Historic Kerr County photographs available!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Kerrville's first Armistice Day

A parade passes the old Fire Tower,
at the intersection of Earl Garrett and Water streets, around 1925.
Photo from the collection of Lanza Teague.
What we now call Veterans Day started out as Armistice Day, which commemorated the end of World War I on November 11, 1918.
There is a story of that first celebration in Kerrville on the original Armistice Day, November 11, 1918, and of the sadness that followed. Bob Bennett’s book on Kerr County history tells the story like this:
“The glad news that the gigantic armies facing each other on the long battle front in France had agreed to a an armistice reached Kerrville early in the morning of November 11, 1918. Soon after dawn the noise of celebrating began and the din brought people into town by the hundreds. Before noon downtown sidewalks and streets were packed with people and automobiles driving up and down the thoroughfares. Everybody was wildly hilarious with joy.
“Guns were fired, whistles were blown and bells were rung. Schools were suspended for the day. The old town fire bell in a tower on the corner now occupied by the Blue Bonnet Hotel played its part in the noisemaking. Men and boys climbed up the tower after breaking the rope used for ringing, and with hammers kept the bell clanging for hours.”
That old fire bell was on a wooden tower on the southern corner of the intersection of Water and Earl Garrett streets, opposite Water Street from Francisco's Restaurant in the old Weston Building.
And yet, as those men and boys were ringing the old bell, striking it with hammers and mallets and sticks, joyous that the “war to end all wars” was over, the intersection had a different name: it was the corner of Water and Mountain streets.
On that joyous day, November 11, 1918, three Kerrville families did not know the sad news of their lost sons.
The very next day, November 12, 1918, Mrs. E. W. Baker received word that her son Sidney had died in the Argonne battles on October 15, 1918; Judge and Mrs. W. G. Garrett learned about a week later that their son Victor Earl had died October 4, during the last month of the war; the relatives of Francisco Lemos learned late that month that he had died September 15, 1918.
The town that had sung and fired shots in the air and laughed and danced in the street now hung down its head and mourned.
It had been a tough month in Kerr County leading up to November 11, 1918. The Kerrville Mountain Sun of October 25, 1918 -- less than three weeks before the war ended -- noted there was a quarantine in Kerrville, to "prevent the spread of the Spanish influenza." Church services were cancelled, and the entire faculty of Our Lady of the Guadalupe school went to San Antonio, to render assistance there "in the present scarcity of nurses."
Most of the Kerr County men who died in World War I died from disease, often either from pnuemonia or influenza, and a lot of them died in the autumn of 1918.
After that war ended, plans were being made to remember those lost in the service of their country. In its January 10, 1919 edition, the Kerrville Mountain Sun suggested "that Kerr County erect some kind of lasting memorial to her boys who responded to our country's call in the war for world liberty....
"It could take the form of a tall observation tower," the front-page article suggested, "a memorial hall in which to gather mementos of the great struggle, and in which our patriotic meetings could be held, a massive arch spanning the intersection of two of our principal streets -- these or any other form that presented itself as practicable and desirable."
That same issue, in a small paragraph on the back page, noted a committee appointed by Kerrville mayor H. C. Geddie had decided to "name Mountain Street after Lieut. Earl Garrett, Tchoupitoulas St. after Sidney Baker, and Lytle Street after Francisco Lemos."
The three Kerr County men killed in battle in World War I:
Francisco Lemos, Earl Garrett, and Sidney Baker.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who collects historical photographs and items from Kerrville and Kerr County.  Please share your treasures with him. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times November 11, 2017.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

An exhibit of photographs from my collection of historical Kerrville and Kerr County photographs

Joe Herring III installing historical images at Pint and Plow
My son Joe III helping to hang a new exhibit of historical
Kerrville and Kerr County photos, on display now
at Pint & Plow, in their coffee shop, 332 Clay Street, Kerrville.
For some time there has been talk of a Kerr County Museum.
Lately I've been involved in an effort to pull together historic items into one place, again in an attempt to have a museum that tells our community's story. The path ahead seems very steep to get a history museum for our community. The three biggest problems are money, money, and money. Funding is also an issue.
However, for the past five years or so, I've been trying some experiments.
Did you know we have a virtual Kerr County museum that's open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week?
At Starbucks, 2012
As of last Thursday, it's had over 570,000 visits since it started, with many visitors stopping by hundreds of times.
That online museum has more than a thousand photographs and articles about our community. I know, because I put every single one of them there.
Visiting this virtual museum is free. You can copy images from its pages. It has a search box, so you can look for information that interests you, from the tunnels of Captain Schreiner to the battle sword found in a field near Mountain Home.
To visit, just go to www. joeherringjr.com. It has a catchy name, don't you think?
Other sites offering local history are kerrhistory.blogspot.com, by Deborah Gaudier, who excels at research. I like kerrvillegeneology.blogspot.com, too. My friend Lanza Teague has some great articles and photos at sylvanlampworks.blogspot.com.
At Grape Juice, 2012
And did you know we've had several "pop up" history museums in our community, including one that was installed this week?
From time to time folks around town are generous and loan me space in their businesses to display items and photographs from our community's past. These have been displayed in the past at the Museum of Western Art, Starbucks (twice), Hastings, Grape Juice, and the Kerr County Arts and Cultural Center (twice).
Last Tuesday my son and I installed an exhibit of more than 50 items at Pint & Plow's coffee shop, located in the old Edward Dietert home at 332 Clay Street in beautiful downtown Kerrville. I'm thankful to the Walther family for their generosity in sharing the walls of their historic property with all of us.
Again, visiting this pop up museum is free, but while you're there, why not buy a cup of their delicious coffee? Tell 'em Joe sent you.
Talk of a local history museum has been going on for a very long time.
J. J. Starkey, who was editor and publisher of this newspaper, also pushed for the creation of a Kerr County Museum, and organized the collection of items to display. I find, looking through old issues of the "Kerrville Times," many pleas by Mr. Starkey for items for the proposed museum, from the early 1930s through the early 1940s.
At the Kerr Arts and Cultural
Center, 2012
In many newspaper issues he noted what had been donated to the "museum collection" and by whom. In December 1935 he reported a place had been found for the collection in the home of Bert C. Parsons. "Mr. and Mrs. Parsons are on the premises practically all of the time," Starkey wrote, "and articles brought in will be as well safe-guarded as in any museum." The Parsons lived near where our print shop stands today; in fact, the office portion of our print shop was built by the Parson family around 80 years ago.
In the autumn of 1932, the "Kerr County Pioneers Association" held a meeting and discussed a museum. Mrs. R. A. Franklin, who had led the students in her classes to form a history club, suggested the downtown area was ideal for such a museum. "Plans for acquiring a building for the collection of old-time relics," was being considered, according to the group's president, J. J. Starkey.
Mrs. R. A. Franklin, who was a teacher at Kerrville's junior high school in the early 1930s, organized the collection of various historical items into a "Junior High Museum;" the collection included items from the Texas Revolution and an extensive arrowhead collection. I've heard about the items the students collected for many years, mainly from folks who were students in Mrs. Franklin's classes. No one knows what happened to the items the students collected.
In the early 1930s the historical groups had an enormous advantage over those today who are interested in the area's history: they were closer to the beginning of our community.
Living among them were people who had actually been Kerr County pioneers.
Most of the avid collectors of "old-time relics" today have many items from recent decades. Aside from worked flint, my own collection extends back to a very few items from about 1880, but Kerr relics before 1900 are very rare even in my collection.
At the Museum of Western Art, 2016
I applaud those who are now hoping to organize a museum. One is definitely needed here. I only hope they can find a way to safeguard the items donated and loaned to such a museum; precious items loaned in years past somehow vanished, along with those who hoped to preserve them.
Until such a museum is built, let's try a few experiments to preserve our community's history.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville item who collects Kerr County historical items, hoping someday to find a permanent home for them. Ms. Carolyn definitely does not want the items in her house. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times November 4, 2017.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

A glimpse of Kerrville from 1896

Downtown Kerrville, 1896.  Looking up Earl Garrett from the Star.
Saengerfest parade, September 2-3, offering a good glimpse of life here then.
Click any image to enlarge
Old newspapers often offer subtle clues about how different life was here in Kerrville only a few generations ago. But there are also items which reflect how little things have changed.
I have a copy of the April 2, 1896, Kerrville News which demonstrates this point, especially when paired with a series of photographs that were taken in downtown Kerrville in September, 1896.
The newspaper tells the story of what was happening in town, and the photographs show how downtown looked in 1896, and how Kerrville folk dressed in those days. A few landmarks from that era remain.
Saengerfest parade, September 2-3, 1896
Taken of Water Street from Star toward library
The photographs were taken at the intersection of Earl Garrett and Water streets, where the Heritage Star is embedded in the pavement today. One photo looks down Water Street toward today's Notre Dame Catholic Church; another looks up Water Street toward today's Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library; the last looks up Earl Garrett Street toward the Kerr County courthouse. The event in the photographs was a Saengerfest, or festival of choirs, held in downtown Kerrville September 2-3, 1896.
The single-sheet 1896 newspaper was filled with interesting ads. “Beware of traveling dentists,” one ad cautions, “They are incompetent or would be busy at home.” The advertiser, the Chicago Dental Parlor, was on Houston Street in San Antonio.
There is a large advertisement for the Junction City Stage Line. “Leaves every morning, arrives at Junction City the same day.” Junction City later changed its name to Junction, and is the county seat of Kimble County; today it's about a 50 minute drive down I-10.
And an entire column was devoted to excursions available on the San Antonio and Aransas Pass railway. The list shows the interests of Kerrville residents 121 years ago:
“On account of the Y.P.S.C.P. meeting at Gonzales Mch 27 to 29, tickets will be sold on the certificate plan….”
“On account of the Texas Baptist Foreign Mission Convention, to be held at Bastrop….”
“To the International Sunday School Convention at Hillsboro….”
“To the Re-Union of Hunts Brigade, Huntsville, June 22, round trip tickets at one and one third fare….”
“To the Annual Convention of Lumbermen’s Association, Austin….”
“To the Battle of Flowers at San Antonio April 21 at $1.50….”
“To the Southern Baptist Convention Chattanooga Tenn., at one fare for round trip….”
“To Christian Endeavor Convention, San Antonio….”
“To Annual Meeting of the Daughters of the Republic of Texas, Galveston, at $9.35 round trip….”
“To the Baptist State Missionary Educational Mass Meeting at Waco, round trip tickets at $7.15….”
Saengerfest parade, September 2-3, 1896
Taken of Water Street from Star toward Notre Dame
Catholic Church area.
“To the Annual Convention Texas Division T. P. A. at Dallas….”
And, between the large space taken for ads, there is an occasional news story:
“Large Cattle Shipment. Capt. Schreiner has made the largest shipment of cattle this week that has ever been made from Kerrville. He is shipping out the cattle he sold while at Ft. Worth, which amounted to some forty-five hundred head. There were nine train loads of them, three trains going out each day, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.”
Or, news stories that might also be considered advertisements: “We are reliably informed that arrangements have been made to furnish ice for the town this summer at a very low figure.”
“Mr. Pampell now has his business house extended in width eight feet, which gives him much more room. He will put in a much larger stock in his line and thus be much better prepared to supply the demands of the trade.”
“Your reporter stepped into Mrs. Russell’s Millinery Establishment this week and was pleased to see the large and varied stock of beautiful goods on exhibition. Her tastily arranged display of fine hats of every description, and flowers that are unquestionably the finest variety brought to this market, are to be seen as you enter her doors. Then you can see on shelf and in showcase everything a lady can desire to finish her utmost millinery desire. Her assortment of ribbons has no competition in the west. Price will be found in the reach of all and below the merit of the goods.”
But reading through the big sheet, one also finds clues that some things have not really changed at all:
“Kerrville is assuming her usual business aspect. One of the loveliest towns you can find. And that is not all, secrets are being whispered out that something is going to happen in the near future – developments that may be. But Kerrville has a grand future and you need not be surprised at anything. Just get yourselves ready and be in the swim when the time comes.…”
Sound familiar? I keep hearing “secrets” about developments in the Kerrville downtown area – don’t you? Never mind that most of those “secrets” never actually happen.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who collects items relating to the history of Kerrville and Kerr County. Please share your items with him! This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times October 28, 2017.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

A mystery Kerrville photo with a back story

A woman and girl, below the mill dam in downtown Kerrville,
most likely taken in the 1890s
Old Kerrville and Kerr County photographs intrigue me, as you already know.
This week a kind reader brought by a photograph of a woman and a girl standing beside the old mill dam in downtown Kerrville. The image is intriguing for several reasons, not only for its subjects and setting, but also for the story told about the photograph.
The old mill dam once stood just downstream from the current dam in Louise Hays Park, right in the middle of town. You can still see evidence of the old wooden dam in the riverbed, cutting at an angle across the river. A series of square holes in the limestone show where the posts of the dam once stood; some of those holes still contain wooden remnants of the posts.
What's left of this old dam is easiest to trace from a height, conveniently provided by the pavilion downtown at the end of Earl Garrett Street. From there its outline is easier to see, between the current dam and the concrete walkway crossing the river.
Standing: Frances, Caroline
and Emilee.  Seated:
Lena Schreiner
The photograph of the pair standing next to the dam was supposedly from the Captain Charles Schreiner family, and looking closely at the woman pictured, I can see a resemblance to Mary Magdalena 'Lena' Enderle Schreiner, Captain Schreiner's wife, but I cannot be certain. There is no way to tell who the girl was, since her face was hidden by her bonnet.
The woman is wearing a hat and what appears to be a fairly nice blouse and long skirt, but is standing on ground that appears muddy and wet. Dark gloves are on her hands. Her costume doesn't seem to fit her surroundings.
The girl is pointing at something on the ground, and the woman is looking in that direction, with her right arm akimbo. Just getting to the spot where the two are standing would have required crossing the fallen tree in the foreground, since directly behind the two is a channel cut into the limestone, which was filled with rushing water.
It seems the girl had something important to point out, and convinced the woman to descend the rickety stairs that clung to the river bluff.
An umbrella or parasol rests on the fallen tree. There are leaves on most of the trees, and needles on the cypress trees. The shadows are soft, and the sky appears to be overcast. The river is flowing nicely behind the pair, so it wasn't taken during a drought.
If the story about the photograph is true, and it's a photograph of Lena Schreiner, it had to be taken before September, 1905, because that's when Mrs. Schreiner died.
Charles and Lena Schreiner had eight children: three daughters and five sons. If the child is her daughter, I'd guess it was her youngest, Frances Hellen Schreiner Jeffers, who was born in 1881. If the child in the photograph is Frances, and if she was around 10 years old when the photograph was taken, then this photograph was taken around 1891.
That puts the back story in the realm of the possible. Photographs in Kerr County from the 1890s are not impossibly rare, though few exist. Photographs taken in Kerr County before 1890 are extremely rare, so the birth dates of the other two Schreiner daughters, Caroline Marie Schreiner Partee (1873) and Emilie Louise Schreiner Rigsby (1875) would make it unlikely that they're the girl in the photograph.
As the youngest child of eight children, Frances Hellen would have been more likely than her elder siblings to persuade her mother to tromp through the mud to visit the mill dam. (Such a trip would also have been even more likely had the girl been Mrs. Schreiner's granddaughter, which may also be a possibility.)
While I cannot prove the image is of Mrs. Lena Schreiner, I haven't found enough evidence to disprove it, either. The family tradition about the photograph says it's of Mrs. Schreiner, and it may well be.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who collects historic Kerrville and Kerr County photographs. Share yours with him!  He'll scan them and give them back to you. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times October 21, 2017.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

The Historic Weston Building in Downtown Kerrville

The Weston Building in Kerrville
Two daring motorists, in front of the Weston Building,
at the intersection of Water and (then) Mountain Streets, circa 1920.
Click on any image to enlarge.
During the school year I seldom get to have lunch downtown with Ms. Carolyn, my teacher wife, but since Kerrville students had a holiday this past Monday, she met me for lunch downtown -- in between meetings and workshops held for the Kerrville Independent School District staff.
We met at one of her favorite places for lunch: Francisco's. The popular spot is owned by my high school classmate, Francisco 'Paco' Espinoza. We've enjoyed his restaurant from its earliest days, back when it was located next to the library in a row of former apartments, since moved to Depot Square.
Around 1990
As we were sitting outside I looked up at the old building, and wondered how many times it has been photographed over the years. Its location, at the intersection of Water and Earl Garrett, is one which is frequently part of community celebrations.
A different view
Parades of all kinds have marched near the building, from high school pep rallies, military parades, and even in the late 1890s, a regional Saengerfest celebration. Street dances have been held on the Star.
Lucky for us, people pulled out their cameras quite often to record the events -- and we get to see how the building looked in different chapters of its story.
Inside Chaney's
The building is called the Weston Building, after a family who ran a saloon on the site for many years. It's my opinion, however, it would be just as appropriate to call it the Barlemann Building, since that's the name of the family who built it and operated the first business there, the Ranch Saloon. It's been the home of many businesses over the last 127 years, including saloons, a combination confectionery/taxidermy business, a sports store, and a shoe shop. Today it's simply known as Francisco's.
The Weston Building in Kerrville
Nice awnings
The building was built in 1890 by Bruno Schott and Ben Davey. They built quite a few of the stone buildings in that era, including the Tivy School, and portions of the home of Captain Charles Schreiner.
As a boy I often hoped to find secret boxes filled with priceless items from the past. I know they exist, because one was once found in the Weston Building.
The May 19, 1927 issue of the Kerrville Mountain Sun: "Contents of Box taken from Weston Building Cornerstone Stir Memory of Old-Timers."
The Weston Building in Kerrville
One of my favorites
While the building was being remodeled, workers came across a small tin box, sealed with solder.
"By a very odd co-incidence, the man who lifted the box from its resting place in the cornerstone was Bruno Schott, the man who placed it there 37 years ago."
Methinks he knew where to look.

The Weston Building in Kerrville
The Mistletoe Regiment.  Photo
from the Lanza Teague collection
"When the building was constructed in August, 1890, for Charles Barlemann to house his Ranch Saloon, Bruno Schott was one of the contractors, his partner being B. A. Davey. Schott is one of the contractors remodeling the building, which, through force of legislation now houses the confectionery of R. H. Chaney."
The legislation in question was Prohibition.
The Weston Building in Kerrville
The box itself contained "photographs of Charles Barlemann, his wife and two babies, a communication signed by many of the county officials and leading citizens of that day, a list of persons who were employed in the construction work on the building, a letter written by Barlemann telling of the death of his wife a few months before, and a copy of the Kerrville News dated April 12, 1890."
The Weston Building in Kerrville
Wool wagons
Mrs. Barlemann, Jennie, was the daughter of Joshua Brown, the founder of Kerrville.
One of the letters found in the box read: "Texas Indivisible, now and forever. A. McFarland, Co. Clerk, Kerr County, Texas. August 13, 1890: F. M. Moore, Sheriff; Charles Barlemann; H. C. Greven; Otto Boerner, best beer drinker and blacksmith; Wm Schildknecht; W. E. Stewart, druggist; S. R. Craven, pill roller; B. A. Davey, Bruno Schott.
The Weston Building in Kerrville
Another letter read: "This building was built by Davey & Schott, contractors. Men that worked on the building are Gottleib Schwope, Bill Archer, Tom Farmer, Herman Meimann, Bonificio, Ad. Webber, Otto Webber, Charley Henkle, Fred Roth, Fritz Volmering, Sam Haught, Tim Benson, E. Smith, Eg. Jarinsky, Joe Babb, Alfred March, Harp Bruff, Sam Glenn, Old Man Pettie, W. B. Schott, Ben A. Davey, Arch. and Builders."
The cornerstone was laid on Barlemann's 27th birthday, so that old landmark building was built for a young man and his business.

The Weston Building in Kerrville
As I remember it when I was
a youngster, 1970s
And what became of the box and its contents? It was sent to one of the Barlemanns' daughters, Mrs. E. L. Johnson, in Gonzales, the only member of the Barlemann family living at that time. In the photo of the Barlemann family found in the box, she was just a little 6 mos. old baby.
I sure would like to see the box and its contents. And, of course, I'd like to find the other boxes still waiting, sealed behind stones and soldered tightly shut, hidden in downtown Kerrville.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who likes treasure hunts, especially when items of local history are found.  Please share your finds with him! This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times October 14, 2017.



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