Steeped in Tradition
The Round Top Schützen Verein (shooting society) was formed in 1873 by the town's German heritage inhabitants. It's purpose was stated as "the support and encouragement of innocent out-door sports, such as bicycle riding, target and trap shooting, open air athletics, games, dancing, and others of a like character". It was modeled after the traditional “protective societies” that safeguarded small communities in Germany.
The 10.5 acre property on which the Rifle Association Hall is located was purchased in 1881. The dance hall was constructed in 1882 and the 33rd Annual Fourth of July celebration moved to the property. The site was named Schützen Park, or Sharpshooter's Park. It became the locale of many community events - dances, holiday celebrations, shooting contests, cook-offs etc. A sketch of the early Hall grounds shows the original Hall as well as the area where horses were tied, a bowling alley, a carousel, a saloon, ice cream stand, and of course, outhouses.
The verein changed it's name to the Round Top Rifle Association in 1921, when it became incorporated with the state of Texas. Over the years, the Rifle Hall was updated and modernized and the activities hosted there evolved as well. Today the Hall is the scene of the famous Round Top Fourth of July celebration, regular shooting contests, and many dances and community parties.
Round Top Brass Band in the 1970's
Our thanks to Gene Hackemack for providing these memories!
Historical documents and publications
Although founded in 1873, the Round Top Rifle Association was officially chartered with the state of Texas in 1921.
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An article from the Brenham Daily Banner describes the Fourth of July celebration in 1882, the year the Rifle Association Hall was completed and the festivities moved there.
On June 30, 1963, the Houston Post published an article entitled "Round Top Knows How To Celebrate Fourth". The article summarized the colorful history of the Round Top area and recognized how the tiny incorporated city (population 124 at the time) maintained its self-sufficiency and put on a wonderful Fourth of July celebration each year for 112 years.
On July 2, 1963, Senator Ralph Yarborough brought a motion to the Senate floor, asking that the article be placed in the Congressional Record to recognize Round Top and its long-running celebration.
In the 1970's, Mrs. Marjorie Williams, a teacher at La Grange High School, had her students research and write articles about the history of Fayette County. Miss Lois Krause wrote a wonderful article about the Round Top Rifle Association. It's full of delightful details about activities at the Rifle Hall in the early 1900's.