Bear Creek is a country residential community located off U. S. Highway 290 about fifteen miles southwest of Austin and twenty-two miles north of San Marcos in northern Hays County near the Travis county line. Settlement began in this area, named for a nearby stream, in the early 1850s. Luis Capt settled on Bear Creek in 1851 and built a dam and gristmill there. Others soon arrived in the region, known for a time as Capt's Mill. Thomas Jefferson Johnson came to the area in 1852 and established his school, Johnson Institute. John Wuthrich, Isham Good, John Wahrenberger, and Ove Oldham also settled around Bear Creek in the 1850s. In 1867 the mill was washed away, and Johnson Institute closed in 1872. Bear Creek became an extinct community. A century later development in the vicinity of the old Johnson Institute and Friday Mountain Ranch began anew. By the early 1980s county highway maps showed a residential subdivision called Bear Creek Oaks. The community had incorporated as Bear Creek by 2000 and reported a population of 360. It is part of the Austin Metropolitan Statistical Area.