Historic Kerr County photographs available!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Kerr County's foremost historian


At Clarabelle's 101st birthday party, at the Turtle Creek School,
which she attended as a child.
Clarabelle Barton Snodgrass, who passed away February 29th, was dedicated to the preservation of local history. Even at 102 years old, her memory was as sharp as a tack. She knew more about the history of this place than anyone else I know.
Mrs. Snodgrass was the foremost historian of our county. Among her many accomplishments were the publication of the Kerr County Album, which so many of us have used as a resource; spearheading the effort to save the original Tivy School building, which is now the home of the Kerrville Independent School District's administrative offices; working tirelessly to get state historical markers throughout the county; and authoring many interesting articles and books about our local history.
Her most recent book, "The Last Bale of Hay," was published in 2012 and tells the story of her early years here in Kerr County, and of her family, especially her parents. The attractive book has 202 pages of very useful information about our community, including rare Kerr County photographs, many published there for the very first time. I believe the book is available at Wolfmueller's Books on Earl Garrett Street, across from the Kerr Arts and Cultural Center.
I was always very impressed by Mrs. Snodgrass' memory -- she could remember where everything was, who worked where, who lived where, and even what happened when.
And the stories she told! A whole parade of Kerr County characters pass through the pages of her last book. Her family, of course, but also others like several of the Schreiners, Starr Bryden, John Leavell, the family of Florence Butt, the Bernhards making sausage around a table, stories about Pampell's, about her neighbors in town, about schools and the price wars between the H. Noll Grocery Company and a little store called Mrs. Brown's.
Mrs. Snodgrass attended the Turtle Creek School, starting in the winter of 1921, when she finished first grade there. Her teacher was Miss Hattie James. While there she was promoted from second to fourth grade. The old Turtle Creek School still stands, and was the site of a recent birthday party for Mrs. Snodgrass.
During her fifth grade year, Kerr County lacked the funds to pay a teacher for a full school term at Turtle Creek, so young Clarabelle attended the Scofield School for Girls for several months. That school was on the hill where highways 16 and 173 split south of town, one heading to Medina, the other to Bandera. The old school building is still there, though I hear it is in sad disrepair, and its future is uncertain. It has been in the news, lately.
She attended Tivy in 1926, and graduated in 1930.
She got her driver's license at 13, given special permission to drive so young since she needed to travel from Turtle Creek to Tivy to attend school, driving a Ford coupe with one seat inside and a rumble seat outside in the back.
Her memories of life in the 1920s and 1930s in Kerr County are quite remarkable. Though her childhood was really not that long ago, life was so very different then. Her family's ties to agriculture -- both in ranching, farming, and in the bountiful gardens they raised -- gave young Clarabelle so many happy memories. The stories of neighbors, both in the country and in town, reflect a simpler time, when neighbors spent time with each other, and joined in working together.
I'm thankful Mrs. Snodgrass took the time to write down her memories of life in Kerr County, and I'm sure people will be reading her books, and enjoying her stories, for many years to come.
I know this about Mrs. Snodgrass: she would encourage everyone to write down their history. If you don't record the story of your life, and the stories of the communities you remember, so many important stories will be lost. I hope you'll get out paper and pen and write down your history; Clarabelle would have liked that.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who will certainly miss Clarabelle Snodgrass.  This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times March 5, 2016

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