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Sunday, September 18, 2022

Painting by Kerrville artist and pioneer photographer shows up in Albuquerque

Landscape by Spencer Hinsdale Huntington, undated.
The artist lived in Kerrville until his death in 1949.
Click on any image to enlarge.

A little over 120 years ago, Dale Huntington, a young man in his mid-twenties, arrived in Kerrville with his two aunts. Orphaned at 12, he was raised by two of his paternal aunts, and the three of them made a family and lived together in Kerrville for the rest of their lives. Their home, in the 200 block of A Street, has been gone for many years.
This week, thanks to the kindness of a fellow in Albuquerque, I received an original oil painting by Dale Huntington.
Although I have several photographs in my collection which were taken by someone named “Huntington,” I never knew very much about Kerrville’s Spencer Hinsdale ‘Dale’ Huntington until I was searching through U. S. patents a few years ago, just to see how many brilliant inventors had lived right here in Kerrville. I was surprised to find well over 100 patents awarded to local inventors, ranging from a ‘cat restrainer’ to a ‘vaned rotor engine and compressor.’ There were many clever and complicated inventions listed, and all were invented right here.
Huntington's patent
Dale Huntington’s invention intrigued me. It was a patent for a coding device, for sending secret messages. It had two disks, one attached on top of the other, the top disk smaller than the one below. Etched on each disk were the letters of the alphabet. Kerrville’s S. H. Huntington was awarded patent 1,500,077 for the device July 1, 1924.
Honestly, the critical working parts of the device looked a lot like the “secret decoder” rings we used to find in boxes of cereal back in the late 1960s.
Postcard with image taken
by Huntington
The patent intrigued me for two reasons: first, secret messages are automatically intriguing; second, I recognized the name, S. H. Huntington. He was a pioneer photographer here.
Spencer Hinsdale ‘Dale’ Huntington was born on 1877 in Ohio. He lost his mother and a sister in 1879 when he was a toddler. His father and grandfather were civil engineers who designed and built railroads; his father, George Spencer Huntington, was the constructing engineer on the cogwheel railroad which travels up Pike’s Peak, and died there during its construction in 1889. 
So our Kerrville inventor, Dale Huntington, was an orphan by the time he was 12. I think he was raised by two of his paternal aunts, Fannie and Sarah Huntington, and all three arrived in Kerrville in 1901, when Dale was around 24. 
Huntington photography studio, 
corner of Water and Sidney Baker Streets
That would put Dale Huntington in Kerrville at the same time a photography studio stood on the corner of todays’ Water and Sidney Baker Streets, where the municipal parking building is located today. 
I have several copies of a photograph of that studio, which has an elaborate sign reading “Huntington/ Photographer.” I believe Dale Huntington was that photographer, and I have several of his historic photographs in my collection, some of which are ‘signed,’ and several I strongly suspect were taken by him.
I don’t think Huntington would consider himself a photographer. Most of his creative work went into oil paintings, which he often showed at local fairs. In fact, his occupation is listed as artist in several places. 
This week, one of his artworks returned to Kerrville.
He had a varied career. On his World War I draft registration card, when he was 41, he listed his occupation as “show card painter,” for a company in San Antonio. A 5,000 acre ranch, on Kelly Creek, in west Kerr County, was called the “S. H. Huntington Ranch,” so at least at one point in his life he had some capital, and was a rancher. He was interested in a new technology: radio. He had a store selling and repairing radios, and, according to a front-page story in the Kerrville Times, built ‘the world’s largest radio,’ with 23 tubes, and taking up one side of a room.
He served as the city secretary of Kerrville; he was the enumerator of the 1920 census; he was an avid golfer who was on the very first board of directors of the first golf course and country club here in 1924 (now Scott Schreiner Municipal Golf Course); he competed in chess championships; he taught astronomy to local boy scouts. Just a typical guy.
The Huntington's home, 
232 A Street, Kerrville, in 1934
Dale Huntington died in Kerrville in 1949, and was buried next to his aunts at Glen Rest Cemetery.
The Huntingtons were faithful members of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, here in Kerrville. After his death, the church held an “Art Exhibit & Auction” to benefit the guilds of the church. On Friday and Saturday, June 24 and 25, at the Blue Bonnet Hotel, and later in front of the Charles Schreiner Company, the auction was held, with Earl Brewton serving as auctioneer.
Some of the paintings were raffled off.
In handwriting, on the paper on the back of the framed painting, is this message:
“One of Dale Huntington’s paintings. Father [L. W.] Eldridge won from St. Martha’s Guild raffle, and gave to me – Lucille Eldridge.” Lucille and Louis Eldridge had several children, including Eloise Eldridge Henry, and Everett “Cotton” Eldridge. Cotton is famous locally for the waterskiing shows he produced in the narrow river lake at Louise Hays Park. Eloise Eldridge Henry, his sister, lived most of her life in New Mexico, including a time in Albuquerque. 
I’m guessing that’s how Dale Huntington’s painting ended up in Albuquerque.
“[Huntington] was a member of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church when I was a girl,” Eloise Henry wrote on the back of the painting’s frame, “and lived about 2 blocks from us.”
I like it when a Kerrville item makes its way back home, and I’m glad this little painting returned to the town where it was created.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who is always looking for Kerrville items to bring back home to our community. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times September 17, 2022.

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

Sunday, September 11, 2022

That time Van Cliburn gave a piano concert at Kerrville's Tivy Elementary auditorium

The pianist Van Cliburn, and the program he performed
in Kerrville on April 4, 1957.
Click on any image to enlarge

The Community Concert Service was an organization based in New York City, across the street from Carnegie Hall, which had as its mission to have “A Carnegie Hall in every town.” It was an offshoot of Columbia Artists Management, and it arranged for musicians to perform in small towns across the United States. It was created in the late 1920s, and weathered the storms of radio, television, and the ever-changing musical tastes of small-town America.
Last month I read about the Community Concert Service in a national newspaper, and I wondered if the organization ever sent artists to Kerrville. 
I was surprised by what I found.
A year or so ago, an old scrapbook was loaned to me by a friend. It’s a large one: the pages are 16x18 inches, made of a fading construction paper. Someone put a lot of work in the scrapbook. Most of the pages have photographs, programs, news clippings about performances which occurred here in Kerrville. 
Membership campaign: in the lobby of the 
Blue Bonnet Hotel; Mrs. Herbert Brehmer,
Mrs. Charles Henry, Mrs. Charlie Peterson,
Mrs. 'Tiny' Stacy
The earliest of these were sponsored by the “Municipal Concert Association,” in 1948. The first concert, on November 9, 1948, featured Tomiko Kanazawa, ‘Lyric Soprano;’ Gabor Carelli, Tenor; with Aaron Liefer accompanying on the piano.
I’m not familiar enough with postwar classical music artists to recognize these names, so I searched the Internet to learn Ms. Kanazawa was known for her performances of Madame Butterfly by Puccini; a selection from that opera was performed here. She appeared for several years on the NBC Television Opera Theater.
Subscriptions for the concert season of three live performances were sold to the public for $5 per adult and $2 for students. No single admission tickets to any performance would be sold, and only paid subscribers could attend.
In 1948, Kerrville had no ‘municipal auditorium,’ nor the lovely Cailloux Theater. These first performances were held at the Tivy Elementary Auditorium, in what is now a rarely used building facing Barnett Street. The “Municipal Concert Association” continued offering concerts in Kerrville until February, 1952.
Reception after concert: Mrs. Milton Pampell,
Mrs. Olga Seth, Mrs. Elizabeth Bennett,
Mona Paulee (Mezzo Soprano soloist),
Mrs. J. G. Wilcox, Dean Holt
However, for the concert season starting in the autumn of 1952, a new organization was formed: the “Kerrville Community Concerts Association,” which was associated with the New York City organization I read about – the one which hoped for a Carnegie Hall in every town.
The new organization started with a bang. Mayor J. L. Bullard proclaimed ‘Community Concert Week,’ and the fundraising drive started with a banquet at the Blue Bonnet Hotel, which was apparently well-attended. Subscription prices went up, too: $6 for adults, and $3 for students – though this price was for four concerts, instead of three, so the per-concert cost went down.
On October 16, 1952, the new organization presented its first performance, the piano duo of Alfred and Herbert Teltschik. (I wonder if they were related to our beloved Tivy High School band director, the late Avie Teltschik?) Again, this performance took place in the elementary school auditorium.
I’ll admit, again, I don’t recognize any of the performers’ names. Well, until the concert held on April 4, 1957, here in Kerrville, in the small Tivy Elementary auditorium. A lanky pianist, raised in Kilgore, Texas, performed a program of Bach, Chopin, Beethoven, Barber, Rachmaninoff, Scriabine, and Listz. The pianist’s name: Van Cliburn.
Leadership of the Kerrville concert organization: Ima Andrews, Violet Peterson, Betsy Bennett,
Josephine (Dodo) Parker, Tiny Stacy, Martha Starkey, Jesse Lynn Henry, Emma Kennedy.

Van Cliburn graduated from Kilgore High School in 1952; made his debut with the New York Philharmonic in 1954; played in the Tivy Elementary auditorium in 1957; won the inaugural International Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow in 1958. He had a long and successful career, though his performance here was obviously a stepping stone.
Perhaps not an actual stepping stone.
These concerts from the Community Concert Service brought classical music to small towns, and I’m happy to learn Kerrville was among the places these performances took place. According to the large scrapbook, the last concerts of the Kerrville Concerts Association took place in 1968. 
Other organizations took up the baton later. The Kerrville Performing Arts Society brought music to our community for many years; Playhouse 2000 continues to provide popular musical entertainments today; the Symphony of the Hills has well-attended concerts.
Not bad for a small town on a bend of the Guadalupe River in the Texas Hill Country.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native and former board president of the Symphony of the Hills. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times September 10, 2022.

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

Sunday, August 28, 2022

In 1917, Kerrville lost a (rigged) statewide contest -- but won a prize anyway

The San Antonio Light, June 10, 1917, page 5.
Click on any image to enlarge.

In June, 1917, Kerrville competed with nineteen other communities to have a state college established here – the West Texas Agricultural & Mechanical College. Though Kerrville did not win that competition, that contest changed our community’s history.
The people of ‘West Texas’ – the area’s borders have not ever been very well defined, though in this case, it meant west of the 98th meridian – became concerned that no state colleges were in their part of the state. Their taxes were paying for several state colleges – but none in their region. Further, Texas A&M, in Bryan, dealt with agricultural issues that were foreign to the weather and soil of ‘West Texas,’ and the curriculum there, in the opinion of the ‘West Texans,’ did not prepare students for the agriculture needs of the western part of the state.
“West Texas has been clamoring for more state institutions of learning,” the June 15, 1917, issue of the Kerrville Mountain Sun reported, “especially for a college where agronomy and animal husbandry could be taught to the young men of West Texas, not in a general way, but in a manner specific of conditions peculiar to West Texas….”
James "Pa" Ferguson
Various state politicians for several decades entered bills for such a college, and a bill establishing the college finally made it through the legislature – leaving the decision about where the new school would go until after the bill was enacted. Communities faced a June 1, 1917, deadline for filing applications and proposals, and nineteen communities, including Kerrville, met the deadline.
The committee established to decide which community won the college was made up of Governor James ‘Pa’ Ferguson, who served as chairman; Lt. Governor William Hobby; W. F. Doughty, state superintendent of public instruction; Fred W. Davis, commissioner of agriculture, and Franklin Fuller, speaker of the Texas House of Representatives. The group made plans to visit each of the sites, traveling by train, and meeting with dignitaries from each of the communities hoping to obtain the college.
On June 10, 1917, the committee left San Antonio to travel to Kerrville. Joining them on the journey were Capt. Charles Schreiner, and state senator Julius Real (though in 1917, he was in between several terms as our state senator).
Kerrville made an exceptionally sweet offer to the committee: 2,121 acres of prime land, along the Guadalupe River, “about two miles from the town.” Of the land, ‘715 acres are under cultivation, and 400 more are to be broken if so desired.’ Arable land would have been an important feature for an agricultural college. 
Charles Schreiner
The San Antonio & Aransas Pass Railroad line ran through the property, and a rail stop was already located on the site, according to news reports. An old Kerr County map shows two rail stops between Kerrville and Center Point: Parsons and Split Rock. Of the two, Parsons was about two miles from downtown.
Kerrville pulled out all of the stops for the committee. They arranged for a special rail car for them. They built an observation platform at the site. They wined and dined them at Kerrville’s St. Charles Hotel. Speeches were made, including remarks from Gov. Ferguson.
James E. Ferguson was a colorful character. On July 28, 1917, the ‘locating board went into session in the private office’ of the governor. Ferguson instructed each member of the committee to write their selection for the site of the school on a slip of paper, which he then collected and counted. Curiously, the slips of paper were not seen by any other member of the committee. Ferguson announced to the group that ‘Abilene gets the school.’
Later, Hobby, Fuller, and Davis indicated they had not voted for Abilene – and there were only five members of the committee. There was no way Abilene could have been selected by the group as the site of the new school. There was a public outcry – but Ferguson refused to reconvene the committee.
In August, when articles of impeachment were drawn up against Ferguson, one of the charges brought against him was the misuse of ballots in locating the West Texas A&M college. Ferguson was impeached in August, 1917, and Hobby became governor on August 25, 1917.
Early Schreiner Institute postcard
With state government in an uproar, the legislature repealed the proposal for the new college, and the issue was dead. It wasn’t until 1923 that the legislature passed a bill for a college in west Texas, a new Texas Technological College, now Texas Tech University. It wasn’t until 1993 that a university was named ‘West Texas A&M University,’ in Canyon, Texas, and that was a rebranding of a school that started in 1910 as West Texas Normal College.
Plus, the United States entered World War I on April 6, 1917. The world was at war.
Back to Kerrville in 1917: after the fiasco over the competition to be the home of a new state college, one local man decided to take action. The proposed West Texas A&M was dead as of August, 1917. It didn’t look like the issue could be revived.
Schreiner Institute
Charles Schreiner announced his plan: on December 31, 1917, he would donate $250,000, along with 140.25 acres of land in Kerrville, to establish a preparatory school for boys -- with the provision work on it could not begin until the war was over and at least a year had passed from the signing of the peace treaties.
And so, in losing the competition for a state school, Kerrville gained a local one. The school Charles Schreiner created is known today as Schreiner University. It sits on land about 2 miles from downtown Kerrville, along the Guadalupe River.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who thinks it’s funny how things work out. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times August 27, 2022.

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

Sunday, August 21, 2022

Almost 100 years ago, on a former grain field, a Kerrville school was born

Schreiner Institute students, plus 1 dog, exercising on campus.

In September, 1923, almost 100 years ago, Schreiner Institute opened its doors to students. Today the school is known as Schreiner University.
An opening ceremony was held that month, which was attended by students, faculty, the Kerr County community, and the man who’d made it all possible: Captain Charles Armand Schreiner.
Charles Schreiner
There were several speakers at the opening of the school, and two in particular stand out: J. E. Grinstead, who was a newspaperman and writer, and Dr. J. J. Delaney, the first president of the school. Their remarks were reported in the September 20, 1923 edition of the Kerrville Mountain Sun.
Grinstead was a favorite local speaker at the time. He'd come to Kerrville at the turn of the century because his wife was ill with tuberculosis, and in a few short years he owned the newspaper, was elected mayor, then school board president, and later state representative. He published a magazine, and spent his later years writing pulp westerns. He authored much of the image and myth of the Texas hill country.
"A year ago," Grinstead said at the opening of the school, "this spot was an open field. A crop of grain had been harvested from it, and I used to take walks out this way and think it was a dreary place. And now, look at the beauty of it! Almost like the story of Aladdin and his wonderful lamp. When you think about how it came about, quite as wonderful. From the rough surface of a field, within a few months have sprung these magnificent buildings. True, there were many artists and artisans at labor, but in effect every brick, stone, tile and shingle was placed by a single man. A man who devoted his life to service. He was half a century accumulating the materials for this great institution, and it was he in effect who, having the materials at hand, raised on this eminence a wonderful monument to service. From this gift of Captain Schreiner, there is a wonderful lesson for you -- the lesson of service. Of service to God, to your country, and to your fellow man.
"The building of the real edifice, the most beautiful thing of all, is just begun. You men of the first year of the Schreiner Institute are the foundation and corner stone of that more beautiful building, that shall grow and grow throughout the generations to come. A building of men whom, wherever they may be found, shall look back with pride and pleasure to the days they spent in this institution. You have opened the book, in which is to be written the history of Schreiner Institute. The pages are blank and white. Write upon them with the pen of inspiration, drawn from earnestness of purpose. Emulate, throughout your labors here, that splendid example of the unselfish service shown by the founder of your school."
J. J. Delaney presented an oil portrait of Captain Schreiner to the school, and remarked "it is far more to us than a reminder of a man who gives generously of his wealth that the youth of Texas may have the opportunities of education. It should be a constant inspiration to high endeavor to every man who passes through these halls.
"It is easy to envy Captain Schreiner the 'opportunity' and 'luck' and complain of our disadvantages. Young men, the 'luck' of Captain Schreiner was to return after four years' hard service in the Civil War with nothing but what he had in his own spirit except a noble wife and two small children. His 'opportunity' was to wrest a living for them from an untamed wilderness with his bare hands or starve.
"The opportunities for you today are a hundredfold larger and the same qualities which have brought success to him will bring abundant fulfillment of any worthy ambition that burns in your hearts.
"I wish that we might inscribe under this portrait just these words, 'Integrity, Industry, Economy,' for it is to these and not to easy fortune his success is due."
At the end of the dedication program one member of the school's faculty called the students together and led fifteen cheers for Captain Schreiner and for Schreiner Institute.
In the last century, since Charles Schreiner placed a quarter million dollars and 140.25 acres in trust on December 31, 1917, the school he started has touched the lives of thousands.
Until next year, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is especially proud of one Schreiner College graduate: his lovely wife, Ms. Carolyn, who graduated from Schreiner with a teaching degree, which she's used to make the world a much better place. 

Though this newsletter is free, it isn't cheap. You can help by sharing it with someone, by forwarding it by email, or sharing it on Facebook. Sharing is certainly caring. (I also have two Kerr County history books available online, with free shipping!)

Sunday, August 14, 2022

Another Kerrville 'Castle'

Shady Acres, at the intersection of Harper Road and Jackson Road,
in Kerrville, taken in the 1970s.

A few weeks ago, when I wrote about the ‘castle’ built on a hilltop just south of Kerrville by Mrs. Josephine Leckie in 1925, quite a few readers mistook it for another home, one which also looks a bit like a castle.
That house, originally the home of W. Scott and Josephine Carr Schreiner, was something of a mystery until the land around it was cleared of trees and shrubs about a year ago. It’s a stately old home at the corner of Harper and Jackson roads – and until the land clearing, many folks didn’t know it was there.
But once folks could see it, the phone calls to me started. People wanted to know its story.
It was a family’s home, which they called “Shady Acres,” and it was built in 1927. Three people lived there at first – Scott and Josephine Schreiner, and their daughter, Josephine Tobin Schreiner.
Whitfield Scott Schreiner (1888 – 1969) was the eldest son of A. C. and Myrta Schreiner; he had a brother (A. C. Junior), and a sister (Hester). He was the grandson of Charles and Magdalena Schreiner. 
W. Scott Schreiner attended Tivy High School until 1904; the Bingham School, Asheville, NC, 1904-1906; San Antonio Academy, 1906-1908; and the University of Texas, 1908-1910.
He followed his father’s career as a merchant, and was associated with the Schreiner Company for most of his life. He had many other business interests as well.
He was active in his community, serving on the Kerrville city council, on various committees, and in the chamber of commerce. He was a golfer, and he helped keep the local golf course open during the Great Depression, and, when the private golf course became the municipal golf course, it was named in honor of Scott Schreiner.
He also served Texas. He was a regent of the University of Texas for two terms, and he was the chairman of the Texas Fish and Game Commission. He also served on the Upper Guadalupe River Authority.
His wife, Josephine Augusta Carr Schreiner (1893 – 1984), was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. James M. Carr of San Antonio. She was a trained musician, having studied at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, and often sang solos for community events. She organized a Red Cross Room at her church, St. Peters Episcopal, to roll bandages during the war years. She was chair of the Community Chest (United Fund); chair of a committee of the Kerr County centennial; founder of the Kerrville Garden Club. She held offices and was a charter member of the Women’s Auxiliary of the Texas Sheep and Goat Raiser’s Association.
The couple married on January 8, 1916, at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in San Antonio. Eleven months later they welcomed their only child, a daughter, Josephine – who was nicknamed Dodo.
The young couple lived on Water Street for the first decade of their marriage, at 425 Water Street, in a two-story brick home which now houses the Kerr Regional History Center. It is next to the Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library. The house was built for the couple, with specific instructions to the designer: each room was to have four windows, for light and for air circulation.
In 1926, articles started appearing in local newspapers about the couple building a new home. After selling the Water Street home to Charles L. Mason, Scott Schreiner announced he would “have constructed a modern country place on a beautiful 20-acre tract purchased from A. L. Starkey near the Kerrville Methodist Assembly grounds.”
The house was designed by Adams & Adams, architects of San Antonio, and constructed by Walsh & Burney, contractors. A September 1926 article says “the edifice will be Spanish in design, of rubble stone construction and [have] all the features of the modern country estate.”
The house is 4,593 square feet – with four bedrooms and three-and-a-half baths.
The Scott Schreiner family moved into their new home in March, 1927.
The house remained in the family after Josephine Schreiner’s passing in 1984, and became the home of Clyde and Dodo (Schreiner) Parker – Josephine’s daughter and son-in-law. The Parkers lived in the house until their passing.
When the Parker family sold the house a little over a year ago, the new owners cleared much of the remaining lot. A church will be built on land next to Harper Road; a small subdivision of homes will be built on a part of the original lot, with an entrance off of Jackson Road. The house itself in the middle of the property, and is for sale again. Beautiful photographs of the home can be seen at the website of Fredericksburg Realty.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who remembers the peacocks which once lived at Shady Acres. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times August 13, 2022.

Though this newsletter is free, it isn't cheap. You can help by sharing it with someone, by forwarding it by email, or sharing it on Facebook. Sharing is certainly caring. (I also have two Kerr County history books available online, with free shipping!)



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