GIANTS, FREEMAN & MURDERS
By Kathy Smith, Lifestyles Editor
Hood County News On-Line Edition 29 March 1999
Windmills stand sentry at the Rickhauer windmill farm on Colony Road
Traveling the country roads of Hood County is a good opportunity to “get lost.” Although, the “getting lost” in this case means a welcomed diversion from the rat race many call life.
In this second in a monthly series, we’ll give you a route of sometimes beautiful, ever unusual roads of Hood County.
There are some supplies you need before you get started – –
A vehicle – this is recommended unless you are game for a six-mile walk or run.
This article with the map – if you don’t have the map with you, “getting lost” takes on a whole new meaning.
A camera – have you seen the wildflowers? We’re in the middle of prime viewing time for wildflowers in our area. And, you just might see a longhorn calf, a horned toad, chaparral or dead armadillo.
Lunch money – this will be explained later.
So, get up, take the drive and discover the backyard of Hood County while spending some quality time with your family and friends.
Hwy 377 W – Colony Road – Campbell Road – Hwy 377 – Tolar – Colony Road…6 miles.
Head west on Highway 377 out of Granbury. Turn right on Colony Road.
Approximately two miles down the road, you will see a sight that may amaze you.
“Those are giants, and if you are afraid, away with you out of here and betake yourself to prayer, while I engage them in fierce and unequal combat.”
With my apologies to Cervantes, those are windmills taking residence at Chuck Rickhauer’s windmill ranch.
Rickhauer began building, restoring and rebuilding windmills about six years ago. Since then, he has restored 66 windmills. But this is not a business for Rickhauer, but a very rewarding hobby, although individuals have commissioned him, some as far away as Oklahoma, to restore their own windmills.
Nineteen windmills are situated on the property. Many of them line the long and meandering driveway like magnolia trees lining a southern plantation’s approach.
“The gate is always open,” says Rickhauer, “and we love to have people visit the windmills.”
Since the hobby of windmill restoration is an expensive one, Rickhauer also accepts donations.
“Once, a man returned the day after driving through the ranch and gave me an old anvil he had,” Rickhauer reports. “That was pretty nice.”
Most of the miles of fence to your right along Colony Road are part of the famous Black Ranch. Even though the ranch property has changed hands and some acreage sold off, most of the original Black Ranch is intact, though no longer owned by the Black family.
In 1970, the Black Ranch was not only the largest ranch in Hood County, it was the largest between Hood County and San Angelo. The original Black Ranch covered 25,000 acres from Colony Road to both sides of the Lipan Hwy.
Located on private Black Ranch property is the Colony Cemetery which, along with Colony Road, is named for the Colony community.
The Colony was settled in the mid-to-late-1860s by free blacks and former slaves and was home to approximately 400 residents. These people played a major role in Hood County’s development as farm laborers and stone masons.
The Depression forced most of the residents to move into Granbury and other cities to find work.
After a 60-year absence, Juneteenth was celebrated at the Colony Cemetery in 1998. The Colony Cemetery board has elected to continue the celebration this year as well. The daylong celebration, marking the day blacks in Texas learned of the Emancipation Proclamation, will consist of a catered barbecue dinner, games and contests, entertainment and story-telling.
Organizers hope to have a historical marker approved in time for the June 19th celebration.
Back to our trip down Colony Road. About two miles past the windmill ranch, Colony Road crosses the Tolar Hwy. We’re going to cross the highway and continue on Colony Road. If you were to turn right and go five miles down the road, you’d find yourself at Starr Hollow.
The Starr Hollow area is named for Belle Starr, the infamous female western outlaw from Arkansas and Missouri. During many of her retreats from the long arm of the law, Belle sought refuge in this hilly terrain.
From Colony Road, turn left on to Campbell Road. Two miles down the road is the Asbury Cemetery. This is a small, but very interesting, and very well kept cemetery, full of unusual epitaphs. The most unusual one explains the deceased was “murdered.”
Continue south on Campbell Road and turn left on Hwy 377. This will take you into Tolar. My “tag-team” partner and I had some “killer” barbecue in Tolar while researching this article. See I told you to bring lunch money!
Enjoy the trip.