Originally known as Du Pre, Buda was founded along a line of the International and Great Northern Railroad. Cornelia A. Trimble gave land for the townsite in 1881. The name Buda was adopted in the late 1880s, although its origin is unclear. According to popular legends, it was either related to Budapest, Hungary, or evolved from the Spanish word for widow, viuda, and honored the women who cooked in one of the local hotels. Buda was once the site of a variety of businesses, including a theater, skating rink, newspaper, and two banks. The town was incorporated in 1948.
THE REST OF THE STORY
The first settlers in the general area surrounding current day Buda were given land grants of approximately 4,400 acres (4,428.4 to be exact) by the Mexican government. The specific area where Buda is today was part of a land grant given to Stephen Von Rensselaer Eggleston in February 1835.
The town sat between the Native American nations of the Tonkawas and the Karankawas. The Tonkawas, as it turns out, were very curious to learn more about the new white settlers. So much so that when a huge band of Comanche and Kiowa warriors led the Great Raid of 1840 — the largest raid ever mounted by Native Americans on “white cities” – the Tonkawas teamed up with the Texas Rangers in opposition. Because they refused to fight off the white settlers, half of the Tonkawas were massacred by other tribes.
Fast forward several decades — Cornelia Thimble becomes heir to a 550-acre section along Onion Creek when her second husband, A.N. Hopkins, is killed in a gunfight in 1863. Meanwhile, the New York and Texas Land Company is working to develop railroad lines and funds expansion of tracks from Austin to San Antonio. This effort provides the widow with the opportunity to plat her property as a city. As a result, Thimble donates land for a town site named DuPre.
In September 1880, the railroad development ultimately reaches the area of what would later become Buda. And, on Friday, April 1, 1881, the town of Du Pre (Buda) was established as one of the first cities in the Central Texas region. Plots of land were sold that Saturday for businesses and homes at prices ranging from $60 to $100.
The International and Great Northern Railroad eventually created a rail stop in Buda which led to the town getting a post office, a spike in population growth and the attraction of businesses to the area.
The first community center in this part of the county was established in current-day Mountain City. It was developed before the Civil War, but was rapidly depopulated as its residents and businesses flocked to the new rail depot in Buda.
After six years of being known as Du Pre, the United State Postal Service discovered that another town had been established as Du Pre, Texas before the year 1881 and consequently, required that the town receive a name change.
The name Buda is said to have been a mispronunciation of the Spanish word, “viuda” or “widow.”
Following the official renaming of the city, the provisions of supplies and services to surrounding dairy farms and ranches were the basis of the local economy. At different times the community supported mills, hotels, banks, a lumberyard, two newspapers, a cheese factory, a movie theatre and a skating rink. In 1928 local businesses organized a Chamber of Commerce. Buda remained an active commercial center and railroad depot until the Great Depression.
In 1929, Buda’s population was estimated at 600, but by 1933 it was cut in half – to 300. The town was officially incorporated in 1948, but it wasn’t until the mid-1980s, when the growth of Austin began to be felt and residents looked to surrounding areas to settle, that Buda’s population once again approached pre-depression levels. During this time, Buda had attracted a cement plant and some craft industry, but the community was still primarily rural. By 1990, the population had grown to almost 1,800 (1,795).
Today, Buda is a thriving city with major retail and services for our residents and visitors. The population is now more than 9,000 and climbing.
The most exciting part of being part of Buda is that while we are the fastest growing city in the Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization region, we also still retain our great history. In fact, some of the original buildings remain in the city, such as the site of the1898 Store, which has been a retail spot since businesses first opened in Buda.