Williamson County, Texas facts for kids
Quick facts for kids
The Williamson County Courthouse after renovation in 2006–2007
Location within the U.S. state of Texas
Texas's location within the U.S.
|Founded||March 13, 1848|
|Named for||Robert McAlpin Williamson|
|Largest city||Round Rock|
|• Total||1,134 sq mi (2,940 km2)|
|• Land||1,118 sq mi (2,900 km2)|
|• Water||16 sq mi (40 km2) 1.4%%|
| • Estimate
|• Density||378/sq mi (146/km2)|
|Time zone||UTC−6 (Central)|
|• Summer (DST)||UTC−5 (CDT)|
Williamson County (sometimes abbreviated as "Wilco") is a county in the U.S. state of Texas. As of the 2016 census estimate, the population was 545,412. Its county seat is Georgetown. The county is named for Robert McAlpin Williamson (1804?–1859), a community leader and veteran of the Battle of San Jacinto.
Williamson County is part of the Austin-Round Rock, TX Metropolitan Statistical Area. It was included with Austin in the Best Cities to Live in for 2009 by the Milken Institute It is located on both the Edwards Plateau to the west, consisting of rocky terrain and hills, and Texas Blackland Prairies in the east consisting of rich, fertile farming land. The two areas are roughly bisected by Interstate 35.
- Sun City Texas
- Williamson County flag
- In popular culture
- Images for kids
Much of Williamson County has been the site of human habitation for at least 11,200 years. The earliest known inhabitants of the area lived during the late Pleistocene (Ice Age), and are linked to the Clovis culture around 9,200 BC (11,200 years old) based on evidence found at Bell County's much-studied Gault Site. One of the most important discoveries in recent times is that of the ancient skeletal remains dubbed "The Leanderthal Lady" because of its age and proximity to Leander, Texas. It was discovered by accident by the Texas Department of Transportation workers while drilling core samples for a new highway. The site has been extensively studied for many years and samples from this site carbon date to the Pleistocene period at approximately 10,500 years ago (8,500 BC). Pre-historic and Archaic "open occupation" campsites are also found throughout the county along streams and other water sources including Brushy Creek in Round Rock and the San Gabriel River in Georgetown. Such evidence of Archaic Period inhabitants is often in the form of relics and flint tools recovered from burned rock middens. Many such sites were inundated when the San Gabriel River was dammed to create Lake Granger.
The earliest known historical Native American occupants, the Tonkawa, were a flint-working, hunting people who followed the buffalo on foot and periodically set fire to the prairie to aid them in their hunts. During the eighteenth century they made the transition to a horse culture and used firearms to a limited extent. After they were crowded out by white settlement, the Comanches continued to raid settlements in the county until the 1860s. There also appear to have been small numbers of Kiowa, Yojuane, Tawakoni, and Mayeye Indians living in the county at the time of the earliest Anglo settlements.
On September 9 and 10, 1921, the remnants of a hurricane moved over Williamson County. The center of the storm became stationary over Thrall, a small farming town in eastern Williamson County, dropping a storm total of 39.7 inches (1,010 mm) of rain in 36 hours. The 24-hour rainfall total ending 7 am on September 10, 1921 (38.2 inches (970 mm)*) at a U.S. Weather Bureau station in Thrall remains the national official 24-hour rainfall record. Thrall's rainfall was 23.4 in (590 mm) during 6 hours, 31.8 in (810 mm) during 12 hours, and 36.4 in (920 mm) during 18 hours. Eighty-seven people drowned in and near Taylor, and 93 in Williamson County. This storm caused the most deadly floods in Texas, with a total of 215 fatalities.
1997 tornado outbreak
On May 27, 1997, Williamson County was hit by the worst tornado outbreak in county history. The 1997 Central Texas Tornado Outbreak caused 20 tornadoes including an F-5 (the strongest rating used for tornadoes on the Fujita Scale), which remains the only F-5 to strike Williamson County. The F-5 tornado killed 27 people and completely destroyed the Double Creek Estates neighborhood in the city of Jarrell, Texas, Texas, located in far northern Williamson County. Another strong tornado, an F-3, struck the City of Cedar Park, killing 1 person. Two F-2 tornadoes also struck Williamson County. The outbreak cost the county over $190 million USD in damage and a total of 30 fatalities.
Williamson County's fast growth rate is due in large part to its location immediately north of Austin coupled with Austin's rapid expansion northward. Austin's city limits cross into Williamson County making Austin the largest city in Williamson County. Most of the growth has been residential but also large employers, such as Dell's international headquarters, have changed Williamson County from just a bedroom community into a more vibrant community where its citizens can live and work in the same general vicinity. This has transformed Williamson county over recent years into a dynamic self-sustaining community with less dependency on Austin. Major retail and commercial developments began appearing from 1999 to present, including the Rivery in Georgetown, and the Premium Outlet Mall, the IKEA-area retail, the La Frontera mixed-use center in Round Rock. Health care and Higher Education have both become major factors in the growth of Williamson County as well. Two new colleges and two new hospitals have opened within the last five years. Another very significant factor has been the opening in of the North Loop 1 toll road and Texas State Highway 45 toll road which have made a major difference regarding the accessibility of Williamson County to and from Austin.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the county has a total area of 1,134 square miles (2,940 km2), of which 1,118 square miles (2,900 km2) is land and 16 square miles (41 km2) (1.4%) is water.
The area is divided into two regions by the Balcones Escarpment, which runs through the center from north to south along a line from Jarrell to Georgetown to Round Rock. The western half of the county is an extension of the Western Plains and is considered to be within the eastern fringes of Texas Hill Country and has an average elevation of 850 feet (260 m). It features undulating hilly brushland with an abundance of Texas live oak, prickly pear cactus and karst topography. Eastern region of the county is part of the Coastal Plains and is flat to gently rolling with an average elevation of just 600 feet (180 m). It consists of flatter land, with dark clay and rich fertile lands for agriculture, but is quickly being developed as the county's population continues to increase and expand out. Williamson County is drained in the center and south by the San Gabriel River, which is the only river in the county, and in the north by creeks that run into the Lampasas and Little rivers north of the county line.
The eastern portion of Williamson County lies within the low-lying prairie areas east of the Balcones Escarpment (the escarpment is also known locally as the Balcones Fault) although it is not an active fault. It begins a Piedmont, a foot friendly fall line of slightly sloping land downward to the coastal area, an area which is made up of the Blackland Prairie consisting of rich, fertile, clay-like soils where the land is still used for agriculture, growing cotton and other crops, and for raising cattle. These prairie lands essentially run from Williamson County all the way down to the Gulf Coast and have a rich heritage of being farmed by German, Polish and other settlers.
West of the Escarpment is the beginning of the "upland" Texas Hill Country, characterized by rocky terrain with thin layers of soil lying on top of limestone. Some ranching occurs in the uplands, but mostly it has been the target of residential development because of the rolling terrain, vistas, hardwood trees, abundant wildlife, and rivers and streams (the very same reason that early Indians camped in this area). The Hill County areas are characterized by their porous "vugular" (honeycombed) rock where rain water slowly percolates down to replenish the underground Edwards Aquifer. For that reason development restrictions are in place and several endangered species are being protected by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. (See Endangered species section below). Interstate 35, the main artery of Williamson County, runs along the fault line dividing the two distinct regions.
Environmentally protected areas
Balcones Canyonlands National Wildlife Refuge is located in the Texas Hill Country to the northwest of Austin, Texas including parts of western Williamson County. The refuge was formed in 1992 to conserve habitat for two endangered songbirds: the golden-cheeked warbler and the black-capped vireo and to preserve Texas Hill Country habitat for numerous other wildlife species. The refuge augments a similarly named preserve in Austin called the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve. The vegetation found in the Hill Country includes various oaks, elms, and Ashe juniper trees (often referred to as "cedar" in Texas). The endangered golden-cheeked warbler and black-capped vireo depend on different successional stages of this vegetation. Both of these birds nest in the Edwards Plateau, the warbler exclusively.
Williamson county is home to five endangered species. Two endangered species are songbirds protected by the Balcones Canyonlands Preserve in Travis and Williamson counties. (See above). The other three are invertebrate species found only in Williamson county and which live in the cave-like fissures on the west side of the county. Karst topography is the name for the honeycomb type limestone formations (including caves, sinkholes and fissures) that are typical in the county's limestone geology west of Interstate 35. In the 1990s a group of concerned landowners, individuals and real estate developers formed the Northern Edwards Aquifer Resource Council (NEARC) with the goal of obtaining a United States Fish and Wildlife Service 10-A permit (known as an Incidental Take Permit) for the entire county by identifying and preserving a sufficient number of caves with endangered species to ensure survival of the species. These species would be preserved through voluntary donations of land rather than required setbacks, grants, and other involuntary means typically enforced on landowners without an incidental take permit. The group transferred their successful work on an Environmental Impact Statement to the county in 2002 and a county-wide 10-A permit was obtained in October 2008. Property owners are able to participate in the County's 10-A permit by applying through the WCCF at www.wilco.org/wccf. 
- Bell County (north)
- Milam County (northeast)
- Lee County (east)
- Bastrop County (southeast)
- Travis County (south)
- Burnet County (west)
|U.S. Decennial Census
|Municipal Population History|
|#||Largest Cities in Williamson County||1950||1960||1970||1980||1990||2000||2010||2015 (estimate)|
|Williamson County total||38,853||35,044||37,305||76,521||139,551||249,967||422,679||471,014|
As of the census of 2010, there were 422,679 people, 152,606 households, and 111,514 families residing in the county. The population density was 373 people per square mile (144/km2). There were 162,773 housing units at an average density of 144 per square mile (55/km2). The racial makeup of the county was 80.9% White, 7.1% Black or African American, 1.3% Native American, 5.8% Asian, 0.3% Pacific Islander, 6.9% from other races, and 3.2% from two or more races. 23.2% of the population were Hispanic or Latino of any race.
There were 111,514 households out of which 39.1% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 57.9% were married couples living together, 10.8% had a female householder with no husband present, and 26.9% were non-families. 21.2% of all households were made up of individuals and 17.4% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.74 and the average family size was 3.20.
In the county, the population was spread out with 28.7% under the age of 18, 11.9% from 15 to 24, 31.6% from 25 to 44, 23.2% from 45 to 64, and 8.9% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 34 years.
The median income for a household in the county was $60,642, and the median income for a family was $66,208. Males had a median income of $43,471 versus $30,558 for females. The per capita income for the county was $24,547. About 3.40% of families and 4.80% of the population were below the poverty line, including 5.40% of those under age 18 and 5.90% of those age 65 or over.
Sun City Texas
One of the most significant growth factors of modern-day Williamson County is the location of a new Sun City community in Georgetown. Opened in June 1995, and originally named "Sun City Georgetown", Sun City Texas is a 5,300 acre (21 km2) age-restricted community located in Georgetown, approximately 10 miles (16 km) west of IH-35 on Andice Road (RR 2338). It is part of the chain of Sun City communities started by the Del Webb Corporation (now a division of Pulte Homes)
Residency is restricted to persons over age 55 (at least one person in a couple has to be 55 or older) and the community is generally oriented toward retirees.
As originally planned the project would double the size of Georgetown's population. Sun City Texas is made up mostly of single-family dwellings, but also has duplexes. The Sun City project includes three golf courses.(Legacy Hills, White Wing, and Cowan Creek) Although the community attracts residents from all over the majority come from within Texas to stay close to their original home. There has been vocal opposition to the project at times, especially at the start during the zoning process, with arguments against the size of the community, its effect on Georgetown as a family-oriented town, concerns about the costs of providing city utilities, and concern about lowered city and Williamson County property taxes which are fixed for retirees under Texas law, and the disproportionate effect of City voting.
But by and large the community has been welcomed and well accepted into the Georgetown populace. In the 2008 city elections, for example, two residents of Sun City were the only two candidates for Mayor of Georgetown. They also were both formerly elected city council members.
Williamson County flag
The stars on the flag surrounding the state of Texas represent the thirty-three viable communities identified by Clara Stearns Scarbrough in her 1973 book, Land of Good Water.
Cities (multiple counties)
Other unincorporated communities
In popular culture
- Williamson County is depicted in the Coen Brothers movie Blood Simple.
- The 1996 film Michael (A Nora Ephron film) was shot principally in Georgetown and in and around Williamson County.
Images for kids
Williamson County's only "full-service" hotel, with ballrooms, dining and executive meeting rooms, is the Austin North Marriott located in the La Frontera portion of Round Rock.
Williamson County, Texas Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.