The Lake Travis area is home to some of the most picturesque lake towns around. One of these communities is the Village of Volente in Northwestern Travis County, which sits on the north shore of Lake Travis. It’s just a short 18 miles from Austin and located on Farm Road 2769, also known as Volente Road.
There is a lot of interesting Lake Travis area history that led to the development of the greater Austin area. In the latter part of the 19th century, downtown Austin was thriving, and as city dwellers grew in numbers, some residents began to turn their attention to the outer parts of Austin to start life anew.
Two of these people were Thomas and Lucy Anderson, who were settlers from Virginia. Thomas had worked as a miller in the past and was drawn to the open space that this new land outside of the city spaces had to offer him. They settled on Cypress Creek, just a few miles upstream from the Colorado River. He had chosen the space as the plot to build his mill that would be used to make gunpowder for the Texas State Military Board for the purpose of using during the Civil War.
After the war, the mill was transformed into a grist mill for grinding corn, which would also serve as a communal meeting place and campsite for families who made the trip by wagon. These early travelers would form “wagon trails” which would span several carts long, ensuring that families stayed together and were able to transport all of their corn to and fro safely.
The trip would take longer than a week for some families. It took hardy people to transform this early land; Mansfield Dam hadn’t even been envisioned yet and the future of Lake Travis was still a distant dream.
Early rumors are that the name “Volente” came from Lucy Anderson, who got the name from a book she was reading at the time. Others have said that it comes from the Native American vocabulary for “God willing”. The literal translation is “to be willing”, but in any case, it’s a name that stuck around until the 1930s and 1940s when a local Realtor and his restaurateur wife were prominent in the town, giving it the new name, Dodd City.
Around this time, the building of Mansfield Dam and the flooding of Lake Travis was forcing many settlers to move to higher ground. Countless families relocated as the landscape in the area began its transformation from rugged frontier land to a growing resort town.
As Lake Travis began to form, families moved their homes to different shorelines, including a local cove, Gun Hollow. Monty Dodd was a huge figure in the development of many of these early homes, and his popularity in the lake community swelled as did the waters of Lake Travis.
Rival restaurant owners would make a push to bring the older moniker back to the area, and in time locals learned of a town north of Dallas with the name “Dodd City”. You can still view Dodd’s imposing “rock house” at the intersection of FM 2769 and Lime Creek Road.
In the 1950s the community’s name would be changed back to Volente, and the town has been known as such ever since. Nowadays, the town has a church, a combination fire hall/community center, the Anderson Mill Museum, and several local businesses. In 2003, the community of Volente voted to be incorporated to become to Village of Volente, Texas.
The Village of Volente is located in the award-winning Leander Independent School District and is currently zoned for Grandview Hills Elementary School, Four Points Middle School and Vandergrift High School. Austin Community College’s Cypress Creek Campus is only minutes away as is Concordia College, a private four-year college.
There are approximately 500 homes in the Village of Volente, and a comprehensive plan that will allow no more than 900-1000 homes. With a population that just went over the 500 mark back in 2010, the Village of Volente is growing — but the charm and characteristics of village life established long ago by those who first settled in the area remains.
Village of Volente (map)
Smyrl, Vivian E. “History of Volente, Texas – Volente Neighborhood Association.” History of Volente, Texas – Volente Neighborhood Association. Volente Neighborhood Association, n.d. Web. 30 July 2014.
Smyrl, Vivian E. “VOLENTE, TX.” SMYRL, VIVIAN ELIZABETH. Texas State Historical Association, 15 June 2010. Web. 30 July 2014.
Photo courtesy of rutlo’s Photostream on Flickr