As in nearby Fayetteville, German immigrants eclipsed the earliest Anglo settlers in the 1840s, and were, in turn, supplanted by Bohemian Czechs in the mid-1850s. The original settlement of Townsend sent more than fifty men to the Battle of San Jacinto, including Joel Robinson, the captor of Antonio López de Santa Anna. German immigrant Edward Henkel laid out Round Top in 1852 where the La Bahía Road linking Brenham to Austin and the Houston to Austin road crossed Cummins Creek. The town became an important trading and social center for farmers in northeastern Fayette County. Author, historian, musician, and Adelsverein member Alwin Soergel built a house with an octagonal tower in the early 1840s that gave rise to the name Round Top.
At the north end of town at 248 Jaster Road is the Round Top Festival-Institute, founded in 1971 by renowned concert pianist James Dick (winner of the 2009 Texas Medal of Arts). The 210-acre campus includes historic buildings nestled amidst mature live oaks, gardens, a pond, and architectural follies. The Summer Institute attracts top-notch musicians and students from around the world who perform in a summer concert series. The institute is also a research center and has important collections of rare books, manuscripts, music, and historic recordings and photographs.
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