The Schieffer Neighborhood: From dairy farm to peach orchard

The story of the Schieffer Neighborhood begins when Thomas Hawkins of Kentucky appeared before county commissioners at Bastrop, then the county seat, on April 22, 1841, with a patent signed by Mirabeau B. Lamar, president of Texas, granting him 510 acres northeast of Austin.  There seems to be no information about Hawkins in the city’s historical records.  He was probably one the many land speculators who simply abandoned their claim after land values failed to increase fast enough to suit them.  But he did have the property surveyed.  The property stretched north of East 38 ½ Street and east from East Avenue and Boggy Creek (then unnamed) to a grove of oak trees that must have stood on what was Robert Mueller Airport property.  In 1850, Hawkins surrendered 165 acres to Ashford B. McGill, the county clerk, for $0.52 in unpaid taxes.  McGill sold off much of the land for a total of $800. The neighborhood is part of what city records still call the “Thos. Hawkins Survey.”

Exterior of Schieffer Meat Market c. 1900

Schieffer Meat Market c. 1900

Interior of Scheiffer Meat Market c. 1900

Interior of Schieffer Meat Market c.1900

In 1887, Herman and Annie Schieffer purchased 96 acres north of East 38 1/2 Street and operated a dairy at what is now Brookview Road and Vineland Street.  The Schieffer grazing land stretched from where Maplewood Elementary School now stands to the former airport site and included a ranch cattle barn located near where East 40th Street meets Boggy Creek.  The Schieffers also owned a slaughterhouse and meat market at 1112 East 11th Street. The Schieffer farmstead consisted of a frame farm house and outbuildings located on a hill overlooking the property, at the end of a lane now called Schieffer Ave. The original house burned down and was replaced by the modern ranch-style house at the intersection of Brookview and Vineland.

 When Robert Mueller Municipal Airport began passenger service in 1930, the airport was a major influence on the neighborhood until its closing in 1999.  In the spring of 1940, the airport was expanded into orchards owned by Nye Patterson.  On the day the bulldozers arrived to level the 2,000 blooming peach and plum trees, Mr. Patterson was reported to have watched with tears in his eyes as his “children” were destroyed.  Mr. Patterson died soon after and a portion of his original orchard became Patterson Park at the north end of Cherrywood Road.

AustinMueller_TX_60_term

Mueller Airport

In 1946, as Austin’s population grew and the city limits pushed north, Emmett Schieffer and wife, Jeannette, sold about 40 acres of family land to developer Perry Jones, who began selling lots in Willowbrook for about $2,000 each.  A Schieffer cow pasture made way for Maplewood Elementary School in 1951 to serve the growing population of families in the area.  The original building housed five classrooms and a lunch room, which doubled as a classroom.  The school is also an informal community center for the neighborhood.

The creation of Patterson Park, Maplewood School and the establishment of Asbury United Methodist church and the Wilshire Presbyterian (now known as Genesis) congregation helped formulate the sense of community for the Schieffer and Willow Brook neighborhoods.  Built in 1949, Asbury United Methodist Church, at the corner of Cherrywood Road and East 38 1/2 Street, began when neighbors talking across the back fence agreed the neighborhood needed a church. 

Today, the boundaries of Schieffer neighborhood are: north of East 38 ½ Street, south of Schieffer Ave., East of Brookview Road and west of Airport Boulevard.  Streets are Brookview, Vineland and Grayson.  Homes were primarily built in the late 1940s through the 1960s. 

Hand drawn map of the Cherrywood area

Hand drawn map of the Cherrywood area including Schieffer in the top right quadrant