some day a scuba diver will find the old bent rifle barrel at the
bottom of Lake Travis. Itís bound to be there somewhere, resting in
the sediment in the vicinity of Hudson Bend.
When Wiley Hudson came to Travis
County in 1854, settling above Austin
in a bend of the Colorado River that came to bear his familyís name,
no one would have considered doing so without a good rifle close at
hand. The state capital lay a dayís wagon ride downstream, but hostile
Indians still preyed on the area.
Six years after Hudson built his cabin on the river west of Austin,
a federal census enumerator listed Hudson and his wife Catherine as
having eight children. Hudsonís father and two brothers also lived
along the bend. All of the Hudson clan got by as farmer-ranchers,
though when the Civil War broke out, the Hudson boys shouldered arms
for the Confederacy.
After the war, the Hudsons returned to the Colorado, enduring droughts
and floods as they made their living off the land.
On almost any farm in early day Texas, corn
figured as an important crop. The Hudsons and their fellow settlers
carried the corn by wagon to Anderson Mill, where the yellow kernels
could be ground into meal and eventually transformed into cornbread.
By the time Hudson had grandchildren, the families living in the hills
west of Austin no longer
feared raiding Comanches. But well into the 20th century, a rifle
still hung above every mantle. And a Texan learned how to shoot early.
One day in the 1930s, one of the Hudson grandsons busied himself plunking
a single-shot .22 around his familyís riverside homestead.
Wearying of the hornetís buzz of speeding bullets, the grandpa told
the boy to be careful where he aimed. He especially cautioned him
against shooting around the mules. The animals, hitched to a wagon
full of corn, had a deserved reputation for skittishness.
But boys being boys, the youngster kept the lead flying. When a bullet
whistled past the long ear of one of Hudsonís mules, both animals
jumped straight into the air and came down going in opposite directions.
Recovering enough to pull together, the mules ran wildly, pulling
the corn-laden wagon behind them. The team ran through a gate, catching
the wagon behind them. That broke the gate and wrecked the wagon,
covering the ground with mounds of corn.
Seeing the consequences of his disregarded warning, the elder Hudson
came flying out of the house after his errant grandson.
Grabbing the bolt-action rifle from the boy, the old man smashed it
into the closest pecan, wrapping the barrel around the sturdy tree.
Unreconstructed, the young man picked up the .22 and smarted off:
ďNow I can shoot around corners!Ē
At that, Hudson retrieved the rifle and hurled it out into the river.
A few years later, the newly created Lower Colorado River Authority
began buying land along the river in anticipation of building a large
flood control dam. With the completion of Mansfield Dam in 1940 and
the filling of Lake Travis, about half the original Hudson acreage
flooded. Remains were exhumed from the old family cemetery and relocated
at Teck, just off present Ranch Road 620.
The area around the new community of Hudson Bend has boomed, with
subdivisions and expensive homes covering much of the old farm and
ranch land. And somewhere out there in the lake is a rifle barrel
with a story.
by Mike Cox - Order Here