Monday, March 25, 2013
Emilie and Charles: Siblings who made a difference in Kerr County
There are few brother and sister teams who've had as much impact on Kerrville and Kerr County as Emilie and Charles.
Both were born in Riquewihr, France in the 1830s; Emilie in 1836, and her little brother Charles in 1838, and were two of five children born to a prominent dentist and his wife.
The family emigrated to Texas in 1852, traveling from their ancestral home through Paris, on to Le Havre, and across the Atlantic to New Orleans. There they traveled by ship to Indianola, where they contracted for a mule team and pushed on to San Antonio.
The children were soon on their own, losing their father soon after arriving, and their mother not five years later. At least three of the siblings ended up in the Texas Hill Country.
One brother, Gustav, "followed the gold fever to California," and though he came to the Texas Hill Country for awhile, but ended up going to Central America, where his fate was never learned. Another brother, Fritz, stayed on in San Antonio, living until 1898.
Of the three children who came to the Texas Hill Country, one died young: Aime was among those murdered at the "Battle of the Nueces" by "Confederate" vigilantes.
Emilie and her brother Charles made their mark here in the Texas Hill Country, and both had long lives.
Charles enjoyed some success as a merchant, rancher and banker. You'll probably recognize his last name: Schreiner.
Emilie had success as well, and her story is interesting to me.
According to the March 1941 edition of the Frontier Times Magazine, Emilie was confirmed at 14 in the Lutheran church in Riquewhir, she received "the best educational advantages in both French and German." This refined education would prepare her for her life in the Texas Hill Country and provided a "quiet strength and courage" she would need to meet the challenges of the frontier.
In 1853 Emilie Schreiner married Caspar Real (pronounced 'Ree-all') and moved to a ranch on Martinez Creek, about 10 miles from San Antonio, near the present city of Converse. That ranch did not prosper -- drought and market conditions were problematic -- and the young couple moved to Turtle Creek, about seven miles south of Kerrville, where they engaged in ranching.
That ranch was successful and prospered, but it took a lot of very hard work.
Their first cabin on Turtle Creek was completed in 1857. It was "built of logs, chinked with chiseled rocks, and plastered with adobe.
"The long big room with a front porch, and the two small side rooms were warm and were equipped with the limited conveniences of that pioneer period. The 'big room' contained one window, a roughly hewn cypress floor and a big homey fireplace with two iron hooks on which to hang cooking vessels when needed. A three-legged stand was kept usually on the hearth near the side on which to put iron pots for boiling food. Bread was baked in a "skillet and lid." Mrs. Real frequently baked cookies for the children at Christmas and other special occasions in this skillet or 'Dutch oven' as it is now called.
"One of the small rooms became the Real kitchen as soon as it was possible to buy a cook stove; the other small room was used for a bedroom. Each of these rooms had only one window of two panes. The kitchen for several years had only a dirt floor."
All eight of the Real children were taught at home for their "first schooling," but later they attended schools in Comfort, Boerne, and San Antonio. Four sons attended Southwestern University in Georgetown; two sons went to schools in San Antonio.
The eight children in the born to Caspar and Emilie Real were Walter, a rancher; Emma, who married Herman Stieler of Comfort; Albert, a rancher; Arthur, also a rancher; Julius, who served as a Texas state senator, among other offices, and is the person for whom Real County is named; Robert, also a rancher; Mathilde, who was the wife of Hubert Ingenhuett of Comfort; and Charles, the youngest, who was a rancher who later worked for the State Comptroller's department in Austin.
Julius's daughter married into the Neunhoffer family, and their son Julius served as Kerr County Judge for many years.
So, the well-educated girl with "quiet strength" helped found a family still active in community affairs more than a 156 years later, an impressive legacy indeed.
Until next week, all the best.
Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who received a very tasty surprise this past week: a box of "Dietert Cookies," prepared by Chef Karen of the Dietert Center in Kerrville. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times March 23, 2013.
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