Zilker Neighborhood Association
Austin, Texas 78704

A Story of Three Houses

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by Karen B. Longley, 2015

I. V. Davis Homestead On land granted by Mexico in 1835, just before Texas Revolution, this house was built in 1875. Owner Isaac Van Zandt Davis (1843-1897) worked in the General Land Office. Greek revival Style home has 22" thick walls of stone quarried at Oak Hill. Information from Historical Marker number 14170, erected 1968, address 1610 Virginia Avenue.

Michael Paggi House Built here prior to the Civil War on land owned by Col. S.W. Goodrich (d. 1868), this house was located near a low-water crossing of the Colorado River. A planter, Goodrich owned a sawmill, grist mill, and cotton gin. Michael Paggi (d. 1911), a native of Italy, bought the Greek Revival home in 1884. His Austin businesses included an ice company and a carriage shop. Ownership of the residence was transferred to his daughter Helen (Paggi) Powell in 1906. Information from Texas Historical Marker number 14112, erected in 1980, address on 200 Lee Barton Drive.

Rocky Cliffs Built about 1871 by Daniel P. Kinney, who came to Austin in early 1850's; original homesite, at the time an extensive farm, contained areas later in Zilker Park and Barton Heights. Structure of hard limestone, with 20-inch walls, had rooms added as the family grew. Purchased in 1937, restored and modernized by Dr. E. J. Lund. The Lunds used unique ceramic tiles and created wrought iron ornamentation, as new features. Information from Texas Historical Marker number 14979, erected in 1966, address 802 Barton Blvd.


Issac Decker obtained a Mexican land grant before the Texas Revolution. It was a large area of land south of the Colorado River in present day Austin. He did not stay in the area long because of hostile Indians. The land was sold and resold several times. In mid-1850 Sterling Washington (S.W.) Goodrich bought a large part of the Decker tract and established a plantation with about 30 slaves. He came with his large family from Tennessee. His plantation home is what is now Paggi House on Lee Barton Road. Goodrich’s land extended into present day Barton Heights. He died in 1868 and his wife Mary died several years later. Land and financial settlements among their children resulted in land sales and redistribution of the plantation lands. In 1884 an enterprising Italian immigrant, Michael Paggi, bought the home for his family. After his descendants died, it became a well-known Austin restaurant.

One of S.W. Goodrich’s daughters, Lucy Lanier, married Isaac Van Zandt Davis. I.V. Davis was a clerk at the General Land Office and they had one son. In 1875, Lucy and I.V. built a stone home on a bluff above Barton Springs Road on a large land holding that was once part of the Goodrich plantation.

The Davises sold the home in 1893 to an Englishman who intended to raise stock on the land. His name was Edmund Griffin and he had immigrated in midlife from England with his large family. The youngest Griffin daughter, Elizabeth, married William Cleveland Kinney. He was a nearby neighbor who lived in a stone home with a farming estate called Rocky Cliff. William’s family was headed by his mother Olivia Treadwell Kinney. Olivia and her husband, Daniel P. Kinney, had built Rocky Cliff in 1871 and raised their children there, but in 1894, they divorced. Daniel lived in town and Olivia and her children lived in their south Austin rural estate overlooking Barton Springs. Eventually two of Olivia’s sons went to ranch in Blanco County, one worked in town, and one farmed the Kinney land.

George P. Kinney was one of Olivia’s sons who ranched in Blanco County. He married Carrie Mae Shands there and his brother John Daniel married her sister. He stayed there for 25 years and they had four sons. In 1916, several years after his mother died, he and his family returned to Austin. He bought the I.V. Davis Homestead from the widow of Edmund Griffin. For a time Kinneys owned and lived in both the I.V. Davis home and Rocky Cliff.

Carrie Mae and George Kinney subdivided and developed the Davis Homestead land, including a small housing addition south of Linscomb. They kept their land above Barton Springs Road and lived in the home. Carrie Mae was widowed in 1934 and died in 1957. Before she died she sold the home to her son Girard for a nominal amount. Girard and his wife raised their family there and sold it in 1966 to Cater Joseph.

After Olivia’s death, Rocky Cliff was maintained by the Kinney family. In 1929, it was put up for sale and was sold in 1937 to Elmer J. Lund, a biologist at the University of Texas. He modernized the home and later subdivided the property into home sites designed by A. D. Stenger. He called this addition South Lund Park.


Isaac Decker – First Landholder

Isaac Decker was the first owner of the land on which the I.V. Davis Home was built. He was born in Canada in 1795, married and began a family in Michigan, and in 1834 immigrated to Texas. He applied to the Mexican government for a land grant with the Ben Milam Colony, and in 1835 received a league of land (4228 acres) southwest of the Colorado River, promising to live there and develop the land. The league bordered the Colorado River from the mouth of Barton Creek in the west to the mouth of Blunn Creek to the east, its southeastern border reached to Williamson Creek, near IH-35. Probably because of Indian hostilities, he soon sold this land and moved to Montgomery County, Texas. There he received another grant of a labor of land from the Republic of Texas. He owned land and slaves and followed his original vocation as a cobbler and saddle maker. During the Civil War he supplied the Confederate Army with leather goods. He married four times and had 22 children. He died at Decker Prairie, Montgomery County, Texas, in 1873, and is buried in the Decker Prairie Cemetery. The land he bought in Austin continued to be called the Isaac Decker Tract for years.

After Isaac Decker left, his tract was sold and resold several times. The land speculators involved included David Browning who bought 2022 acres in 1839. He sold some to Henry Adams that same year. In 1852 he sold some to John H. Raymond. Raymond quickly sold a large part to John M. Swisher. Eventually, in 1853 the various owners had the land surveyed into two equal parts of 1200 acres. Raymond sold 1133 3/8 acres to Sterling W. Goodrich in 1853. That land includes parts of what is currently the Bouldin and Zilker neighborhoods.

Sterling Washington Goodrich–Owner Of Goodrich Plantation

In 1853, Sterling Washington Goodrich (1802-1868) purchased a large part of the original Isaac Decker tract for a plantation. S.W. Goodrich was born in Virginia to Washington Goodrich (1772-1830) and Frances Beverly Batte (born 1780). He came from a long line of Virginia planters. In 1828 he married Mary A. Goodrich (1813-1874), daughter to Edmond Goodrich and Frances Elizabeth Briggs Goodrich of Virginia, later Tennessee. Mary was possibly a cousin. Mary and S.W. Goodrich married in Davidson County, Tennessee, near Nashville, and lived and farmed there for about 20 years. In that time he and Mary had seven children. By 1829, when S.W. was only 27, the records indicate that he already owned 8 slaves, presumably mostly agricultural workers.

By 1853, Sterling W. Goodrich had moved with his large family to Texas. His last child, Texas Ellen Goodrich, was born in December, 1854, in Travis County. He purchased over 1000 acres of land south of the Colorado River and established a plantation there. He had 35 slaves on his 1860 slave schedule, ranging from infants to the very old. On the 1860 Census he listed the value of his real estate as $20,000 and the value of his personal property (mostly slaves) as $15,000. He also listed his home as being in Austin though it was south of the river. The information on the current historical marker located at 200 Lee Barton Drive, states, “Built here prior to the Civil War on land owned  by Col. S.W. Goodrich (d. 1868), this house was located near a low-water crossing of the Colorado River. A planter, Goodrich owned a sawmill, grist mill, and cotton gin.” It is possible the building dated to as early as 1845, but the Goodrich family made their plantation home there in the early 1850’s. There were reports of it being used as an inn, possibly boarding Robert E. Lee on one occasion, either before or during the Goodrich’s time. The home was constructed of light-colored handmade brick, now painted red, and the plan was a one-story home built on a slightly raised location. Although small, it is considered an early Greek Revival building. Originally the home had a central hall with a bedroom on one side and a parlor on the other. There were various outbuildings including a kitchen, a stone milk house, and a root cellar. In later years, additions were made to the rear of the home and a separate apartment was built behind it with a court yard between.

When the Goodrich family first lived in their south Austin home during the early years of the plantation, many of their children may have lived there. Their first son Washington E. Goodrich married Sarah Alice Dismukes (1831-1909) in Tennessee in 1851, and soon moved to Sequin, Texas. They raised 6 children in Sequin, Texas and died there. By the 1860 Census, only four of S.W.’s eight children were living with him. They were Lucy Lanier (born 1844, Tenn.) who at 16 was listed as “spinster”; Sterling Edward Goodrich (born 1846, Tenn.); Elizabeth Goodrich (born 1848, Tenn.); and Texas Ellen Goodrich (born 1854,Texas).

The older Goodrich children in Austin were Beverly G. Goodrich (born 1831, Tenn.); Frances E. Goodrich (born 1835, Tenn.); M.C. Goodrich (born 1837, Tenn.); and Alberta Goodrich (born 1839, Tenn.). Beverly married and lived in Austin and later moved to California with his family and farmed. Frances (Fannie) married a well-to-do Englishborn dentist, George Thomason Boardman and lived in Austin. In 1857, M.C. married L.C. Thornton (born 1827 in Virginia) and moved out onto a Travis County Precinct 4 farm. By 1870 they had a 7 year old son G.W. born in Missouri. Her husband L. C. had $1000 in real estate and $2000 in personal property in 1970. Alberta Goodrich married Francis (Frank) E. Adams on June 20, 1859, in Austin. By the 1870 Census, they had moved to California and had two sons, Frank and Edward. In the 1900 Census Alberta’s family lived next door to her brother Beverly’s family. They were both farmers. She died in Los Angeles in 1923.

There are records to indicate that Sterling W. Goodrich and all three of his sons– Washington, Sterling Edward and Beverly G. Goodrich–served in the Confederacy. S.W. Goodrich, aged 59, served in the “Travis Confederate Guards” organized in Austin on August 1, 1861, as light infantry. Although S.W. was called Col. Goodrich, it may be the title was honorific. After the Confederate defeat, a short-term federal income tax was levied to pay for war debts. His 1866 records show he paid about $67, considerably more than his neighbors. He listed income, a gold watch, a carriage, and a pianoforte as taxable items.

After the Civil War many of the former slaves stayed on the Goodrich plantation land. Eventually they bought the land from their former owners. The ex-slaves settled aroundthe area where their kin were buried. The slave cemetery dates back perhaps to 1865, and many Blacks born into slavery are buried there. A Black church, Barton Springs Baptist, was built in 1870 adjacent to the cemetery. School classes were held in it for the children of the freedman community. In 1885 S. Edward Goodrich sold the land to the church trustees for $25.

In 1868 Sterling W. Goodrich died and was buried at Oakwood Cemetery. His widow Mary A. Goodrich lived with son Beverly, aged 38, in 1870. Beverly clerked in a store. Beverly’s wife Mary S., aged 23, and child Sterling W. Goodrich, aged 2, were also included in the household. Widow Goodrich was 56. There were also three young ladies living with them–Bella Goodrich, age 20; Texas Ellen Goodrich, aged 16; Lizzi Leffarrans ,aged 20; and a Black servant girl named Betty. There was no address for this census but their neighbors were urban professionals. In the 1873 Austin City Directory, Mary Goodrich was living on Cedar and Colorado Streets. In 1867, after the Civil War, the original home and some land were sold. George Zimpelman, Isaac Jones, and N.G. Shelley were among the next owners and were likely land speculators.

Sterling W. Goodrich died May 18,1868, without a will. His widow Mary requested legal control of the estate as she still had two minor children. Initially she was granted control. Some distributions had been made previous to S.W.’s death. W. Edward received $750 and $1300 in Negroes; Beverly G. received $750 and $1500 in Negroes; Mrs. Adams received $750 and $1500 in Negroes; Mrs. Lucy Davis received $225; and Mrs Boardman received Negroes worth $1500. Obviously after the war, the slaves had no financial value to previous owners. The Goodrich offspring claimed they had made improvements to the land and could not realize any rewards as long as their mother controlled the estate. The children sued their mother and the outcome was mother Mary received one third of the estate and the children received two thirds of the estate. The children’s two-thirds interest was divided up into ten equal shares and distributed among them. Lucy was required to pay back the $225 into the estate before the division.

Mary A. Goodrich died on March 2,1874, of typhoid pneumonia, and the 1870 Census was the last one that mentioned her. She was buried at Oakwood Cemetery but not in the Goodrich plot. Her son Beverly moved his family to California and by 1880, he was farming there. Her son Sterling Edward was in the state asylum by the 1880 Census and again in the 1900 Census, probably due to epilepsy. He was buried at Oakwood Cemetery not far from his father, but there is no death date. Daughter Elizabeth (Bessie) married Leonard M. Bradley of Maryland, a city clerk, and lived in Austin until her death in 1911. Daughter Texas Ellen married Charles E. Anderson, a land agent and developer, in 1874, and lived her life in Austin, dying in 1917. Alberta Goodrich married Francis E. Adams on June 20, 1859, and by the 1870 Census, they had moved to California. In the 1900 Census Alberta's family lived in California next door to her brother Beverly's family. She died in Los Angeles in1923.

Michael Paggi – Owner Of Paggi House (Goodrich Plantation Home)

In 1884 Michael Paggi, an industrious local entrepreneur, bought the Goodrich home for his family. Paggi (1840-1911) was originally from Italy, studied in Paris, and came to Austin by way of Mexico. He owned an ice company and a carriage and blacksmith business, and even a small steamboat for excursions to Barton Springs. In the 1870’s he married Eugenia, and they raised 7 children in the Lee Barton home previously owned by the Goodrich family. They made additions to accommodate their family. Michael Paggi died in 1911, and his descendants continued to own the home for some years. Eventually ownership was taken over by land companies, and the property was neglected. However, in the 1970’s the property was renovated and converted into an upscale restaurant named Paggi House. In 1980 the structure received a Texas Historical Marker. The restaurant closed in 2014 and there are plans for a condominium on the site.

I. V. Davis – First Owner of I. V. Davis Homestead

One of the Goodrich daughters, Lucy Lanier Goodrich (1844 Tenn.-1908 Austin, Tx.) is the connection to the I.V. Davis Homestead. In the legal settlement of her father’s estate, she received 49 acres worth $2387. In 1875 Lucy and husband I.V. Davis (1843-1897) built their home on that land. Lucy married Isaac Van Zandt Davis in Austin on January 15, 1867. Isaac was the son of Robert Davis M.D. (1802 N.C.-1847 Tx.) and Emily Van Zandt Wofford Davis Rowe (1817 Tenn.-1864 Tx.). Isaac was born in Mississippi in 1843, but his parents soon made their way to settle as planters on land near present-day Montopolis. Dr. Davis’ grave marker at Austin Memorial Cemetery reads “Sacred to the memory of Robert Davis, M.D. died June 30, 1847 (and) Emily Van Zandt Wofford Davis Rowe September 9, 1817-June 20 1864. Moved from Montopolis Homestead, March 22, 1950, original headstone replaced.” Isaac was five years old when his father died and his mother died during the Civil War. Isaac fought for the Confederacy for four years, enlisting at age 18, and rising to the rank of Captain. He came back to Texas after the war and married Lucy two years later. In the 1870 Census Lucy and Isaac V. Davis lived in Austin and had one child, Isaac Van Zandt Davis Junior (1868-1911) aged 2, and two Black female servants aged 40 and 13, Martha and Elizabeth Rogers. Isaac’s real estate was worth $15,000 and personal property $200. Isaac was known as I.V. Davis and his occupation in 1870 was “farmer, retired.” Early Austin City Directories listed him as a clerk for the Texas State Land Office from 1875 to 1894. He advanced to Chief Clerk by the time he retired from state employment, and worked as a private land agent until his death on July 23, 1897. His wife Lucy died on July 6, 1908. They are both buried in Oakwood Cemetery. Their only child, I.V. Davis Junior, married Katie May Howard in 1891 and lived in Dripping Springs. Junior and Katie had four children: Lanier K., Howard T., Walton J., and Isaac Van Zandt Davis III. The 1870 Census did not indicate an address for I.V. and Lucy other than Austin. However there were 23 Black individuals making up five families that were included by a large-hand drawn parenthesis with I.V. and Lucy’s entry, possibly former slaves of the Goodrich family. The family names include the Clevelands, the Griffins, the Waters, the Williams, the Blunts and the Washingtons. Some of the names could indicate prior owners. Their occupations included seamstress, day laborer, hostler, washing and ironing, gardener, Methodist preacher, and wagoner. Their children were attending school. Only two, Elizabeth and Martha Rogers, lived with the Davises. In 1875, Lucy and I.V. built a stone home on a bluff overlooking the Colorado River, about a mile west of Lucy’s childhood home. This house is now referred to as the I.V. Davis Homestead and is located at 1610 Virginia Avenue in Austin. The historical marker for the property describes a Greek revival style home with 22-inch thick walls of hard rock quartz quarried at Oak Hill, or what was then Oatmanville. Since it was constructed before a rail line was built, stone had to be transported by wagons. The home was two stories and faced east, indicating the original approach. (The porches and den were added later.) The contractor was A.W. Bunsen. He was paid as he completed stages of construction and the total cost was $1155.

Mr. Bunsen’s contract specified ten windows downstairs and a double door in front. All walls were stone load-bearing and 22 inches thick downstairs and 18 inches thick upstairs. There were four fireplaces with mantles and six doors with transoms with 6-8 inch baseboards. Wood framing was secured with square nails and spikes. There was one flight of stairs in the hall with a platform. Ceilings were of 1-by-10 inch boards with battens and rose to 14 feet. All flooring was tongue-and-groove dressed 6-by-1 inch pine lumber and the roof was cedar shingles. Also, there was a rain water cistern (no well) and tin roof gutters with downspout. Originally the home was four rooms on the first level and four on the upper level, constructed in an L-shaped arrangement. The double entrance door, with side windows and transom, opened into a fair sized hall with open riser staircase on the north wall. North of the hall was a somewhat larger music room. To the south was a dining room, slightly larger than the music room. Behind that was a kitchen. Upstairs the plan was the same with the hall opening to the north into a bedroom and to the south into a parlor. A second bedroom over the kitchen was accessed through the upstairs parlor. Rooms varied in length and width from approximately 15 to 20 feet. It was a solid country home with nice finishing, lovely old oaks and elms, and a view overlooking Austin. The first mention of I.V. Davis in the Austin City Directory was in 1877 with the notation “residence one mile southwest of city.” As he was outside the city limits, there is no more mention of his residence, only his occupation at the Texas Land Office. However in 1886, the family moved into the Austin city limits. From 1887 to 1896, the Davises lived on West 11th. In 1893 I.V. Davis sold their land and home south of the Colorado River to Edmund Griffin, an English stockman, for $3538. Davis’ residence was listed in town by 1886. After he died in 1897, Lucy remained at their residence on 306 East 11th Street for several years. In 1903 she was listed at 205 West 10th and in 1908, Lucy died. She was buried at Oakwood Cemetery Section 3, Lot 1081. Her stone is marked “Lucy L. Goodrich, wife of I.V. Davis.” and she was buried next to her husband. Lucy and her friend Medora Thornton collected recipes for a cookbook to sell as an 1891 fundraiser for the Cumberland Presbyterian Church. It has been republished in 2015 as Austin’s First Cookbook by the Austin History Center and Michael C. Miller. At the time of the sale of the Davis home and land in 1893, the area was mostly rural. What is now south Austin was cut off from the city by the Colorado River. There were ferries early on, but fording the river, though common, could be hazardous. There were areas of quicksand and dangerous currents and of course, flooding on occasion. The Goodrich plantation home was built before the Civil War near a low water crossing, but access to downtown Austin was variable. In 1869 a detachable pontoon bridge was built near Brazos Street but was washed away within a few years. In 1875 a wooden toll bridge was built extending from Congress Avenue but collapsed after several years' use. In 1883 a metal truss toll bridge was built and by 1886, it was a free bridge. Up until that time south Austin was isolated and rural, and not especially fashionable.

Edmund W. Griffin – Second Owner of I. V. Davis Homestead

Edmund Griffin was born in England in 1837 and died June 19, 1904, in Austin, Tx. He married Mary S. Worrall Griffin (October 1843 England-1927 Austin, Tx.) in 1869 in England. They had eight children all born in England. He lived at Butlers Marston, Warwickshire, at his father’s home until 1883. That year, at age 46, after the birth of his last child, he immigrated to Texas with his family. After several years in Austin, he purchased the I.V. Davis property in 1893 for $3538. It included 8.8 acres and the home. A railroad that would extend to the property was planned but never built. In the 1889-1890 City Directory, Edmund Griffin lived at 306 Willow, Austin, and listed his occupation as “farmer.” In the 1891 Austin City Directory Edmund Griffin lived at 503 East 2nd, and no occupation was listed. The 1893 Austin City Directory listed Edmund Griffin, stockman, living on Barton Springs Road, south Austin. In the 1895 city directory he worked with a partner Eugene K. Black, in a dry goods and grocery store on the south side of Barton Springs Road, and his son Val clerked there. In the 1900 Census Griffin lived in the I.V.Davis home with three grown sons–Harry a plasterer, Edmund a plumber, Valentine, and a three year old granddaughter Victoria. That year Edmund Sr. listed his occupation as stockman. Although he died in 1904, his children all made their lives in Austin and, like Edmund and Mary Sophia, are buried in the Oakwood Cemetery. Val’s stone indicates he fought in the Spanish American War. Edmund’s widow, Mary Sophia Griffin, sold the land they had purchased from I. V. Davis to George P. Kinney in 1916 for $7500.


Daniel Perry Kinney (1831-1899)

Daniel Perry Kinney (1831-1899) was born to Daniel and Sophia Burke Kinney in Cortland County, New York in 1831. His Norfolk family goes back many generations to immigration from Holland to Massachusetts on the Pilgrim ship, Elizabeth and Ann. His family lived several generation in New England and then moved to New York for several more. Daniel Perry Kinney was living in New York as a teenager and came to Texas as a young adult. His two brothers, Henry B. and Frank Kinney also came to Austin. Frank returned to New York within a few years. Henry B. stayed to raise a family, serve as a teacher, secretary to Governor Elisha Pease, and eventually was appointed Austin Postmaster by President Garfield. In 1850, at age 19, Daniel was living with Eliza and Albert Pierce and their three children, and working as a stirrup maker in Truxton, Cortland County, New York. Within a few years, he immigrated to Austin, Texas. The exact date of his arrival is not known, but on January 16, 1858, he married an Austin lady, Olivia Treadwell Cleveland. They had eight children between 1859 and 1870–five boys and two girls survived, all born in Austin. The 1870 Austin City Census listed his profession as “trimming carriages,” possibly a jest. That year they had two Black servants living in their home. His real estate was valued at $4000 and his personal property was $500 in 1870. In 1871 he built a stone farm house south of the city limits on a large tract of rural land. The home was built on a cliff overlooking Barton Springs. It is possible that Daniel’s brother Henry had previously established some sort of home there earlier. Daniel and Olivia farmed and raised their family at the site for 13 years. They named it Rocky Cliff. However, Daniel and Olivia divorced in 1884. In 1885, the city directory listed him living with his brother Henry. Thereafter he gave his address as a house on West Avenue in central Austin. He died of heart disease and cancer in 1899 and was buried in Oakwood Cemetery in Austin, Sec 2, Lot 822. Olivia Treadwell Cleveland was born May 24, 1837, in Missouri to John Treadwell Cleveland (1798 Salem, Massachusetts-1875 Texas) and Louisiana Hughes (1806 Kentucky-1890 Texas). Olivia was one of a large family, all born in Missouri, from 1824 to 1841. In 1830 John T. Cleveland moved from Boston to Missouri to become a merchant in Cairo. He married Louisiana Hughes in 1823 in Hazelridge, Missouri. Cleveland was a distinguished man, well educated in Massachusetts and having traveled around the world as a youth. He started a store in Cairo, Missouri, but was flooded out. Then he became partners in a Missouri newspaper and opened a school. He invested successfully in a steamboat and had a prosperous farm. Olivia’s family moved to Texas after 1850. Her father was proprietor of the Swisher Hotel at 6th and Congress, and in 1855 John Cleveland was elected the 13th mayor of Austin. After the Civil War, Cleveland retired to ranch land in Blanco County and died in Cypress Mills, Texas in 1875. He and his wife were buried in a private family graveyard on their land there. Olivia was an attractive young lady and a talented piano player. She was a twin to her sister Ophelia. She was 21 years old when she married Dan Kinney in 1858, and had children immediately and regularly until 1870 when her eighth child was born. After 1871, the family lived on rural farming property near Barton Springs in a rock house on a bluff. She and her husband were divorced in 1884 after 26 years of marriage. The property was divided and she gained custody of her three minor children. She also retained the home and property near Barton Springs. She died in 1913 and is buried in Oakwood Cemetery, Sec 1. Altogether, Dan and Olivia Kinney had six boys and two girls between the years 1858 and 1870, all born in Austin. The children are as follows: John Daniel Kinney–1859-1941 John Treadwell Kinney–Birth 1859 Charles Dexter Kinney–1861-1941 George Putman Kinney–1863-1934 Olivia Treadwell Kinney–1865-1946 Ophelia Sophia Bell Kinney “Phebe”–1867/1868-1951 Frank Kinney born–Birth 1869, likely died as a child William Cleveland Kinney–1870-1951 Dan and Olivia called the home they built in 1871 “Rocky Cliff.” There is some thought that the residence was begun earlier by Dan’s brother Henry B. Kinney. It was on a bluff in South Austin just east of Barton Springs and was constructed entirely of quarried rock. Originally the house faced north and included extensive land and operated as a farm. It had several outbuildings, including a dairy, a smokehouse, barns, housing for help, and a carriage house. There was a rainwater cistern 22 feet deep and ten feet wide that received filtered water from the roof. Originally it was a modest hard rock home surrounded by a picket fence. Over the years, additions were made to enlarge the house.

Today it has a historical marker and is located at 802 Barton Blvd. The marker was designated in 1966. The marker’s inscription gives this information: “Built about 1871 by Daniel P. Kinney, who came to Austin in early 1850's; original homesite, at the time an extensive farm, contained areas later in Zilker Park and Barton Heights. Structure of hard limestone, with 20-inch walls, had rooms added as the family grew.” In 1884, the family owned property in the city of Austin, a horse and cattle ranch in Blanco County and the south Austin homestead of 100 acres. In the divorce settlement of that year, Olivia was granted half of the homestead including the residence, furnishings, and outbuildings; the ranch of 320 acres in Blanco County; certain rents and lots; and cattle and livestock exceeding $3200. Her settlement included land from the original Isaac Decker tract and also from an adjacent Henry B. Hill tract to the west of the Decker Track. Both were originally obtained through the Ben Milam Colony before Texas independence. Ownership of the Decker land had been transferred seven times between the years 1835 to 1871. Owners include Decker, Browning, Adams, Swisher, Raymond, Goodrich and Kinney. In the Hill Track, there were considerable legal entanglements and some squatter’s claims, but they were resolved by 1874. In the 1884 divorce settlement, Olivia’s land extended for 50 acres from Barton Creek to Bouldin Creek. Years later some of the western land (Hill tract) became part of Zilker Park and the eastern part (Decker tract) was developed into Barton Heights. Daniel was granted 47 acres of the homestead land from the original Decker league. He also received horses, wagons, farming implements; some city lots and rents; and horses on the Blanco Ranch. By 1887 the Austin City Directories listed Daniel Perry Kinney, farmer, living at 506 West Avenue. His last entry at that address was 1898-99. He died on December 16, 1899 in Austin and is buried in Oakwood Cemetery. A year after his death there was an entry in the city directory for a Beulah E. Kinney, widow of D.P. Kinney, living on Red River. After that year, she disappeared from the directory. Olivia Treadwell Kinney was listed in the 1887-88 city directory as “Olivia T. (Mrs. D.P.) Kinney res. South Austin near Barton Springs.” That year her son Charles was listed as living with her and working as a farmer, but throughout the following years, two of her sons and their wives lived with her off and on at her south Austin home and estate. In the 1900 Census, O.T. (Olivia Treadwell) Kinney, widow, was living as head of household on the “Kinney Estate” Austin Ward 11. Two sons and their wives and a servant lived with her. Son C.D. (Charles Dexter) Kinney, a stock raiser and wife Marguerete were newly married. W.C. (William Cleveland) Kinney and wife E. J. Kinney, also stock raisers, were likewise just married. Olivia Treadwell Cleveland Kinney died in 1913 at age 76, and was buried in the Kinney plot, Section 1, Oakwood Cemetery. She owned and lived in Rocky Cliff and surrounding farm land for about 40 years, from 1871, till near her death. The Blanco County ranch land was maintained in the family and run by two of her sons. The south Austin land was managed by son Charles Dexter, and William Cleveland most likely lived in the house with his wife until mother until Olivia died. In her will, Olivia divided her estate equally among her children. The five older children sold their shares to William Cleveland Kinney so that in 1914, William Cleveland and Elizabeth bought the 50-acre homestead from the family. In 1929, William C. Kinney put the home and land up for sale again. Of Olivia’s many siblings, two died early, three went to California, one died in Arkansas, at least three lived and died in Texas but not in Travis County. However all her sons eventually returned to Austin and are buried in Oakwood; her daughters moved away with their husbands. In 1929 Rocky Cliff was sold to R.E. Coffin, then to Carl Besserer and then to D.H. Canterbury. By 1937, B.E. Trull had obtained title to the land. Between the years 1937 and 1942, Trull sold a total of 37 acres to Dr. Elmer J. Lund, a biologist at the University of Texas. Dr. Lund remodeled the home and farmed the land. He made extensive changes, but did not live there exclusively. In the 1940’s, he was the director of the U.T. Marine Science Institute in Port Aransas. Later in 1952, he subdivided the land into lots, carefully preserving the large oak trees. New homes were designed by local architect A. D. Stenger and the addition was called South Lund Park. In 1967, the Rocky Cliff home was sold to John. R. Hughes.


There were two other Kinney families listed in the earliest Austin City Directories. One was the Henry B. Kinney family and the other was the family of Roswell H. Kinney. Both were from New York, and Henry B. was a brother of Daniel Kinney. The Roswell family lived on the Kinney land and may have been kin in some way, but that relationship is unclear.

Henry Burke Kinney (1825-1905) Henry B. Kinney (1825-1905) was a teacher and postmaster in Austin. His family lived at 610 West 5th, earlier know as Pine and Rio Grande. He was born in 1825 in New York, and moved to Virginia to teach. He married Martha Allene Milliken in Virginia in 1849, and they began a family. By 1960 the family was living in Austin, Texas, and Henry was a teacher. He and Martha had five children by then, though the first three were born in Virginia. In the 1970 Census he had six children–Eulia M. Kinney, 18; Fanny A. Kinney, 16; Hattie S. Kinney, 14; Hassie B. Kinney, 12; Henry B. Kinney, 11; and Mary H. Kinney, 6. He continued to teach and his oldest daughter was his assistant. He was a private secretary for Governor Elisha M. Pease. By 1873 President Garfield appointed him Austin’s Postmaster, a post he held till 1881. Later he is listed in city directories as ex-Postmaster and landlord. Around 1885, H.B. Kinney, was an alderman and civic citizen and is credited with the compilation of Austin’s city charter. He, DeWitt Baker, and others helped to start the public school system in Austin. In 1885 his daughter Fannie died and 1890 his wife Martha died. In 1900 he was living with his 2 grandsons at the same West 5th Street home and collecting his rents. He died in 1905 at age 80 and was buried in Oakwood Cemetery with his wife. There is some information indicating that Henry B. built the Rocky Cliff house before his brother Daniel. However, Henry’s residence was always listed on 5th Street, originally Pine; he did own a tract of farm land south of the river adjacent to Daniel’s land. The year Daniel and Olivia divorced, 1894, Daniel lived with Henry.

Roswell Henry Kinney (1822-1885) Roswell Henry Kinney (1822-1885) was born in Oswego (or Madison) County, New York. He graduated from Hamilton College in New York and became an instructor and administrator for various Deaf and Dumb Asylums in Minnesota, Ohio, Nebraska, and Colorado. In 1881, he moved to Austin and became principal of the Texas Institute for the Deaf and Dumb. He served until 1885, when he died of heart disease. He married Frances Grinnell of Clinton, New York, in 1854 and they had four children, three daughters and a son. When they moved to Austin, their residence was at the Deaf School. After R. H. Kinney died, his wife Frances Grinnell Kinney, and her four children moved to a home near Olivia Treadwell Kinney on the “Kinney Estate.” She lived there until the early 1900’s when she moved to a home on 17th Street and lived with her daughters Blanche and Grace. The last mention of Frances G. Kinney in the City Directory was 1905. In 1912 her son Smith lived in Austin and worked for the Retail Merchants Assoc., as a collector. Her 2 daughters were stenographers. A third daughter, Luetta Anita Kinney, graduated in the first class of Austin High School. She was the teacher of all six grades of the original Fulmore School 1886-1888, before it was part of Austin Public Schools. She later worked in schools for the deaf in Ohio and again in Austin. She married William G. Lindsey of Detroit, raised five children in Detroit, and died there in 1929. Frances G. Kinney and her four children moved close to Olivia T. Kinney’s home immediately after her husband died in 1885, according to the Austin City Directories. She may have lived on land owned by Olivia; the two women’s names are listed next to each other on the Census in 1900. It indicated they lived on the “Kinney Estate” between the “Goodrich Estate” and “Barton Springs Road.” Her home was on the old Robert E. Lee Road, just where Barton Creek joins the Colorado River. In the mid 1900’s, long after the Kinneys had moved away, the home burned. Her husband Roswell Kinney and Olivia’s husband Daniel had grown up in adjacent counties in central New York. However, the exact relationship remains unknown.


Three of the sons of Olivia and Daniel Kinney maintained connections to the land that is now the Zilker neighborhood. Charles Dexter farmed the land until middle life. Both William Cleveland and Charles Dexter lived with their mother Olivia for times after their marriages. George Putman ranched near Johnson City until his mother died, and then his family moved back to the “Kinney Hill” land and bought the I.V. Davis home.

William Cleveland Kinney (1870-1951) The youngest of Olivia and Daniel’s sons, William Cleveland courted his neighbor, Elizabeth Jeffkins Griffin (1881 England-1967 Austin). She was the youngest daughter of Edmund Griffin, the English stockman who bought the I.V. Davis Homestead in 1893. They married April 17, 1900, at St. David’s Episcopal Church. The couple moved into Rocky Cliff with Olivia. They had two children–Dexter Cleveland Kinney (1901-1995) and Katherine Eleanor Kinney (1903-2001). William Cleveland became manager of the Capital Cotton Compress Company (possibly Caswell Cotton Compress) and eventually had a home on West 5th, then later on Bowie in Austin. William Cleveland died in 1951 at age 81 and is buried in Oakwood Cemetery; Elizabeth died in 1967 and is buried there too.

Charles Dexter Kinney (1861-1942) Charles Dexter farmed on his mother’s land in the Zilker area until middle-aged. He lived with Olivia until 1911. In the 1900 Census, he is listed as a newlywed with Marguerete Moore (b. 1871). In Oakwood there is a stone for a Margaret Kinney, died 1900, wife of Charles D. Kinney. In 1920 Census Charles was married to Norma Kinney and practiced chiropractic on 1328 West 6th Street. In the 1930 Census he was married to Mabel Kinney and still practiced chiropractic. (In Oakwood there is a burial for a Norma Mabel Baldwin Kinney 1870-1936.) In 1940 he was listed as divorced (?), and lived in a boarding house on West 7th. Five years earlier he lived in Childress, Tx. Charles is buried in Oakwood Cemetery and his stone is engraved Maj. C. D. Kinney, Sep. 14, 1861-Oct. 30, 1942.

George Putman Kinney (1863-1934) Olivia’s fourth son, George Putman Kinney, married Carrie Mae Shands (1873-1957) in Blanco County on December 11, 1889. His brother John Daniel Kinney married her sister Catherine Virginia Shands in 1887. In 1887-88 John Daniel Kinney worked for his father-in-law E.W. Shands & Sons Real Estate (Edward W. & William O. Shands) in Austin. Virginia and Carrie Mae’s parents were Confederate Colonel Edward Weight (Wright?) Shands (1826-1890) and Virginia Frances Clarke (b. 1833). Carrie was eighth of nine children and sister Virginia was the fourth; only four of these children lived to adulthood. Their father was born in Ohio and their mother in Virginia; they lived in St. Louis in 1850 and Edward Shands was a lawyer of some means. They moved to Texas by 1870. George and Carrie Mae lived in Blanco County near Johnson City for the first 25 years of their married life. George was a rancher, presumably on family land. They had four boys--Charles Cleveland (1891-1976); Edward Wallace Kinney (1897-1979); George Harold Kinney (1894-1969); and Girard A. W. Kinney (1913-1976) all born near Johnson City, Blanco County, Texas. In 1913 George’s mother, Olivia Treadwell Kinney, died. In 1916, George and his family moved to Austin and bought the I.V. Davis Homestead from the widow of Edmund Griffin for $7500. In 1918 he bought two adjoining tracts. In the 1920 Census George P. Kinney’s family lived in the I.V. Davis house. His closest neighbors were on Kinney Avenue, and those listed were both white and black families. That year, George worked at Swanns Furniture Store in the carpet department and his three older sons were salesmen in various Austin stores. Their street address was given as Kinney Avenue. In the 1930 Census, George P., 66, was at home with youngest son Girard, 16. Carrie worked as a social worker. The home was valued at $25,000 and owned outright. Wallace was a shoe salesman and attended college while living at home. There was one Black servant. In 1934 George P. Kinney died and was buried in Oakwood Cemetery. At the time of his death he owned 4 of the original 8.8 acres; Carrie continued to live in the I.V.Davis home and worked as a social worker. In 1940 at age 66, Carrie was Executive Secretary in Child Protection and Human Services. She lived with her son Wallace and his wife Nina for a time. Wallace was a government auditor and Nina was a saleslady for boys clothing. All three had completed four years of high school. The home was then valued at $10,000, presumably because some of the land had been sold as the Barton Heights neighborhood was developed. Carrie and George had subdivided their land into residential streets for about five blocks between Kinney and Garner but allowed public use of some unoccupied land near the home. By 1940 the address of the home was listed as 1610 Virginia Avenue. Another home had been built blocking access to Kinney Avenue so Virginia Avenue was paved. This street was likely named for Carrie Mae’s mother and sister. Carrie’s sister Virginia (Kitty) had a daughter named Carrie Mae (b. 1902), and since she was also a Kinney, it is rather confusing. The older Carrie Mae Kinney died on February 28, 1957. She had become senile and lived her last 20 months in the Austin State Hospital. She died of pneumonia at age 84 and was buried in Oakwood Cemetery. Eleven years before her death in 1946, her son Girard and his wife Cleora D. Kinney moved into the home and lived with Carrie until her commitment. At that time, she sold the house to Girard for a nominal amount.

John Daniel Kinney (1859-1941) John Daniel Kinney and wife Catherine Virginia Shands Kinney (nicknamed Kitty, 1863-1938) had four children, including Johnnie, Cleveland, and Carrie Mae Kinney (b. 1902). In the 1910 Census and again in the 1930 Census, they were living and farming in Blanco County. He died in Austin in 1958 and was buried in Oakwood Cemetery. His stone has the inscription “Father, John D. Kinney, Feb. 18, 1858-Oct. 13, 1941".

Frank Kinney (1869-?) Frank Kinney, b. 1869. There is no information beyond first census infancy; he may have died early.

John Treadwell Kinney (1859-?) John Treadwell Kinney, b. 1859, same year as John Daniel, may have died early or there was a documentation mistake. There is no information on him other than birth.

Olivia Treadwell Kinney (1865-1946) Olivia Treadwell Kinney (b. 1865) married Hallers Smith Corington (b. 1864) and had three children–Winifred B. born 1891, Hal C. born 1893 and Louise born 1899. They lived in Galveston. Covington was the executor of Olivia’s will.

Ophelia Sophia Bell Kinney (1867-1951) Ophelia Sophia Bell Kinney, “Phebe,” (b. 1867) married in 1888 to Newton Givens Lane (b. 1857) and had two children–Annie born 1891 and Richard Givens born 1895. Her husband was a live stock dealer and they moved around in Texas and Oklahoma. She lived in Ft. Worth as a widow and died in Oklahoma.


Charles Cleveland Kinney (1891-1976) Charles Cleveland Kinney was born near Johnson City, Blanco County. He grew up on the Blanco County ranch, completed 4 years of high school, and moved to Austin at age 22 with his parents and brothers. At age 25 he gave his address as route 5 Kinney Avenue on his WWI draft card (small, slender and dark hair and eyes) and served in the U.S. Army. He married Bertha Mae Powell, and they had at least one child, Charles C. Kinney. Charles worked as a salesman on salary in retail sales for various companies, and he lived in Austin all his adult life. He and Bertha rented homes in Austin on Patterson, Brackenridge, Harwood, and Alameda. In 1976 he died of cancer in the Veterans Hospital in Temple and is buried in Oakwood Cemetery.

George Harold Kinney (1894-1969) George Harold Kinney born near Johnson City, Blanco County, Texas, was the second son of Carrie and George P. Kinney. He grew up on their ranch, finished 7th grade, and moved to Austin when he was 19. At age 22 he registered for WWI and gave his address as Kinney Avenue and his occupation as farming for his father. On the draft card, he was described as tall and slender with light brown coloring, a note at bottom indicated that he had been accepted as a State Ranger. He served in the U.S. Army and his gravestone says “Cpl. Hq Co 132 Field Artillery WWI”. After WWI he married Elizabeth (Nancy) Bowles (1906-2009). Elizabeth finished Austin High School and attended Brackenridge Nursing School to become a registered nurse. She married at age 22. There appear to be no Kinney children from this marriage. In 1940 Nancy was office manager for her husband’s fire insurance company. On Harold’s WWII registration form, he was living at 710 Kinney Avenue and his mother was at 1610 Virginia. At that time he said he was self-employed at 7th and Lavaca at the new Masonic building. In the 1930 Census his occupation was partner in an insurance firm, and in 1940 he listed it as the C.L. Kinney Insurance Company. In 1940 he is listed as living at 710 Kinney Avenue in his own home worth $4000. He died in 1969, at the Temple Veterans Hospital and was buried at Oakwood Cemetery.

Edward Wallace Kinney (1897-1979) Edward Wallace Kinney, called Wallace, was born in Blanco County, the third son of George and Carrie Kinney. At age 16 he moved to Austin with his family and lived in the I.V. Davis Homestead. He finished the 4th year of high school. In the 1920 Census, like his brothers, he is listed as a salesman in a retail store. He served in WWI in the army and later married Nina Alice Williams (1899-1998). Nina was the daughter of a second generation Irish immigrant, Silas Smith Williams (1857-1920) who was born, lived and farmed in Gonzales County, Texas. In the 1930 Census, he and Nina were living with his mother Carrie Mae and he was selling shoes. By the 1940 Census, Wallace had a job with the state government as an auditor, and he was still living with his mother. He continued employment with the state and became an accountant at the Texas Game, Fish & Oyster Commission. At his retirement he was supervisor of licensing of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Nina became an examiner for Texas Insurance Office. They lived with Carrie Mae until the late 1940’s. By 1949, he and Nina were living on Bennett in Austin. Nina and Wallace do not appear to have had children. Wallace died at Seton Hospital at age 81 in 1979 and was buried at Cook-Walden Capital Parks Cemetery and Mausoleum. Nina died in 1998 and is buried beside Wallace. Her stone says “Beloved Wife”.

Girard Arnold William Kinney (1913-1976) Girard Arnold William Kinney was born in Blanco County. He had three much older brothers who had grown up on the ranch, but Girard was a young boy when his parents moved to Austin. In the 1940 Census, he was living in a boarding house on Lavaca Street in Austin. He was married to Ester Mae Kinney, a stenographer, and he worked as an insurance license superintendent for State Fire Casualty Co. He had completed three years of college. In 1941 he signed up for the draft and listed himself as divorced with no dependents. He enlisted March 22, 1941, at Fort Sam Houston. After the war he married Cleora Maud Deitz (1910-1960), a school teacher from West Virginia, and they had four children together. In 1946, Girard bought the Davis Homestead from his mother. He lived there with Carrie Mae and his family for many years. Girard became vice president of Texas Casualty Insurance. Cleora died in 1960 while still residing at 1610 Virginia. Her death was at St. David’s Hospital and she was buried at Austin Memorial Park Cemetery. Girard A.W. Kinney died in 1976 at age 66 and was buried in Austin Memorial Park. There are two stones for him, one which says “Capt. U.S. Army”. He is buried next to Cleora. There is also a record for a marriage to Henriette J. Van Loubbeech (born 1927) on October 10, 1966. However, the last year of Kinney residence in the 1610 Virginia address was 1965 according to Austin City Directories.


Cater Joseph (1930-2013) purchased the I.V. Davis Home in 1966 from Girard Kinney. Cater Joseph was the first grandson of Lebanese immigrants Cater and Nora Joseph, who came to Austin in 1890. He was born in Austin to Harry P. and Helen L. Joseph. He attended Austin private schools and graduated from Notre Dame, He was a successful businessman in Austin and part of the large Joseph family.


1916-1950 When George and Carrie Mae Kinney bought the Davis homestead in 1916, they made some changes to the house. Double porches and pillars were added to the east side, giving the entrance a Greek Revival appearance. The lower porch was open but the upper porch was screened for sleeping. At the rear of the house, a frame addition included a screened porch downstairs and a bath and hall upstairs. An external staircase at the back of the home gave outdoor access to the upstairs rooms. The original cistern was enclosed inside the back porch. In the original downstairs hall, a stone wall was removed between the hall and music room to create a larger living room. It was replaced with a wooden beam. The original hall stairway was reoriented with a new placement, and the roof structure and roofing were redone. Between 1920 and 1940 much of the land belonging to the estate was developed and sold for  residences.

1950-1966 In 1946, Carrie Mae Kinney sold the Davis Homestead to her son Girard Kinney Sr. for $10. In 1950 he converted the back porch to a playroom. The old cistern became the base for a table and planter. A small bathroom was included. The outside stairs which had been added to the back in 1916, were removed. Effort was made to preserve the home intact. The upstairs east gallery was used year round as a screened-in sleeping porch for the children. There was a large garden on the north side and also an extensive ground-level pen for rabbits. The solid home was a neighborhood refuge from storms. A small grocery on Kinney Avenue served the community. Despite development, the neighborhood retained its semi-rural feel during these years. The original entrance faced east and was entered from Kinney Avenue. Around 1940 a lot was sold and a home built between the I.V. Davis home and Kinney Avenue. A new street named Virginia Avenue was paved to provide access from the south side. Virginia is a traditional name in the Shands family. Eventually a semi-circular drive was built off of Virginia Avenue.

1966-Present In 1966 Cater Joseph bought the house from Girard Kinney and began a major renovation. The stone exterior was painted white and shutters were added. A low rock wall surrounding the house was removed. The cistern was filled in with the rubble. The interior stairway was rearranged to turn out into the living room. Air conditioning and central heat were carefully added, avoiding lowering the ceilings. The ceilings were wall papered and the kitchen was updated. Upstairs, the original “hall” was replaced with a  small room off the master bedroom, and a narrow hall. The fireplaces were rebuilt and the playroom was walled with rough cedar and became a den. The floor in the kitchen was replaced by brick, but in the rest of the house, care was taken to sand and preserve the original pine. A bathroom was added upstairs by taking space from the hall. Pillars were located and added to complete the front porches. Because of the ancient vine-covered live oak tree on the south east corner, the home was renamed “Wisteria.”


Many streets in the neighborhood were named after the early owners. These include Kinney, Goodrich, Dexter, Margaret (wife of Charles Dexter Kinney), Treadwell (Olivia Kinney’s family name), Kerr (friend of Charles Dexter Kinney), Virginia (after the Shands matriarch), Lund, and Spofford (ancestral home of Mrs. Lund). Goodrich Avenue seems to have moved around through the years. Linscomb and Cater are named for the owner of the Susie Linscomb Cater Annex. Juliet may have been the older sister of Olivia Treadwell Kinney. If so, she was Juliet Maria Cleveland Herndon (1828-1902). Originally what is now South Lamar was called Evergreen Avenue and later Fredericksburg Road, and finally Lamar. The homes and lots west of Lamar and east of Kinney were in an addition named Evergreen Heights into the 1930’s. Because the Zilker neighborhood was rural for so long, much of the area was not developed for homes until relatively late. George and Carrie Kinney developed parts of their land in the 1930’s. On the 1940 map, the northern end of “Kinney Hill,” was divided into residential lots on eight streets including Linscomb, Juliet, Kerr, Treadwell, Dexter, Margaret, Garner, and Kinney. There were still large undeveloped tracts in the area at that time. Zilker School was opened in 1950. By that time the original cottage and bungalow styles, often built with stone from the street paving, were the older homes. Small ranch and modern styles became more popular after the mid 1900’s.


Find a Grave–online
Oakwood Cemetery records–online
Austin City Directories
Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection–online
House and other files from Austin History Center
Blueprints prepared for Cater Joseph by Girard Kinney
The Handbook of Texas History–online
A History of Travis County and Austin by Mary Starr Barkley
And Grace Will Lead Me Home by Michelle M. Mears
Austin The Past Still Present by Sue Brandt McBee and Virginia Erickson