Williamson County
Historical Commission

 

Brooms and White Lime


A special thanks the Round Rock Leader for letting the us  
post these wonderful articles.

The Time Capsules stories are prepared by
Bob Brinkman - Texas Historical Commission


TIME CAPSULE - MARCH 1904
Meet me in St. Louis

             If you were to ask someone from outside this area what Round Rock is known for, they might come up with computers or baseball, or even donuts. But if you asked the same question a century ago, the answer might be brooms and white lime. In 1904 at the World's Fair in St. Louis, both these products from Round Rock received gold medals for quality, putting our agricultural community of 1100 people on the map.

            The Round Rock Broom Factory was begun before the railroad came to town in 1876, and relocated to the northwest corner of Main and Mays shortly after the railroad town was established. The building at 100 East Main, constructed in 1880 to house R. D. Harris and W. A. Taliaferro's grocery store, was the site of broom manufacturing from 1900 to 1911. S. L. Landrum, J. A. Nelson and J. D. Robertson were the owners of the venture, which became one of the largest employers in town. With models named Gold Medal, Pride of Texas and Texas Star, the venture continued to produce widely distributed products for many years. The company moved to space along the railroad tracks and later at a variety of locations before finally shutting its doors in the early 1970s, after nearly a century in business.

            Round Rock White Lime Company was established by William Walsh, who was born in Ireland and worked for the U. S. Army after the Civil War, producing lime for rebuilding Fort McKavett before establishing his own lime works in Austin in the 1870s. He added operations in Round Rock in 1896 and later moved his family here, purchasing the store at 117 East Main in 1901 and opening The Fair, a company store for his employees. The lime plant was also a major employer and the store was popular for many years, even claiming phone number 1 in the early days. The store continued into the 1930s, and the lime plant, advertised as the Oldest and Largest Lime Works in Texas, continued in the Walsh family at the northwest corner of what is now McNeil Drive and I-35 until the late 1960s.

In their heyday, both operations provided recognition for the town and jobs for a lot of people. And although they are no longer local industries, they have left an indelible impression on the development of our city.

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