There’s a cherished heritage involved with the family name and the new school’s location. It’s multi-generational and stretches back over a century and a half, long before there was a Buda or Kyle, and when the more well-known communities in the area were known by names like Science Hall, Mountain City and Elm Grove. Many stories surround the family that gave its name to Carpenter Hill but, for the sake of clarity, consider the family’s first three generations, the time line stretching from a pre-Civil War arrival here to the 1970s.
Among the earliest settlers in the area west of today’s Buda was W.H.H. Carpenter, who in 1855 bought the property that, because of the family’s occupation on the high ground, came to be known as Carpenter Hill. Indians still roamed this area when the Carpenters settled. It’s situated within a few stones’ throws of where Carpenter Hill Elementary students attend school today. Carpenter had taught earlier in his life and neighboring settlers briefly employed him at what was known as the Kellyville School one mile north of Buda.
Most prominent among the second generation of the family here was W.H.H. Carpenter’s son, Cyrus Milton Carpenter. Twenty years of age as the Civil War broke out, he was among the many Hays County boys who volunteered for the Confederacy. He was turned down for service, the result of a medical physical, and ended up serving as a Methodist circuit preacher and, later, a local minister in the Buda area. He also published The Buda Star in the early 1900s.
It does no justice to this pioneer family to abbreviate their stories, but it was a locally-born son of Cyrus, Fred, whose third generation contributions permanently reinforced family heritage. He was born just after Buda (nee Dupre) and Kyle were founded and he lived into the 1970s to be a family and community icon.
Born in his family’s still-standing log cabin, Fred was a life-long cowboy and epitomized everything that profession represents. He was what historian Mary Giberson called “an impressive presence.” She called him “a pleasant, handsome, gentle, strong and vibrant man—good humored, witty, and an entertaining person with a strong sense of community spirit who remembered past events and loved to spread his stories of Buda to others.” A graduate of the one-time Elm Grove School, Fred Carpenter’s favorite place to spin stories of Buda’s past was on the bench in front of Cecil Clark’s grocery store (today’s Raby’s Roots).
As with ancestors, Fred Carpenter’s life represented much more than told here, but it was in his name that his family members and others most fervently presented their case for the school’s naming. Many family members were at the dedication and today’s Carpenter Hill Elementary family now has a heightened appreciation for the heritage they share.