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Sunday, December 4, 2022

The historic Kerrville photographs behind some 1930s tourist souvenirs

Souvenir creamer, Jonroth Studios,
showing Water Street, early 1930s.
Click on any image to enlarge.

Maker's stamps
Years ago, my friend Fred Gamble gave me a little souvenir porcelain cup which showed the 700 block of Water Street, as it appeared in possibly the early 1930s.

The cup was meant for tourists, to be purchased as a memento of their visit to our community. It was sold by Pampell’s, an enterprise located on the corner of Water and Sidney Baker streets; the Humble Fork Restaurant is in the building today.

The name "Pampell's," was a family's name. John Lee Pampell (1871-1958), of Brenham, Texas, arrived in Kerrville on Independence Day, 1890. That means he arrived in Kerrville about the time many of the oldest buildings in downtown Kerrville were being built, including the Masonic Building (now home to Turtle Creek Olives & Vines), and the Weston Building (now home to Francisco's Restaurant).

Saucer, Water Street scene
700 block of Water, early 1930s.

In 1931, a small history of Kerr County was published to help celebrate the 75th anniversary of the creation of Kerr County. It was written by middle school students under the careful guidance of their history teacher, Mrs. Kate Franklin.

The sketch about J. L. Pampell paints a picture of what Kerrville looked like in the 1890s; he arrived in Kerrville on Independence Day, 1890.

Candy plate, with mill dam scene.

Kerrville's Mill Dam, ca. 1890s.

"I was impressed at first by the sight of the beautiful hills, the fine Guadalupe River and the splendid class of people who were found, not carrying 'six-shooters' nor lacking in their welcome to a stranger. Captain Schreiner's store, his residence, the St. Charles Hotel, and Dr. Parsons' livery stable, with the dance hall above, were the chief buildings except the court house and the Union Church, where all denominations worshipped."

"My first small business place was an 'Ice Cream Parlor and Confectionery,' where the present wool warehouse now stands," the report reads. 

Saucer, with Ice Plant and Mill scene
Kerrville mill scene, by Starr Bryden, 1950s

That means Pampell's first store was about where the porch of ‘Club Charles’ now stands, almost directly across the street from the Arcadia Theater and Baublit's Jewelers.

His business moved twice; "In 1899 I purchased and removed to my third and present location where the property was then known as the Gregory Hotel."

That hotel was on the corner of Water and what is now Sidney Baker Street.

Among the wonderful things given to me by my friends Sandy and Jon Wolfmueller was a box of souvenir items sold in the old Pampell’s – including a variety of souvenir porcelain items similar to that porcelain cup given to me long ago by Fred Gamble.

Toy cup, with Water Street scene

Each item is stamped on the bottom with a logo which reads “The Jonroth hand-painted studios, Germany.” Beneath that mark is the logo of Pampell’s, along with the text “Painted & Imported for Pampell’s, Kerrville, Tex.”

I found this snippet on the Internet, so take it with a grain of salt: “Jonroth Studios was a name used by an American importing company, John H. Roth & Co. The company was founded in 1909 and imported china from Germany, Japan and England.”

There are several items with the same design in the collection, but I thought it might be fun to pair the painted porcelain items with photographs which might have inspired the Jonroth folks as they designed these items.

There are landmarks in the Water Street painted images – Pampell’s of course, but also the Blue Bonnet Hotel, a sign for the St. Charles Hotel, and the blade of the Arcadia. There’s also a Florsheim shoe sign which appears in the painted images.

Recently a kind reader sent me a collection of postcards and photographs which included all of these elements, and I invite you to compare it to the painted tourist items.

I also found photographs which correspond with the two images of the mill dam which once paused the Guadalupe near today’s pavilion overlooking Louise Hays Park.

I’m thankful for the generosity of so many people who bring me items from Kerr County’s past.

Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who enjoys studying about our community’s history. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times December 3, 2019

You can help by sharing this story with someone, by forwarding it by email, or sharing it on Facebook. Sharing is certainly caring. (Christmas gift idea: I also have two Kerr County history books available online, with free shipping!)





Sunday, November 27, 2022

1950s Kerr County Christmas Cards

1950s Kerr County Christmas Card, with
photos taken by Starr Bryden. 
This one is called "Typical Ranch near Kerrville Tex."
Click on any image to enlarge.

A long-time reader sent a packet of Kerr County photographs my way last week, and I was delighted to receive them. There were a lot of images I’d never seen before, which I’ll share here in later columns.

Among the images were some I had seen before, but shown in a different format than I’d ever seen: they were Christmas cards, and I’m pretty sure I know which photographer took the images.

Starr Bryden, 1950s
I’ve written about Starr Bryden on these pages many times, and his story is a good one.

Raymond Starr Bryden came to Texas in 1912, suffering from what doctors then called "Galloping Consumption." He spent a year and a half in San Antonio, then moved to Kerrville in 1913, "just a jump and a skip ahead of Father Time with the scythe."

"He made quite a few passes at me," Bryden wrote in 1956, "but I jumped and the scythe went under my feet."

He was close to death in the first few weeks of arriving in Kerr County, and the kindness of a family saved his life.

This came from a descendant of that family:

Schreiner Institute
"Starr [Bryden] was a very interesting man. He and his father had come to Texas from Tennessee. Starr had tuberculosis and was very ill. Like many others, he had heard that the climate in the hill country of Texas would be beneficial in helping him recover from his illness. I believe he was about 16 years old when he came to Kerr County. My great-grandfather (Harry Williams) discovered Starr and his dad camped in a primitive shelter on a neighbor's ranch near Turtle Creek. He went home that evening and told my great-grandmother about having found a very sick boy and his dad camped out in the woods. My great-grandmother (Ella Denton Williams) insisted that they bring the boy to their home. They enclosed a corner of their front porch and made a room for Starr. My great grandmother fed him, nursed him back to health, and even taught him to walk again. Starr remained in the Kerrville area the rest of his life. He rode a bicycle most of his early years, and rode a motor scooter as he got older."

Guadalupe River
Despite his bout with tuberculosis, he was drafted and called for service June 25, 1918 for what he called the "Big War." He wrote he "went in when the Cap busted, and came out before the gun fired, so to speak."

Starr Bryden supported himself with photography. He took photos, developed film, and made prints for people. Among the 1950s-era Christmas cards a kind reader sent me this week were several which had photos I recognized as Starr Bryden’s. He was always promoting the beauty of the Texas Hill Country.

Goat on Medina Mountain
The Christmas cards show local scenes, and have a nice handmade touch: on each card, the little decoration above the type has been colored by hand, turning a black and white image into a charming greeting card. 

I believe most of these images were taken in the mid-1950s. While I cannot exactly pinpoint the location where each shot was taken, they show our area as it once was, with fewer houses, fewer electric lines, and no cell towers. I get a little nostalgic looking at them.

Now that we’re past Thanksgiving – and the mad rush has started for Christmas – it did me some good to see these old greeting cards. Time was slower when these cards were shared.

Until next week, all the best.


Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who loved spending time with his family this past week. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times November 26, 2022.

You can help by sharing this story with someone, by forwarding it by email, or sharing it on Facebook. Sharing is certainly caring. (Christmas gift idea: I also have two Kerr County history books available online, with free shipping!)




Sunday, November 20, 2022

The Texas Aggie's 12th Man tradition -- and its connection to Kerrville's Schreiner University

An early photograph of Schreiner Institute's 'Administration Building.'
Click on any image to enlarge.

Though I was raised to be a Texas Longhorns fan, because both of my parents attended the university in Austin, even I have heard the story of the 12th Man at Texas A&M University.

What I didn’t know was the 12th Man story’s connection to Schreiner University. 

My business neighbors Lee and Don Voelkel, of Voelkel Land Surveying, both Aggies, gave me the scoop.

Here’s the story of the 12th Man tradition at Texas A&M, for those who might not know:

On January 2, 1922, the Aggies were playing the Centre College Praying Colonels. The Colonels was the top-ranked team in the 1921-1922 college football season, and had three All-Americans. They were undefeated, and coached by the Aggies’ former coach, Charley Moran.

During the first half, the Aggie team suffered many injuries. They lost 2 running backs to injuries in the 1st quarter, followed by a fullback, halfback, and even a quarterback. The Aggie coach, Dana X. Bible was running out of players.

E. King Gill, an Aggie student, had been on the A&M team as a backup running back, but had decided to focus on basketball, and so he left the team in the middle of the season. He happened to be at the Aggie-Colonels game, because it was in Dallas, his hometown. One of the sportswriters covering the game, Jinx Tucker, of Waco, saw Gill, and asked him to be a spotter up in the press box. Gill was helping Tucker keep track of the players for his story covering the game.

After losing so many players to injuries, the Aggie coach, Bible, saw Gill up in the press box. He waved Gill down to the sideline. According to legend, Bible told Gill “Boy, it doesn’t look like I’m going to have enough players to finish the game. You may have to go in there and stand around for a while.”

W. C. Weir, in 1941
Gill ran under the bleachers, and put on the uniform of one of the injured players: W. C. “Heine” Weir, an Aggie running back who suffered a broken leg in the first quarter of the game. Gill returned to the sideline, ready to aid the Aggies if needed. Gill was the ‘12th Man.’

The Aggies won the game, 22-14.

Since then, it’s become a tradition for the Aggie student body to stand during football games, ready to join the team if called upon. The entire student body is the symbolic ‘12th Man.’

But what does this have to do with Schreiner University?

If you have ever visited the Schreiner University campus, you will have noticed the tall building in its center. In many ways, that building is one of the symbols of the school.

It was one of the first three buildings constructed for the school. When its cornerstone was dedicated, in 1922, Captain Charles Schreiner was in attendance. Schreiner gave the land and money for the school, and it is named in his honor.

For many years that tall building was known as the Administration Building. In 1970, a new building was constructed on campus, the Tom Murray Building, which became the administrative offices of the school.

The building now known as the
"W. C. Weir Academic Building."
In May, 1970, the trustees of Schreiner Institute chose to honor a long-serving instructor and administrator by renaming the old administration building the “W. C. Weir Academic Building.” William Calvin Weir came to Schreiner Institute in 1937, as athletic director, and became commandant at the school in 1943. He became dean of students in 1948. In 1969, Weir was named administrative dean. For most of those years, Weir was also a professor of mathematics. I’ve always known the tall building as the Weir Building, but didn’t know for whom it was named.


In January, 1922, when the Aggie’s 12th Man, E. King Gill, ran under the bleachers to put on an injured football player’s uniform, he put on the uniform of W. C. “Heine” Weir, a man who spent most of his career guiding students at Kerrville’s Schreiner Institute.

If Dean Weir had not have been injured in that game, it’s possible the tradition of the 12th Man would never have had its start at Texas A&M.

Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who once attended the UT-A&M game. It’s true. The students stand up for the entire game. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times November 19, 2022

You can help by sharing this story with someone, by forwarding it by email, or sharing it on Facebook. Sharing is certainly caring. (Christmas gift idea: I also have two Kerr County history books available online, with free shipping!)




Sunday, November 13, 2022

The glory days of Schreiner Institute football

An early Schreiner Institute football game.
Click on any image to enlarge.

With Schreiner University’s recent announcement of football returning to the campus, I thought it might be fun to research the earliest football teams at what was then called Schreiner Institute.

When Schreiner opened its classroom doors almost 100 years ago, on September 18, 1923, it had six instructors on its first faculty: J. J. Delaney, president and instructor in mathematics; S. V. Carmack, English and history; C. C. Mason, agriculture and science; James C. Oehler Jr., Latin and mathematics; and J. C. Patterson, history. They were expecting 75 students that first year, and when 85 enrolled, the new school had to scramble to build dormitory space.

The very first Schreiner Institute
 football team, 1923
Two of the men had big jobs outside of the classroom: Mason was the commandant and instructor in military science, and Oehler was the director of athletics at the new school.

That means James C. Oehler, Jr., an Uvalde native, was Schreiner Institute’s first football coach, and his work began before classes started. On September 10th, Schreiner Institute held its first ‘football training camp,’ and Oehler had 38 young men to show up. Oehler was optimistic: “prospects are bright for a fast squad at the Institute the opening year.”

Fortunately, most of the students had played football before.

Their first game was on September 28, 1923 against the “strong Junction High School eleven on the local school’s gridiron.

The 1926 team, undefeated

“According to the advance dope a good game is in store for the fans. Junction is reported to be unusually strong and the Maroon and White squad has shown some good stuff in scrimmages…The Maroon and White will put a strong eleven in the field tomorrow. The team as a whole, although heavy, is fast enough to work the running and passing game as well as straight football in line plunging, and the chances are that the fans will see samples of each kind of tactics in tommorow’s fray.”

Schreiner won that first game, 7 – 0.

For a brand-new school, Schreiner had a decent opening season: 4-2-1, outscoring opponents 101 to 50.

The Schreiner football program got a big boost in 1925, when H. C. ‘Bully’ Gilstrap became the school’s athletic director. Gilstrap had achieved athletic greatness at the University of Texas at Austin, lettering in three different sports in his first year of eligibility.

The 1923 team

“We hope to offer Junior College athletes the finest opportunity in South and Central Texas for their athletic development,” Gilstrap told the Kerrville Mountain Sun.

The stats suggest Gilstrap was correct. The next year, 1926, the Schreiner Mountaineers were undefeated. The team won the state junior college championship in 1935.

They won that title again in 1937, a year after Gilstrap left Schreiner. That team featured some prominent Tivy High School players, who’d played on the legendary 1936 Tivy Football team, including Preston Chambliss and Slick McCaleb.

Rex Kelly was another notable coach at Schreiner Institute, serving as a line coach through the 1940s and early 1950s.

In 1950, Claude ‘Chena’ Gilstrap, brother of ‘Bully,’ took the reins of the football program. Cliff Newell, in a 1989 article in this newspaper about Schreiner sports, had this nugget about Claude Gilstrap’s teams: in 1950, “one of the new players was a slender, bespeckled young man from Paris, Texas, who showed a depressing lack of speed for a wide receiver. His name was Raymond Berry, and he became the most famous football player ever to come out of Schreiner Institute.” 

Berry had a long career in professional football, including playing for the Baltimore Colts, where he led the NFL in receptions and receiving yards three times, and in receiving touchdowns twice. Barry was invited to six Pro Bowls. Barry was also head coach of the New England Patriots in the 1980s.

The football program ended at Schreiner Institute in 1956, though one standout player from that season also had a career in professional football: Charley Johnson, who played for the Cardinals, Broncos, and Oilers. In the midst of his football career, Johnson earned his doctorate in chemical engineering, later he worked at NASA while in the U.S. Army Reserve, and was a professor of chemical engineering.

Football at Schreiner University has a rich history, and it will be interesting to watch the school reclaim some of the program’s earlier glories.

Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who collects Kerr County historical items. If you have something you’d care to share with him, it would make him happy. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times November 12, 2022.

You can help by sharing this story with someone, by forwarding it by email, or sharing it on Facebook. Sharing is certainly caring. (It's almost gift-giving season. I have two books filled with historic photographs that make fine presents. Click here for more information.)




Sunday, November 6, 2022

Back when it took most of a day to travel from Kerrville to Junction

Freight wagons leaving Kerrville, heading west -- 1905.
Click on any image to enlarge.

These days, driving from Kerrville to Junction takes less than an hour on Interstate 10. There was a time, not that long ago, when the same journey would take most of a day – but only if the weather was good.

Years ago, Herbert Oehler wrote a history column for this newspaper, and some of those columns were collected into a book called “Hill Country Boy,” which my father printed in the early 1980s. I purchased my copy of the book from my friends Jon and Sandy Wolfmueller, back when they had their wonderful bookstore.

A wagon similar to the one
described by Oehler
“There was a time,” Oehler wrote, “early in [the last] century when the same trip consumed most of a day, sometimes even longer when rain made the road a series of water filled ruts except in those places where uneven rocks cropped to the surface.

“…During the time I was growing up…Roy Kemp was the operator [of the stage line connecting Kerrville and Junction]. The vehicle Kemp used was nothing like the stage coach depicted in current Western movies. It was a hack with three seats, an oilcloth-covered top, and oilcloth curtains with isinglass windows. In rainy or cold weather these curtains were rolled down and fastened tightly to make the hack more comfortable.”

'Isenglass,' Gentle Reader, is a substance made from the dried swim bladders of fish.

Oehler’s family’s place was one of the stops on the line. “It was not a passenger station in the usual sense but simply a stop where the horses which had brought the hack from Kerrville were unharnessed and a new team hitched up. The stage line hired a man to do this. He had a tent to live in, pitched under a big walnut tree near the creek. Besides hitching and unhitching the teams, it was his duty to see that the horses were fed, watered, shod and given such other care as required.”

Freight wagons crossing river, 1900.
From the Blakely family collection.
Oehler remembered the names of three of those hired to do this job: a Mr. McMickle, a Mr. Rainey, and his aunt, Emma Heimann. “Of course,” he writes, “Aunt Emma lived with us instead of in the tent while she held the job.”

Four horses were used to pull the hack from Kerrville to the Oehler’s place, unless it was rainy; then six were required, just to get the hack through the ruts. “This was particularly true of the Mountain Home to Junction stretch which had not been graveled except in a few places where the mud was especially deep.”

“The fact that this road was also used by freighters who hauled wool and mohair from Junction to Kerrville, and merchandise in the opposite direction, certainly didn’t tend to improve the road since the heavily loaded wagons cut deep ruts into the soft ground.

Surrey wagon near Kerrville.
“The stage stop at our house supplied no special facilities for the passengers. On cold days they were welcome to come into the house to warm themselves in front of the open fireplace. Some who tried to make the trip more comfortable by warming their feet with a heated brick wrapped in a tow sack or in a strip of blanket, might bring the brick in to reheat it while they were soaking up the warmth.

“They were welcome, too, to seek out the little outhouse back near the barn. This was a two-holer, completely equipped with a bucket of corn cobs and a Sears Roebuck catalog. It is doubtful if every outhouse on the stage line gave the passengers such a choice,” Oehler writes proudly.

The road, Oehler speculates, “no doubt followed quite closely the military route surveyed by Col. Albert Sidney Johnston in the 1850s to provide access to the forts established along the western frontier.”

This route crossed Johnson Creek 12 times between Mountain Home and Kerrville (13 crossings if you count the Smith Branch crossing).

Consider that, Gentle Reader. We take for granted the terrain here as we travel in comfort, sealed in our air-conditioned cars, listening to music, and talking on the telephone.

Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who appreciates modern highways. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times November 5, 2022.

You can help by sharing this story with someone, by forwarding it by email, or sharing it on Facebook. Sharing is certainly caring. (It's almost gift-giving season. I have two books filled with historic photographs that make fine presents. Click here for more information.)





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