Crouch, John Russell [Hondo] (1916–1976)

By: Becky Crouch Patterson

Type: Biography

Published: June 1, 1995

John Russell (Hondo) Crouch, humorist, writer, and owner and self-proclaimed mayor of Luckenbach, Texas, was born on December 4, 1916, in Hondo, Texas, to Ione and Harry Crouch, a telegraph operator for the Southern Pacific Railroad. Hondo Crouch was an All-American swimmer at the University of Texas, where he was awarded a degree in physical education in 1941. After training as a navigator in the Air Corps at Garner Field in 1942, he settled down to raise sheep, goats, and cattle near Fredericksburg. He was swimming coach at various Texas children's camps from the 1930s until the 1970s. In 1964 he was president of the Hall of Fame for UT athletes and in 1975 was influential in persuading the university to build the Texas Swim Center. From 1963 to 1975, under the pen name Peter Cedarstacker, Crouch wrote about 600 "Cedar Creek Clippings" for the Comfort News. Through his characters from the mythical town of Cedar Creek he satirized politics, government, ecology, deer hunters, social life, and everyday country problems and celebrations. In 1971 he bought Luckenbach, a small community established as an Indian trading post by German immigrant Albert Luckenbach in 1849. There Crouch presided as mayor over a population of three plus a single parking meter. As "clown prince" he brought to life the town's motto, "Everybody's Somebody in Luckenbach." He held zany celebrations, such as the Luckenbach World's Fair, the first Texas "women only" chili cook-off, Return of the Mud Daubers, and no-talent contests. Crouch participated in a Folklife Festival for Texas at the Smithsonian Institution in 1964. On July 4, 1976, Luckenbach received national attention for celebrating the Non-Buy Centennial, protesting the commercialization of the bicentennial of the Declaration of Independence. Crouch was a Republican. He was married for thirty years to Helen Ruth (Shatzie) Stieler, daughter of the 1945 "Goat King of the World," Adolf Stieler of Comfort, and they had four children. Crouch died of a heart attack on September 27, 1976, in Blanco.

John Davidson, "The Man Who Dreamed Up Luckenbach," Texas Monthly, July 1984. Becky Crouch Patterson, Hondo, My Father (Austin: Shoal Creek, 1979). Carlton Stowers, "Hondo Crouch and His Backwoods Camelot," Dallas Morning News Scene Magazine, December 15, 1974.
  • Sports and Recreation
  • Sports (Swimming and Diving)

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Becky Crouch Patterson, “Crouch, John Russell [Hondo],” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 27, 2022,

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

June 1, 1995