New Kerr County History Book Available!

Sunday, October 25, 2020

A newly discovered print of a 1902 photograph -- Pampell's, a downtown Kerrville landmark

Pampell's, in downtown Kerrville, around 1902,
at the intersection of Sidney Baker and Water Street.
Click on image to enlarge.
This week a long-time friend brought by two large photographs showing scenes from the 700 block of Water Street in downtown Kerrville.
One of the photographs is of Pampell’s, a cornerstone of Kerrville’s downtown business area for well over a century. The photograph was from around 1902, when the building was still a frame building, before it was remodeled and assumed its current brick façade. Today the building is the home of the Humble Fork Restaurant, on the corner of Water and Sidney Baker streets.
When I was a boy – in the late 1960s – Pampell’s was a very different place, with a soda fountain and a drug store. It was the store where I spent my dimes and quarters – mainly on chocolate bars and milk shakes.
John Lee Pampell, who arrived in Kerrville on July 4, 1890, was the founder of the enterprise. Born in Brenham, he first found work as an express messenger on the San Antonio & Aransas Pass Railroad, which had its terminus here.
In 1928, Pampell told this story:
“Upon arriving [in Kerrville], I was impressed by the sight of the beautiful hills, the fine Guadalupe River, and the splendid class of people who were found here, none carrying six-shooters, or lacking in their welcome to a stranger.
“Kerrville was a thriving village of about 1,500 people. Captain Schreiner’s store, his residence, the St. Charles Hotel, and Dr. Parson’s livery stable, with the dance hall above, were the chief buildings except the court and the Union Church, where all denominations worshipped.
“There were no sidewalks to speak of, and where we walk on pavements now on Water Street’s business section, we had to cling to upright cedar picket fencing in rainy weather to keep from bogging up in the mud. 
“It was not uncommon to see hauling done by oxen.”
According to an excellent news article written by the late Michael Bowlin, Pampell opened an “Ice Cream Parlor and Confectionery” on Water Street about 6 months after he arrived in Kerrville. That first business was located about where the parking lot in front of Cartewheel’s restaurant is today.
“On May 9, 1901, the Brenham native bought the old W. V. Gregory Hotel.” The very next month, “on June 6, 1901, Pampell then borrowed $2,000 from Kerrville doctor E. E. Palmer to make improvements to his new establishment. Those improvements included remodeling the second floor of the building, making it into an opera house that seated 450 people. The seats were wooden folding chairs which could be removed for dances and other activities. A stage was built at the south end of the building, and an inside stairway was erected so theater patrons could go down to the first floor for ice cream, cold drinks, and candy during intermission and at the end of the performance. The candy, ice cream and soda water were made personally by Pampell [in the same building].”
In 1904 the building gained a coat of stucco, and the soda fountain was installed; that fountain is still in the building today. Pampell and his wife, Annie Braeutigam Pampell, visited the St. Louis World’s Fair that year, and purchased tables and chairs and the fountain on that trip.
Traveling performers would stage shows at Pampell’s, lecturers from various Chautauqua organizations would educate ticketholders, and many a square dance was held in the building. Several Tivy graduating classes had their graduation ceremonies there, too.
After 1910, the primary entertainment on the second floor was the presentation of motion pictures, and “from 1910 to 1920, it served almost entirely as a motion picture house.
In 1916, Pampell acquired the franchise for the Coca Cola agency for this section, and Pampell’s bottled some of the first “Cokes” in the area. By 1948 the bottling works could produce 1,560 bottles of soda per hour.
The building was renovated again in 1928, when “brick replaced stucco on the outside walls, and the floor of the opera house was sawn away leaving only a decorative balcony.”
When I was a boy, the Hood family ran the pharmacy and drug store; later Steve Ackman had his pharmacy there. In 1989, my friends Sandy and Jon Wolfmueller reopened Pampell’s as an antique store and soda fountain. Later Ken Wilson purchased the property and spent a fortune renovating and shoring up the structure, and opening it as a sports bar and restaurant. Today it’s the home of the Humble Fork Restaurant, where it still serves as a community gathering place.
The photo brought by the shop this week is the best print I’ve seen of the old photograph. I wish I knew the names of some of the folks in the photograph, but my research has not revealed that secret, yet.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who vaguely remembers the days when he could enjoy milkshakes without gaining any weight. That was a very long time ago. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times October 24, 2020.

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Sunday, October 18, 2020

Kerr County history without words or photographs

Gentle Reader, since 1994 I’ve written you these weekly letters, most of them about the history of our community. Using photographs and paragraphs I’ve hoped to both entertain and inform you while telling the story of our special place in Texas. 
My sweet wife, Ms. Carolyn, is a school teacher, and she reminds me people learn in different ways – and tell stories in different ways.
That’s why I was intrigued when Kä Neunhoffer, a young composer with deep hill country roots, visited me at the print shop. Ms. Neunhoffer and Libbie Horton, a choreographer also with local roots, are presenting “Hill Shapes,” a live performance to “bring to life some of the historic stories of central Texas.”
Horton & Neunhoffer
The Neunhoffer family has been in Kerr County, well, almost forever. Ms. Neunhoffer is related, either by blood or marriage, to about a third of Kerr County. One of her grandfathers was Julius Neunhoffer, who was Kerr County judge when I was a boy. One of her great-great-grandfathers was Julius Real, was also a Kerr County judge, but who also served in the Texas senate. Real County is named for him. One of her great-great-great-grandmothers was Emily Schreiner Real, a sister of Charles Schreiner. You get the picture.
Ms. Neunhoffer, then, has much of our local history as part of her actual DNA. Growing up in such a family has undoubtedly provided her opportunities to hear stories about our community’s past, stories passed from one generation of her family to the next.
Neunhoffer and Horton write this about “Hill Shapes:”
“The Guadalupe can be a source of relief from the hot summer sun, a source of joy, and also a violent power of destruction that comes sweeping in the night. Like the people of the hill country, nature reflects the fickle changes of time and how something can be both beautiful and have its flaws. ‘Hill Shapes’ is a close-up picture of the hill country and a few of its historical events. Lean in and take a closer look at the unique landscapes, the chronicles of our town, and a dark betrayal.”
Described as a ‘modern chamber ballet,’ “Hill Shapes” will have two performances. On Friday, October 30, at 7:30 pm, at the Union Church, 101 Travis Street (near the intersection of Broadway and Water streets, on the edge of the Schreiner University campus). The other performance will be October 31, at 2:00 pm, at the River Star park, 4000 Riverside Drive. Tickets can be purchased online at
It’s fitting the first performance will be held at the Union Church; Ms. Neunhoffer’s uncle, Julius Neunhoffer, was instrumental in the preservation and restoration of the historic structure, working with the Kerr County Historical Commission. The restored church building has been the site of many interesting community events.
A community is stronger if it knows its story. These young Kerrville women are telling a part of that story in a new way, and I applaud them for it.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who collects items and photographs from Kerr County’s history. If you have something you’d share with him, it would make him very happy. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times October 16, 2020.

A big thanks to those of you who purchased one of my books this week!  I appreciate it. 

Sunday, October 11, 2020

The Secret Life of Kerrville's "Trailhead Beer Garden" building

Trailhead Beer Garden Kerrville
The newly renovated "Trailhead Beer Garden," on the 
Schreiner University campus.
Click on any image to enlarge.
It’s no secret I love a good history mystery.
My friends Jeremy and Maia Walther, working together with Schreiner University, have created an interesting campus and community amenity at one terminus of the city government’s recently expanded “River Trail” system.
The project is called the Trailhead Beer Garden, and it’s housed in an old building on the periphery of the Schreiner University campus.
While the pandemic has prevented the grand opening of the beer garden, it will eventually serve not only Schreiner students and staff, but also the rest of our community. There will be more on tap than just beer: a full menu of beverages will be available; a stage for performances has been built; and a food truck will anchor at the location. I’m sure it will become a spot for gathering community together, a place for laughter, discussion, and a story or two.
Barbara Dullnig Building Kerrville Texas
The postcard found on eBay.
Here’s the mystery, though: what is the history of that old building?
I remember seeing it for many years, of course, most recently with a worn sign saying “Dan Swensen Faculty Club.” Looking through the windows several years ago, it was obvious the building had seen better days.
When the Walthers became involved, my son and I stopped by to see the inside of the old building. By then the rafters were exposed, showing wobbly old-time framing supporting both a wooden shingle roof and a metal roof placed on top of the old shingles. The building had a steep hip roof stretched beyond a pyramid into a rectangle, with a short ridge line at its crest. The wrap-around porch was uneven, and floor boards had seen decades of uneven repair.  It needed lots of work, which it received.
I was pretty sure the building had once been part of the Westminster Presbyterian Encampment, which was founded in 1906 and continued operations until 1950, when the Presbyterians purchased Mo-Ranch, making it their camp operation. 
I believe Westminster was the first summer camp in Kerr County, and it attracted visitors from all over the southwest. It offered a place of spiritual and physical rest, with access to the Guadalupe River. By 1935 “over 100 buildings and cottages accommodated an annual series of summer conferences,” according to the Texas State Historical Association’s website.
During construction, 2019
Old maps showed a network of streets in the encampment, with names like Zeus, Medina, and Atlas streets. The 1930 Sanborn map of the encampment area shows the Trailhead building near the dining hall, with a band stand between the two. I was disappointed when I noticed the building was not labeled like several of the others. It seemed like I’d reached a dead end.
I may not be speedy, but I am persistent. One day I noticed a postcard for sale on eBay which seemed to show the old building. “The Barbara Dullnig Building, Westminster Presbyterian Encampment, Kerrville, Texas.”
I shared the image with Jeremy Walther, and he agreed. The Dullnig Building was the building now housing the Trailhead Beer Garden.
Now that I had a name, the rest was comparatively easy.
Barbara Weber Dullnig was active in Presbyterian mission work, being elected president of the Foreign Missionary Union of the Presbyterian Churches of the Texas Synod in 1906. She was born in San Antonio in 1874, and died there in 1947 at the age of 72. She was the daughter of immigrants; her father was born in Germany; her mother, France.
According to the “Pioneer Women of the Presbyterian Church, United States,” the Barbara Dullnig Building at Westminster was constructed in 1920. If that’s accurate, the building is 100 years old.
“The Dullnig Building,” that book reports, “is a lasting testimony of the love and appreciation which the women of Texas bear for their former Synodical President. She had had splendid training for the office as a Bible teacher in her home church, then when Western Texas Union was organized she was made the first treasurer, serving for two years, then became president of the Union… Over and over again she toured the State, visiting all of the Presbyterials, strengthening and encouraging weak organizations and getting that personal touch which enabled her to direct the growing work of this tremendous Synodical in a most efficient manner. How she made these long journeys over the State in the early years is past explanation, but they were made by train, buggy or ambulance, and often afoot for many miles, making connections at all hours of the day and night.”
Another local religious group can trace their early days to the same building. In the spring of 1950, Trinity Baptist Church met in the building when the weather was too “inclement” for the Baptists to worship in the open-air Robbins-Lewis Memorial Auditorium just across the street from the Dullnig Building.
I found one news article, from the May 4, 1950 issue of the Kerrville Mountain Sun interesting: members of Trinity Baptist’s “Women’s Missionary Union” met in the Barbara Dullnig Building to discuss the Baptist’s missionary efforts. This was not unlike the efforts of the building’s namesake, a few decades earlier.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who remembers various WMU programs and services at First Baptist Church here in Kerrville when he was a boy. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times October 11, 2020.

Yep -- you can help produce these free newsletters by sharing it with someone.  Sharing is certainly caring. (Buying one of my books helps, too!)

Sunday, October 4, 2020

The photographs of 19 Kerr County heroes

Third Battalion, HQ Co, Kerr County, December 1, 1940
Click on any image to enlarge.

A long-time friend loaned me two interesting scrapbooks kept by her mother-in-law, with pages of information spanning several decades. In the books she kept a running journal of events in her family, in our community, and even in the world beyond Kerr County.

There were newspaper clippings of young brides and weddings, some projects of our local Lions Club, a series of centennial news stories published in the 1960s about the American Civil War, plus much more. The scrapbooks are comprehensive and fun to read through – and it was obvious they took a lot of work to compile.

A few of the pages were especially poignant. These were pages of newspaper clippings from the early to mid-1940s – the war years.

On the grounds of the Kerr County courthouse stands a memorial to those local men who’ve given their life in the service of their country. It was unveiled on May 23, 1992 after years of planning and discussion, and additional panels were dedicated later, on July 4, 2015. 

Starting with World War I and continuing through the recent (and ongoing) conflicts in the Middle East, the handsome memorial is a quiet tribute to those who paid such a dear price for our many freedoms.

I often stop by the memorial when I have business in the courthouse and read through the names. The war with the most names is World War II, of course. There are 48 names listed there for that war (though one, Dempsey Ballard, was placed there by mistake; he spoke at the dedication in 1992.)

The scrapbooks loaned to me have a valuable gift to our community safely recorded in their pages: the newspaper photos of 19 of the World War II servicemen listed on the war memorial. It’s one thing to solemnly read the names carved in stone, and to honor them in that way, but it is quite another to see their faces.

They were all so young.

The aging clippings were pasted on several pages, and many of them have turned dark, like leaves in autumn. Despite the age of the clippings you can still see the young men’s warm smiles and their sharp military uniforms. Some of the portraits capture serious expressions, but many show relaxed soldiers at peace in front of the camera.

Here are the names of the soldiers for whom I found photographs in the scrapbooks: Jimmy Beddingfield; Willis Carlisle; Pete Castillo; Dale Crider; L. T. Davis, Jr.; Charles Foster; Paul Grona; John Harris; John Heard; Kenneth Lowrance; Howard Marlar; Cyrus Miller; Charles Nichols; Emmett Rhoden; Eugene Ridgaway; Charles Rose; Frank Sheffield, Jr.; Alfredo Villareal; and Ben Zumwalt.

Perhaps the best tribute to these fallen World War II soldiers came from the man whose name was accidently placed on the memorial. Dempsey Ballard spoke at the May, 1992 unveiling ceremony. He knew many of the men listed on the memorial.

It was fortunate his name was on the memorial, he said, because “these heroes have a messenger to tell their story.”

I was there the day Ballard spoke. When he spoke, the audience was very quiet, and seemed to lean in closer to hear what he had to say. He told how these men loved their country, how they loved the Texas hill country. He was their messenger.

And now we can see some of their faces.

Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who is certainly enjoying this cooler weather. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times October 3, 2020.

Thanks for reading. This newsletter is free, but not cheap to send. To show your support, forward it to someone who’d like it, or buy one of my books.  Thanks so much. (And thanks to all of you who bought books this week!)

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Tivy High School Football in 1920 -- 100 years ago

Kerrville Tivy High School football 1920
Tivy High School football team -- 1920
Click on any image to enlarge

I enjoyed reading through “KDT Varsity” special section in Thursday’s edition of this newspaper, and I know many folks are happy to see high school football start up again.

Mike Keith’s photo of the 2020 Tivy Antler football team, trainers, and coaching staff was particularly impressive. What a fine-looking group of young men and women – guided by a dedicated group of coaches and educators.

One thing that impressed me by the photograph was the sheer number of folks involved, each playing a part to make the football season successful.

It reminded me of photographs I have of another Tivy football team – from 100 years ago: The 1920 Tivy football squad.

The 1920 Tivy High School football team

In 1920, public schools were on Tivy Street between 3rd and North streets, the site today of B. T. Wilson 6th Grade Campus and the Kerrville Independent School District offices. Across Barnett Street was also part of the 1920s schools; today some of those buildings house the Alamo Colleges campus.

(Although there is a school campus on the site today named for a local African-American educator, B. T. Wilson, in 1920 Kerrville schools were segregated, and remained so until the mid-1960s.)

Looking at the photographs of the 1920 Tivy football team, there are lots of things that have changed in the last 100 years.

First off, there are very few folks in the 1920 photograph – just 15 young men. They are wearing an assortment of uniforms. Protective padding is minimal, if present at all, and not all of the players have helmets. The uniforms look torn and ragged, and none of the players is sporting a player number on their sweaters.

In the shot where the players are in position on the line, you can see the homemade goalpost behind the players. Beyond that, a line of scraggly oak trees. Two folks can be seen leaning against the goalpost, and the shadow of the photographer can be seen.

Tivy High School, 1918

The Tivy High School building in 1920 was quite different from today’s large Tivy campus, three stories plus what looks like rooms in the attic. Much of that cut-stone building was still in use until the early 1980s as the Hal Peterson Junior High School. When I was a student there in the mid-1970s, portions of the building were closed off to students. You could feel the floors shake slightly when someone walked across a room.

In 1920, enrollment at Tivy High School was 151 students; 20 of those were seniors that year. From elementary to high school, there were 420 students enrolled, which was a record for the school district. Six teachers, including the district’s superintendent, R. A. Franklin, taught in the high school that year.

While I’ve found news stories about the 1920 Tivy team, the information is very limited. I know they played 10 games, though 2 of those games were against Junction. (Junction won the first one; Tivy, the second.) They also played St. Mary’s Academy of San Antonio, the West Texas Military Academy of San Antonio, and Llano. I do not know the other teams they played that year.

The games were played in the afternoon – there were no stadium lights to illuminate the football field.

The news story about the Llano game was published on November 5, 1920, and tells the last names of a few of the players: Flach, Wilson, Remschel, Horn, and two players named Rees, ‘G.’ and Casper. It appears Remschel was the quarterback. The story tells about unfair calls by a referee, and called them “prejudiced and poorly informed.”

One thing is certainly missing from every news story about the 1920 Tivy football team. Never once, in any of the stories, was the team called the ‘Antlers.’ I’m not sure when the team adopted that mascot – but it seems it was after 1920.

Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who has enjoyed watching many a Tivy football game. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times September 26, 2020.

Thanks for reading. This newsletter is free, but not cheap to send. To show your support, forward it to someone who’d like it, or buy one of my Kerr County history and photograph books.  Thanks so much. (And thanks to all of you who bought books this week!)



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