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Sunday, August 12, 2018

Where was Zanzenburg, Texas? (Hint: Kerr County.)

Charles de Ganahl home Center Point Texas
The home of Charles Ganahl, and the post office of Zanzenburg, Texas. 
Image taken in the 1930s.  Source: Library of Congress.
Click on any image to enlarge.
Could you find Zanzenburg, Texas on a map?
The town has gone by a different name since 1872, when its postmaster, Dr. G. W. Harwell, renamed the community Center Point, and moved the post office south of the Guadalupe River.
Until then, the post office had been north of the river, and the first post office was in the home of Dr. Charles de Ganahl, who gave the community its original name. Zanzenburg was the name of his ancestral home in the Austrian Tyrol.
Center Point Texas postcard
Downtown Center Point, around 1900
The Zanzenburg post office was the first in Kerr County. The first public school in our county was also in Center Point.
In the late 1850s, Dr. Charles de Ganahl moved to Kerr County to start a plantation, ranch, and horse operation, and was listed as the person who owned the most slaves in the 1860 census. Of the 49 slaves enumerated there, Ganahl owned 24.
He was very supportive of the Confederate cause, and that support would eventually cause him many troubles.
Ganahl represented Kerr County in the Texas secession convention, and voted for Texas to secede from the Union. He joined the confederate army as a surgeon.
After the war, Ganahl chose to not take the oath of allegiance to the United States, and lived in Mexico for several years. He finally returned to Kerr County in 1879, his health failing. He died in 1882, and is buried in Center Point.
Center Point Texas roller mills postcard
Center Point Roller Mills
There are several stories about how Center Point got its current name, but the one that seems to make the most sense was it was a trading center roughly in the halfway between Kerrville and Comfort, and halfway between Fredericksburg and Bandera. When the railway came to Kerr County in 1887, there was a depot near the old Ganahl post office, on the north side of the river, which helped strengthen Center Point's economy.
Center Point Texas fairgrounds
Center Point Fairgrounds
Center Point has been incorporated several times. The first time was for "school purposes" in 1889; an election for the first school trustees was held in 1890.
In February, 1913, the community voted to incorporate for municipal government purposes, and appointed a mayor, city clerk and other officers. Only a few months later, in October, 1913, the voters decided to dissolve the new government.
Another round of incorporation occurred recently, in the 1990s, and a mayor and city council were elected, though that experiment in local government was also terminated by the voters about two years later.
I have several interesting Center Point items in my collection of historical Kerr County photos and artifacts.
Center Point Texas trade coin
Trade Coin, Farmers
Mercantile Co-operative Assn,
Center Point
One I found while walking along a dusty trail on some property my family owns not far from the Kerrville municipal airport, a trade coin for the "Farmer's Mercantile Co-operative Association, Center Point, Texas." The reverse was stamped "Good for 50 cents in Merchandise." I found it near an old gate, where I think a resourceful rancher used it as a washer on a fence post.
Another is a photograph of the Woolls Building in Center Point, which was built in the early 1870s by G. W. Woolls and used for a general store. After a fire in 1900, the building was purchased in 1902 by the Farmers Mercantile Cooperative Association (which issued the trade coin I found).
My friend Deborah Gaudier found an advertisement for the Cooperative: "it is not a money making, but a money saving profits are returned to patrons as a dividend on their purchases."
Woolls Building Center Point Texas
Woolls Building, Center Point.
Note cow and calf on balcony.
The interesting things about the photograph, at least to me, are in the details. A bicycle leans up against the wall beneath the second-story balcony. A banner advertises "Heart and Arrow Brand Shoes." Another shows the Woodmen of the World Camp 135 had a meeting place upstairs.
But the most intriguing thing about the photograph is on the second story balcony. Four men and two boys are shown there along with a cow and calf. A broken tree branch has fallen between the group and the stairway down.
I wish I knew the story about the cattle being upstairs on the balcony in downtown Center Point at the turn of the last century!
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who would like to have more items from Center Point in his collection. If you have an old photograph of Center Point you'd like to share with him, he'd be happy to scan it and give it back to you.  This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times August 11, 2018.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

A cache of Kerrville photos from the 1930s

Julius and Emma Mittanck home, Kerrville, 1930s
The home of Julius and Emma Mittanck, 725 Sidney Baker Street, Kerrville, 1930.  Note boy on sidewalk.
Taco Bell is on the site today.
Click on any image to enlarge.
In the early 1930s, an unknown employee of the City of Kerrville systematically photographed houses and buildings all over town for use in documenting the city's tax rolls, walking along the street and stopping at each address to snap a photo. While I do not have a complete set of the negatives, the ones in my collection show a very interesting view of Kerrville as it appeared over eight decades ago.
Each negative corresponded with separate property description form, where the square footage of structures was recorded, and a rough estimate of value was calculated for tax purposes.
504 Tivy, Kerrville, 1930s625 Myrta, Kerrville, Texas 1930s808 Earl Garrett, Kerrville, Texas 1930s624 Washington, Kerrville, Texas 1930s609 Jefferson, Kerrville, Texas 1930s608 Earl Garrett, Kerrville, Texas 1930s513 Earl Garrett, Kerrville, Texas 1930s325 Clay, Kerrville, Texas 1930sThis week I found an old envelope filled with a group of these city negatives I'd never scanned. I was anxious to see what treasures might appear as the images appeared on my computer screen.
Most of the images are of residences, though there are a few images of business buildings.
Seeing the old buildings was fun, but seeing clues around the old buildings was even more fun.
Like the Google Maps car, which captures all sorts of things as it passes through a neighborhood, the city employee caught a lot things beyond the structures.
In one, a child is walking in his yard. In another, a dog rests on the porch. There are summer houses in backyards, and rocking chairs on porches. A child plays with a doll on the porch of 504 Tivy Street. There are porch swings, gliders in yards, swings hanging from tree limbs.
I notice there are no leaves on the trees, but also notice none of the people in the photographs are really bundled up, either. Perhaps they were taken on a nice day in early March.
Many of the structures on some streets are still there today. Other streets have hardly any surviving buildings.
Earl Garrett Street, for instance, has a surprising number of homes shown in the 1930s photographs that are still standing today, though many of the buildings are no longer residences, but are now used for commercial purposes.
Sidney Baker Street, however, was once lined with homes. Almost all are now gone, replaced by business buildings and parking lots.
I am old enough to remember some of the houses which are now gone.
There was a grand house on Sidney Baker Street when I was growing up, though by then it was in sad disrepair. It had a big porch and a porch turret in the corner. I was happy to find a photograph of this particular house in the newly scanned photographs. It is labeled "J F Mittank," though a 1930 census shows a Julius Frank Mittanck at 725 Sidney Baker Street. Mr. Mittanck was in the creamery business with the American Creamery Company here, which was on Water Street near our print shop. He was also in the grocery business, his family owning the Hillbilly Grocery Store at Sidney Baker and Barnett streets.
Around the time the property tax photos were taken, Mr. Mittanck was an unsuccessful candidate for mayor of Kerrville, running on the "People's Ticket" against A. T. Atkins. (None of the "People's Ticket" candidates won.)
The Mittanck home was built in 1907; its last mention in the news was in 1987, in a story written for this newspaper by my friend Michael Bowlin, when the building was condemned by the city.
I believe the Taco Bell restaurant now stands on the site today.
I remember another home shown in the 1930s photos which stood at 624 Washington, directly across the street from the front doors of First Baptist Church. I had forgotten about the old house until I saw the photos, but its front porch, built with river stones, was quite impressive.
I'm sure we boys of the church gave those property owners fits, crossing their property all of the time, when we should have been inside the church.
That building was torn down, too, and is now a parking lot.
Jefferson Street and Main Street, in the downtown area, also had many homes, though few remain today. Clay Street still has a nice collection of older homes.
For a feel of what our community looked like back in the 1930s, a drive down Earl Garrett Street might be your best bet. It's surprising how many of those old homes are still there.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who collects historic photographs of Kerrville and Kerr County. If you have any you'd let him copy, it would make him very happy. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times August 4, 2018.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

By wagon, cart, on horseback, or by foot

A freight wagon train leaving Kerrville in 1905, crossing Town Creek
below today's Riverside Nature Center.

Click on any image to enlarge.
This week I traveled to San Antonio on Interstate 10, and there seem to be a lot more big trucks on that route than in years past. As I drove I considered how freight used to travel in the days before interstate highways and big rigs.
Kerr County wagon pulled by oxen
In the earliest days of our community, all freight came here by wagon, pulled by oxen, mules, donkeys, or horses. From the photographs in my collection I can see there were many different types of wagons hauling freight. Some were attached together in trains, with two wagons or even three joined together.
Every bolt of cloth, every piece of glass, every sheet of paper was carried here over dusty roads, either by hand, or in a saddlebag, or on a wagon pulled by animals until 1887, when the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railway brought the railroad to Kerrville.
Consider the problem of filling merchants' shelves if your only way to transport goods to a store involved a wagon and mules or oxen. The trip would have been terribly hot in the summer, and frighteningly cold in the winter. And there were dangers along the way, from natural hazards to roving bands of armed men intent on diverting goods to their own use.
Wool wagons on postcard,
700 block of Water, around 1910
“It was a real accomplishment for a freighter to haul a load of several thousand pounds on two or three wagons trailing one behind the other for a distance of a hundred miles or more,” writes Bob Bennett in his excellent history of our county. “During rainy seasons it was a real problem to keep Junction, Rocksprings and other towns supplied with the necessities of life. These inland communities often ran short of flour and other staple food items because the freight caravan was marooned somewhere on a muddy road en route from Kerrville.”
Kerrville, because it was connected to markets by a railroad in 1887, became the supplier of most of the outlying towns nearby, a role it continues to play even now that the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railroad is long gone. When the interstate highway came through town in the 1970s it helped our community retain this niche.
Wagons in the camp yard,
700 block of Water Street,
near today's Arcadia Theater
Before the railroad came to Kerrville, freighters hauled goods to Kerrville from San Antonio and even from “old Indianola” on the Texas coast.
Again, from Bennett: “In the early days the wagons were pulled by ox teams, often several yokes to the wagon. Later mules and horses supplanted the plodding oxen. Teams of horses and mules ranged from two to twelve. That was before the day of highways and it required expert teamsters to handle a team over the rough and steep hill roads.
“L. F. Pope was a colorful teamster of the pre-railroad era. He started in the days of freighting from San Antonio and continued westward when the railway terminus reached Kerrville. Old timers said Pope could hitch a team of several horses by the time others less versed in the vocation could hitch two horses.
Freight wagon on Earl Garrett,
beside today's Francisco's
“Bells were often used on the lead horses in the teams and the wheel horse – the one that knew his business – helped to hold back the heavy load on steep downgrades. The team, or the gentle animals in the team, were hobbled out to graze on the countryside at night.”
Many familiar names were involved in the early days of freighting goods to our community.
“J. D. Leavell began freighting in the 1870s for August Faltin from San Antonio to Comfort, and on to Kerrville for Capt. Charles Schreiner. When the rail line reached Kerrville he switched his operations westward.
Another set of wool wagons,
700 block of Water, around 1904
“Robert C. Saner began freighting with ox teams, going sometimes to old Indianola on the coast. He continued freighting with ox teams in the later years of his business, frequently making the long haul to San Angelo.
“Other early freighters were Wade Richardson, Lee Williamson, Wiley Wyatt, Bill and Alfred Stone, Jim, Walter, and Sanford Dickey, Tom Hearn, Matt Tomberlin, Creed Taylor, Jr., Landy and Bill Howell, Louis Leinweber, John Kountz, John F. Nichols, Theo Hyde, Mark Caddell, Simon Ayala, Jim and George Holloman, John Billings, John Crane, and E. J. Rose.
“The old-time freighter braved all kinds of weather and other obstacles, but he overcame them all. He was a picturesque character who served his day and generation well.”
I cannot even imagine the hardships they endured, but it was through their efforts Kerrville and towns west were able to grow and thrive.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who, as of next Tuesday, has been married 36 years to the lovely Ms. Carolyn, his college sweetheart. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times July 28, 2018.

Friday, July 27, 2018

One hundred years ago TODAY -- women voted in Texas

Note from Joe: 

I received the story below from my neighbor Marguerite Scott, and wanted to share it with you.  It tells of the first time women were allowed to vote in Kerr County (as well as the rest of Texas), in the 1918 Democratic Party primary.  It should be noted this election took place two years before the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U. S. Constitution, in the summer of 1920, which gave women the right to vote in our country.
Looking into this, I checked the only surviving newspaper from that month, the July 19, 1918 edition of the Kerrville Mountain Sun.  
Women voting in the Democratic primaries was not the big news in that edition.  State politics, with the Ferguson scandals, was a top story, as well as a list of a new group of Kerr County boys heading off to the first world war.
There were two mentions, however.  One, signed by the Kerr County Democratic party chair Wm. Nimitz, and its secretary J. M. Hamilton, reminding election judges that "in Kerr County the women are not required to register in order to vote. If any woman should desire to vote and is otherwise qualified under the law, you should permit her to vote."
The other, on the 'editorial page,' says "The women of Texas are registering in a way that threatens to make trouble for some of the candidates.  There is much uneasiness in certain quarters, but there can be little doubt that all State officials now in office will be re-elected -- Kosse Cyclone."  
Thanks, Ms Scott, for sending in this story.

From the League of Women Voters -- Hill Country:

Texas women voted for the first time on July 27, 1918, one hundred years ago.  This was before ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment to our US Constitution on August 26, 1920 granting women the right to vote.  July 27, 1918 was the date of the Democratic Primary in Texas and women voted.  Interestingly, there was no Republican Primary in Texas at that time.  Here is a bit of history to consider as we cherish our right to vote.

In Texas women’s suffrage, the right to vote, was proposed, discussed, and voted down beginning with the Texas Constitutional Convention of 1868-69.  Resolutions for the enfranchisement of women, the right to vote, were proposed in the Texas Legislature several times in in the years to follow. 

There were several organizations in Texas seeking women’s suffrage that began in 1893, 1903, 1908, 1912, and then faded away.  In 1913 a meeting of 100 women from seven cities met in San Antonio and reactivated the state wide Texas Women Suffrage Association.  Mary Eleanor Brackenridge was the first president.  In 1916 they changed their name to Texas Equal Suffrage Association and elected Minnie Fisher Cunningham as their president.

Many men and some women consider women voting to be a threat to social order.   Then during WWI the suffragist organizations around the state supported the war effort.  Women’s participation in war efforts softened the opposition to women’s suffrage. Yet there was anti sentiment about women voting. Many women wrote letters and petitions to their state legislators to convince the legislators to vote for women’s suffrage. 

Once again in January 1917 in the Texas Legislature resolutions to enfranchise women were introduced.  The vote this time by the state representative was seventy-six for with fifty-six opposed.  However the bill did not make it through the senate and signature of the governor.  Governor James E. Ferguson was opposed to women voting.  During the summer of 2017 he was impeached and removed from office.  William P Hobby became Governor of Texas and he was pro women’s suffrage. 
There was called session of the legislature in March 1918 and a bill was introduced to permit women to vote in primary elections.  On March 26, 1918 Governor sign the bill for women to vote in Texas Primary Elections. 

These women’s organization went to work and in seventeen days registered 386,000 women who could then vote in the Democratic Primary on July 27, 1918.  The organizations were:
·         Texas Equal Suffrage Association – now the League of Women Voters of Texas
·         Mothers’ Congress – predecessor of Texas PTA
·         State Federation of Labor – merged into Texas AFL-CIO
·         State Federation of Women’s Clubs
·         Texas Press Women – now called Press Women of Texas
·         State Farmers’ Congress – predecessor of the 4-H Clubs
·         Texas Graduate Nurses’ Association – now Texas Nurses Association
.         Women's Christian Temperance Union, that no longer has a presence in Texas.

Our right to vote is a priceless treasure hard won by our fore mothers in Texas. 

Submitted by League of Women Voters – Hill Country.

League of Women Voters of Texas

Women Suffrage by A. Elizabeth Taylor
Texas State Historical Association, an Independent Nonprofit since 1897

Sunday, July 22, 2018

A Texas pioneer family

Texas map drawn by Stephen F. Austin in 1822.  (Source)
Click on any image to enlarge.
In 1822, the first of my family arrived in Texas.
His name was Jesse Parker, and he farmed on a Spanish land grant near present-day Huntsville with his first wife, Sarah.
Natives of North Carolina, the couple made their way through the southern states, living for a while in Louisiana, where Jesse served in the War of 1812. Together they had seven children.
When Sarah died, Jesse married Elizabeth Barker in 1829. They, too, would have seven children together. I descend from Jesse and Elizabeth; their grandson was my grandmother's grandfather.
In 1822, when Jesse and Sarah Parker arrived in Texas, Texas was part of Mexico. Spanish rule had ended the year before, in 1821, after many decades of conflict.
Mexican rule in Texas was turbulent and inconsistent. In 1824 a constitution was written for the newly independent Mexico, a document which resembled the U. S. Constitution in many ways, including the idea that the national government would grant powers to the states. The authors of the constitution of 1824 envisioned a republic, an idea which was amended and changed several times.
Texas was not a state by itself; it was part of 'Coahuila and Texas,' and its first capital was Saltillo, which is about 190 miles southwest from Laredo, an almost impossible distance from the early Texas settlers from the United States.
The new government encouraged immigration to Texas, offering land at a nominal price, use of the Gulf ports, and exemption from taxes. It was this immigration policy which attracted the early empresarios, such as Moses Austin and his son, Stephen, as well as Green DeWitt and others.
It was this liberal immigration policy that attracted Jesse and Sarah Parker to Texas.
This policy had two purposes: first, to attempt to halt expansion into Texas by the United States, and second, to defend the region against the various Native American groups who'd lived in Texas for many thousands of years. The settlers and their industry would also be an eventual source of revenue to the new government, but their primary use was as a buffer against incursions.
However, in the mid-1820s the Mexican government came to see this policy had its own problems. Many of the settlers in Texas were bringing ideas of self-governance which threatened rule from Saltillo and Mexico City. The settlers also failed to take seriously their commitments to Mexican laws and customs, such as becoming members of the Catholic church, and learning to speak Spanish.
Then, in 1826 a short-lived rebellion took place near Nacogdoches, when the empresario Haden Edwards declared the area an independent Republic of Fredonia. This rebellion was quickly ended, and other empresarios denounced Edwards, siding with the Mexican government. However, it caused concern to the government authorities, which feared additional immigration would only supply more secessionists, a concern which would be justified by later events.
In 1830 a new immigration policy was enacted which sharply curtailed immigration into Texas. Military bases were planned to stop illegal immigration into Texas. In addition, the colonists were now subject to taxation.
Proceedings of the
Convention of 1832
These changes were not welcome, and Texas settlers chose to elect representatives to meet at San Felipe de Austin in what was called the Convention of 1832. Fifty-five delegates, representing sixteen districts, met from October 1 through October 6, 1832. It was the first elected representative council in Texas. My ancestor, Jesse Parker, was elected as one of three representatives of the Sabine District.
San Felipe de Austin is not much more than a dot on the map today, but in 1832 it was the center of politics in Texas. Delegates of the Convention of 1832 elected Stephen F. Austin president of the convention. Other elected delegates included James Kerr, for whom Kerr County and Kerrville are named, as well William H. Wharton. I noticed an advertisement in a newspaper published in September 1, 1832, for a lawyer in San Felipe de Austin named William Barrett Travis, "Attorney & Counsellor at Law." They were all in San Felipe de Austin that autumn.
The proceedings of the convention were published, and in reviewing them I see two things about my ancestor: he was one of the very few delegates not appointed to any committee; and he was among those who voted to request Texas be made its own state, separate from Coahuila. Jesse Parker's other contributions to the convention, if any, were not recorded.
Although the Convention of 1832 was the first elected body in Texas, its resolutions were never actually transmitted to the Mexican government.
Jesse Parker died at their farm near Huntsville in 1849; his widow, Elizabeth, died at their farm in 1898.
Jesse and Elizabeth Parker had a daughter, Rebecca, who was born when Texas was an independent republic. Her son Alonzo was born when Texas was a state, before the Civil War.
My grandmother, Annie Lee, had many memories of her grandfather Alonzo, and told me stories of riding in a wagon from his farm to town to buy groceries. She remembered his practice of putting green tomatoes in the barn and covering them with hay, and enjoying them later after they'd ripened. She remembered he always had popcorn kernels on hand, having grown them in his garden, and whenever she visited he'd make up a big bowl of popcorn for her as a treat.
History is the story of families.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who would like to visit San Felipe de Austin, which is just down IH10, past Sealy.  This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times July 21, 2018



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