New Kerr County History Book Available!

Sunday, May 29, 2022

The Story of the First Kerrville Folk Festival

Kenneth Threadgill and band performing at the very first
Kerrville Folk Festival, Kerrville Municipal Auditorium, June, 1972

Texas Arts & Crafts Fair, Kerrville, 1972
Years ago, the late Rod Kennedy gave me a remarkable document: a program from the first Texas State Arts & Crafts Fair (of which the first Kerrville Folk Festival was a part).
It is remarkable for many reasons: its words, pictures and design evoke a spirit that thrived in this place in the summer of 1972. From the welcoming letters printed in the front of the book from Governor Preston Smith, Schreiner Junior College and Preparatory School President Sam Junkin, and the first Executive Director of the Arts & Crafts Fair, Phil Davis (of the Texas Tourist Development Agency), all the way to the list of exhibitors (including my dad and an old platen printing press) – you can tell that Kerrville was on the ball, making a difference for itself in the state. It’s refreshing to read the program, filled with its optimism and state public-relations department text.
Carolyn Hester, 1972
That first fair ran for 6 days, starting on a Tuesday and running through Saturday, on the campus of Schreiner Institute. Admission was $1.00 for adults and 50 cents for children. Parking was free. Rod Kennedy produced the first Kerrville Folk Festival June 1, 2, and 3 (Thursday through Saturday) at the Kerrville Municipal Auditorium, with a $2.50 per person admission. Other things were going on during the same time: Schreiner Institute offered a production of “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” and the Hill Country Arts Foundation had a Neil Simon comedy, “Come Blow Your Horn.” 
The program is filled with ads for the expected restaurants and hotels – but also packed with ads for real estate. I wonder how many families came to the fair, bought property here, and made Kerrville their home.
I was 10 years old during that first fair and festival, but I remember it clearly. During the day I helped Mom and Dad at the tent where our old iron letterpress was on display (and running, printing maps of the fair), helping man the front desk in the tent. We were the first tent inside the entrance, and we printed a ton of maps right there. I sure wish I had one of those old maps. 
Darrell Royal, Lady Bird, LBJ at first KFF
I also remember it was blazing hot. Lady Bird Johnson attended one of those early fairs. I gave her a map.
Phil Davis wanted to have music at the fair, so he contacted Rod Kennedy, then a music producer and radio station owner in Austin.
I remember attending the first Kerrville Folk Festival, at the Kerrville Municipal Auditorium, listening to performers like Peter Yarrow, Allen Damron, Kenneth Threadgill and Carolyn Hester. I’m afraid I didn’t make it through the entire show, falling fast asleep after a hard day at the fair. Ladybird and Lyndon Johnson attended the folk festival that evening, too, along with Darrell Royal.
A lot of folks worked hard to get the fair to Kerrville; it was a real community effort.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Kerrville Folk Festival, and it will be quite an event. If you’ve never been, you ought to give it a try. Tell them Joe sent you.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who remembers how hot it was during that first festival.  This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times May 28, 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, May 22, 2022

A packet of Kerr County photographs from the 1950s

A packet of photographs, to be sold to tourists,
from Kerr County in the 1950s.
Click on any image to enlarge.

We Kerr County residents often get used to the natural beauty of the Texas Hill Country, not realizing how special it is. For many visitors, a trip to our area is a real treat. The hills, the Guadalupe River, the many activities and events offered – this has been an ideal place to relax for more than a century.
700 block of Water Street, Kerrville
A kind reader mailed me something this week – a little 3.75x3 inch envelope with 8 tiny black and white photographs enclosed. It was an item manufactured by the W. M. Cline Company of Chattanooga, Tennessee, meant to be purchased by visitors to an area. It was an inexpensive memento for tourists, to help them remember their visit here.
I’ve seen other examples of this same product, but this one is different. Though several of the images are familiar to me, most of them are photos I haven’t seen before. I thought you might enjoy seeing them, too.
Even the three familiar images are interesting. There’s a photo of the 700 block of Water Street, taken from the 600 block, just past Sidney Baker. This image helps us date the image – since Sid Peterson Hospital was completed in 1949, it has to be after that date. 
Ski boats in Louise Hays Park
An image of ski boats churning the water by the Louise Hays Park dam offers another clue – there were ski shows offered down in that narrow ‘lake.’ Without the improvements made by the Kerrville Jaycees, in 1954, these ski shows would not have been possible; the Jaycees dug a ‘canal’ at the upriver end of Tranquility Island and made other improvements with the express purpose of providing a venue for “speed boats” and water-skiing exhibitions. So, at least that photograph dates from the mid-1950s. I noticed, like you, the name of our river is misspelled in that photo’s title.
The other familiar image was taken from the top of Tivy Mountain, to the east of downtown Kerrville.
Kerrville from Tivy Mountain

It shows a small town beneath a wide sky. From the top of Tivy Mountain, the distant hills shown in the photograph demonstrate how flat our area would be – if it hadn’t been for eons of erosion and the work of rivers and creeks. The two large buildings in that photograph are the Blue Bonnet Hotel and the Sid Peterson Memorial Hospital, both now gone.
In the small packet are images which I’ve never seen before:
A nice photo of the V. A. Hospital, after a snowfall. This hospital began around 100 years ago – originally an American Legion Hospital, built to treat wounded veterans from World War I. (That’s why the area around the hospital is called ‘Legion’ on older maps.)
Johnson Creek, Kerr County
I haven’t seen the photo of Johnson Creek before, but the bluff there looks about right. Forgive me for being a little skeptical on the titles the Cline Co. placed on the photos – you’ll see why in the next few.
The ‘Lake at Hunt’ photograph looks a lot like Ingram Lake to me. It’s interesting to see how few structures can be seen along Highway 39 to Hunt. I think I recognize the two-story structure across the lake in the image, and Ingram Dam in the lower right of the photo.
The image of the diving board at Louise Hays Park is another shot I haven’t seen before, though I’m old enough to remember seeing the hardware for a diving board in that spot. Today the River Trail, after going under the Sidney Baker Street Bridge toward Tranquility Island, comes very near the spot shown in the photograph. You can still see the curve of the old swimming area, with a single curving step down to the level of the river. The swimming hole itself filled in with gravel decades ago, and now it would be extremely unsafe to dive there!
I don’t remember seeing the photo of the Jaycee Rodeo before. For many years that club sponsored a big rodeo over the July 4th weekend. Here’s an interesting tidbit – the rodeo was held on the Tivy Football field. I’m not sure how they repaired the field after the rodeo, but it was certainly before the artificial turf we have today.
I’m very thankful to the kind reader who sent these my way – and shared them with our entire community.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who collects old Kerr County photographs and historical items. If you have something you’d share with him, it would make him very happy. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times May 21, 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, May 15, 2022

The hidden features of the Schreiner Mansion

The Schreiner Mansion at sunrise, Kerrville, 2018

I’ve missed you, Gentle Reader.
Over the last few months, while I was away, I’ve been working on a biography of Captain Charles Schreiner. I know when we think of him today, we tend to focus on his later years, when he was a wealthy benefactor for Kerr County — a rich man who gave back to his community. One of his most lasting gifts was a school, which is known today as Schreiner University.
The story of Charles Schreiner’s life will surprise you. What I've learned certainly surprised me. It's quite a tale.
Working on this book has meant slowing down and really looking at things, and I invite you to take a tour with me of a place so familiar most of us never really notice it. You can find it in the 200 block of Earl Garrett Street, between Schreiner Goods and the Kerr Arts and Cultural Center: the “Schreiner Mansion.”
Around 1900. Note iron balconies on left.
This tour I am offering can be taken at any time, and it’s free. While this tour won’t visit the inside of the building — there are tours of its rooms available Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 am to 2 pm — we will wander around the old building and see what stories its exterior can tell us.
Over the last few months, I’ve visited the old home, looking at it from the sidewalks which surround it, and I’ve seen some things I’ve never noticed before, including the head of a lion, snarling, with its mouth opened in a silent roar. More on him, later.
Start by standing in front of the mansion. 
In the late 1870s, and for the first time in his life, Charles Schreiner had some money. In 1879, he did two important things with this newly-earned wealth: he bought out his business partner, August Faltin of Comfort; and he built his wife a house.
The engraved stone which was once
in the center of the house
Evidence of that first house can still be seen at the Schreiner Mansion today. The building we see there today looked very different from what the Schreiner family moved into in 1879. The earliest house had no balconies with curved stone arches, and was about half the width of today’s structure. It was a plain, but solid, rectangle of a house.
Standing on the Earl Garrett sidewalk, facing the front door of the building, you’ll notice something I failed to notice in my previous six decades of passing the house. The stones on the front wall are different. To the left of the door, under the balcony, they’re smooth, with an almost sanded appearance; to the right, they're more roughly dressed.
The smooth-faced stones show the shape of the original house. On the bottom floor, there were two windows and a door; on the top floor, three windows across. This same pattern is repeated at the back of the house, though mirror-reversed. You can see these from the back of the house, in the plaza in front of Kerrville’s city hall.
Looking up at the second story of the smooth wall, in what would have been the center of the original construction, is a carved stone reading “Chas. Schreiner 1879.” The roof confirms the original layout of this first house — it’s a pitched roof covering that original rectangle footprint.
The next phase of construction, completed in 1895, added a kitchen and parlor, plus more rooms upstairs. The final addition came in 1897, when the towers, porch and balcony were added, facing Earl Garrett Street. With the 1897 addition, the house we see before us was completed.
That first portion of the house, completed in 1879, was home to the Schreiner family. It was a large family: Charles and Magdalena Schreiner had eight children, five sons and three daughters. In 1879, when the family moved in, one of the daughters hadn’t been born, yet: the baby, Frances Hellen Schreiner Jeffers, who was born in 1881. At the time the Schreiners moved into their new house, the other children ranged in age from seventeen (Aimé Charles) to two (Walter Richard).
The lion facing the rising sun
There’s one feature which surprised me when I first noticed it this year: a lion’s head, facing the rising sun, on the eastern corner of the house. Standing on the sidewalk separating the mansion from the Kerr Arts and Cultural Center (the old post office), look up to the gutters along the edge of the roof. The lion’s head is in the corner between the porch and the tower at the top of the downspout, decorating the bowl-shaped collector at the junction of the gutter. There’s no telling how many people it’s watched travel along the sidewalk, each completely unaware it was there, watching them. Some believe having the image of a lion on your house will bring prosperity.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who enjoys investigating Kerr County history.  This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times May 14, 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, March 27, 2022

Kerr County historic photos -- now in living color -- using a kind of magic

A photo from around 1968, complete with ski boats, skiers, 
the library, and a couple fishing. 
Colorized from a black and white photograph.

I'm grateful for generous readers who send in interesting things.  Two different fellows sent me some photos I think you'll enjoy. What these two have done is take some of the historic photographs I publish here and colorized them.  There are several apps which will take old black and white photographs and turn them instamagically into full-color images.  I hope you have fun looking through these, and I'm thankful both David and Rus shared these with us. 

Ingram Dam, 1968, colorized from a black and white photo.

A 1950s image of Louise Hays Park, colorized from a black and white photo.

A 1920s image of travelers, colorized from a black and white photo.

Water Street, showing Schreiner Company, and the Weston Building in the center,
from around 1900, 
colorized from a black and white photo.


Men clearing the channel below
the Dietert Mill, below the 800 block of Water Street, from around 1900,
colorized from a black and white photo.

The Kerrville post office building under construction, mid-1930s,
colorized from a black and white photo.

A freight wagon, crossing Town Creek near today's
Riverside Nature Center Association, from 1905,
colorized from a black and white photo.

The Charles Schreiner Company, February 1893.
colorized from a black and white photo.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who collects old photographs of Kerr County. If you had photographs you'd care to share with him, it would make him very happy.

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, March 13, 2022

A 1950s walkabout on Water Street in downtown Kerrville - eight photographs

Downtown Kerrville from Thompson Drive, near the
Kerrville State Hospital, around 1956. 
The Sid Peterson Memorial Hospital is on the left;
the Blue Bonnet Hotel is on the right.
Click on any image to enlarge.

In April, 1956, Kerr County celebrated its centennial with a county-wide party that included a giant parade, 1850s costumes, a musical drama, a beard-growing contest, and much more.
Starr Bryden, an area photographer, took lots of photographs of the downtown area, some of them intended as souvenirs of Kerrville during the centennial celebration.  These prints were included in a batch of photographs given to me by my friends Sandy and Jon Wolfmueller. I am thankful for their generosity in sharing these with all of us.

700 block of Water Street, looking toward Sidney Baker Street, around 1956

The Charles Schreiner Company, corner of Water and Earl Garrett,
around 1956.  Note the Kerrville Police Department automobile.

Sid Peterson Memorial Hospital, corner of Water and Sidney Baker,
around 1956.  Note the gas station on the ground floor.

The Weston Building, around 1956, on the corner of
Water and Earl Garrett streets.

The Blue Bonnet Hotel, corner of Water and Earl Garrett streets,
around 1956.  This photo was taken from the rooftop of the
Sid Peterson Memorial Hospital.

The 700 block of Water Street, as seen from the top of the 
Blue Bonnet Hotel, around 1956.

The 800 block of Water Street, around 1956, looking toward 
Earl Garrett Street.

I hope you enjoyed the 1950s walkabout!

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who collects old photographs of Kerr County. If you had photographs you'd care to share with him, it would make him very happy.

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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