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Our Team

Get to Know the Faces behind Fort Croghan Museum & Grounds

Portrait of Smiling Woman


First Settler Massacred

Robert Adams was an ex-soldier who had served at Fort Croghan.  In 1857 he was the first white settler killed by Indians in Burnet County.  Robert Adams, an old Scotsman who lived on Morgan Creek, was surprised and killed by Indians while hunting some of his stock. Evidently, the Indians chased him some distance, before catching him in a ravine at the foot of a mountain.  When found the next day, his body had been fearfully mutilated and his head scalped.  The Indians seemed to have amused themselves by filling his body full of arrows.

General Adam R. Johnson, who was in the company that found the body, stated that “the raiders guilty of the murder succeeded in eluding those who trailed him.”  However, William Banta revealed that the “eight Indians” were discovered by a member of the Cowan family, who lived on the Colorado River in Llano County.  Cowan hastily assembled some others and a running fight ensued.  Cowan was wounded and three of the Indians were killed.  One had “Old Man Adams’” pocket knife, which proved they were the murderers of Adams.

Although Adams was a relatively short-time resident of the county, his name continues today as the bluffs on the highway to Silver Creek in western Burnet County are called “Adams Bluff”.  Adams was the first person buried in the Council Creek Cemetery, sometimes called the Fry Cemetery.

Johnson, General Adam R.  The Partisan Rangers
Trevis, Michael. “Robert Adams”,
Wilbarger, John Wesley.  Indian Depredations in Texas

Information submitted by the Burnet County Historical Commission, 40 Brick Committee

Young Businessman

1833 – 1924


John Ross Alexander was the fourth of eleven children of Samuel and Thurzy (Ross) Alexander.  The whole family moved from Washington County, Arkansas, to Georgetown, Texas, in 1848.  At the same time, the family also developed a salt-mining business on the Colorado River in Llano County.

The family moved to property on Mesquite Creek, Burnet County, in the 1850s.  During his time in Burnet County, John Ross Alexander served as a Minute Man when the county was beset by Indians. He became a member of the Frontier Guards stationed in Burnet County during the time of the War Between the States and when Burnet County had no other protection from outlaws and ruffians following the War.

In 1857, he married Missouri Ann Owens of Georgetown, and their son Lewis Edwin (Ed) Alexander, was born in San Saba.  After Missouri's untimely death, young Ed Alexander was adopted by his aunt Martha Alexander Lewis and her husband, Dr. Charles Lewis of Georgetown.

John Ross Alexander then married Mary Lamb.  Their children: Fannie m. ___ Harris; George W. (Naomi Frazier); Nora Elizabeth (O. D. Baker); Kate; Clyde (twin, m. Alene Thomas); Olive Rebecca (twin, m. J. E. Wolfe).  The family lived in a small rock house located on the east side of the courthouse square in Burnet.  For several years, they operated a grocery store at that site.

During his days with the Rangers, John Ross and fellow Rangers made their headquarters off Old San Saba Road, eight miles north of Burnet.  They camped near the springs of good water called Underhill Springs.  After Indian raids ceased, he bought acreage near the springs and moved his family there in 1878.

John Ross Alexander died in 1924.  He was buried near his parents and other family members in the Alexander Cemetery located on the Mesquite Creek property.  His property near Underhill Springs was inherited by his son Ed Alexander.  In 2020, some of that property is still owned by Ed's descendants, who married into the Ed Frazier family.  That property is set on the west side of the Old San Saba Road, near the Pebble Mound Cemetery and former site of the Pebble Mound School.

Many Alexander descendants remain in Burnet County.

Further information may be found in Burnet County History, Volume II.
Information submitted by Dr. Jane A. Knapik and the Burnet County Historical Commission, 40 Brick Committee.

Male Portrait

1841 – 1911

Dairy Farmer

John Israel came to Texas with his parents Daniel and Ruthey DeLashmutt Altman when he was about 10 years old.  The Altman family arrived in Texas in the early 1850s with their 12 children who were all born prior to coming to Texas. Daniel Altman made his first land purchase in the Peter Kerr Addition to the town of Hamilton.  His purchase of Block 23 was east of Hamilton Creek, bound on the east by Watts Street, and contained four one-half acre lots.  John Israel, made his home in and near Burnet, and  a brother, Daniel H. lived in the Oakalla community.

John I., was born January 28, 1841, in Macon, Georgia, and died March 29, 1911 in Burnet County with burial in the Odd Fellows' Cemetery.  He married February 2, 1865 in Burnet County to Eliza Josephine Rolef.  Eight children were born to this marriage with several children marrying into families of other early Burnet County settlers (Cole, Glimp, Dorbandt, Warner and Frazier) and with many descendants remaining in the area.

State Military Records reveal that John I. Altman enlisted December 20, 1862, in the Confederate forces as second bugler at Camp San Saba for three years, or the duration of the war, and was mustered in on the same date and at the same place.  He was in Captain William G. O'Brien's Company K, Mounted Volunteers, Frontier Regiment, Colonel J. E. McCord, commanding, Texas State Troops. 

John purchased land located on the North San Gabriel three miles north of Burnet to which later purchases of land were added. He and Eliza first lived in a log cabin which had belonged to her parents, the Anton Rolefs, who had moved to Burnet.  The log cabin was located across the old San Saba Road east of the later-built Altman home.  Mr. Altman operated a dairy for many years and delivered milk.  He was stricken with paralysis in 1888 and was an invalid until his death in 1911. The Altmans were members of the Church of Christ.

Note:  The above mention log cabin was donated to the Burnet County Heritage Society and now resides on the grounds of Fort Croghan.   

Further information may be found in the Burnet County History books, Volume I and II, Grandchildren of John and Eliza Altman may be found in the manuscript in the Burnet Library, and Burnet County Cemetery Records.

Information submitted by Burnet County Historical Commission, 40 Brick Committee.

Young Businessman


Mahomet Founder

Records show the George Melvin Ater family moved to Texas in 1853.  A land patent was given to George Ater for 320 acres on the head waters of Bear Creek in Burnet County on the 20th of April 1857. The location is further described as 12 miles North 84 degrees of Hamilton.
George Ater established a post office, which he called the place where they lived Mahomet, on December 14, 1857.  The Mahomet Post Office remained at the Ater residence and was at the same location for 25 years.
The Ater family lived in Monticello, Illinois before coming to Texas, but had relatives who lived north of what was then known as Middletown, which was served with a postal address of Mahomet. Interestingly, the designation of Mahomet, Texas preceded the naming of the Illinois community as Mahomet.  Until 1871, the Illinois village was known as Middletown, one of two communities in the central section of the state with the same name, although the post office moniker of Mahomet had been in effect since Ater and other relatives lived nearby.
The stagecoach on the 75-mile Austin to Lampasas route stopped at the Ater homestead in Mahomet for fresh horses, food and water. 
In 1882, railroad tracks had been laid, but not through Mahomet. The Austin and Northwestern Railroad bypassed Mahomet in favor of Bertram. The Bertram Post office opened on December 8, 1882.  The transporting of mail at some point transferred from the stagecoach line that stopped at the Ater place to the train that stopped in Bertram, so the Aters elected to pick up their mail in Bertram.
Other Aters who served as postmasters in Mahomet were:  Albert Ater, March 7, 1866; Jonas Stanford Ater, December1, 1873; Allen J. Ater, April 18, 1876; and again Allen J. Ater, August 13, 1879.

For more information concerning the Ater Family:  
Burnet County History, Volume I, Chapter XVIII Post Offices, p. 257 and Volume II, pp. 7-9

Information submitted by the Burnet County Historical Commission, 40 Brick Committee.

Male Portrait

1827 – 1898


William Banta, born June 23, 1827, in Princeton, Indiana to Isaac William and Eliza Barker Banta.  William died in 1898 in Lampasas County and buried at Nix, Texas.  He was married on March 4, 1850, in what is now Burnet County to Lucinda Hairston, who was born c. 1833 in Alabama, daughter of Ezekiel P. and Jane Hairston.  William and Lucinda would reside at Hairston Creek.  Fourteen children were born to William and Lucinda with descendants remaining in Burnet County and the Central Texas area. 

William had come to Austin in 1849, and then to Hamilton Valley (now Burnet), arriving on Christmas Day, 1849.  He signed the petition on December 17, 1851 to create the County of Burnet.  In later years he was the author of Twenty-Seven Years on the Texas Frontier.  It is affirmed in the introduction by L. G. Park, that William's marriage was the first in the county (there was no Burnet County until 1852).  It is also stated that he was baptized into the Church of Christ, being also the first man baptized in the county, and later became a gospel preacher.  He officiated at his daughter Ellen's marriage.

William was in nearly all Indian fights from 1850 to 1859 and organized and commanded the first company of minute men in the county under commission from Governor Edward Clark in 1861.  He was also one of the first to volunteer for service in the Confederate Army in 1861 and six months later was elected first lieutenant of Company A, McCord's Regiment, Walker's Division.  He served for 27 years on the frontier, seeing the country settled from the Red River to the Rio Grande.

Further information may be found in the Burnet County History books, Volume I & II  and from William Banta's book, Twenty-Seven Years on the Texas Frontier.

Information submitted by the Burnet County Historical Commission, 40 Brick Committee.

Happy Young Man

1852 – 1854


Not much information is known about J.C. Bradley except that he was the first sheriff of the newly formed Burnet County.   He served in this prominent position from 1852- 1854.

Mr. Bradley was a friend of Logan Vandeveer’s.  Mr. Vandeveer was appointed a commissioner in 1852, the same year that J. C. Bradley was appointed as sheriff.

In 1855 Logan Vandeveer and his brother Zachary drove a large herd of cattle to Plaquemines Parish in Louisana.  Three other men went with them; one was J.C. Bradley, the first sheriff of Burnet County.   Mr. Bradley was Vandeveer’s foreman on the cattle drive.  While in Louisana, Vandeveer died of yellow fever, and two days later his brother died.  They were buried in Louisana.

For more information:
Debo, Darrell.  Burnet County History Books, Volume I and II

Information submitted by the Burnet County Historical Commission, 40 Brick Committee

Woman Artist



Captain Jesse Burnam (Burnham) was the youngest of seven sons and was born on September 15, 1792 in Madison County, Kentucky. Captain Burnam was a hardy pioneer and veteran of the War of 1812.  The Burnam Family landed at Pecan Point, Texas in February 15, 1821 under Colonel Williams as part of the Stephen F. Austin’s Colony.  After a few months the Burnam Family moved to Clear Creek and soon moved on to Independence, where he was the first to build a cabin and a loom.  However, soon they crossed the Colorado River and settled on a land grant near LaGrange in Fayette County.  Jesse’s block house was at the farthest location up the Colorado River where he continually engaged in struggles with the Indians.  He distinguished himself in skirmishes with the Indians and was promoted to captain after a battle with the Kiouk Indians at Skull Creek.
When the war with Mexico began, Captain Burnam was commissioned to gather and equip men for service in the Army under the command of General Sam Houston.  Captain Burnam was elected to a congress, convened to make preparations and to find ways and means to sustain the war.  He sat in the congress for two sessions.
The family suffered great losses during the war, as their home was burned, the Burnam’s Ferry was sunk and the store at the location was burned on orders of Sam Houston.  Captain Burnam and Sam Houston were not on good terms.  Burnam was always opposed to the annexation of Texas to the United States and advocated a separate and independent government.
In 1850 Captain Burnam followed his sons, William O. and Robert Thompson, to Burnet County and established what was thought to be the largest wheat farm in the county, and also they were the first to run sheep in Burnet County.
On September 15, 1882 Captain Jesse Burnam was honored, at the age of 90, as the oldest Texas Veteran and the only survivor of Stephen F. Austin’s colony.
Captain Jesse Burnam, the old veteran of the Battle of New Orleans, the War with Mexico, a Minute Man, and the many battles with the Indians, died on April 30, 1883 and is buried in the Burnam Family Cemetery on the family farm and ranch in the Double Horn community.

More information:  
Burnet County History, Volume II, pages 39 and 40
Herman Brown Free Library
The Valley between the Colorado and Pedernales, Spicewood Area Historical Focus Group, pages 6 and 7

Information submitted by the Burnet County Historical Commission, 40 Brick Committee

Young Woman with Curly Hair



Richard Stanford Cates and his brother Israel, arrived in Burnet County in early 1852 and settled in what was called Backbone Valley. This area of settlement became known as "Cates' Flat". Richard Stanford Cates was a physician, and practiced medicine in Burnet County for many years.  He and his family were members of the Protestant Methodist Church. He was a member of the Masonic Order, having petitioned Valley Lodge No. 175 for membership at the first meeting of the lodge.
Dr. Cates married Cornelia Jane Harvey (1809-1888) and their five children would stay in the area and become very active in the community. Their involvements include:  steward and Sunday School superintendent at Crownover Chapel at Fairland, member of Magill's Texas Rangers, an Indian fighter, farmer, rancher, blacksmith, and carpenter.
Dr. Cates served as Burnet County Sheriff from 1876 to1873 and Burnet County Judge 1876-1878 and 1886-1890.  He also served as an attorney, a circuit riding preacher in Burnet and Williamson counties, and postmaster of Backbone Valley.
Dr. Richard S. Cates and his wife, Cornelia Jane are buried at Fairland Cemetery along with many of their descendants.

Further information: Burnet County History book, Volume ll, p.44 and the Herman Brown Library in Burnet, Texas.

Information submitted by the Burnet County Historical Commission, 40 Brick Committee.

Smiling Man with Glasses



Andrew McClure Cox was born July 19, 1816 in Whitney County, Kentucky and died September 28, 1891 in Burnet County.  He is buried in the Old Corwin Cemetery (now called the Haynie Flat Cemetery) near Spicewood, in Travis County.

The Andrew Cox family left Kentucky prior to 1840, living for a time in Missouri then immigrating to Texas around 1849.  They first settled in Travis County, but relocated to Corwin in Burnet County, by 1853. During this time, Andrew farmed and was active in the affairs of Burnet and Travis Counties.  In 1870, Mr. Cox won the election as Representative for Burnet County to the Twelfth Texas Legislature. That same year, on January 1, 1870 the family moved across the Colorado River to Smithwick Mills where they purchased Noah Smithwick’s real property and mill from G. H. Stinnett.

On the property, Mr. Cox built a substantial residence and general store, the upper room which he leased and used for the Henry Thomas Masonic Lodge assembly room.  He was the first Worshipful Master of the Lodge #278 in 1865 located further east down the river in Lodge Valley (now Turkey Bend) but was moved to Cox’s building in 1876.

That same year Mr. Cox’s first wife, Anna, passed away and in 1878 he married Dr. Henry Yett’s widow, Millicent Emma Yett, from across the Colorado River directly across from Smithwick Mills.  Mr. Cox reared 14 children, nine boys and five girls.  It is interesting that one of his daughters, Pollie L., married one of Burnet County early sheriff’s, Nimrod J. Miller, in June 1868.

Mr. Cox final turn at public office was as the first Postmaster of the Smithwick Post Office on February 9, 1882 until his death September 28, 1891.

There are still distant relatives living in Burnet County today: Cox’s, Jackson’s, Rodgers’ and Davidson’s.

Today (2020), the Henry Thomas Masonic Lodge is still active and is located at the end of Burnet County Road 334, in the Smithwick Area.

Further information may be found in the Burnet County History Books, Volume I & II, and old History of Henry Thomas Lodge # 278, A.F.& A.M., of Smithwick written about 1920 by J. S. Peacock, in which a sketch of A. M. Cox appeared.

Texas State Historical Association, Handbook of Texas 
Information submitted by the Burnet County Historical Commission, 40 Brick Committee.

Smiling Young Woman

Morgan James

Communications Specialist

With us since our founding, Morgan James is one of our veteran team members and has played a critical role in shaping our mission and projects. They bring their years of experience and skills in helping Fort Croghan Museum & Grounds grow and make a measurable impact.

Smiling Businessman

Reese Whiteman

President of the Board

Reese Whiteman joined Fort Croghan Museum & Grounds with the vision and drive to improve our Non-Profit Organization and make our name synonymous with social change and human betterment. Reese Whiteman has focused on developing the organization with great integrity.

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