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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!)

Sunday, July 31, 2022

The Story of Kerrville's Castle on the Hill

Montevista -- built by Josephine Leckie in 1925 -- on a hill south of Kerrville.
Click on any image to enlarge.

This is the story of an interesting house in Kerrville built by an interesting woman.
Recently Gary Saner, who has helped me with other columns, including solving the mystery of the missing mill built by one of his ancestors, dropped by a folder of information about an old house in Kerrville. The house, on Overlook Drive, was once the childhood home of his father, Walter Saner, from about 1937 - 1948. 
1920 passport photo
of Josephine Lecke
I think the common name for the house when I was growing up was the “castle,” and it’s been owned by many people since it was completed in 1925. It once stood alone on 140 acres, purchased in 1922, on a site commanding a view of the Guadalupe River valley and the Camp Meeting Creek area. The land extended all the way from the hilltop, and Highway 16, down to the Guadalupe River; this was before 173 was built. Today other houses are close by, and the house sits on a lot slightly less than 2 acres.
The house was built by a widow, Josephine Haltom Goodhue Leckie, as a summer home. Mrs. Leckie, born in Beaumont, Texas in 1864, was widowed twice. Her first husband, John Goodhue, with whom she had a daughter and son, was a developer and builder in Beaumont who died in 1906; her second husband, John Leckie, was a Scot, and passed away in 1918. She met her second husband, John Leckie, while on a visit to Constantinople; his brother was said to be a member of Great Britain’s House of Lords. Locals called Mrs. Leckie “Lady Leckie,” though it was probably not her actual title.
Both husbands left considerable resources to their widow, Josephine.
Josephine Leckie was 60 when she purchased the property on the hill just south of downtown Kerrville. She was specific about what she wanted to build there. A 1922 article reported “she wants the house to appear as though it was a part of the surroundings and built right out from the high hill there.” It was to be built of local stone and native cedar and cypress.
Mrs. Leckie chose to build here in Kerrville due to her life-long friendship with Mrs. Bertha Ward Fishback Wheless, whose father was the 17th governor of Arkansas. I’m not sure how the two women became acquainted.
Mrs. Leckie hired the San Antonio architect R. Vander Stratton to design her house, and Moeller & Weibacher of San Antonio to build it. Construction began in October, 1924, and was under the watchful supervision of Mrs. Leckie’s nephew, W. G. Leckie. When construction began, Mrs. Leckie left for an around-the-world tour.
A more recent photo of Montevista
The house took over 900 loads of native stone, and cost about $25,000 to build. It had “ten rooms and three baths; large and commodious hallways connect the various apartments.” The “spacious living room and dining room, which are joined by a large arched entrance, so that they can be thrown together into one large room 60 feet in length.”
It was designed “after the old Norman style of architecture, as far as exteriors are concerned.” It featured a flat roof, where a dance floor was constructed. The steel window frames were imported from England, and the “artificial lighting system is electric, current for same being supplied by the city of Kerrville. The entire building is steam heated and water is supplied from their own system.”
Another unique feature was a sleeping porch over the driveway and porte-cochère -- it had big windows on three sides, and was high off of the ground -- making it the coolest room in the house on hot evenings. 
She called the house “Montevista.” After returning from her extended vacation in April, 1925, six months after she left, she found the construction was completed, she decided to spend the summer there. 
In December, 1925, public notice was given that Mrs. Leckie was constructing a dam on the Guadalupe River, “5 ½ feet in height, 175 feet in length, and 5 inches in width,” to provide irrigation for her fields below the house. (Those fields now are home to places like the area near the Rio 10 Movie Theater, for example, and part of the Kerrville River Trail.) This dam would also allow for a swimming spot, which may have benefited others nearby, including the Westminster Encampment.
While here, Josephine Leckie was involved in the Kerrville Literary Club, the Kerrville Country Club, and several bridge clubs. When she left Kerrville, in June, 1937, the society page listed several events held in her honor. At one farewell event she described a recent trip where she had attended the coronation of King George IV. 
Ever the traveler, Leckie left Kerrville for a trip to Scandinavia, France and England. I’m not sure she ever returned to Kerrville.
Josephine Haltom Goodhue Leckie died in April, 1940, in New Orleans, and is buried in Beaumont next to her first husband.
Later owners called the house “Stonehaven.” O. B. Saner (Gary’s grandfather, I believe) purchased the land and house in 1937.
The house is a private home today. Please respect their private property if you drive by to see the old house.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who enjoys researching local history. This column appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times July 30, 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!)

Sunday, July 24, 2022

Searching for the family of Everett "Wild Bill" Pettit -- a longtime Kerrville resident.

I believe this is Everett Roy Pettit -- "Wild Bill" -- who lived in Kerrville 62 years.
Do you know if his descendants are still around Kerr County?

I hope everyone understands – when someone drops by with items from Kerrville’s history, I really enjoy studying the things. Often, the objects are something of mystery, especially when most of the things are family photographs.
The suitcase
One such mystery came to the print shop this week, when a friend brought by what was left of a very old suitcase. It contained a pile of family photographs, without many clues about the folks in the photos.
The suitcase was found in an old garage on Clay Street. That, at least, was a clue.
Like most families (including my own), no one in the mystery family ever took the time to write on the back of the photographs, identifying those in the picture. Why would you write grandma’s name on the back of the photo? Don’t you know your own grandma? How could you forget what Uncle James looked like?
Pettit, WWII
The problem is when someone outside of the family comes across the photos. When I went through the various photographs, I didn’t recognize anyone.
There were a few clues, however. I’m hoping one of my readers will be able to help me find this family – so I can return their family history back to them. The images range from about World War I to the 1950s, and while there are some images of Kerr County, most of the photographs were taken in Yoakum, Texas.
Some of the photographs were still in envelopes from the film processing company, and on these a family name kept showing up: Pettit. That was the best clue.
Looking up Pettit in several local databases helped me find the name of one of the folks in the photographs: Everett Roy Pettit, 1919-2010, who is buried at Nichols Cemetery. Looking him up on a national website,, showed me a photograph of Mr. Pettit – and that photograph matches one of the photographs in the suitcase. His wife, Violet Cowan Pettit passed away in 1996; they lived on Clay Street, the same street on which the old suitcase was found.
Is this Violet?
Here’s his obituary:
Everett Roy "Wild Bill" Pettit passed away at the age of 91 on Friday, Oct. 8, 2010, at a local care center. He was born on Feb. 1, 1919, in Yokum, Texas. Everett married Violet Cowen on March 13, 1970, in Fredericksburg, Texas.
He served in the U.S. Army from 1941 until 1944.
Everett lived in Kerrville for 62 years. He worked for Dr. Pepper, Rainbow Bread in Yoakum and the Veterans Administration Hospital in Kerrville.
He loved playing music and performed at many street dances in Ingram over the years.
He is preceded in death by his parents and his wife, and by his two sons, Donald and Everett Jr.
Everett is survived by his children, Shirley Knox of Houston, Doris Branam of Lee's Summit, Mo., Patrica Osteen of Kerrville, Kathy Boyd of Kerrville and Larry Warren of Ingram. Also by 15 grandchildren, 24 great-grandchildren, four great-great-grandchildren and by many other family members and friends who love him and will miss him.
School girls
That last paragraph is important – does anyone reading this column know if any of his children are still in the area – or his grandchildren? I’d enjoy giving the family back some of their history.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who collects Kerrville and Kerr County historical items. If you have something to share with him, it would make him happy. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times July 23, 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!)

Sunday, July 17, 2022

Goodbye, Antler Gymnasium -- scheduled to be torn down next week.

Tivy High School's Antler Gymnasium -- under construction in 1967.
Click on any image to enlarge.

Tivy Basketball 1968
1967 was a busy year for building in Kerrville. Several iconic structures were built that year, including Tom Daniels Elementary, Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library, and the Tivy High School Gymnasium on Sidney Baker Street.
News came this week that the campus on Sidney Baker Street has been sold by the Kerrville Independent School district – and demolition could begin as early as next week. That old school site has an interesting story, as it changed from a junior high school campus, to a high school campus, and then back to a middle school campus.
Students in the Gym
The first school to open on that site was Hal Peterson Junior High School, which first saw students on September 5, 1961; that first group was a little more than 600 students. Getting the school opened proved to be a challenge for the trustees of the school district.
The previous year, in February, 1960, the school board took under option a 109 acre tract “on the Fredericksburg Road,” a meadow known as Peterson Pasture. The plan was for the school district and the city government to “split up the tract for school and municipal uses.” But then a rift occurred among the school trustees, who divided into two opposing factions. This split didn’t help the $1.132 million dollar bond they’d put before the district’s voters: it was defeated by a 2-1 majority. In June, the superintendent of schools, John Armstrong, resigned.
1968 Tivy Volleyball
A new superintendent was hired, Fred Bell, and he outlined a new bond program, totaling $750,000 -- which passed in October, 1960.
Meanwhile, Hal Peterson, of the Hal and Charlie Peterson Foundation, provided a $5,000 gift to fund a special education unit, and donated 10 acres of the tract to the school district. To express their appreciation, the school board voted unanimously to name the new school the “Hal Peterson Junior High School.”
Tivy Choir in the Gym
The campus continued as a junior high campus for about 5 years. In 1966, the school board decided to switch the high school and the junior high school campuses, moving the high school to the newly-built campus on Sidney Baker, and sending the junior high kids to a campus on Tivy Street, where the oldest portion of the building was constructed in 1890. (In 1984, the oldest part of that building was restored and now houses the KISD administrative offices.)
Tivy Cheerleaders 1968
To prepare for the transfer of high school students to the campus on Sidney Baker Street, the district built a two-story ‘science building’ with 20 classrooms, some buildings to house auto repair, agriculture, and shop classes, and a new gymnasium, which was “planned to seat 1,500.” The new gym would have “glass backboards on the playing court and elevating practice backboards.”
Construction on these renovations began in 1967.
The very first basketball game held in the new gymnasium was on December 1, 1967, when the Tivy “B” squad played the San Marcos “B” squad during a tournament. (Today we’d call them junior varsity teams.) It was the first athletic event held in the new gym, and it allowed the Kerrville community an opportunity to “see the fine facilities provided in the new gym for your young people.”
Antler Gymnasium, 1968
In December 3, 1967 issue of the Kerrville Daily Times reported the “Antlers Open Gym With Win,” beating San Marcos 63-58. Stuart Caulkins, of the Tivy team, scored the very first Tivy basket in the new gym, and he had a great game, scoring a total of 20 points. Harold Hardee had 18 points; Joe Faifer, 14; Jimmy Locke, 6; Jimmy LeMeilleur, 4; and David Braden, 1.
In 2004, a new campus for Tivy High School was completed on Loop 534, and the Hal Peterson Middle School moved ‘back’ to the Sidney Baker campus. When the new Hal Peterson Middle School on Loop 534 was completed in 2021, the old junior high school/ high school/ middle school campus was left vacant and put up for sale by the school district.
That sale is reported to have closed this week, ending the site’s long association with education. Demolition could begin as early as next week.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who graduated from Tivy High School in the late 1970s, when it was located on Sidney Baker Street. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times July 16, 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!)

Sunday, July 10, 2022

A rare Kerrville artifact arrives at the print shop

The old Charles Schreiner Bank,
at the corner of Water and Earl Garrett Streets, 1927.
Click on any image to enlarge.

Some long-time friends brought by an interesting artifact of Kerr County’s history this week – a bronze plaque which once faced Water Street and announced to passerby: “Chas. Schreiner Banker/(Unincorporated)/Established 1869.”
The plaque measures 19x21 inches, and is quite heavy. I can see the plaque (which was once one of a pair of identical plaques) in photographs as early as 1927. That particular bank building was built in 1914, and the plaque I received this week might date from then.
The story of the bank’s earliest days was told by Charles Schreiner, himself, as quoted by J. E. Grinstead in a 1920 article:
The plaque
“From the very first we did banking business. The cattle buyers would bring Spanish doubloons—a gold coin of about the equivalent value of sixteen dollars—and silver dollars, in morrals hung on their saddle horns. They would turn the money over to us for safe keeping, and give orders on us for payment for cattle.
“The first year we had no safe. There was a loose board in the floor of the store. Our vault had no time lock. When darkness came, I simply raised the loose board, deposited the accumulated coin under the floor, replaced the board and rolled a barrel over it.”
In 1869, when Charles Schreiner and August Faltin opened their store in downtown Kerrville, there were no banks here. In fact, there was little or no cash in this part of the world. 
Business here was mostly conducted by barter, and in those rare cases where gold or cash were exchanged, a trusted place to store that cash was needed. Schreiner provided that safe place, and also provided a way for his customers to call upon their deposits to buy from his store, or to buy necessities from other suppliers, including the buying and selling of livestock.
Schreiner deposited his own money and gold, as well as his customers' money and gold, at
Bank interior, 1920.
Note the spittoons.

Oppenheimer's in San Antonio, using a very special express agent, Simon Ayala.
Simon Ayala was a one-legged cowboy who had worked for Schreiner for many years, and who Schreiner trusted very much. Ayala presented himself as a cowboy of average means, riding a plain horse, and carrying a moral (or nose bag) attached to his saddle horn by a grass rope. In the nose bag Schreiner placed the gold and money to be deposited in San Antonio. 
Ayala was one of the least likely persons to be suspected of carrying a fortune in gold along the early trails from Kerrville to San Antonio. He made this trip many times for Schreiner, without incident, and with the fortune untouched. There was never a breach in the trust Schreiner placed in Simon Ayala.
As Schreiner's business grew, it became necessary to separate the banking operation from the Schreiner store, and so in 1898, the bank became an independent operation, though it still operated in the same building as the store. Instead of taking your banking business to the office of the Schreiner store, you took it instead to a different part of the building. Some have suggested the bank itself was on the second floor, though accounts vary.
In 1914 the bank finally moved into a separate building at the corner of Water and Earl Garrett streets, back when Earl Garrett Street was still called Mountain Street. That brick building can be seen in many photographs in my collection of historic Kerrville images, largely because almost every parade during those years passed right in front of the bank.
Charles Schreiner Bank, 1961
In 1917, Charles Schreiner divided his many businesses among his children. The bank went to Louis A. Schreiner, which is only fair: Louis had worked at the bank since it separated from the store, in 1898.
Under Louis Schreiner's leadership the bank grew and prospered, even during the lean years of the Great Depression, when its policy of encouraging ranchers to diversify and add sheep and goat to their livestock herds helped save more than one family ranch.
In 1959 the Charles Schreiner Bank became a state bank; until that time, it was an unincorporated bank, relying on the personal financial standing of the Schreiner family.
In 1961 a new 'modern' facade was placed over the old brick bank building, an aluminum and steel covering of brilliant blue and gold tones, with a white marble veneer added to the exterior walls. I remember visiting a law office on the second floor of the bank after this modernization took place. The old double-hung windows were still there, although they now opened to the interior of the updated "space age" metal skin. It was odd to see.
Louis Schreiner worked at the bank until two days before his death at age 99 in 1970.
That building was torn down in the late 1970s when a new and much larger building was constructed. An open house for the new bank was held in July 1978, and I remember attending the event. I was impressed by the new building. I especially liked the mesquite block floor, and the items they brought from the old building, including a work of taxidermy, "Ol' Meany," the mounted head of a solemn longhorn bull, which had been a fixture in the old building.
Schreiner Bank failed in April, 19, 1990, and its assets were acquired by NCNB Texas, which operated the bank for several years. Most recently the bank building was occupied by a branch of BankAmerica, but the building has been vacant for several years.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who remembers seeing this plaque on the bank building when he was a boy. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times July 9, 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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