Haupt, William Walton (1828–1907)

By: Joseph M. Nance

Type: Biography

Published: September 1, 1995

William Walton Haupt, farmer and rancher, cousin of Herman Haupt, director of Union military railroads during the Civil War, was born in Greene County, Alabama, on February 10, 1828, the son of Sebastian and Matilda (Brewster) Haupt. The couple had three children. After her husband's death in 1835, Matilda profitably managed the family estate and reared the children to maturity. On March 15, 1846, she married Merite Hodgins; he died in 1886. William Haupt was educated in Demopolis, Alabama; at Century College in Mississippi; and at Washington College, Lexington, Virginia. He studied civil engineering. About 1849 William Haupt moved to Texas and bought land on the Colorado River in Bastrop County. He became a horse raiser. In 1851 he married Alexine Colgin of Demopolis; she lived only a short time, and they had no children. In 1855 he married Sarah Ann Rugeley, his first wife's cousin. He bought land in Hays County in 1857 and moved there two years later, settling in Mountain City. By 1861 he had moved all his holdings there and owned 3,000 acres. At the outbreak of the Civil War, the Confederacy offered Haupt an attractive commission, but he chose to remain in Texas. He served as a captain in the Texas Militia, trained men for service, and was charged with keeping civil order in Hays County. He was a versatile man. He ran a store in Mountain City, served as local postmaster, and worked as county surveyor. He is given credit for naming Mountain City and in 1876 deeded land for the building of a Methodist church there. He was also a scientist, engineer, inventor, and agriculturist. He terraced his farm and built lakes in the pastures with interconnecting canals. He patented a hay frame and a seed planter, and built the first steam cotton gin in the area and equipped it with original safety devices. Between 1869 and 1872 Haupt held at least three patents. He reported unusual weather temperatures to the United States Army Corps of Engineers before the United States Weather Bureau was established. In 1893 the Monthly Weather Review praised Haupt's "important work on tree ring growth as indicators of past weather conditions."

Haupt also continued his work with livestock. He bred horses for handling range cattle, a type later registered as quarter horses, progeny of his stallion, Bell Punch. He imported Essex hogs, Merino sheep, and Angora goats. Haupt planted 500 acres into wheat, barley, cotton, and corn. He developed and marketed a popular variety of Yellow Dent Corn, and published articles on his experiments in farm journals. In the 1890s Haupt sold his goats, made a son the farm manager, and turned his attention to his Mustang Valley Garden, also known as the Haupt Garden. This was a fifty-acre tract with a lake for irrigation. In the garden grew several thousand fruit trees, grapevines, berry vines, and other fruit-bearing plants, with which he experimented. He kept meticulous records and developed the Haupt Berry, a cross between the blackberry and dewberry; the "Alice" peach or "Alice Haupt"; and a hybrid plum. William Walton Haupt died on August 26, 1907. He was survived by his wife and six children.

Arda Talbot Allen, Twenty-one Sons for Texas (San Antonio: Naylor, 1959). S. W. Geiser, "Men of Science in Texas, 1820–1880," Field and Laboratory 26–27 (July-October 1958-October 1959). Frances Stovall et al., Clear Springs and Limestone Ledges: A History of San Marcos and Hays County (San Marcos: Hays County Historical Commission, 1986). Ann Miller Strom, The Prairie City: A History of Kyle, Texas, 1880–1980 (Burnet, Texas: Nortex, 1981).

  • Agriculture
  • Farmers
  • Ranching and Cowboys
  • Ranchers and Cattlemen

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

Joseph M. Nance, “Haupt, William Walton,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed June 26, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/haupt-william-walton.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

September 1, 1995