Native Americans

The Native Americans in this part of the state were the Tonkawa, according to W. W. Newcomb Jr., in his The Indians of Texas from Prehistoric to Modern Times. They were nomadic hunters, gatherers, and fishermen, for whom the bow and arrow were most important. They camped along streams and rivers and in burnt-out rock middens of the earlier Archaic cultures. From the 16th century, Indians roamed from as far west, as the uppermost Edwards Plateau on to the Coastal Plain, and as far east as the Brazos River bottoms. In 1839 Waller Creek was teeming with fish. With buffalo and deer abounding in its vicinity, game was plentiful and abundantly harvested by the Tonkawa. By 1850 game had diminished and the Tonkawa were confined to reservations, with a very small population numbering only in the hundreds.

Arrowheads of Native Americans have been found along Waller Creek, where it turns to the northeast towards the Elisabet Ney Museum - on an 80 acre tract deeded to Angelina D. Smith by Republic of Texas President Sam Houston on December 16, 1841. In the 1920s, George Dempsey, a recent owner of a portion of that property, collected artifacts from tribes of the vicinity. The Dempsey House still stands at 700 E. 44th St.

Since the days of Anglo settlement, the Cretaceous strata have been used for quarries and limestone production. Drill holes and blast marks can be identified along Waller Creek from the south of 38th Street and north to 41st Street. The Perry family converted such a quarry, located on the southeast corner of the former Perry Estate, into a sunken garden. The otherwise flat-laying land in the flood plain of Waller Creek was used mostly for dairy farming. But as later described, the principal land use of the Hancock area became residential, especially triggered by the founding of the Austin Country Club at the turn of the century. Subdivisions grew up around this geographical and social center of the community.