Editor’s note: This blog is part of a new video series by the City of Round Rock to highlight impactful locations in the City’s history.
From Palm Valley Lutheran Church and Palm Valley Boulevard to the Palm House, the Palm name is familiar to both residents and visitors of Round Rock.
These locations, which serve as iconic locations in our community today, are named for a pioneer woman named Anna Palm. At the age of 40, Anna and her husband, Anders, and their six sons boarded a small sailing vessel in 1848 and left their home in Sweden for the New World.
After her husband died in 1853, Anna and her boys moved to an area about 3 miles east of the present-day downtown Round Rock. There, the seven of them lived in a tent and their wagon for over a year before finally building a small log cabin. To survive, they cleared the land of thick brush and trees, planted crops, fished in Brushy Creek and hunted game for food.
One of Anna’s sons tragically died in 1868, and she felt compelled to establish a common final resting place for her son and for fellow immigrants. She asked her nephew to donate an acre of land “Under the tallest oak tree.” That was the beginning of Palm Valley Lutheran Church Cemetery.
Anna wrote home and encouraged family and friends to join her in Texas, and Swedish immigrants poured into the area, populating Round Rock, Georgetown, Hutto, New Sweden and Austin. In recognition of Anna’s contribution to the development of this area, the region lovingly became known as Palm Valley.
Anna’s sons continued to live in the area. One of her sons built a wood frame house in 1873, where he and his wife raised eight children. The “Palm House” was later moved to Main Street in Downtown Round Rock. A large two-story house built by another one of her sons can be seen today at the entrance of Old Settler’s Park. A major portion of the Palm estate was given to Palm Valley Lutheran Church by Anna’s grandchildren. Today, that land comprises the immense and highly popular Old Settler’s Park.
Anna Palm helped to raise Round Rock from its infancy to become a strong and prosperous city, and the inspiring story of this community’s pioneer woman is woven into the fabric of the area we know as Palm Valley today.