“Austwell never reached Preston Rose Austin’s dream to be the shining star of the Texas coast as his murder in 1929 in a hotel in Hot Springs, Ark., derailed his dream. Those of us who live here can look at the history and see what it was and wonder what might have been had he lived, but time stops for no one,” said Dwight Mutschler at Austwell’s Centennial Celebration.
A retired Austwell-Tivoli High School teacher, Mutschler reviewed Austwell’s earliest days when Karankawa Indians roamed its shores to the arrival of the Irish Empresarios and its halcyon days as a booming community with businesses and industry.
Though most industry has vanished, the smallest community in the county remains a gem of the Texas coast, with pristine bays and shoreline.
The town was laid out in 1911 by L.A. Gueringer and 1,912 lots were put up for sale. In the same year, a school was built on Main Street and Miss Ida Mae Johnson was hired as the first teacher. She was the daughter of the county sheriff.
By 1914, the town incorporated and W.H. Gisler was elected the first mayor, with J.H. Kinsler and C.L. Uzzell the first commissioners.
“The names of the early settlers in the incorporated town included Austin, McDowell, Dunseth, Coward, Daniel, Anderson, Gisler, Gonzales, Bluhm, Littlefield, Martinez, Hopper, Lenhart, Kinsler, Stark, Neimeier, Nelson, Huff, Jackson, Glover and others,” Mutschler said. “Austwell Ice Plant and Ice Works shipped ice all the way to Brownsville by rail.”
The St. Louis, Brownsville and Mexico railroad came to Austwell in 1912.
In 1927, the school district was incorporated as the Austwell Independent School District and for several years, it was the only affiliated school in Refugio County.
In addition to the history, Mayor David Cann and the crowd recognized veterans, first responders, fire departments and the county sheriff.
“It was a great day for Austwell,” said Cann.