THROWBACK THURSDAY: Union Hall pastor credited with giving Andice its name in 1899

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The late Harold Asher, longtime resident of Gabriel Mills, had strong ties with Andice and published a book in the late 1980’s about the community. (James Wear Photo)

The late Harold Asher, longtime resident of Gabriel Mills, had strong ties with Andice and published a book in the late 1980’s about the community. (James Wear Photo)

By JAMES WEAR

Let’s take a short road trip this week over to Andice, a small community a few miles northeast of Liberty Hill. Many Liberty Hill citizens attend Mass in Andice, home of Santa Rosa de Lima Catholic Church, and I’m sure many locals have eaten a hamburger at the small general store that’s located at the intersection of FM 970 and RR 2338.

Still others may point to Andice as being the location of what has become one of the most popular Fourth of July celebrations in Central Texas, with a fireworks show that compares favorably to other much larger venues.

The Andice community dates back to the 1850’s, according to information collected by the late Harold Asher. Asher, who resided in the Gabriel Mills community, published a book about Andice in the late 1980’s, and his work remains perhaps the most complete story of the community ever produced.

According to Asher, the village was first known as Berry’s Creek, and located east of the present day community. Later it was known as Graysonville, named after an early settler, a Dr. Grayson.

Andice eventually got its permanent name in 1899, and no, it wasn’t because part of a sign that proclaimed “Beer and Wine and Ice” fell apart, leaving only the “and Ice” hanging as we’ve heard over the years.

While it’s a good story, the truth of the matter is that a pastor by the name of Isaac Newton and his wife came to town in the early 1890’s. Both had attended Liberty Hill Normal and Business College, and Rev. Newton had served as pastor of Union Hall Baptist Church in Liberty Hill for a time. The couple had a son, Audice, in 1899, and when Rev. Newton applied for post office he requested it be named after his son. Officials misread his handwriting, believing it to read “Andice” as they approved his request.

According to Asher’s book, as well as my personal recollections from the stories my father told me, Andice was a thriving community in the 1920’s and ‘30’s.

“The cotton gin would run day and night for weeks at times without stopping,” wrote Asher.

Asher pointed out that Saturday night “was always a big night” as many of the area’s rural residents would come there to visit. “In the middle of the street stood a platform, where wrestling and boxing matches took place. Other times it was used for political rallies, band concerts or whatever it was needed for,” he wrote.

A picture show was a main attraction, according to Asher. He wrote that admission to the show was 25 cents. My father often told us that when he was a boy, his mother would make up a pan of popcorn and sack it, and he’d take it into the theater where he sold it to make spending money.

The Andice school came about in 1925 and was the result of two other small schools, White House and Seymour, shutting down and voting to consolidate. The school operated until 1965, when it closed due to lack of students. The building is now home to the Andice Community Center and is often rented out for family reunions while the northwest portion of the property is where fireworks are launched each Fourth of July.

During the 1930’s, the school published a newspaper which was known as The Andicionian. Several years ago the lady, who as a youth served as editor of the newspaper for a time, presented me with several copies of the publication. The paper, in addition to covering school news, also included editorials concerning America’s political situation as well as keeping citizens posted on the progress being made to bring electrical power to town.

Asher’s book includes many reminiscences, including:

* Up to the 1950’s all graves at the cemetery were dug by hand, “mostly by the strong young men of the community.”

* The first thing Gus and Ben (Jacob, brothers who owned a store) sold when they first opened up was a five-cent box of matches to Sam Purcell.

* The 1926-27 baseball team was undefeated in 17 games.

* The 1929-30 basketball team, coached by Hester Davis, won six games while losing four. Among the team’s victories were 17-16 and 25-7 wins over Liberty Hill, and a 27-5 victory over Round Rock while losses included a 15-8 setback to the Southwestern University freshmen and a 30-18 loss to Brownwood.

* A pair of Andice men, J.W. Asher and J.L. King, were among a group chosen to appraise the land for the construction of US Highway 183 to Cedar Park. “The cedar was so dense they had to carry axes to chop paths along the way,” wrote Asher. “They encountered large rattlesnakes.”

Today, Andice remains a small town of fewer than 50 residents, although Saturday evenings and Sunday mornings typically bring an onslaught of traffic from Georgetown’s Sun City residents who attend church there.

Traffic slows to allow chickens to cross the road, and the few remaining oldtimers often can be seen sitting on their front porches, waving to passersby.

james@LHIndependent.com

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