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Sunday, November 28, 2021

The airline flying out of Kerrville's Louis Schreiner Field, 1950s

Trans-Texas Airways plane, 1950s.
Click on any image to enlarge.

Among the many treasures recently given to me recently by Sandy and Jon Wolfmueller was a small printed program for the inauguration of a new service for Kerrville, when “scheduled airline service” began at Kerrville’s Louis Schreiner Field on January 2, 1954.
It’s true, Gentle Reader: an airline used to fly out of Kerrville’s airport.
January 2, 1954
“Throng expected for Trans-Texas Inauguration,” the Kerrville Times announced in a front-page story published December 31, 1953.
“Trans-Texas Airways will inaugurate service to Kerrville, Texas, located in the ‘Heart of the Hill Country’ on January 2, 1954.
“Airport ceremonies officially signalizing the city’s first scheduled airline passenger, mail, freight and express service will begin at 9:59 a.m. with TTA’s inaugural flight from Houston, Victoria, and San Antonio.”
The airline offered regular flights to San Antonio, Houston, and Fort Worth. Other destinations (after several connections) included Beaumont, Dallas, and Victoria.
The celebration on that January afternoon was led by Dr. Andrew Edington, president of Schreiner Institute, who was the event’s master of ceremonies. The Tivy High School band provided music, and there were speeches by Kerrville’s mayor, Dr. J. L. Bullard; the president of the Kerrville Chamber of Commerce, Joe Pacheck; and a principal address by O. C. Fisher, who represented Kerrville in the U. S. House of Representatives. Capt. Eddie Rickenbacker also attended; at the time he was chairman of the board at Eastern Airlines.
Guests and officials were offered four ‘special courtesy flights’ in the airline’s 26-seat DC-3 “Super Starliner’ at the conclusion of the program.
According to the Kerrville Times story, Kerrville was the 38th ‘station’ in the Trans-Texas system covering Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Tennessee. 
“The new Kerrville service completes a needed link in the TTA system, so that flights from Mission-McAllen-Edinberg, Harlingen and Corpus Christi will connect at San Antonio with the flight serving Kerrville.”
Ad from 12/31/53
Kerrville Times
The newspaper was a little giddy about the new airline service. 
“With the inauguration of scheduled air service into Kerrville…every major city in the nation will be less than 12 flying hours away. It is as easy to fly to Los Angeles as to Dallas.”
Fares listed in the event program offered flights from Kerrville to Dallas/Ft. Worth for $18.06; a round-trip would cost $34.39. Houston was a little more, with one-way priced at $18.75, and a round-trip at 35.65. San Antonio flights were very inexpensive: $4.03, one-way; $7.71 round-trip.
Children up to the age of 2 traveled free; between ages 2 and twelve, the fare was half-price. The program suggests inquiring about the “Family Fare Plan” to “Save Real Money.”
What started with such fanfare lasted until 1959, when the service was discontinued “because there were not sufficient enplanings to justify maintaining a stop here,” according to a January 3, 1960 editorial in this newspaper. The airline was still advertising flights as late as December 15, 1959.
Scheduled airline service lasted about 6 years in Kerrville. Loss of the service was a blow to the community’s self-confidence. Several transportation options were discussed in a series of local newspaper editorials, including the building of Interstate 10.
Around 1969, Trans-Texas Airways became Texas International Airlines. In 1982, Texas International merged with Continental Airlines.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who spent a lot of time at Kerrville’s Louis Schreiner Field when his mother, Pat Herring, had her pilot’s license. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times November 27, 2021.

My coffee-table history books on Kerr County make great Christmas gifts.  Free shipping. Click here for more information. Each book filled with over 100 historic photos.

Sunday, November 21, 2021

For Rosalie, coming to Texas was an adventure

Sampler, Rosalie Dietert, possibly 1840s.
Click on any image to enlarge.

Almost all of us here descend from immigrants; even with Native American ancestors, if you go back in time far enough, the theory suggests they immigrated to the New World, too.
Last month, a kind person shared several large boxes of historic items with me – and among the heirlooms was a simple piece of cloth, embroidered with letters, numbers, and two first names. It is an embroidery sampler, made by a young woman in Germany who would come to Texas in the 1850s. Her name was Rosalie Hess, and she was born in Jena, Germany, on January 17, 1833, and immigrated to Texas in 1854. She married Christian Dietert in 1855. 
Rosalie Dietert
One of the earliest families to settle in Kerrville was the Dietert family, and it was one of their descendants who shared the items with me, for placement in the Heart of the Hills Heritage Center. 
When Rosalie and Christian Dietert arrived in Kerrville in 1857, there were only five one-room huts in the entire town. The Dieterts built a home on Spring Street, which is near the intersection of today's Washington and Water Streets, opposite the front doors to the sanctuary of Notre Dame Catholic Church, overlooking the river. Dietert was a millwright, and he built a mill on his property along the river.
His first mill here was powered by horses, and was designed to make shingles. He later built a mill powered by the river, which he used to saw lumber. 
Here's how Rosalie Dietert described Kerrville as it was 1857, in an interview with her great-granddaughter which was published in 1931, who was writing a report for her history class in school.
“What was in Kerrville when you came here?” the granddaughter asked. "Nothing, my child, but a cluster of five small log huts, of one or two rooms, a wilderness of trees, and grass as high as a man, with Indians skulking through." 
When this 1931 interview took place, Rosalie Dietert was 93 years old. 
"Your grandfather built the sixth house," Mrs. Dietert said. "It had three rooms and was built of cypress timbers cut on the saw mill he set up at the place where the ice plant now stands."
Cooking, too, was difficult.
Detail: "Rosalie"
Rosalie Dietert started housekeeping with a skillet and a small Dutch oven, "which was a small round iron pot with three legs and a dented-in lid to hold live coals." She also had a brass kettle holding about one gallon, for cooking utensils.
"Meat there was always plenty, venison, wild turkey, fish, occasionally bear, and later beef. In the beginning there were practically no vegetables. They made a salad of wild parsley and tea from a variety of the small prairie sage, and greens from the 'lamb's quarters' or 'land squatters.'"
However, "in about 1870 some cook stoves were brought west as far as San Antonio, one of which [Rosalie Dietert] became the proud possessor. No more out-door cooking in all sorts of weather -- a stove and a real oven to bake bread and cakes! Her recipes were gotten out, and all sorts of good things were made for holidays and birthdays. The favorites were stollen (loaf cake), pfeffer-nusse (spice cookies), and schnecken (a sweet dough rolled out flat and covered with brown sugar, cinnamon, raisins, currants and pecan meats. This was all rolled up, cut into slices, and baked.)"
The recipe became very popular in early Kerrville, and many early local families enjoyed making schnecken, though many early families called them a different name: "Dietert Cookies."
"Whatever made you leave your home, brave the sea and throw your lot in an unknown land?" asked her great-granddaughter.
Detail: "Emil"
"With me it was the spirit of adventure," Dietert replied, "All of the papers were full of the new world and of Texas. With the men it was for the most part a question of political freedom."
Her trip to Texas in the mid-1850s was not easy. "After a hard and perilous journey of eight weeks they landed at Galveston, from where they were transported to Indianola, long since destroyed by a tropical storm, in a two-masted sailboat. From there they made a journey to New Braunfels in wagon transports. This was even more tiring than the ocean voyage, as the land was for the most part covered with water from six to 12 inches in depth. It was the popular belief that the southeastern part of Texas was a swamp, but was later found to be caused by a period of much rainfall. There were no roads, or dry camping places, and danger of Indian raids was ever present. The guides and teamsters brought them safely to the settlement of New Braunfels in July, 1854, five months after leaving their homeland."
Among the things Rosalie Hess Dietert brought with her was a small cloth on which she’d embroidered letters, numbers, and two names, and embroidery ‘sampler.’ It measures 14 by 12 inches. The cloth has yellowed over time, and the threads used were coral and white, which have probably faded.
In white thread, at the top left of the cloth, is the name “Rosalie.” On the bottom right, and in coral thread, beneath a horn of leaves, is the name “Emil.” I have no idea who Emil was, but he was important enough to be included in the sampler – and kept by a young immigrant, carried with her as she crossed the sea to a new land.
Seeing this keepsake helped me imagine a young German woman who came to Texas in the “spirit of adventure
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who collects Kerr County and Kerrville historical items, especially photographs. If you have something to share with him, it would make him happy. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times  November 20, 2021.

My coffee-table history books on Kerr County make great Christmas gifts.  Free shipping. Click here for more information. Each book filled with over 100 historic photos.

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Five Million for Kerr County History

Big things are happening at the A. C. & Myrta Schreiner home
on Water Street in downtown Kerrville.

I’ve been about to bust – keeping a secret. Finally, the news is public, and I can share it here.
As you may remember, a group called the Heart of the Hills Heritage Center has been working to create a history museum for our community. 
Working in partnership with the City of Kerrville, the Heritage Center developed a plan to turn the historic 1908 home of A. C. and Myrta Schreiner into a history museum. The Schreiner home is located at 529 Water Street, just to the left of the Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library, and is part of the city’s library campus.
The purpose of the Heart of the Hills Heritage Center is “is to collect, preserve, interpret, and promote the cultural heritage and history of Kerr County and the Texas Hill Country through exhibits, educational activities and special events.”
A community is stronger if it knows its story. The Heritage Center is the place where our story will be told.
Renovating a 1908 house is expensive. Providing stable heating and cooling systems, as well as keeping the humidity inside the house within certain limits, is the only way historic artifacts can be displayed and preserved. In addition, the building needs to be made accessible to everyone, in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act; ramps must be built, and an elevator installed.
Display cabinets and exhibits need to be designed and fabricated. Other museum amenities, from a gift shop to public restrooms, need to be built. It’s a long list of expensive items.
In addition, it was decided the grounds of the library campus should be connected to the Kerrville River Trail.
Before construction and renovation could begin, $5 million needed to be raised. That goal was the first step in fundraising for the museum, and the checkpoint required before anything else could be begun.
Guess what? Last Tuesday evening, at the Kerrville City Council meeting, the board of directors of the Heritage Center announced $5,000.000 had been raised. The first part of fundraising is complete.
H-E-B Grocery Company, and the H. E. Butt Family Foundation, together donated $1 million. Funds donated to the City of Kerrville provided, roughly, another $3 million. That left $1 million to be funded, and the Heritage Center board was tasked with raising that money.
In addition to generous individual donors, the Heritage Center board is most grateful for the support of the Hal and Charlie Peterson Foundation, the Perry and Ruby Stevens Charitable Foundation, the Friends of the Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library, the Cailloux Foundation, the Community Foundation of the Texas Hill Country, and the Meadows Foundation of Dallas.
For my conservative friends, please note: these funds came from foundations and individuals.
While there are still many hurdles to clear – and much more fundraising to do – the idea for a local history museum is one step closer to reality.
I’m thankful for the leadership of Dr. William Rector, the tireless board chairman of the Heritage Center, as well as the other members of the board of directors: James E. Wright, PhD - Vice-Chair; Linda Karst Stone – Secretary; T. David Jones – Treasurer; Toni Box; Clifton Fifer; Donald S. Frazier, PhD; Charlie McIlvain; and Julius Neunhoffer. Former board members who also shaped the Heritage Center include Deborah Gaudier and Judge Tom Pollard. I also serve on the board of directors. 
City of Kerrville staff have been professional and helpful, and this project would not exist without the encouragement and support of the Kerrville City Council. Local architect Scott Schellhase has provided excellent design services. The success of this project will take the efforts of hundreds of people.
Gentle Reader, if you think I’m excited about this project, you just might be correct.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who collects Kerr County and Kerrville historical items. If you have an item (or photograph) you’d care to share with him, it would make him very happy. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times November 13, 2021.

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, October 31, 2021

Solved: The Case of Kerrville's Missing Mill

All that remains of the missing mill.

Twice this year, I’ve written here about my search for an 1860s water-powered mill which once stood beside the Guadalupe River “2 miles above Kerrville.” Though I spent a lot of time searching for the missing mill, I couldn’t find it. I have photographs of the mill in my collection of historic Kerrville and Kerr County images, but I wasn’t sure where they were taken.

I think the mystery has been solved, thanks to Gary Saner and Bryant Saner.

Gary, who is Bryant’s cousin, noticed some cut-stone rockwork on the edge of Lake Nimitz between the AT&T store and the old Fuddruckers Restaurant building.  Emailing Bryant about the site, he learned Bryant had written an article about the old mill for the Hill Country Archeology Association’s journal, “Ancient Echoes,” which was published in 2005.  The article was “Archeological Reconnaissance of the Starkey-Saner Mill (41KR130), Kerr County Texas.”

Since I last wrote about the mystery, several other history sleuths have sent in hints about the site of the old mill. Several noticed an unusual concrete wall below Guadalupe Street, just upstream from the dam impounding Nimitz Lake.  That wall is intriguing, and I haven’t figured out what purpose it once served, but it wasn’t on the correct parcel of land.  The Starkey-Saner mill almost certainly would have been built on land owned by James M. Starkey, and his land stretched, roughly, along the river between today’s Harper Road and Methodist Encampment Road.

Last June, one person pointed out some cut stone at the same location mentioned by Gary Saner, and I drove to the site and took some photographs, looking carefully into the deep water below to see if any additional structures were visible.  Other than some submerged cut stones, none were, and so I felt the hint was inconclusive.

However, Bryant Saner, in his 2005 article, confirms this was the site of the Starkey-Saner mill. In fact, in 1997 he and the late Bobby Rector photographed stonework at the site.

Why is this important?

Today we are accustomed to all sorts of devices that do work for us.  Some operate using electricity, and others using gasoline.  The ‘work’ they do includes mowing our lawns, or using an electric saw to cut lumber. 

In 1868, when the Starkey-Saner mill was constructed, a lot of work was done by harnessing water power.

If you have a mill, you can saw lumber. That means you can construct things with lumber, like houses and barns.  You can use water power to make shingles from the local cypress trees.  You can also process agricultural products, like grinding grain or ginning cotton.

In other words, you can harness the power of the river to help build a community. A water mill was more than a water wheel, a drive shaft, pulleys and belts: it was also an economic engine. It turned raw materials into valuable products.

That’s why noting the site of a mill is an important part of recording local history.

What happened to the old mill site, which is now below the water of Lake Nimitz?

According to the article written by Bryant Saner, “In the late 1970s, the Guadalupe River Authority (UGRA) built a dam on the river approximately 0.15 mile down from the old mill site creating a reservoir that impounds water far upstream. Prior to the building of the dam an archeological survey of the impoundment area was conducted by Grant Hall of the University of Texas at Austin, Balcones Center (now known as the Texas Archeological Research Laboratory). A letter, dated May 10, 1971, was written to Mr. B. W. Bruns, General Manager for the UGRA at the time, describing two archeological sites that were found. One was a prehistoric encampment, 41KR131, on the of the river approximately 0.2 upstream from the dam. Very little of this site remains due a gravel quarrying operation carried on long before the dam was planned.… The other site was the Starkey-Saner Mill Site (41KRJ30). It is described as being "two dressed limestone block walls recessed into terrace edge above the river. The foot of the walls are at the level of the flood plain below, at a depth of perhaps fifteen feet. No superstructure remains. Recommendations to the UGRA were to leave the rock walls, but clear the brush and trees around them on the flood plain and terrace face….”

“According to the present owner of the mill site [the Lester Overstreet family], the bulldozers took out everything, trees, brush and rock walls.”  That means the only thing left today of the Starkey-Saner mill are a few cut stones along the edge of Nimitz Lake. (Those cut stones are located at 30°03'43.5"N, 99°10'21.1"W.)

But at least we now know where it was, thanks to the Saner cousins.

Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who enjoys working on history mysteries. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times October 30, 2021.

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, October 24, 2021

Time Travel to Downtown Kerrville, on a 40-year Loop

[Author's note: I've been busy on other projects, and took a break from this blog for about two months.  My apologies.  I'll try to do better in the future.  JRHJr]

After telescopes were invented, and photography came along, scientists used a simple technique to discover which heavenly objects moved across the constellations, things like comets, or our favorite dwarf planet, Pluto. They’d take photographs of the same neighborhood of the night sky over several nights, then compare them, back and forth, like a flipbook, using a device called a blink comparator. If they saw something moving across the sky, relative to the stars, it was worth studying further.
While there are no time-lapse photographs showing Kerrville from its origins in 1856 until today, there are some views which have been photographed over and over. One view which has been taken repeatedly is of downtown Kerrville, as seen from the tall hill just across the Guadalupe River from the intersection of Earl Garrett and Water streets.
Going through my files I realized I had three photographs of downtown Kerrville from this angle, taken at roughly 40-year intervals. The oldest was taken in 1903; the second, around 1941; the third around 1979. If I could take a new photograph of the same view this year, I’d have four photographs in this series.
While the four images wouldn’t show gradual changes, it might be fun to compare them. The series would show the big changes. (So, I won’t be able to play with a blink comparator with these images. Ha.)

Downtown Kerrville, 1903.
Click on any image to enlarge.

The first in the series was taken in 1903, by a child of C. W. Smith. The street in the middle of the image is now called Earl Garrett Street; at the time the photo was taken, it was still called Mountain Street. The streets parallel to Mountain Street in the image are, on the left, Tchoupitoulas Street (now Sidney Baker), and on the right, Washington Street. 
Going from left to right on the image, there is a white building on the far left: that’s Pampell’s. Today it’s the home of the Humble Fork Restaurant. Just to the right of the Pampell’s building you can see the balcony of the St. Charles Hotel, which was across Water Street. Then a frame building, and then a stone building, which is the Favorite Saloon building. A large stone building faces the camera next; it’s the Schreiner Wool Warehouse. Then there’s a gap, and a big stone building can be seen: Charles Schreiner Company. Just above Schreiner’s you can see the tower of Kerr County’s third courthouse, which is the tallest building shown in the photograph.
Across the gap of Earl Garrett Street, you can see the Weston Building, which is home today of Francisco’s Restaurant. It kind of blends in with the Masonic Building behind it on Earl Garrett; today that building is the home of Turtle Creek Olives & Vines. 
Then, where Washington Street heads toward the river bluff, you can see the Kerrville Roller Mill complex, which used water power from the Guadalupe to do everything from saw lumber to generate electricity.

Downtown Kerrville, around 1941

The next image was taken around 1941. A new bridge crosses the river on Sidney Baker Street; Pampell’s, the Favorite Saloon building, the Wool Warehouse, and Schreiner Company can still be seen, though the Schreiner building has been remodeled. The courthouse has changed, too. It’s the fourth Kerr County courthouse, the one still in use today, which was built in 1926. Across from the wool warehouse building something new has sprung up: the Arcadia Theater, also built in 1926.
At Earl Garrett Street, there’s a big eight-story building: that’s the Blue Bonnet Hotel. The other buildings along Earl Garrett are hidden behind it. 
At Washington Street, remnants of the old mill can be seen in the form of the Ice Plant.

Downtown Kerrville, around 1979

Next, we time-travel to about 1979. The biggest building in this photo is the Sid Peterson Memorial Hospital, at the corner of Water and Sidney Baker streets. Though across the street we can still see Pampell’s, the Arcadia, the Wool Warehouse, and Schreiner Company. The Weston Building (Francisco’s) can be seen, but the Blue Bonnet Hotel is gone, as is all but the basement and foundation of the old Ice Plant. The Park Lane Apartments have shown up, like wildflowers, across the river from downtown. (They’re still there today.)

Downtown Kerrville, October 18, 2021

And then we travel to this week, October 18, 2021. I didn’t climb the hill south of the river to take this shot; I used a small drone. The only structures I see that have survived from that first image are Pampell’s, the Favorite Saloon, the Masonic Building, and the Weston Building. The Schreiner Building can be seen, but as it appears after the 1919 remodel. The basement of the old Ice Plant can still be seen, too.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this journey. Let’s check back in about 40 years.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who collects old Kerr County and Kerrville items – if you have something you’d care to share with him, it would make him happy. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times October 23, 2021.

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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