Sunday, June 17, 2018

The Mystery of Captain Tivy's Other Tombstone

Tivy Mountain in Kerrville photo by Joe Herring Jr
The cemetery on top of Tivy Mountain, in Kerrville, as it appeared in January 2018.
This is the final resting place of Joseph Tivy, his wife Ella, his sister Susan, and Susan's cat.
Click on any image to enlarge.

A little over four years ago, I got a telephone call from a fellow who said he'd found Captain Joseph Albert Tivy's tombstone in some rubble on his property.
The mysterious tombstone of Joseph A Tivy
The mysterious tombstone
I was, of course, surprised. The last time I'd seen the tombstone, it was up on Tivy Mountain, near the intersection of Cypress Creek Road and Veterans Highway (Loop 534).
The caller was kind enough to let me come take photographs of the carved stone he'd found, and sure enough, it was indeed the tombstone of Captain Tivy, his wife Ella, and his sister, Susan, though not the same one I remembered from Tivy Mountain.
Why, I wondered, were there two tombstones?
But first, who was Captain Tivy?
Joseph Albert Tivy was born in Toronto, Canada during the winter of 1818, raised and educated in New York state, and headed to Texas when he was 19, when it was a new republic.
The mysterious tombstone of Joseph A Tivy
Another view
His first stop in Texas was in Houston, next to Washington County, and then on to what is now Burleson County, where he lived for several years. This community was considered the extreme western frontier at the time. He was a true frontiersman, spending months in the field, and spent a lot of time with Captain George Evart.
During those early years in Texas, he was as a chain carrier for a survey crew out of the General Land Office. He was later promoted to General Surveyor, and his travels brought him to the Guadalupe River valley. In 1842, he acquired the ‘military’ grant to the heirs of Thomas Hand, a tract of 640 acres. That land later became important to the young community. (He acquired this land even before Joshua Brown started his shingle camp.
Captain Joseph A Tivy first mayor of Kerrville
Captain Joseph A. Tivy
There was no City of Kerrville then. Kerr County was part of the Bexar District, and Tivy served as deputy surveyor. He had also served with Jack Hays’ Rangers, joining Hays in 1844.
Then, 1849, the gold bug bit, and Tivy went out to California to seek his fortune. I don’t know how successful a miner he was, but history records he was a surveyor in California, ran a hotel (the "United States Hotel" past Tejon Pass) and later a store, and served in the California Legislature during the winter of 1853-54. He also served in the Texas Legislature during another part of his life, winning election in 1873.
Coming back from California, he spent a year in New Mexico, then returned to Texas settling in Karnes County in 1858.
During the Civil War, Tivy served in the Confederate Army from 1862-64, being discharged with the rank of Captain. While in the service, his health deteriorated, and he left the army in 1864.
And finally, after all of this, in 1872 he and two spinster sisters moved to Kerrville, to their 640-acre tract of land. I guess you could say he was one of the first retirees to move here.
Like most retirees here, he was active: seeing the need for a sound public school system, he gave the community 16 2/3 acres to be used to build free schools. Because the only entity that could accept the gift was an incorporated city, petitions were circulated and the City of Kerrville came into existence in 1889.
Not coincidentally, Captain Tivy was Kerrville’s first mayor.
He also gave the lot for St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, which still stands on the site.
Captain Tivy married late in life. His wife, was the widow of Dr. Henry Losee, a U. S. Army surgeon who died in Kerrville.
Kerrville Tivy Seniors on the annual student pilgrimage to Tivy Mountain, 1960s
Tivy Seniors on the annual student pilgrimage
to Tivy Mountain, 1960s.
Click on any image to enlarge.
"For some time," the book by Brown reports, Tivy "had been actively engaged in overseeing the work of boring for artesian water on his place. Owing to his advanced age and physical condition, this undue activity brought on stomach complications which proved to be the immediate cause of his demise."
Captain Tivy is buried with his wife, one sister (Susan), and his wife’s cat on the top of Tivy Mountain, to the east of the downtown area. The hill has a dirt road, off of Cypress Creek Road, leading to its summit; this road used to be open to the public. An excellent view of our valley home is afforded from up there, and you ought to take the time to visit the hill. Up there in the sunshine, with the wind blowing and the smell of cedar trees, you’ll find the four graves and a small stone obelisk. Looking below you can see what the Captain’s land has become.
As for the recently found tombstone, it was likely the victim of hooligans who vandalized the gravesite numerous times, knocking over the monument. Some claimed lightning toppled the old carved stone. It was replaced by the current memorial obelisk, a gift of the ex-students association, in 1956. At the time the graves were repaired, and the decorative fence was replaced and repaired.
I suppose, when the new monument was installed, the old one was simply discarded. That's the one found a few years ago, in the rubble behind the man's house.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who remembers climbing Tivy Mountain with his classmates in the spring of 1979.  This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times June 16, 2018.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

The Story of the Charles Schreiner Bank

Charles Schreiner original store
Harold Bugbee's sketch of Charles Schreiner's original store, which was also Kerrville's first bank.
Legend says Charles Schreiner started the first bank in Kerrville by putting money and gold entrusted to him by his customers under a loose board in his one-room store. The "safe" was then secured by rolling a flour barrel on top of the loose board.
I imagine there's a grain of truth in that story. 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.
Charles Schreiner Store in Kerrville
The Schreiner Store, with
the word "Bank" on the far left.
Click any image to enlarge.
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.
Charles Schreiner Bank in Kerrville
The CSB in the 1920s
Schreiner himself deposited his money and gold, as well as his customers' money and gold, at 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.
Charles Schreiner Bank in Kerrville
Louis A. Schreiner at his desk,
around 1925
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.
Charles Schreiner Bank in Kerrville
The employees of CSB, around 1925
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.
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.
Charles Schreiner Bank in Kerrville
Ol' Meany in the CSB lobby
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.
Charles Schreiner Bank in Kerrville
CSB October 1961
That building was torn down in the late 1970s when a new, 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 Charthe 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.
Louis A Schreiner at the Charles Schreiner Bank in Kerrville
Louis A. Schreiner at his desk at the bank in the late 1960s.
Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who remembers Louis A. Schreiner sitting at his desk at the Charles Schreiner Bank. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times June 9, 2018.

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Sunday, June 3, 2018

Happy Campers

Heart o the Hills Inn, Hunt Texas
Heart o' The Hills Inn postcard.  The inn later became a summer camp for girls.
Click on any image to enlarge.
When the first camps in Kerr County opened, in the 1920s, there were no Interstate highways and air travel was extremely rare. Most campers came from the largest cities of Texas -- but especially from Dallas and Houston -- and they arrived by train. The campers were then taken by automobile (or, occasionally, wagon) from the train depot to camp, traveling unpaved roads which dipped into the river, because there were few bridges. Higher and higher the campers would travel, winding their way deeper into the green hills, following the ribbon of river.
When they finally arrived at their camp, and settled into their cabins, they found an enterprise hard at work, dedicated to their fun. The green river beckoned. Horseback riding was available. Campers were taught to shoot guns, arrows; they were instructed in athletics; they learned to paddle a canoe.
And more than one camper wrote home to tell how good the food was at camp, how it was piled high on the tables, and how, after a day busy with camp activities, the food tasted so good.
Why wouldn't campers, even later in life, think of Kerr County as paradise?
Summer camping as we know it today began in 1921 when Herbert Crate opened Camp Rio Vista between Ingram and Hunt.
Crate was the CEO of the Houston YMCA. Knowing the "Y" had established camps along the eastern seaboard, Crate was certain the idea would work in Texas.
According to an article written by Jane Ragsdale in the "Kerr County Album," Crate called Rio Vista the "Summer Character Camp for Boys."
Crate's first summer was not what he expected: "100 men promised to send their sons if he opened a camp -- yet the first summer, Crate found himself with 21 counselors, and only 16 boys." His words of wisdom for those who followed: "Never start a camp from scratch."
Despite his advice, other camps soon followed.
Camp Stewart Hunt Texas 1948
Camp Stewart 1948 catalog
Edward J. "Doc" Stewart, the head football and basketball coach at the University of Texas at Austin in the early 1920s, is responsible for the beginning days of three well-known Kerr County camps: Camp Stewart for Boys, Heart o' The Hills Camp for Girls, and Camp Mystic.
Stewart started his first camp here, "Camp Texas" in 1924, using the old West Texas Fairgrounds as his site. The fairgrounds were between today's Junction Highway and Guadalupe Street in Kerrville.
Camp Mystic Hunt Texas 1939 postcard
Camp Mystic, 1939 postcard
Given Stewart's career, it's easy to guess the focus of his camp: athletics. He brought UT coaches with him, and even the director of the University Interscholastic League. Football, basketball, track, tennis and volleyball were planned on the fairground's dusty old horse track, with water sports planned for the river.
For three summers Stewart operated his camp in Kerrville, offering two 30 day terms. In 1927 the camp moved to its present location, 16 miles west of Kerrville, on the north fork of the Guadalupe River.
"Doc" Stewart started another camp in 1926, Camp Stewart for Girls, on the south fork of the Guadalupe; a year later it became Camp Mystic for Girls. In those early days, Camp Mystic had 1400 acres, and the girls were housed in 18 log cabins constructed from cypress logs cut on the camp.
Heart o the Hills Inn, Hunt Texas
Heart o' The Hills Inn, 1928
In those early days of summer camping in Kerr County, travel to the camps was not easy. Sensing an opportunity, Stewart also built "Heart o' The Hills Inn" as a place for parents to stay after they'd dropped their children off at camp. This inn later became Heart o' The Hills Camp for Girls, under the leadership of Kenneth and Velma Jones.
Camp Waldemar Hunt Texas
Camp Waldemar overview
Another pioneer in Kerr County camping was Miss Ora Johnson, who founded Camp Waldemar in 1926. Miss Johnson was the principal of Brackenridge High School in San Antonio, and many of her early campers were from that city. In 1926 she had 56 campers, who attended a six week session.
In 1928 Miss Johnson brought in from Mexico a "Russian-born German rock mason, Ferdinand Rehbeger." It was Rehbeger, working with the Johnson family, who constructed many of the stone and cedar buildings that give Waldemar its distinct beauty.
Other notable camps begun during this time include Camp La Junta, Camp Arrowhead, and Kickapoo Kamp. Later additions included the Texas Lions Camp, near Kerrville; Laity Lodge Youth Camp, near Leakey; and Camp Honey Creek, near Hunt.
Summer camps in Kerr County are an important part of our history, and contribute to our community in thousands of ways. They provide jobs, help the local economy, and, in many cases, they bring Kerrville and Kerr County new residents.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who was a camper many years ago at Camp Stewart. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times June 2, 2018.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Mother, it is a long cry from here to home

World War I memorial Kerrville Texas
Dedication of World War I Memorial Park, July 7, 1938
This park still stands, forgotten, at the intersection of Broadway and Water Streets
For more information on this memorial, click HERE
Remembering is not easy.
We get busy, and we are naturally forgetful, especially about people we never met, and places we never visited.
Many of us drive past memorial parks and don't realize what they are, or what they mean. Trees planted to remember fallen soldiers grow old and die; few remember why they were planted in the first place. We drive on streets named for heroes, though few have any idea who they were, or what they fought for.
This fall, it will be 100 years since Francisco Lemos, Sidney Baker, and Earl Garrett died in France, all three Kerr County men who died in World War I. The three were honored with streets named in their memory because they had fallen in battle. People don't realize an additional sixteen young soldiers from Kerr County also died during World War I; most died from influenza, during the great pandemic which swept the world in 1917-1918. They volunteered, trained, and, in many cases, traveled to France when illness struck. They were heroes, too.
The Kerr County War Memorial, on the courthouse square, lists 48 names of Kerr County men who died in World War II.
Six names of Kerr County men are listed as lost during the Korean War.
It's been 50 years since Robert Glen Chenault died in Quang Nam, Vietnam, one of the twelve Kerr County men who died in that war. I knew Glen Chenault. His parents and my parents were friends, and I spent time with Glen, both at our print shop and at our two homes. I was only six when he died, but I have fond memories of him. Glen, like so many of the men listed on the memorial, was very young, only 21 when he was killed.
Two other conflicts are listed on the memorial, Operation Enduring Freedom, with the name of one fallen soldier, Jacob Leicht; and Operation Iraqi Freedom, with two: Lawrence Ezell and Cody Orr. All three were born much later than I.
Sadly the renovated war memorial has room for more names and more conflicts, a practical concession to the probability the space will be needed. (The impressive wall of names of Kerr County's fallen at the Cailloux Theater failed to prepare for that necessity.)
Others from Kerr County fought and died for our country in conflicts preceding World War I, and while their names are not listed on the memorial, they are heroes, too.
Plaque World War I memorial Kerrville Texas
Plaque, World War I
Memorial Park.

Click to enlarge.

If these men could speak to us, what might they say?

It would be my guess they would talk about their homes and how much they missed their families.
Several weeks ago Bob Schmerbeck, who is related to Earl Garrett, loaned me a notebook of letters Garrett's family gathered after his death. The packet included letters to Earl Garrett, letters from him, and letters from others about him, including from those who were with him when he died.
One month before he died, Earl Garrett wrote his mother, Laura Gill Garrett, a touching letter.
Lt Victor Earl Garrett 1918 from Kerrville
Victor Earl Garrett
"My dearest Mother," Garrett wrote. "It will probably be only a note, but I wanted to write you tonight. It may be some time before I can write you again and I do not want to neglect this opportunity.
"Mother, it is a long cry from here to home, but never so close as tonight. And never have I been so conscious of what you have done for me or felt so unworthy of your efforts. I could not write a sad letter even if I wanted to; my temperamental make up would not let me. But I do want you to know before anything might happen that I at least appreciate my mother and my father.
"I am habitually optimistic -- of the incurable type, less a considerable portion of confidence in my ability. But the great possibility cannot be ignored.
"With love to all, your son, Earl."
Earl Garrett was just 24 when he was killed in France.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who collects historical items from Kerrville and Kerr County.  This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times May 26, 2018.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

He dreamt of a library for Kerrville

800 block of Water Street, downtown Kerrville, circa mid-1940s
I was going through old photos of Water Street the other day when I noticed a name on a building. Noticing that name led me to discover an important but forgotten part of our community's history.
The photo, taken sometime in the early 1950s, shows the 800 block of Water Street. The photographer was standing in the intersection of Water and Earl Garrett streets, looking up the block toward Washington Street. It was taken in the late afternoon, judging by the shadows.
Opposite the Blue Bonnet Hotel stood a series of buildings. Most are now gone, or have been heavily remodeled.
Detail, showing "Walther"
On the Earl Garrett street corner stood Chaney's, and next door was the Social Club, where pool and dominos were available, then First State Bank, and then the building with the name on it. It was a two-story brick building with an impressive facade. At the very crown was the name "Walther."
I asked my friends Jake and Jeremy Walther about it, and it turns out they were as surprised as I to find their family name on an old downtown Kerrville building; they have no known connection with the person who built the building.
The Walther Building is gone now, and in its place is the old switching office of the Kerrville Telephone Company. The Walther Building stood between today's Water Street Antiques and the Fore real estate office.
Loving a mystery, I decided to investigate: Who was this Walther?
The Walther Building was built by George and Geraldena Walther, who arrived in Kerrville around 1900.
George William Walther was born in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1862; his mother was French and his father, German, and so young George grew up speaking those two languages in addition to English. As a youth George Walther was an apprentice to a silversmith in Boston, and continued in that career in Paris. In 1886 he returned to New England, and in 1888 he married Geraldena Sanstedt in Massachusetts. They had four children together, though two passed away in early childhood, and another, Gerald Walther, passed away as a young man in Kerrville, perishing in a fire at the old Rock Drug Store. The surviving child, Norma, married W. C. Fawcett.
Like many who found their way to Kerrville, George Walther came here for his health. While the news accounts don't specify the illness Walther suffered, it was most likely tuberculosis or something similar. The climate here was said to help with that disease, and many Kerrville families can trace their arrival here to an ancestor who was ill, seeking health.
Not long after arriving here, the Walthers purchased a small fruit store and confectionery from C. S. Hough. The couple worked in the business together, and it prospered. They added a restaurant and catering business. Things were looking good for them.
In 1902, George's father died, and with the inheritance George received, he invested in Kerrville real estate.
An advertisement from 1922
It was in 1908 when the Walthers made Kerrville history. In that year, they opened the Kerrville Sunshine Library, as a part of the International Sunshine Society. It was the first public library in Kerrville, and it was housed in a "recreation hall" for young people, which included "box ball," which is game similar to "four square," dominoes and pool.
During its peak, the Kerrville Sunshine Library had 1800 volumes and 15 bookcases. Walther spent $50 per year on periodicals, including three humor weeklies from Europe: Punch, from England; Le Rire from France; and Fliegende Blatter from Germany. Those titles were meant, I'm sure, to appeal to young people.
For decades George Walther was a passionate advocate for a community library for our community. In 1927, at the urging of Walther, a committee of local leaders met to plan for a library. Unfortunately, with the arrival of the Great Depression, those plans never got off the ground.
"We want a real library," Walther told his community, in a 1927 talk, "a distinctive type of building of an attractive and substantial appearance; a large reading room with reference books for school children, as well as novels."
Forty years later, Howard and Mary Butt built such a library for our community. That gift may have had its beginnings when they were young people in Kerrville, visited the Walther's establishment, and read a book at his Sunshine Library.
George Walther died in 1931, before his dream of a community library could be accomplished. Geraldena Walther passed away in 1940.
The Kerrville Library Association was formed in 1941, and by 1954 a free library was formed, the Kerr County Public Library, housed in the ground floor of the Charles Schreiner home. In 1958 the Memorial Library opened on Water Street, and in 1967 the Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library was dedicated.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who started first grade the same year the Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library opened. Talk about good timing! This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times May 19,2018.



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