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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Two who gave their lives

The Tivy High School Class of 1964 will be holding its 50th year reunion this year, during the homecoming festivities October 24th.  Dianne Meeker DeBarros, a member of that class, sent along photographs of the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, and the names of two of her classmates killed in that conflict.  They were so young when they died, and it's difficult to avoid wondering what their lives might have been had they not been in Southeast Asia those many years ago.  The two of her classmates memorialized on the Memorial are Robert Glen Chenault and Anthony Kunz.  While there were other Kerrville men who died in that war, these were in the Tivy graduating class of 1964.
Thanks, Dianne, for sending these photos for all of us to share -- and for remembering these brave young men.
Click on any image to enlarge
Anthony E. Kunz, member of the THS Class of '64

Robert Glen Chenault, member of the THS Class of '64



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Friday, October 10, 2014

The Top 10 most read stories on this website

Sometime on Friday, October 10, 2014, one of the pages of this blog will be opened, and that action will mark the 300,000th page view of this material.  (A page view is defined on Wikipedia like this:a request to load a single HTML file (web page) of an Internet site.)  So far that has happened 300,000 times on this little history blog.
Since I've started posting here several years ago, I've been really surprised how many people visit the site.  It's essentially the story of one little county in Texas -- and yet people have loaded up stories here 300,000 times.

Here are the top 10 most-read stories on this blog (so far).  

You can click on the blue link to visit each story.
  1. Captured by Apaches -- the story of my lunch with the daughter of a man who was captured by Apaches between Fredericksburg and Mason.
  2. Solving the Mystery of the Legless Man -- several readers of this blog solved the meaning of a rather odd photograph in my collection.
  3. Why David Wampler lost -- some of my trenchant analysis of local politics.
  4. A first peek at "Peterson Plaza" -- sometimes I get to see plans early, even before they're in the newspaper.
  5. My last Kerrville Daily Times column -- I wrote 999 columns for the Kerrville Daily Times.  And then I didn't.
  6. Fairy Tale Architecture for Mrs. Florence Butt -- photos of the home of Mrs. Florence Butt, who founded what is now H-E-B.  The home looked different when it was first built than it does today.
  7. Tivy High School Pep Rallies in Downtown Kerrville -- some nice nostalgic photographs of Tivy students in the old Kerrville downtown.
  8. Arcadia Theater: Endangered Species -- the sorry story of the City of Kerrville's poor stewardship of a remarkable downtown theater.
  9. What was in their pockets? -- a column about looking deeper at an old Kerrville photograph.
  10. First peek at plans for the old Sid Peterson Property -- people really wanted to know what the City of Kerrville planned for the heart of Kerrville Old Town.
Thanks for your support of this online history series, and for your kindness.  I hope you've enjoyed it so far!
The author, back during his career
as a cowboy.
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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Kerr County courthouse annex under construction

Julius Neunhoffer, whose father was county judge here for so long, shared this photo with me, showing the annex of the current Kerr County courthouse under construction.  I'd never seen photos of the project.  Thanks, Julius, for sharing this image with all of us.

Click on image to enlarge
Annex, Kerr County Courthouse, construction late 1970s.
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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The mystery photo of Governor John Connally

Julius Neunhoffer brought this image of Governor Connally by the other day, and it was a little bit of a mystery.  With Governor Connally is Neunhoffer's father, Kerr County Judge Julius Neunhoffer, and behind the two are Mr. and Mrs. Howard Butt, Sr.
Click on image to enlarge
Texas Governor John B. Connally and Kerr County Judge Julius Neunhoffer, April, 1967
Here's the mystery: it appears, since Mr. and Mrs. Butt are in the image, that this is an event at the library; however, Governor Connally was not at the dedication of the library.  That event featured then First Lady Ladybird Johnson.
In the background, you can see what looks to be the Tivy High School band.  To the right, a column of the library building.
So what could the event be?
It turns out there was a separate ceremony, a cornerstone celebration, during the construction of the library.  A front-page story in the Kerrville Mountain Sun, on April 26, 1967, talks about the event, but also gives a tantalizing clue about something else:
Did you know there's a time-capsule, of sorts, in the cornerstone of the library? 
Neither did I.  But there is.  In 2017, three years from now, that time capsule with be fifty years old....
Thanks, Julius, for sharing this image with all of us.
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Monday, September 22, 2014

Early Schools in Kerrville

Tivy School, probably taken in the late 1890s.
Though education was important to the earliest settlers of our community, early schools met infrequently and often had gaps in sessions, largely because of the problems of finding qualified teachers, and partly because of funding problems. The first school was held in the log courthouse, with William E. Pafford as its first teacher, as early as 1857.
In the years up to the Civil War, several names are recorded as teachers in Kerrville's early schools. Bob Bennett, in his "Kerr County" history writes "It is evident that but little schooling was available in Kerrsville for the first several years after the organization of the county. The classroom equipment consisted of a rough table, slab seats, and a plentiful supply of switches."
The school moved from the courthouse to "a frame building on the site now occupied by the [old] Sid Peterson Memorial Hospital," at the corner of what is now Sidney Baker and Water streets. Later the school moved to the John Ochse Store, near the corner of Washington and Main streets.
After the Civil War there was a civic movement in Kerrville to have the school housed in a permanent facility, and classes were held in the bottom floor of a two story rock building at the corner of Main and Sidney Baker streets. But even this solution was temporary.
In 1883 a frame school building was erected on Jefferson Street, and was named the "Guadalupe Institute." Boys enrolled in the school were given training "rudimentary military tactics," and drilled by their instructor Professor J. C. Lord. "The company used wooden lances in place of guns." I imagine they were quite a sight.
Still, even with boys parading with wooden lances, many in Kerrville wanted a more permanent school system. Captain Joseph A. Tivy, Kerrville's first mayor, is really the father of our school system here, because he gave the land for the schools and also tracts that could be sold to help fund construction of a school building.
"Two deeds from Joseph A. Tivy to the City of Kerrville were executed on August 16, 1890, conveying certain properties 'chiefly in consideration of the deep interest I feel in the cause of public education and with a view of promoting and advancing the growth and development thereof in the City of Kerrville."
In those days the schools were run by the city government, a point that was hotly debated after Captain Tivy's gift. The City of Kerrville was organized in 1889, but in early 1890 a petition was given to the council "requesting that an election be held to determine 1) whether or not the town of Kerrville should have exclusive control of the free public schools within its limits; and 2) to determine whether the free public schools should be under the control of the board of aldermen or a board of [school] trustees."
In January 1890 the vote was held and the City retained control of the schools, but also calling for the appointment of a board of trustees. But, this being Kerrville, people were unhappy with this result and a new election was held in April 1890, and the city council was given "complete control of the school property, the hiring of teachers and all other matters pertaining to Kerrville Public Schools."
A new school building was designed by B. F. Trester, but the plans exceeded the community's budget of $8000. New plans were drawn by C. C. Williams, and the firm of Davy & Schott and Williams were awarded the contract. The completed building was accepted by the city council in February 1891.
This school building is now home of the Kerrville Independent School District's administrative offices. It was almost torn down in the 1980s, but a group of concerned citizens, including my friend Clarabelle Snodgrass, saved it from the bulldozers.
The first diplomas from Tivy High School were awarded in 1895 to a class of three students; none were awarded the next year, or the next. Three more students graduated in 1898.
It wasn't until 1923 that the Kerrville Independent School District was established by election.

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