According to the Lyndon B. Johnson State Park website, “Lyndon B. Johnson, our 36th president, was born and raised in the Texas Hill Country. But his story is not the only one told here. Experience life on a Texas-German farm and marvel at American bison and Texas longhorns.”
“Here, what we are trying to do is showcase 1918, kind of the end of World War I time period. We are showcasing what life for 10-year-old LBJ would have been like growing up here in Gillespie county,” Daniel Koennecke, Park Ranger and Living History Actor said. “Daily life would have been cooking on a wood burning stove, milking a cow every day, making homemade cheese and butter. We do our own canning and preserving, we have a large garden that we grow things in and cook from every day.”
“Most people remember canning with their grandparents or parents as a kid. We do that here, every day. We only purchase the essential things, like your dry goods, flour, sugar, salt, pepper, coffee, tea, that kind of stuff. Otherwise, if we don’t grow it, we don’t eat it,” Koennecke said.
“There are a lot of connections to be made, here. We are getting so disconnected from the land, from where our food comes from. We take a lot of things for granted, like cooking. We cook on a wood burning stove, so instead of just pushing a button on the oven, we have to actually build a fire. And how convenient everything is now, we show that not so long ago, things were a lot harder. Maybe a little more rewarding, because you had to put more effort into get the things you got,” Jessica Garmon, Park Ranger and Living History Actor said.
“Our most common reaction is actually that this reminds people of their grandparents’ played as a kid, or their parents’ house. A lot of people who come are elderly visitors, so they show their kids or grandkids. ‘this is how I grew up at your age.’ Usually, when we get visitors like that, we try to get the kids to step into the grandparents’ shoes. Maybe we will have them help us gather eggs from the henhouse, or gather firewood to cook with, or harvest produce from the garden. Then we will use that to cook in the kitchen,” Koennecke said.
“I think my favorite reaction is when people ask , “do you live here?” because it means we are really taking them back in time, outside of what they are used to. The site is the living history farm, one piece of the Lyndon B. Johnson State Park. We also have a herd of bison and a herd of longhorn. There is a river to fish at, a couple short nature trails, it is a great place to go birding. It is one of my favorite parks, honest. It is small and overlooked a lot, because it does not have any big hills to climb or rivers to see or canyons, but it has a lot of easy things, and it is within an easy distance of Austin and San Antonio, and it is free,” Garmon said.
“It is a nice place to step back in time and get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, just kind of step back to farm life and enjoy nature,” Koennecke said.