Since London is a suburb of Erna, I will try to squeeze in a little about London, as it has outlived Erna as a metropolis and is still flourishing with a little activity, especially on Saturday night, as this has always been the trademark of London. When I lived in Houston, one would ask where I was from and I would say London and the reply was “Oh yes, London Hal” a common denominator.
As best I can determine, London was an un-named trading post as early as 1862, according to Miss Jessie Weaver, as there were a few brave souls to come to the area prior to that date. I am not sure what was considered a trading post at that time but I suspect that it was a tent and wagon for mobility, as the Indians were still active in the area. Bigfoot Wallace and a surveying party plotted the area along the Llano in the 1850’s and this sort of invited Texicans to follow. Miss Jessie prepared a history and was left in the community center for posterity and new comers saw no need for it and destroyed the lot.
A gentleman by the name of Reichenau moved sheep to the area just south of London in the year of 1858, but after three years, his flock had been almost eradicated due to the Indian raiding parties, so he packed up and went back to Gillespie County. We have a landmark in that area bearing his name and it is known as the Reichenau Gap, which is the prominent landmark about 2 miles south of London on Hwy. 377 and the highway runs thru the gap, as well, did the old dirt wagon and buggy road.
A family by the name of Parks came into the area about 1860 and settled on the Little Saline Creek north of London, but, due to the uncontrolled Indian raids, the family, one boy and the man and his wife, were killed in 1862 and buried in what is now the Little Saline Cemetery. The dwelling was burned and it is believed to have been on what is now the cemetery plot, as charred remains were found along the west fence. There had to have been others in the area at the time but I have no ideas as to whom it might have been that took care of the remains as Little Saline actually began settlement in the 1870”s.
Also, a family by the name of Johnson settled near a flowing spring on the Little Saline Creek about two miles from the Llano River and lived in what was know as a dugout, ie, a hole in the ground in 1862. He encountered an Indian party near by one day so he, on purpose, moved away from his dugout in order to draw the party away from his family and was killed. He was buried at the top of the Leon Point in the Long Mountain range and I am not sure if the Indians were responsible for his burial or if there were neighbors to take care of the situation. His wife moved back to the Willow City area, in North Gillespie County, north of Fredericksburg, which was named as a county in 1848.
As well, the Will Gentry’s settled early in the Red Creek area south of London and he left home on a hunting trip which carried him into the Long Mountain range and am sure he was prepared for a week’s outing. One has to be reminded that wild game was in short supply, as wolf packs ranged freely at that time. During his trip, a couple of Indians began to harass him and follow at a distance and finally, Will put one of them at peace and the other left the scene at once. The Indian remains were buried on what we refer to as Gentry Point, about a half mile north of the Erna Hill. The grave is still marked but it has been entered several times I am sure, but the marking are evident by the outline of rocks. Also, on this point on the south side, are a mass of rock caves and at one time, the Indian drawings were prevalent but due to the moisture of the chalk freezing over the years, the drawings have all flaked off. I think that there are still some initials of the kids who went to the Leon School, which was at the foot of the Point.
The Fritz family came to the area in about 1865 and built a picket house in a grove of live oaks in the bend of Big Saline on the south bank about a half mile above the present 377 highway crossing. This property is still in the Fritz family.
The Great Western Cattle Trail, which originated along the Nueces River by Charles Schreiner, crossed the Llano River near to what is now the Yates Crossing and came by the London area in 1867 and on to Peg Leg Crossing on the San Saba. I am sure that the Big Saline became an overnight stop for the herds and London, thus, became, a real trade center. London did not get it’s name until later, when the Pearl family came to the Saline and Ivy communities about 1880 and it is their claim that they named the town after the town of London, Kentucky. The drives continued until the mid 1870’s and London was a thriving city by 1900 with hotels, grocery stores, agriculture supplies and equipment, churches and doctors. At one time, London almost became the county seat of Kimble County, as Junction City only began to thrive after 1900. In fact, in 1927, the Texas Rangers came to Kimble County and routed out the Bad Guys in the cedar breaks and canyons. They overlooked some of us.
There are several old names of families of which I was familiar. Pete Weaver built a stage stop on the creek about 6 miles west of London about 1880 and it tied in with the stop at Erna and Ft. Terrett and it was a fortification as well with narrow slits in the walls. The Bannowsky’s settled near there and established the Bannowsky family cemetery near the stage stop and later moved to the Bear Creek area. I understand that the present owner has done some changes on the stop but it is still intact and is located on closely guarded private property. One of those absentee owners who chain locks the gate and places posted signs every 100 feet. One has to remember that Texas is about 98% privately owned and let us keep it that way.