From a small town named Bagdad to one of the fastest-growing large cities in the nation, Leander has a storied history — a history the Bryson family has been integral to almost from the start.
Leander was established in 1882 about a mile west from where it currently stands, although settlers didn’t arrive until 1845. Building log cabins and working land granted to them for their participation in the Texas Revolution, the new residents were frequently attacked by Native American tribes. So much so that the Texas Rangers constructed Tumlinson Fort to protect them.
Once settled, the little town flourished. In 1885, citizens named the town Bagdad after Bagdad, Tennessee. It was to this town J.C. Bryson and his wife Nancy moved in 1872. The couple haled from North Carolina. The first two rooms of the farmhouse he constructed used cedar from Bastrop and limestone from the San Gabriel River. Even as they farmed the land and built their lives, changes to Bagdad were in the works.
The Austin and Northwest Railroad began building a new rail line in 1881. The residents were excited as it appeared that the line would run through Bagdad, bringing increased prosperity. Instead, the line bypassed the town and was constructed 1 mile to the east.
Businesses and residents had a choice, allow Bagdad to languish or move the city. They chose to move to lots purchased from the railroad. As it was traditional to name railroad towns after railroad officials, Bagdad was renamed Leander after railroad company official and former Austin mayor the Honorable Leander Brown.
Once again, the little town flourished. The post office was moved from its location in Bagdad to Leander in 1882. A bank opened. Following along were doctors, lawyers, a drug store and in 1893, the first public school.
Farmers and ranchers flourished, as well, and the Brysons transitioned from farming food to farming cotton once a cotton gin was established in town. Sheep and hogs roamed the ranch.
Leander remained rural until 1978 when the City of Leander was incorporated. Although it experienced modest growth, the city was still considered a hidden gem.
In the 1980s, a Bryson stepped in to facilitate the city’s growth. Pat Bryson, wife of Bobby Bryson, retired from the Leander ISD and entered politics. Her goal was to transform Leander from a sleepy town to a modern community. Under her direction from 1980 to 1990, the town put in a water line so they did not have to rely on well water and established a public library.
Pat Bryson Municipal Hall, dedicated in January 2002, is named after her and houses Leander's municipal court, development services, and the city council chamber.
Today, our community strives to respect the legacy of the Bryson family and all of the Leander pioneers that came before us. Our builders take their cue from historic farmhouses like that J.C. and Nancy Bryson’s original home, placed on the historic register in 1970. It is the spirit of our residents that truly embodies the nature of our hometown. Friendly, welcoming and always ready to lend a hand, they are what make Bryson special.