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Lake LBJ and the Rebirth of Kingsland, Chapter 7: Euel Moore

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Everyone in Kingsland is familiar with Euel Moore Drive; not so many know anything about the man who gave his name to the road, which connects “downtown” Kingsland with subdivisions on the Llano River arm of Lake LBJ. But Euel Moore played a major role in the re-birth of Kingsland after the lake was formed, and a history of Kingsland would not be complete without his story.

Euel Moore’s father was Luke Moore (the grandson of an Irish immigrant), who was born in Missouri in 1830. He and his wife, Mary Ellen, arrived in Texas in the early 1850 and settled in southern Llano County in 1856. They raised nine children in a log cabin near Honey Creek. Luke served with the Texas Rangers in the 1860s, then became a cattleman with a ranch of 1,800 acres. In 1876, he became the postmaster in the town of Packsaddle (also known as Gainesville or Buzzard’s Roost, across the Llano River from Kingsland near the Slab).

Mary Ellen died in 1882, and four years later, Luke married a widow from Kingsland, named Nancy J. Bragg Hickey, who had three children of her own. Four more children were born to Luke and Nancy; Euel was the first, born in 1887. When Luke Moore died in 1919, he left 17 children, 73 grandchildren, 65 great-grandchildren and one great-great grandchild!

Euel Moore grew up on his father’s ranch, and lived all his life in Llano County. He was five years old when the railroad came through Kingsland and already a teenager when the Antlers Hotel was built. On January 7, 1912, he married Rina Coursey, who had grown up on her family’s ranch nearby. Although he was “just” a rancher and blacksmith’s helper (who earned a little cash eradicating mesquite and cedar on the side), he became a respected leader in Llano County, and was elected County Commissioner for Precinct #3 in November of 1950.

Lake LBJ and the Rebirth of Kingsland, Chapter 7: Euel Moore

Photo: Commissioner Euel Moore, in 1960

Kingsland was a dying community by the late 1940s, but a prosperous future was already in the cards. Just a month after Moore was sworn into office (on February 12, 1951), the commissioners court passed a resolution (which is condensed here): “WHEREAS, the Lower Colorado River Authority is lawfully engaged in the construction of a dam across the Colorado River, and as a result of the construction it will be necessary to relocate and re-construct such public roads, highways and bridges as will be effected or inundated by the construction, maintenance and operation of said Granite Shoals Dam; BE IT RESOLVED  that in consideration of the payment by the Lower Colorado River Authority of $15,000 cash to Llano County and the depositing of $35,638.00 to cover the costs of raising the Kingsland Bridge, Llano County will release the LCRA of any further responsibility.”

Much of that responsibility would fall on the shoulders of the new commissioner.

Some foresighted individuals had already seen Kingsland’s potential. Bill and Dolphia Bransford had arrived in Kingsland the previous year and purchased a piece of land between the railroad and Kingsland’s main street, remembered by Mrs. Bransford as “just a dirt lane between fields,” with plans for a fishing camp once the lake filled up. And local landowners Neal and Fred Wood, along with family members Sophia Wood, Myrtle Wood, and W.D. and Ella Flowers, had some of their property surveyed on the north bank of the Llano River for the “Woods Edge Addition” in late 1950. That subdivision was approved by the commissioners court during Moore’s first week on the job. Interestingly enough, the minutes of that meeting stated that “there now exists a 22-foot accessible roadway” on the north edge of the new subdivision.

The next subdivision, directly west of Woods Edge on the north bank of the Llano River, was the Lula Haywood Subdivision. It was requested by the well-known daughter (and sole remaining heir) of rancher James Madison Haywood, who left his large ranch to his three daughters when he died in 1928. Her subdivision (approved on April 9, 1951) was about four times the size of Woods Edge, stretching along the north bank of the Llano River just south of the current location of Lighthouse Country Club. The court’s minutes specify that it “designates to the public a roadway 22 feet wide along the northern boundary line.”

In February of 1952, the Llano County commissioners Court approved a petition by local property holders to establish a “Public road of the Third Class, 30 feet in width  .  .  . commencing at the east city limits of the town of Kingsland  .  .  . continuing in a westerly direction along the North Shore of Granite Sholes (sic) Lake for a distance of three miles, more or less, to the partition fence between the property of Sherman Long and Lula Haywood.”

Commissioner Moore was in charge of constructing that road, and part of it became known as Euel Moore Drive; for the next few years, it was the main street in Kingsland. Most of the new businesses and subdivisions were built there, at least until FM 1431 was designated in 1957 (a notable exception being the Fred Wood subdivision on the Colorado River Arm of the lake in 1952). Sections of Euel Moore Drive were the first paved thoroughfares in the community. After Kingsland Estates was opened in 1959, Euel Moore Drive was extended all the way to the Slab Road, but the far end became known as River Oaks Drive.

In the meantime, FM 93 was built on the south side of the lake (now Hwy 71), FM 1431 was built and paved from Marble Falls all the way to Hwy 29 in Buchanan Dam, Stein Lumber opened a store on 1431 in 1958, and Shirley Williams began to develop his ranch north of the Fred Wood subdivision. Two airstrips were built in Kingsland in 1959. A ferry began service across the Llano River Arm to Sunrise Beach in 1961. The Highland Lakes Bank and many other businesses opened in the early 1960s, and Lyndon Johnson began investing in land on the south side of the lake. The old railroad bridge and wagon bridge to Burnet County were replaced in 1963 and 1964 and the Highland Lakes Shopping Center was built in 1965.

During all this activity, Euel Moore was repeatedly re-elected as commissioner, and much of the town we know today took shape under his supervision. When he died in 1968, at the age of 81, he was still serving (and the golf course and the 2900 bridge were already under construction). He was so well-respected that his son, Jim, was appointed to fill the remainder of his term. He was a major figure in Kingsland history, and Euel Moore Drive remains (though slightly shorter these days) to preserve his memory.

Read chapter one here.