It’s not too surprising that so much local community activity these days focuses on green growing things. One hundred years ago this area was described as “rich farming lands that once were illimitable prairies.” And, since neighborhoods began to be established here more than 60 years ago, people have continued to plant gardens, trees, and other landscaping, and they’ve worked together to create and enhance Brentwood Park and other public spaces.
Frances Evelyn (Mickey) Pease Bauer is one of the few people still living here who remembers what it was like before there was a Brentwood or Crestview neighborhood. Except for a short time in the 50s when her husband, Jim, served in the Navy, Mickey has lived on or within a few miles of the Pease farm since 1936. She has been here longer than anyone else we’ve interviewed for our Voices of the Violet Crown project.
Mickey’s father, Frank E. Pease, was named for his heroic Civil War ancestor Franklin Edmond Pease. Born in Washington State, with family in Wisconsin and Michigan, as a young man Frank moved to Texas, worked in the dairy business, living in Lockhart and Dallas before settling on his Travis County farm.
In 1936, Frank (with his sons, above) purchased 14 acres along the part of Upper Georgetown Road that is now Burnet Lane in Brentwood. The land backed up to Hancock Creek (Arroyo Seco) on the east, surrounded by only a few other farms, including the Otto and Rosa Naumann farm to the south.
Mickey always had heard that she was related to Elisha Marshall Pease, a wealthy Austin landowner and early Texas governor. After doing some research, I discovered that the two families had common ancestors in New England. In 1835, E. M. Pease moved to Texas when it was still part of Mexico and later settled just west of the city limits of Austin. His large estate and the land around it eventually became what is known today as Austin’s Old Enfield neighborhood.
“It’s funny to look back at those times. It sounds like a fairy tale,” Mickey remembers. The family hauled water from the well on the Naumanns’ farm and used lanterns for lighting. It was a few years before the house had electricity, running water, and indoor plumbing. Mickey started school nearby at Esperanza, an early county school (more about it here). As the family grew, Frank added rooms on to the small house (the expanded home is in the photo above).
In time, the farm became almost completely self-sufficient. Frank had worked in the dairy industry for many years, so the farm had cows, which provided milk and butter, as well as pigs and chickens. The family grew a large vegetable garden and peach and pecan trees, and they preserved the harvest. “We really didn’t have to go to the store too much to buy anything.” Despite the challenges, Mickey remembers it as “good clean living,” growing up on the farm with her parents, sisters, and brothers (in the photo below). Mickey and several generations of her family have been active members of St. Louis Catholic Church for many years (more about the church here).
By the early 50s, when the neighborhood began to be developed, Frank sold some of the land so that Brentwood Elementary and nearby homes could be built there. Frank died in 1973, and in the late 70s the rest of the property was sold, and lumber from the house was recycled by Mickey’s brothers.
Even today, the open lot where the Pease home once stood, at 6503 Burnet Lane, remains undeveloped. You still can see some of the trees that Mickey herself planted there. She’s happy about that. Across Burnet Lane to the northwest, the buildings at 6701 Burnet Road were likely a farm at first, then a county maintenance facility from the late 40s to the late 80s, and a farmers’ market until Summer 2014, when they were demolished to make way for new construction.
In the video clip below, Mickey vividly describes how her mother, Evelyn, tried something new with canning one year, before an unexpected, bitterly cold winter.
We interviewed Jim and Mickey Bauer on May 15, 2010.
Stay tuned for more Voices of the Violet Crown!