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Sunday, February 25, 2018

A surprising find in downtown Kerrville

Home of Henry and Clara Candlin, around 1895,
on the western corner of Washington and Main Streets, Kerrville.
Click on any image to enlarge.
Henry Candlin and his wife Clara King Candlin moved to Kerrville in 1880, and left in 1899, moving to Greeley, Colorado. While here they had eight children, seven sons and one daughter.
A few of their descendants were in town recently, from Austin and Florida, and a friend sent them by the print shop. The descendants showed me a photograph of the Candlin's house in Kerrville, and I didn't recognize the structure. Looking at the building, I doubted it was in Kerrville. It looked like a German immigrant's house to me, like you'd see in Fredericksburg or Comfort.
Until the descendants' visit, I'd never heard of the Candlins.
Looking into their story, however, I'm surprised I had not. They were a very interesting couple.
Both were born in England. He was from Nottinghamshire, England; his ancestral home was on a street called The Cranny, in Offord Cluny, Huntingdon, England. She was from Swindon, Wiltshire. Her father was a Methodist Wesleyan minister, and they were married in London at the Wesleyan Chapel in 1879.
The Candlin Family, around 1892
In 1880 they moved to Kerrville. They lived in a house on the corner of Main and Washington streets, where Craig Leslie has his law office today. When I pulled out my old maps of Kerrville I found, to my surprise, a structure on that corner which had the exact same footprint as the house in the photograph.
So I was wrong: the house in the photograph which I suspected of being a German immigrant's house elsewhere was actually here in Kerrville, about a block from the Kerr County courthouse.
Henry Candlin was the first official Department of Agriculture weather observer for our community. His name can be found in newspapers statewide beside his reports of the temperature, rainfall, observations about crops and their prospects. He authored Kerrville's first Climate and Crop Report in October, 1896.
He was interested in science beyond meteorology. He provided two specimens of a river snake (natrix fasciata transvera Hallowell) to the Smithsonian Institution; one he collected from the Guadalupe, the other from Quinlan Creek. They were little black water snakes with yellow spots and a yellowish belly, perhaps called either a Blotched Watersnake or a plain-bellied water snake. I'm sure you've seen relatives of the long-absent specimens along the riverbank.
Henry Candlin was also a charter member of the local Masonic Lodge.
The Candlin home is circled above.
The family suggested he was city clerk here, which is possible. The City of Kerrville was incorporated in 1889. He also taught stenography and shorthand from his Kerrville home, according to an 1895 advertisement I found.
After moving to Greeley, Colorado, Henry Candlin focused on the temperance movement, and was active in the Loyal Temperance Legion. He also taught Sunday School in the Methodist Church.
The couple knew their share of tragedy. One of the couple's sons, Victor Gladstone Candlin, died in France during World War I and is buried there. Another son, Percy Raymond, was killed in an industrial accident. Both men were born here in Kerrville.
Henry Candlin died in 1931; his widow, in 1943. Both passed away in Greeley.  Their house on Main Street in Kerrville was replaced by a gas station in the 1930s.
Now that I know where the Candlin's home was in Kerrville, I have spotted it in the background of several other downtown photographs. It's nice to fill in a spot on the map with a good image of their home. I'm thankful for the friend who sent the Candlin's relatives my way.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who is often surprised by new discoveries of Old Town Kerrville. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times February 24, 2018.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Newly Discovered Photograph of Bandera Pass

Bandera Pass Texas around 1905
Bandera Pass, around 1905.
Automobiles didn't arrive in significant numbers until 1908,
so the road shown is a wagon trail.
Click on any image to enlarge.
I recently was given a photo on which is written "Bandera Pass, 1905." That date appears to be fairly close, given the other photos in the packet. If so, it's the oldest photo I've ever seen of Bandera Pass, and was taken before automobiles were common in our part of the world. The dirt road shown in the photo is a wagon trail. Looking at the photo it is not hard to imagine travelers on horseback cutting through the pass.
Bandera Pass Texas date unknown
Bandera Pass, date unknown.
Photo possibly by Ellen O'Neal
Bandera Pass has been in use for thousands of years, and when we drive our automobiles over the smooth road today, we're following a path used since prehistoric times.
No one knows how many generations of Native Americans passed this way, but an archeological site on the southern side of Bandera Pass suggests there was a camp there at least 3,000 years ago. If you use 25 years as a rough estimate of a single generation, people have been traveling along this trail for more than 120 generations.
When the Comanche arrived in this part of Texas, they used routes established by earlier tribes, including the trail between Bandera Pass and the river crossing near downtown Kerrville. The route was called the Comanche Trace.
Bandera Pass Texas around 1935 by Starr Bryden
Bandera Pass, around 1935
Photo by Starr Bryden
Later, when the Spanish built their missions and presidios in Texas, the route saw soldiers and priests traveling from San Antonio to missions in the northern hill country, including Mission San Saba, which was near present-day Menard.
In 1732 a battle between Spanish forces and Lipan Apaches occurred at Bandera Pass. In the three-day battle the Spanish were victorious and resulted in a brief period of peace between the Spanish colonists and the Apache tribes. An early map, from around 1815, shows the pass as "Puerta de la Bandera."
When Texas was a part of Mexico, the trail would have been used by Mexican soldiers and settlers.
Bandera Pass Texas around 1926
Bandera Pass, around 1926
And when Texas gained its independence from Mexico, the trail saw use by both settlers and groups of Texas Rangers.
One group of Rangers, it is said, fought a battle at Bandera Pass. John Coffee "Jack" Hayes, one of the most colorful Texas Ranger captains, fought in the battle. Though the various accounts of the battle seem to conflict with each other -- including the actual date of the battle, and whether the Ranger's newly acquired Colt Paterson revolvers played a role in the encounter -- it is likely more than one skirmish between the various local tribes and Texas Rangers occurred near the site.
The oddest travelers through Bandera Pass walked the trail in August 1856, when a herd of forty camels, arriving from the Texas coast after a sea journey from the Middle East, walked the last few miles of their journey to Camp Verde. What a sight they must have been.
Those camels followed a wagon trail not unlike the one shown in the recently found 1905 photograph of Bandera Pass.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who explored the hills and cliffs around Bandera Pass years ago, when he was much younger.  This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times February 17, 2018.

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Sunday, February 11, 2018

80 Years Ago Today in Kerrville

Kerrville's Rialto Theater March 1940
Kerrville's Rialto Theater, in the 600 block of Water Street.
The photo above is from around March, 1940; note guy in top window.
Click on any image to enlarge.
Eighty years ago today, Kerrville got a new movie theater.
The Rialto Theater, which stood in the 600 block of Water Street, was opened with much fanfare on February 10, 1938. The site today is a parking lot, the parking lot between our print shop and Grape Juice.
The first movie shown in the new theater was "Hollywood Hotel," starring Dick Powell and Frances Langford. Admission was 10 cents, 20 cents, or 25 cents.
Rialto Theater Kerrville October 1946
The Rialto Theater, October 1946
A front-page story in the February 10, 1938 Kerrville Mountain Sun offered this schedule for the theater: "One-day runs will be shown on Saturdays, and the theatre will offer four bills each week, three of them on two-day schedules. The first of a regular series of Saturday night matinees is set for 11:30 pm Saturday."
I checked up on that late time -- 11:30 pm -- and it appears to be accurate. I thought Kerrville, in the late 1930s, would be all buttoned up and asleep at that time, but I was wrong.
The Rialto Theater was built by B . C. Parsons, at a cost of $40,000, and was leased to Hall Industries, headed up by Henry W. Hall of Beeville. Hall Industries also owned the Arcadia Theater a block away on Water Street, and the Rio Theater, one block farther. I believe Henry W. Hall is from the same family of Halls which own the Rio 10 Theater in Kerrville today. 
Rialto Theater Kerrville 1945
600 block of Water Street, around 1945
The new Rialto Theater featured many innovations: "hearing aids" for the hearing impaired, including a device using the "bone conductor principle" for the totally deaf. A "spacious lounge" above the lobby was available, "where patrons may rest or smoke."
There were a lot of movie theaters here in the late 1930s!
In fact, the businesses in the 600 block of Water Street took out an ad to celebrate the new Rialto Theater. "The Theatre District is Extended into the 600 Block on Water Street. The following firms Welcome the Modern, New Rialto Theater: F. F. Nyc (public accountant), Miesch Optical Co., Norge Appliance Co., Roland Insurance, Campbell's Lunch Room, the Modern Beauty Salon, Kerr County Motor Co., the Cone Car Co. (and service station), the Sunshine Laundry, and Peterson's Garage (and service station)."
I mention this because the 600 block was once filled with businesses. Now it's just us two, really: Grape Juice and Herring Printing.
Rialto Theater Kerrville 1946
Rialto Theater, 1946
Some remnants of the Rialto Theater still exist. Grape Juice's northwest wall (the wall closest to the print shop) is actually a wall of the theater. If you stand in the parking lot and look at the Grape Juice wall, you'll see several smooth places in the plaster: these are hints of the stairway to the movie theater balcony, and the risers of the theater's balcony.
Likewise, some remnants of the other businesses in our block also remain: our print shop offices are in the building that once housed the "Modern Beauty Salon," and a sign for "Campbell's Lunch Room," which was originally painted on an exterior wall, is now an interior wall in our building. 
The Rialto was empty for many years, though for a brief time in the late 1960s it was a sort of dance/ music venue called the Casket. My memories of the building are from this period, when it was empty. We neighborhood children found a way to get inside the place and explore; it was dark and spooky in there. 
The Rialto Theater was eventually torn down in 1974 by the Charles Schreiner Bank, and the land was used to construct a parking lot. In 1990, my family purchased the parking lot from what was left of the Charles Schreiner Bank after it failed.
My thanks to Michael Bowlin for reminding me of the 80th anniversary of the old theater.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who some say once locked his little sister in the empty Rialto Theater, or at least that's what she remembers. Why would a brother do something like that? This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times February 10, 2018.

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Sunday, February 4, 2018

The Case of the Mystery Building on Water Street

Kerrville Texas mystery building 1908
Wait.  That building is in the middle of what is now called Sidney Baker Street.
Click on any image to enlarge
Last week I was going through a box of old Kerrville photographs and by chance noticed a building which was in a place it shouldn't be, and then, in the very next photograph, it was gone.
In the first photo, the building was there. In the second, it had disappeared.
Kerrville man and dog 1908
Now you see it.
Kerrville Texas child on donkey 1905
Now you don't.
Even stranger, the building appeared to stand in the middle of Sidney Baker Street, next door to Pampell's. If the Sidney Baker Street bridge had existed when the photo was taken, the mystery building would have blocked access to the northeastern entrance to the bridge.
I noticed the building a few years ago in a different photograph, but these newly discovered photographs offered a better angle to view not only the mystery building, but also the building which was behind the mystery building.
That first photograph showed three youngsters posing in the bright morning sunlight on a bench in the front yard of the St Charles Hotel. That hotel stood on the corner of Water and Sidney Baker streets, where, until recently, the Sid Peterson Memorial Hospital stood. Behind them are two frame buildings: on the left was Pampells, on the corner of Water and Sidney Baker streets; on the right, the mystery building, sitting in the middle of Sidney Baker Street; a little farther to the right, a one-story building, which might be a fore-runner of the building that stands today across Sidney Baker Street from Pampell's.
Kerrville Texas children at St Charles Hotel 1908
Three children pose in the bright morning sun, on the lawn 
of the St. Charles Hotel, around 1908
The mystery building is behind the boy on the right.
Pampell's is behind the boy on the left.
One of the newly-discovered photographs show both Pampell's and the mystery building; in this photo a skinny man wearing a straw boater is posing with his dog in the yard of the St. Charles Hotel. Behind the man is Pampell's; behind the dog, the mystery building.
But this photo offers a view of the mystery the first photo did not: a clear view of the upper story of the building, and with that view, a clue.
It was my eagle-eyed sister who noticed something about that second story: it is missing its balcony. That first step out of the upper story door would have been dangerous. Further, she noticed that the balcony itself seemed to have been sawn away, because the ends of the joists can be clearly seen.
That part of the roof of the building over the missing balcony was not supported by posts or columns. It was just hanging there.
The third photograph shows a man, woman, and a child; the child is posing from the back of a donkey, and neither the child nor the donkey seem particularly thrilled about the situation. However, between the shoulder of the man and the shoulder of the woman we should see our mystery building. It has vanished.
I have a theory: I think the mystery building shown in the two photographs was being moved, and I think I know from where it was being moved. I have no idea, yet, as to where it was being moved.
In one of Lanza Teague's photographs of the Gregory House, a building use which preceded Pampell's on the corner of Water and Sidney Baker streets, I can see a two-story building which looks a lot like the mystery building. That building stands between Pampell's and the old Favorite Saloon building, about where Cricket's stands today. I also noticed on the 1904 Sanborn map of Kerrville a two-story frame building in the spot, but on the 1910 map, the frame structure had been replaced by a concrete and masonry building, which was occupied by a drug store (Rawson's) and a tailor (Model Tailoring).
Kerrville Texas downtown 1897
Looking from Peterson Plaza
toward what will become Pampell's, 1897
St.Charles on right; Gregory Hotel on left.
No mystery building in the middle.
That masonry building is known today as the Davis Building, and is owned by the Rector family. However, when it was built, it was known as the Rawson Building.
W. H. Rawson arrived in Kerrville around 1890; he was a pharmacist, and he purchased the Peavy Drug Store which was housed in a two-story frame building where the Davis Building stands today. According to research done by Deborah Gaudier, "he operated his business in that building until 1908, when it was torn down and this new...building was erected. Rawson's Drug moved in to the new building in August, 1909."
An ad in the September 4, 1909 edition of the Kerrville Mountain Sun says "we are now in our new concrete store building and are at home to the trade. For twenty years we conducted a drug business in the old wooden building. We now have a modern building, equipped for a modern drug business."
I wonder, if, during construction of the new store, business was conducted from the old building, temporarily located a few doors down... in the middle of the street?
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who collects old photographs of Kerrville and Kerr County. Please share your treasures with him -- he can scan your original and give it back to you.  This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times February 3, 2018.

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Sunday, January 28, 2018

A Newly Discovered Photograph of Camp Verde

Camp Verde Texas by O Neal around 1905
Camp Verde, by Mrs. O'Neal, around 1905
Click on any image to enlarge
It’s surprising what you find when you’re looking for something else.
As you know, I collect old photographs of Kerrville and Kerr County. While searching for a photo of Water Street, I ran across a small image I don’t remember seeing before. If its subject is what it purports to be, it’s the oldest known photograph of Camp Verde.
The photograph is small, around 3.5x5.5 inches, and is printed as a real photo postcard. Its sepia tones are sharp, and reveal a lot of detail. It’s signed and titled, a practice that was common around the turn of the last century.
Camp Verde Texas  around 1930
Camp Verde, around 1940
The photographer’s name was Ellen O’Neal. I have another image signed by O’Neal, of the Schreiner Mansion with a ox-drawn series of wagons parked in front of it. In those days a photographer might scratch their name (in reverse) on their negatives, so when they made a print it would be readable. Or they might write their name in an opaque ink on the surface of the film to make their name appear white when printed.
In both of the O’Neal photographs I have, the name is written at an angle, almost sloppily. The photos themselves are good, and reflect some skill. Adding the name appears to be an afterthought.
Camp Verde Texas around 1941
Camp Verde, around 1941
I researched the photographer, and find that a Mrs. Ellen O’Neal was active in Kerrville in 1905, running ads in the Kerrville Mountain Sun, offering to take photos of houses or to take portraits of families and children. Her office was ‘opposite’ the St. Charles Hotel; I think her office was on the corner of Water and Sidney Baker streets, on the corner now occupied by the city’s parking building.
The photo I found among my collection is labeled “Camp Verde.”
Camp Verde Texas historical plaque
Camp Verde plaque
That could mean several things. It could be a photograph of a family in front of their house in the community of Camp Verde. Or it could be a photograph of a family living at the old fort, Camp Verde, after it was abandoned as a fort in 1869, well after the civil war.
A careful examination of the ‘Camp Verde’ photograph by O’Neal shows a building similar to buildings shown in photographs taken later, mostly in the 1930s. But there are differences between the buildings in those photographs and the building shown in the O’Neal photograph.
Camp Verde Texas around 1936 by Starr Bryden
Camp Verde by Starr Bryden
For one, the posts supporting the porch are different; in the O’Neal image, the posts are made of wood. In the others, the posts are thicker, and look like they’re made of masonry.
And the roofline looks different in the O’Neal photograph, too. The O’Neal photo is also missing the chimneys shown in almost all of the other images.
But there are similarities between the various photographs of Camp Verde, too. The long porch with many openings and doors is similar in all of the photographs. The fencing is similar in at least two of the images.
Camp Verde Texas historical marker
Camp Verde historical marker
It’s true many of the buildings which once comprised Camp Verde are no longer there. It’s possible the O’Neal photo was of a building which existed around 1905, but no longer stands.
Here’s what I’m hoping: someone more familiar than I with Camp Verde and the old homes in that neighborhood will recognize the structure in the O’Neal photograph. It would be a bonus if anyone could identify the folks in the photograph, too.
Meanwhile, I’ll keep looking for that missing photograph of Water Street for which I was looking when I stumbled upon Mrs. O’Neal’s photograph of ‘Camp Verde.’
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who becomes obsessed with old Kerr County photographs. If you have one you’d care to share with him, he’ll scan the original and give it back to you, unless you’re super cool and give him the original. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times January 27, 2018.

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