, rock candy and maybe win a prize! Who could ask for more? Well, one thing more…sitting on the grass in front of the VFW hall in front of Snoogie Schiege’s large screen to watch Roy Rogers, Gene Autrey and the Lone Ranger! Gone With the Wind was a must see and the big screen was a big draw until Carla arrived and blew it over. Everyone went to Pom Pom (Ernest von Minden) for the best and the biggest ice cream scoop. The favorite flavor was the BB Special, Blue Bell ice cream with fruit, pecans and dates. They don’t make it anymore! In addition to running the Red & White general store, which was illuminated by one light bulb hanging from the ceiling, Ernest von Minden constructed and sold caskets and he
and his wife, Alice, ran the funeral parlor. She was known to have sat with the deceased for up to 12 hours. In those days, the City Marshall rang the Courthouse bell continuously until the body left the church or funeral home and had departed the city limits. Ernest von Minden was always dressed in black, and each day he would open a black umbrella at noon and walk across the courthouse square to get the mail. You could set your watch on that umbrella moving across the square! In those days everyone had a charge account at the various general stores and after the cotton was sold, all came to town to settle up and pay their accounts. Emil Schwarz ran a Grocery and Feed Store. Like the Red & White, there was one wire for one light bulb and there was no refrigeration. Iced beer was cooled down with one large chunk of ice and on Saturdays other drinks in glass bottles were buried in chipped ice. Feed was delivered in large cotton printed bags. Ice cream was 5 cents a cone; a hamburger would run 25 cents. The price of gas was 22 cents per gallon and Select Super Light Beer cost 17 cents and Supreme beer ran 27 cents. A pair of khaki pants cost $3.00. Finally Christmas would come! When Milton Schlabach and his wife, Leander, arrived at the town square, Santa and Mrs. Claus had arrived! Christmas carols were sung at church and to those in the country who couldn’t come to town. Carols were sung in the town square and a festive Christmas Dance around a giant Christmas tree was held at the Rifle Hall. Christmas in the country was a time spent with family. On Christmas Eve several would head out to find just the perfect Christmas tree growing on the property. There would be icicles, bubble lights, and old family ornaments. In the country, Santa, probably someone’s uncle, would drive up to the house in a jeep wearing a plaid shirt and a beard! And naturally, the Christmas dinner was the turkey you had said good morning to that morning, dressing, mashed potatoes, sweet rice and gravy, green beans and a fresh fruit salad. Homemade cookies, fruitcake, date bars, fudge and divinity gave you a good dose of sugar and they were complimented by store bought peppermint sticks, chocolate kisses and orange jellied candies! Good luck would come to you at Christmas and for the New Year with the herring you could buy at The Merry Christmas Store. Seasoned with vinegar, onion, lemon and salt and pepper - it was unforgettable! Reflections of growing up in Round Top. As long as we have memory no one ever leaves us and the days of then are forever fresh.
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Original Courthouse, Apothecary Shop, and the Koenig House (future home of the Birkelbach Family) Photo courtesy of Ronny Sacks.
Round Top Today The town of Round Top is a true destination for all who love country air, yummy food, great drinks, and tantalizing shopping. Great art, antiques, collectables, chic country clothing and fabulous jewelry are all found in this country town, along with bird seed, grass mowers, working boots and beautiful plants! The town is home to those whose grandparents and great grandparents came to farm the land and take care of their families. It is also home to many who, living in urban areas, dreamed of the peace of the countryside and the simplicity of living in the country. The real estate business in Round Top, beginning in the late 1950s with the Grand Dame, Annie Schatte, has flourished, with a few dips reflecting the national economy. Annie was a colorful, knowledgeable businesswoman who ran her business out of her kitchen, managed her listings on a yellow pad, and had all contracts signed by hand with carbon paper. A savvy and forthright woman and ardent supporter of Round Top, Annie Schatte shared her knowledge of the land and its families with others, helping them to establish their own businesses.
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Round Top enjoys several wonderful restaurants. One legend in itself is Royer’s Café. Ready to move to the countryside, Karen and Bud Royer drove to Round Top in 1987, passed the Rifle Hall and visited dear friends who owned the Round Top Retreat Center. Through a fortuitous introduction, the Royers met the Pecks who owned a café they had purchased a few years before from the Birckelbachs. The Pecks asked, “How would you like to take over the café?” Providence, good will, and good elbow grease helped Bud and Karen and their family establish a simple system of good food and seamless service. The Deli at the legendary Mercantile Co., The Stone Cellar, Royer’s Pie Haven, Teague’s Tavern, Mandito’s, The Garden Company – Feed and Firewater, Lulu’s, Popi Burger, Local Roots Round Top are all fabulous eateries offering just what a hungry visitor or resident desire. Round Top Coffee Shop pours your morning coffee with a breakfast taco; Prost, located in the oldest stone building, in Round Top, the Wandke house, pours the wine and the Ellis Motel pours everything!
Thoughts About the Future It has been said, “You either embrace change or you die!” Over fifty years ago, Festival Hill Institute and the renowned Round Top Antiques Fair changed the small laid back town of Round Top forever. Round Top is a treasured getaway. In the not too distant future, Round Top will welcome a brew master to the newly named Minden Square offering craft beer and light bites. Bybee Square is being transformed into Hotel Lulu, an elegant, beautifully designed country hotel with upgraded services and adjacent to Lulu’s restaurant. Henkel Square, housing two of Round Top’s oldest buildings on their original sites and home to engaging examples of pioneer Texas architecture, continues its commitment to balanced and planned
growth, including the plan for a vibrant and interactive family park. Round Top will continue to grow, there is no stopping it! The challenge to all is that the simplicity of the town and the beauty of the countryside are not compromised. Thoughtful consideration and careful oversight of proposals for change will define the town of Round Top of the future. Round Top is uniquely a quiet and restful destination. It is also filled with an entrepreneurial spirit, and is vibrant as it looks to the future. For many and all, Round Top is the Next Stop!
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The publication of the history folio celebrating the Sesquicentennial of the Incorporation of the Village of Round Top on May 6, 1870 has been underwritten by the donors listed below. Faith P. & Charles L. Bybee Foundation The Town of Round Top The Bell Creek Ranch Barnell & Laverne Albers Tami & Barry Bone Johanna & Dan Boyles Jeannette Burger Lynn & Beverly Conine DYD Club Judy Hancock Jo and Ed Hendricks Gloria Hickey Gesine & David Koether Susan & Mark Massey
Carla & Michael Michalka Betty & Gary Pior Linda & Mike Plant Patricia M. & Stan M. Royal Sally & Norman Reynolds Barbara Smith Marsha & David Smith Suzanne & Bruce Spaulding Linda & David Stall Pearlie & Wayne Wagner
Generous donors to the publication of the Second Edition of Round Top Next Stop are listed below. Faith P. & Charles L. Bybee Foundation Round Top Ranch Antiques The Compound Suzanne and Edward Ellis Lou Ann Phillips and Keith Sharp Sally and Norman Reynolds Wimberly and Michael Tribble
We are all extremely appreciative and grateful for your generosity. Thank you! Medicine Show across from old bank. Photo courtesy of Ronny Sacks.
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The history of a place is found in printed material and in the thoughts and reflections of those who live in such a place and who love it. Thank you, all of you, for generously sharing your memories with us. LaVerne & Barnell Albers Ann & Nelson Aschenbek Lana Aschenbeck Larry Birkelbach Jeanette Burger David Collins Frieda Dallmeyer Deb Dergins James Dick Matthew Diehl Jeff and Cathy Gau Ignacio “Nacho” Herrera Gloria Hickey Charlotte Hillbolt Robert Hooge Ruby Ivey Douglas Knutzen
Robert Leonhardt, Sr. Cordell Levien Susan and Fred Massey Carolyn McNellie Randy Melton Barry Moore Bill Noak Cinda & Armando Palacios Neale Rabensburg Dr. Karen and Bud Royer Ronny Sacks Karen Fricke Sanders Jerry Schatte Barbara Smith Cynthia A. Thornton Gerald Tobola Judy Van Zandt Pearlie Wagner
Schiege’s Tobacco Patch. He owned the “Seegar Factory” at Anderson’s Inn. This was behind what is now Bybee Square. c. early 1900s. Photo courtesy of Ronnie Sacks.
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In addition to all those interviewed, each listed below uniquely contributed in supporting the author from the inception of the idea to the publication and distribution of this history folio. Thank you for generously contributing information, a clear sense of history, photographs, endorsement, and your good humor! The Town of Round Top Barry Bone, Mayor
Bethlehem Lutheran Church Julie Wantland and Gesine Koether
The Round Top Sesquicentennial Committee Amy Bone, Chair
Concord Missionary Baptist Church And Concord Colored School David Collins
The Fayette County Record Regina Keilers, Jeff Wick, Lindsey Fojtik Fayette Heritage Museum & Archives Rox Ann Johnson and Maria Rocha Round Top Area Historical Association Jeannette Berger, Randy Melton and Neale Rabensburg Round Top Festival Institute James Dick, Pat Johnson, Lamar Lentz Town of Round Top Visitors Center Kelli Sanford Round Top Inn. Photo courtesy of Round Top Area Historical Association.
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Round Top Church Christian Fellowship Matthew Diehl LaVerne and Barnell Albers Gloria Hickey Douglas Knutzen Robert Leonhardt, Sr. Lisa Mayer Dwight Nittsche Bud Royer Betty and Ronny Sacks Cynthia A. Thornton Gerald Tobola
Sources used by the author for Round Top – Next Stop! Biesele, Randolph Leopold. The History of the German Settlements in Texas. San Marcos, Texas: German-Texas Heritage Society, Southwest Texas State University, 1930. Frank, Gerald D. The Life and Work of Johann Traugott Wandke. Harrisville, New Hampshire: The Boston Organ Club Chapter of the Organ Historical Society, 1990. Kearney, James C. Nassau Plantation. The Evolution of a Texas-German Slave Plantation. Denton, TX: University of North Texas Press, 2010. Thornton, Cynthia A. The Times of Round Top. Bloomington, IN: Author House LLC., 2013. Turney, Emma Lee and Harris Beverly (Co-author). Denim and Diamonds – The Story of Emma Lee Turney’s Round Top Antiques Fair. Newport, RI: C. Going Press, 1998.
Crowd outside of Bethlehem Lutheran Church at 100th Anniversary Celebration. Photo courtesy of Bethlehem Lutheran Church.
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