History

City Names in the Texas Hill Country and Their Fascinating Origins

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Oatmeal? Gruene? Bee Cave? Where do some of these unusual Hill Country city names come from? The tales behind some Hill Country city names can give you a glimpse into the past and its people. Often city names came from prominent people, but other towns earned their titles from other things. Take a look into the tales of some city names in the Texas Hill Country.

Austin

Austin, Texas Skyline

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The state capital earned its name from one of the founders of the mass settling of Texas. But, two Austins played a major role in the founding of Texas. Was Austin named for the father, Moses Austin, or for his son, Stephen F. Austin? For two years after its founding in 1837, Austin went by the name Waterloo, but later, its name changed to Austin in honor of Stephen F. Austin, who continued his father’s works in bringing Americans to Texas.

Oatmeal

Early School Building in Oatmeal, Texas

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Among city names in the Hill Country, Oatmeal may be one of the most memorable. There are a pair of theories as to the origins of this town’s name. Some think it comes from a misapplication of the name Othneil, which was the surname of a man who owned the town’s gristmill. It could also have come from an English translation of the surname of one of the founding families, the Habermills.

Gruene

City names like Gruene often come from founders like Henry D Gruene who built this house.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

No longer a city by itself, Gruene, has one of the most unusual-to-pronounce names in the Hill Country. Residents say “Green” when referring to this suburb of New Braunfels. How did the spelling and pronunciation become so different? Like many other hard-to-say city names, Gruene comes from the surname of the first family in the area, headed by Ernst Gruene. Many of the homes and buildings constructed by Ernst’s son Henry D. still stand. Henry D.’s projects you can still visit include Gruene Mansion Inn, Gruene House, and Gruene Hall.

Bee Cave

Bee Cave, Texas City Hall
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

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