by Christopher Dow
Built in 1851 by William Black (1815-1907), Black’s Fort is in east Burnet County, just north of the North Fork of the San Gabriel River. There is some dispute as to whether or not the structure was actually a fort, with some arguing that it was merely a residence. While it is said that supplies and guns and ammunition were stored there for use by local residents in the event of an Indian attack, there is little historical evidence to back up the idea that the fort ever actually saw duty in a defensive capacity. In fact, most of the conflicts between the Indians and settlers occurred farther west. Even so, it is said that guards kept watch at the fort on moonlit nights.
The thick-walled structure was the only stone house in that part of the county, however, so even if it wasn’t built to be a defensive fort, it could serve as one if necessary. Its designation as a fort was dropped in 1868, after which it reverted to a simple residence before being completely abandoned some years later.
Black's Fort consists of a house and a springhouse, both of stone, and a stockade of stone and cedar logs. A historical marker was erected at the site in 1936. The site is located on County Road 201A, approximately eight miles north of Bertram and ten miles northeast of Burnet. (30° 50.97′ N, 98° 4.697′ W). It lies about a mile and a half from the 201A's intersection with the larger FM1174. The ruins are largely visible from the road, but they lie on private land, so if you go, please respect the property owner’s privacy.