"A Cultural History of Smithville, Texas"

by Dr. Ken Bower

Smithville, Texas is a small town located in Bastrop County south of Austin. It was founded on the banks of the Colorado River between the towns of Bastrop and La Grange. Like all other small Texas towns it has a history of immigrants who settled the in area with each group adding its own cultural heritage to the mix. Unlike most of the other central texas towns Smithville did not have its beginnings as an ethnic village or established river crossing (i.e. Bastrop, La Grange, or Columbus). It was founded for the single purpose of commerce.

The history of Smithville is tied to the coming of the railroad, which was the most important element in the founding of the town. In that respect its history is more like the city of Houston which was founded by the Allen brothers for the same purpose than like the other surrounding towns and villages. It is interesting that the current logos of both towns are dominated by railroad motifs. Smithville was the dream of its entrepreneur founders who chartered the Smithville Town Company.

The early residents of the town were mostly Anglo and Scotch/Irish Americans who settled in the area for business reasons. The railroad was coming through the area and the men who were aware of it decided that it would make a great business venture.

I am of the opinion that members of different ethnic groups populate areas based more upon their ethic and cultural identity than for their individual needs. This phenomena seems to have been more prevalent in the past than in today's more mobile society although it is still a factor.

A revival of old Smithville has been taking place for several years! The residents of Smithville have spent considerable time, effort and expense restoring many of the old buildings in the historic district of town. Many of the turn-of-the-century old homes in the town have also been restored to their former condition by the residents.

Information concerning Smithville today can be found on many other internet sites. For more information check out the Wikipedia, Smithville Cities Page, Housing and Residents, Smithville Chamber of Commerce Home Page, TravelTex or Lower Colorado River Authority websites.

This website, "A Cultural History of Smithville, Texas" is a work in progress. I began the research in the 1990's and finally published it in 2013. I will be making changes to it throughout the year.

It is dedicated to researching and reporting the contributions of each of the cultural groups that had a role in the formation of the town. Of utmost importance is that the fundamental ingredient for pride in a community depends upon the quality of the interaction and communication between its members.

If you have any additional personal histories that you would like to add to this website, please contact me at: klbower@rt66.com