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Monday, January 16, 2012

The Kerr County Man they called Senator

There are wide gaps in the history I've reported here, a problem I'll try to mend over the upcoming year. I became aware of at least one of these gaps while reading an old Kerrville paper online this weekend, running across a true Kerr county character whose story I've never told here.
There are some folks who go through at least part of their life with a title affixed to their name. "Captain" Charles Schreiner, for instance, or even "Boss," Hal Peterson's honorific that found its way onto his tombstone.
But there was a Kerr County native who was known as "Senator."
Senator Julius Real
Julius Real was born in the early spring of 1860 at his family's ranch on Turtle Creek, south of town, the son of Caspar and Emilie (Schreiner) Real. Caspar and Charles Schreiner ranched together and operated a general store near Camp Verde; Charles Schreiner was Emilie's brother, so Julius was his nephew.
When Julius was in his mid-30s, he was elected Kerr County commissioner; later, in 1902 he was elected county judge and county superintendent of education, dual posts he held for six years.
In 1908 he was elected to the state senate, the only republican in that body. Yet despite his party affiliation he was respected and admired by his colleagues. I suppose the most obvious sign of this respect came in 1913, a year before he left the Texas senate: when a portion of Edwards, Kerr, and Bandera counties was broken off to form a new county, his colleagues chose to name the new county after him.
Can you imagine this happening today? Having a member of either political party so honoring a member of the opposite political party?
After six years in the Texas senate, Julius Real attempted to retire from public life, to devote his time to ranching. However, in 1924, "he was recalled to the Senate by popular mandate," according to the Handbook of Texas online. He served in that body for four additional years.
He was active in his community as well. "Real chaired the Kerr County Republican Committee and served on the board of trustees of Schreiner Institute and on the board of directors of the Kerrville Chamber of Commerce. He was a member of the Masons, the Rotary Club, the Woodmen of the World, and the Order of the Sons of Hermann, and served as president of a German singing society, the Texas Gebirgs Sängerbund," according the Handbook.
Real married Marguerethe Koch Schmidt on February 23, 1886; they had one child, a daughter, who married Oscar Neunhoffer. One of Real's grandsons, Julius Neunhoffer, also served Kerr County as county judge.
Senator Real died at his home on Turtle Creek on May 29, 1944.
Texas governor Coke Stevenson spoke at Real's funeral, and the Kerrville Concordia, part of the Texas Gebirgs Saengerbund, of which Real had served as president, sang hymns. "There were tears in Governor Stevenson's eyes and a catch in his voice as he paid a beautiful tribute to the life and works of the man, whom he'd been privileged to call his friend," according to the account in the Kerrville Mountain Sun.
I imagine Senator Real would have been one of the most interesting pioneers to talk to -- imagine the stories he could tell.
Until next week, all the best.
Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who finds many of our community's pioneers quite admirable. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times January 7, 2012

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