County supports call for Travis Trail in Driftwood

Upon purchasing his little piece of heaven along FM 150 nine years ago, Driftwood area resident Casey Cutler always maintained the land he stood on was sacred ground. 

But it wasn’t until recently that Cutler discovered his land, along with the area along FM 150 in Driftwood, was once part of a land grant issued to famed Alamo defender William Barret Travis more than a century ago.

Ever since then, Cutler, with the help of many others, is advocating to local and state lawmakers to preserve a piece of Texas history by renaming FM 150 from FM 3237 and Ranch Road 12 as the W.B. Travis Heritage Trail.

It’s a move Cutler said could help maintain a quality of life the Driftwood Historical Conservation Society (DHCS) is hoping to keep.

“We seem to be speaking for a lot of folks that care about the quality of life that’s here,” Cutler said. “We’re not into politics. We’re concerned about the quality of life.”

The path toward the W.B. Travis Trail began when Cutler found documentation of Travis’ land grant in the DHCS’s meeting place, which was once was a school building.

Cutler found Travis was granted the land grant by Rush “Ben” Milam in April 1835, months before the start of the Texas Revolution. Documentation showed Travis purchased roughly one league of land, which amounted to approximately 4,428 acres, about a mile south of what is now Driftwood for a “reasonable price,” Cutler said.

At the time, Mexico, which owned much of what is today the American southwest, issued land grants to empresarios, who entered into a contract with the Mexican government to settle families in Texas.

Early empresarios included Moses Austin, who settled the first 300 Texans in the late 1700s during Spanish rule, as well as his son, Stephen F. Austin and Milam. Settlers who received land grants were required to either be a Mexican citizen, promised to marry a Mexican citizen, or raise cattle on the land.

However, Cutler said knowledge of the land grant fell through the cracks of history, exacerbated by the outbreak of revolution and the Mexican-American war.

“This is something that is special and it’s never been recognized by Hays County,” Cutler said.

Since the discovery, Cutler and the Driftwood Historical Commission have acquired more than 245 signatures from tourists and residents advocating for the name change. Support has come in from local business owners, as well as the Hays County Historical Commission.

In October, the Hays County Commissioners Court approved a resolution renaming FM 150 in Driftwood in Travis’ honor. Cutler is now aiming for a possible bill to be introduced into the Texas Legislature for official approval.

Kent Killough, a fourth generation Texan and local business owner, said crafting a letter of support toward the initiative was a no-brainer.  

Killough’s business, Vista Brewing, is located along FM 150 in the “geographical center” of Travis’ original land grant. Killough said there was a working knowledge the property belonged to Travis, but it wasn’t until Cutler provided him documentation that the theory was solidified.

Killough said a copy of the original survey of Travis’ land grant is on display at the Vista Brewing tasting wall.

“This was a wonderful story that we couldn’t believe we found when we got here,” Killough said. “Since then, Travis and his short time with this land has been an interesting piece of discussion with guests.”

But Killough hopes the designation goes a long way toward preserving and “celebrating this beautfuil stretch of Texas country road.” It could allow commuters to be aware of history right in their own backyard.

Protecting and preserving historic landmarks is more important as growth continues to increase in Hays County, Killough said.

“We as Texans don’t make any secret of being proud, it’s part and parcel with the pride we have with our connection with the state,” Killoough said. “Now having some small part, a closer connection to the history and settling of Texas, it’s big.”

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