County Seat: Lockhart | County Population: 45,883 (2020 Census)
The first Caldwell County Courthouse was erected in 1848, when the county was organized and named for Mathew Caldwell, a Texas Ranger and signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence. This inaugural temple of justice was replaced in 1858 by a two-story limestone edifice measuring 65 feet by 40 feet with six offices and two rooms for storing records. By 1893, that building had become too small for a growing county.
In April 1893, the Commissioners Court approved plans for the present courthouse. The cornerstone was laid by Lockhart Lodge No. 690, A. F. & A. M., on August 15, 1893. Contractors Martin, Byrne, and Johnston completed the building on March 19, 1894.
The three-story structure is built of sandstone with red sandstone trim and displays the fine workmanship and elaborate detail common to architecture of the period. The mansard roof is characteristic of the Second Empire style that was often used for public buildings. The courthouse is topped by a central clock tower, with additional towers at each corner and flanking the north and south entrances.
The county seat of Lockhart is described by the Lockhart Chamber of Commerce as “a favorite in Central Texas. With a small-town quality of life and a charming historical downtown square, many public parks connected with walking paths, a State Park, golf course, community theatre, museums, shopping, and much more, Lockhart has a community feel that can’t be beat!”
Special events and festivals include the Al Hopkins Tolbert Texas State Chili Championship, 4th of July Extravaganza, Taste of Lockhart Cultures, and A Dickens Christmas in Lockhart, just to name a few.
Two cattle trails converged in Lockhart, one heading north from Lockhart and another through the northwest corner of the county. The second week in June, Lockhart celebrates its place on the Chisholm Trail with the Chisholm Trail Roundup, the town’s largest annual festival and tourism event.
Last but not least, on May 26, 1999, House Resolution 1024 was adopted by the 76th Texas Legislature naming Lockhart the “Barbecue Capital of Texas.” The Texas Senate made the same distinction in 2003.
Black’s BBQ is Texas’ oldest major barbecue restaurant continuously owned by the same family and was featured on the Travel Channel’s Barbecue Paradise show.
Chisholm Trail Barbecue has made the Texas Monthly Magazine’s list of Texas’ Best Barbecue Restaurants.
Smitty’s Market has been named one of the top five barbecue restaurants in Texas by Texas Monthly Magazine. Nina Schmidt Sells established Smitty’s Market in 1999 in the building that housed her father’s Kreuz Market for more than 50 years.
Kreuz Market moved from its original location started in 1900 by Charles Kreuz as a meat market and grocery store to its newer, expanded facility in 1999. Don’t look for any barbecue sauce or forks, as they are still missing in action from Kreuz Market to this day!