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Sunday, November 18, 2018

A gift to Kerrville

529 Water Street, Kerrville, now owned by the City of Kerrville.
Originally the home of Aime Charles Schreiner and his wife Myrta Zoe Scott Schreiner.
Click on any image to enlarge.
Roughly three years ago an anonymous donor gave the historic residence of A. C. and Myrta Schreiner, at 529 Water Street, to the City of Kerrville. This is the large home between the Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library and our print shop, on the river side of Water Street.
Since that time the City has had the building evaluated by architectural firms and is working on plans for public use of the building. While nothing definite has been decided for the old home, the city government has been hard at work exploring various options.
I visited the site recently and really enjoyed walking through the home, but while there I realized I hadn't done a lot of research on the old place. Here's what I found:
Aime Charles Schreiner was the eldest son of Charles and Magdalena Schreiner. He was born in 1862 in San Antonio; In 1885, he married Myrta Zoe Scott, and together they had a daughter, Hester, and two sons, Aime Charles Jr., and Whitfield Scott.
The A. C. & Myrta Schreiner home in 1899.
This is a different building than stands there today.
A. C. Schreiner was involved in our community, serving on the very first Kerrville City Council in 1889. A. C. was a member of Kerrville's volunteer fire department, and he was a mason with the Kerrville Masonic Lodge.
He was also active in his family's business, serving as president of the Charles Schreiner Company, which was the Schreiner store; president of the Schreiner Wool Commission Company; organizer and president of the Kerrville Telephone Company; president of the board of trustees of Schreiner Institute, which is now Schreiner University.
He and other members of his family gave the land for Kerrville's post office, which now is the site of the Kerr Arts and Cultural Center; gave the land for what is now the V. A. Medical Center; and he and his wife Myrta built and donated the First Presbyterian Church building, the portion which is now called the 'Schreiner Chapel.'
His business interests included ownership of the Blue Bonnet Hotel. In addition, he served as president of the Kerrville Amusement Company, which operated the Cascade Swimming Pool and the Arcadia Movie Theater.
Myrta Scott Schreiner was born in 1865 in Bosqueville, Texas. She moved to Kerrville around 1880, when her father, Captain Whitfield Scott, purchased the St. Charles Hotel.
She was a deeply religious woman and was among those who organized the First Presbyterian Church of Kerrville. She served her community in many ways, including as chairman of various committees of the local chapter of the American Red Cross. She was a charter member of the Kerrville Women's Club, serving as president several times. She directed the choir at the Presbyterian church, and was a soprano soloist there.
It is said she influenced Captain Charles Schreiner to found what is now Schreiner University, and also convinced him to associate the new school with the Presbyterian faith.
The house at 529 Water Street was not the first home of A. C. and Myrta Schreiner on that property.
According to one source, originally there was a small frame home there, built on property purchased from the Quinlan family.
The home as it appeared in the 1980s.
Later, a much larger frame home was built was built there, which faced down Water Street toward the Schreiner store. I have not found out exactly what happened to this building, but I can see it in photographs as early as 1896.
The building standing at 529 Water Street today was completed in 1909. One source says it designed by James Flood Walker, who had an architecture practice in San Antonio. One project designed by Walker was the St. Anthony Hotel in downtown San Antonio. Another source says the home was designed by Atlee B. Ayres, who served as the State Architect of Texas from 1914 to 1917. Ayres is known to have worked with other members of the Schreiner family on other projects, so it's possible he designed 529 Water Street.
An interesting change happened between the 1896 home and the 1909 home: the current home doesn't face down Water Street, but rather the porches and front door face toward the rising sun, roughly toward the east.
A. C. Schreiner died at his home in 1935, at the age of 73. His widow, Myrta Scott Schreiner, also died at home in 1958, at the age of 93.
The house has had many owners since Myrta Scott Schreiner passed away there, including a couple, the Herman Beckers, who were Christian missionaries in China; A. P. Allison, who purchased it in 1959; the Harold Saunders family purchased it in the early 1960s and lived there; L. D. Brinkman purchased it in 1980; the last couple to live there, Walter and Barbara Schellhase, purchased the home in 1992.
Three years ago an anonymous donor purchased 529 Water Street from the Schellhases and donated the property to the City of Kerrville.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who has fond memories of playing at 529 Water with his childhood friend Kay Ann Saunders (Schmidt). This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times November 18, 2018.





Sunday, November 11, 2018

Kerr County was jubilant 100 years ago today. And yet....

Company D marching on Main Street in front of the courthouse, September 1917.
heading to the train depot to leave Kerrville for the last time.
Francisco Lemos and Sidney Baker are in this photograph.

Ruth Hamilton remembered how cold and clear it was in Kerr County on the morning of Monday, November 11, 1918. She lived a little over a mile from Kerrville, and when she and her family heard the downtown fire bell ringing, they thought a house was burning. The sound of the bell carried so well on the cold air, she recalled.
It was only after the church bells all over town began ringing did the Hamiltons realize something unusual was going on, but it wasn't until the telephone rang that they understood what had happened. Germany had surrendered, and the First World War was over.
Years later Walter R. Moses wrote an account of that day:
"When the Armistice was signed on November 11, 1918, telephone operators spread the word, especially to families that they knew had sons or husbands in France. Up on Johnson Creek the word spread, but the wait seemed endless before Dr. Luther Fawler received his San Antonio Light and we could see the news in print."
Roster poster, Company D,
from Camp Bowie, Texas.
The newspapers from San Antonio arrived in Kerrville by train, and then had to be carried on to the subscribers' houses, often delivered by horse-drawn wagons, even in 1918.
As the news quickly spread through Kerr County, people gathered together, many of them in downtown Kerrville.
Bob Bennett, in his history of our county, wrote this about November 11, 1918:
"The glad news that the gigantic armies facing each other on the long battle front in France had agreed to an armistice reached Kerrville early in the morning of November 11, 1918. Soon after dawn the noise of celebrating began and the din brought people into town by the hundreds. Before noon downtown sidewalks and streets were packed with people and automobiles driving up and down the thoroughfares. Everybody was wildly hilarious with joy.
"Guns were fired, whistles were blown and bells were rung. Schools were suspended for the day. The old town fire bell ... played its part in the noisemaking. Men and boys climbed up the tower after breaking the rope used for ringing, and with hammers kept the bell clanging for hours."
And yet, for all of the joy the community celebrated, there were three families for whom dark news was still to be delivered, news coming to them slowly from France.
"When Kerrville was celebrating the first Armistice Day," Bennett writes, "the citizens were unaware that three of the city's noble youths who had volunteered for their country's service had given their all. Mrs. E. W. Baker [the mother of Sidney Baker] received the news of her son's death the very next day, November 12. Later in the month, Judge and Mrs. W. G. Garrett received the information from the War Department that their son, Earl, had lost his life. Relatives of Francisco Lemos also received the news of his death in late November."
There are 19 Kerr County men listed on the war memorial on the courthouse lawn. Of those listed, three died in battle in France: Francisco Lemos, Earl Garrett, and Sidney Baker. Many of the other soldiers listed there died in Texas and in France during the influenza pandemic of 1918, which killed at least 50 million people worldwide.
On this day 100 years ago the guns were finally silent and celebrations began, even among families who thought their boy had survived and was coming home. The sacrifices of our soldiers and their families in that war can seem dim to us after the passing of so many years, but to them those sacrifices were tragic and heartbreaking.
We remember three of those heroes because major downtown Kerrville streets were renamed in their honor. The other 16 we do not easily remember, though their bravery and willingness to serve our country was just as great, and the loss their families suffered was just as deep.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who finds some columns more difficult to write than others.  This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times November 10, 2018.







Sunday, November 4, 2018

How to make cypress shingles like Kerrville's settlers

Demonstration of making cypress shingles Kerrville Texas
Using a maul and froe to make shingles.
Click on any image to enlarge.
In 1940, when he was a student at the University of Texas at Austin, Forrest Salter wrote a story about the shingle makers who founded Kerr County. The story was for an English class, "Life and Literature of the Southwest," taught by J. Frank Dobie.  This story was in a booklet given to me by my friends Sandy and Jon Wolfmueller at Wolfmueller's Books.
The Salter family published the Kerrville Mountain Sun for three generations, and Forrest Salter placed an ad in his family's newspaper seeking "information on shingle making and the names of any pioneer resident of this section who has seen shingles made in the camps along the Guadalupe River. Please send name or information to The Mountain Sun office."
The resulting story is fascinating and provides details about shingle making I've never seen anywhere else.
Demonstration of making cypress shingles Kerrville Texas
One of the individuals Salter interviewed was A. P. "Potter" Brown, the youngest son of Joshua and Sarah Brown. Joshua Brown is the founder of Kerrville, and gave the land for the first county seat in 1856. He came to Kerr County in the late 1840s to harvest the cypress trees along the river and make shingles from them.
Potter Brown described how shingles were made:
"One of the first things the men had to have was a good shingle knife, which was hand-made of iron. The blade was about one quarter inch thick and about twelve inches long. You see, the width of the shingle depended upon the length of the shingle knife. At one end was a loop or ring in the iron, and in this was put a round handle, smoothed down so the palm of the hand would not blister. The handle was about six to nine inches long, and about an inch through, just big enough for a man to get a good 'hand holt' as he used it. The knife was held in the left hand while a wooden mallet, used to hammer the knife down on the block of wood, was wielded with the right.
Demonstration of making cypress shingles Kerrville Texas"Groups of two men would use a big cross-cut saw, or sometimes a good sharp axe, to cut the cypress trees, and then when the logs had been trimmed, they would be cut into convenient sized chunks and hauled or dragged to the camp. The trees were so big that sometimes men could work a whole season on the timber in their neighborhood, and feel free, because the Indians did not come around so often when a settlement had been established.
"Some of the men had shingle horses, a contraption made of a few poles and slabs. It had a mouth where the shingle slab fitted, and when the slab had been placed in the mouth, the 'draw knife' was pulled across the length, giving the shingle the sloping sides which made it possible for them to overlap on a roof. These 'draw knives' were kept razor-sharp, and unlucky was the inquisitive visitor whose hand happened to touch one of their sharp blades. Mud, leaves, or sometimes sawdust was used to stop the blood when such a hand was badly cut.
Demonstration of making cypress shingles Kerrville Texas"The camp was usually under a brush arbor, where the limbs from the Spanish oak, the sycamore, or some other brushy-topped tree was used as protection from the sun. The shingles were put in bundles and tied together with rawhide most of the time, as nails for crating were too precious for use.
"You know, son," Potter Brown concluded, "some of these old abandoned farm houses in the Turtle Creek section still have these hand-made shingles on their roofs."
Forrest Salter interviewed others, too, in addition to Potter Brown. His story includes quotes from Mollie Goss, Mrs. L. C. Watkins, Mr. and Mrs. Dan Rees, Mrs. Fritz Schmidt, and Sarah Surber. Each contributed interesting facts to Salter's story.  Click here to download and read Forrest Salter's story in full.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who thinks shingle making would be a lot of hard work. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times November 3, 2018.






Sunday, October 28, 2018

The Shingle Makers who founded Kerr County

Sarah, Joshua and Alonzo Potter Brown in 1873. Note: they're holding hands.
Photo courtesy of Jan Wilkinson
Last week my friends Sandy and Jon Wolfmueller, of Wolfmueller's Books, gave me a booklet which included a story by Kerrville's Forest Salter called "The Saga of the Shingle Camp."
Forest Salter's family published the Kerrville Mountain Sun for three generations, and the shingle camp story was written in 1940 when Salter was a student in J. Frank Dobie's English 342 class at the University of Texas at Austin. The booklet is a collection of student writing from that course, and is titled "Lazy E 342."
Shingle making was the first industry in what is now Kerrville, begun in the mid-1840s when Joshua Brown and a group of men came here to harvest cypress trees and use them to make shingles.
I've written elsewhere about the shingle makers and the process used to make shingles, relying mostly on Bob Bennett's thorough history of Kerr County. What makes Forest Salter's story unique are the interviews with local people who actually remembered shingles being made here. He placed an ad in his family's newspaper, asking to interview people with firsthand knowledge of shingle making.
Finding those people in 1940, when he wrote the story, was difficult, I'm sure. Today it would be impossible, because too much time has passed.
The first interview in the story was with A. P. "Potter" Brown, the youngest son of Kerrville's founder, Joshua D. Brown.
"My father," Brown told Salter, "was one of the first settlers of this country, and he came here to go into the shingle making business.
"A small colony of soldiers of fortune from Tennessee and Mississippi had traveld through this section of the west and had been amazed at the huge trees and dense growth of cypress along the banks of the Guadalupe River and its tributary creeks. They returned to the fort in San Antonio and reported this veritable find. They realized the scarcity of building material in the land of the mesquite, and planned to colonize the river banks for the purpose of making shingles.
"Some of the German immigrants, eager for a sight of crystal waters and fertile valleys, a few Tennesseans in search of adventure, and some businessmen of San Antonio came to Kerrville and pitched their tents near one of the larger springs on the river. One spring is where the ice plant now stands in the city of Kerrville, and the Dietert homestead is the site of the first mill."
Gentle reader, the old ice plant is no longer there, but a remnant remains. It stood behind today's One Schreiner Center, in the 800 block of Water Street in downtown Kerrville, and its basement is still there, its old brick walls jutting from the bluff over the river. Ed Hamilton has made the top of the old basement a nice place to view the river below.
"The land was at that time owned by my father," continued A. P. Brown, "who had come from Virginia to Texas and settled in Gonzales County, or DeWitt's Colony as was then called, and over which James Kerr was the overseer. My father moved to this section in 1846, and named the settlement 'Brownsboro.' Later he called it 'Kerrsville' in honor of James Kerr.
"In the party half of the men were put to making shingles, and the other half were on the lookout for Indians. When the shingles were finished, they were taken to San Antonio by oxcart, and traded for supplies. It was a perilous journey, taking five or six days, and as money was scarce, the shingles were bartered for supplies for the camp."
Next week we'll hear again from A. P. "Potter" Brown, as he describes how shingles were made.
Until then, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who thinks making shingles would be a tough way to make a living. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times October 27, 2018.

Have you heard about the Farm-to-Table chef-prepared dinner, called the TRAILBLAZER being planned for downtown Kerrville?  Information and tickets available by clicking HERE, or by visiting https://kerrvilleurbantrailsystem.org/


https://kerrvilleurbantrailsystem.org/The Trailblazer is a fundraising event on Friday, November 2, 2018 at the Plant Haus 2 on Jefferson Street, from 5:30pm to 9pm.  Tickets are $100, and will be limited to 150 people.  The event will include a chef-prepared pig roast, beer and wine, live music, a series of PechaKucha presentations, an introduction to the KUTS concept, and a silent auction.  Proceeds will fund the design of the overall KUTS concept, as well as the KUTS-Clay South trail. 






Sunday, October 21, 2018

An Amazing Booklet with Kerr Connections: Lazy E 342

Young couples at Kerr County's Criders Dance Hall, 1940s
Young couples at Crider's, past Hunt, Texas, probably 1940s.
Forrest Salter is on the far right; I believe the woman next to him is his first wife, Jeanne.
Click on any image to enlarge.
This week my friends Sandy and Jon Wolfmueller, of Wolfmueller's Books, gave me a remarkable booklet.
Its cover is marked with a brand, printed in red ink: the letter 'E' on its side, its three bars facing up, lazily, over the numbers '342.' If you're a town kid like me, you might not know such a brand would be read as "Lazy E 342."
The booklet is made of mimeographed pages stapled together; it's printed on one side of letter-size sheets and has a manila cordwain cover on front and back.   This issue, No. 2, has fifty pages.
The title page indicates J. Frank Dobie was the "Boss of the outfit."
J. Frank Dobie was an American folklorist and university professor, probably best known for his books Coronado's Children, and The Longhorns.
Lazy E 342 Booklet, a collection of J Frank Dobie students' writing
Lazy E 342, No. 2
A little bit of research tells me the booklet was a collection of students' writing from Dobie's class at the University of Texas at Austin: English 342, 'Life and Literature of the Southwest.' That class, English 342, can be abbreviated E342; that abbreviation is the source of the brand on the front cover of the booklet.
Dobie has a Kerrville connection. His sister, Martha Dobie, along with Mary Lucy Marberry, was one of the early owners of the Main Book Shop, buying it in 1949 from the original owners, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Zumpf. Mary Lucy Marberry taught Spanish at Tivy High School. The two ladies owned the bookstore for nearly two decades.
Because his sister lived in Kerrville, J. Frank Dobie was a frequent visitor here. Martha Dobie and her mother were often summer residents of a cottage in Methodist Encampment as early as the 1930s.
However, in looking at this copy of the Lazy E 342, the thing that interested me was an article by Kerrville's Forrest Salter, written in the spring of 1941, when he was a student in J. Frank Dobie's class.
Forrest Salter is one of my heroes. For many years his family published the Kerrville Mountain Sun. When I was in high school I asked the Salters if I could write a weekly column for them, and to my astonishment, they said yes. Forrest Salter was a kind editor and often gave me suggestions about what might make an interesting topic for his readers. Those columns where I took his advice were much better than the others.
Salter's story in Volume 2 of the Lazy E 342 was titled "The Saga of a Shingle Camp," and it tells the story of Kerrville's earliest industry, making shingles from cypress trees.
"Living in the heart of the great Southwest section of Texas," young Forrest Salter wrote, "one is prone to forget, or perhaps take for granted, the spirit and industry of the pioneers who settled the country, and who made the prosperous and thriving communities in which we live possible."
Salter's story includes first-person accounts of shingle making in the earliest days of Kerr County, and I wondered how he found the wonderful sources for his story. Salter was writing in 1941; the first shingle-making camps in Kerr County started in the late 1840s.
I should have guessed: he placed an ad in his family's newspaper.
"WANTED: Information on shingle making and the names of any pioneer resident of this section who has seen shingles made in the camps along the Guadalupe River. Please send name or information to The Mountain Sun office."
Over the next few weeks I'll share what Forrest Salter learned about those early shingle makers here. His research is quite fascinating, and I've never seen the information he found anywhere else.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who has been meeting newspaper deadlines for a long time. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times October 20, 2018.

Have you heard about the Farm-to-Table chef-prepared dinner, called the TRAILBLAZER being planned for downtown Kerrville?  Information and tickets available by clicking HERE, or by visiting https://kerrvilleurbantrailsystem.org/


https://kerrvilleurbantrailsystem.org/The Trailblazer is a fundraising event on Friday, November 2, 2018 at the Plant Haus 2 on Jefferson Street, from 5:30pm to 9pm.  Tickets are $100, and will be limited to 150 people.  The event will include a chef-prepared pig roast, beer and wine, live music, a series of PechaKucha presentations, an introduction to the KUTS concept, and a silent auction.  Proceeds will fund the design of the overall KUTS concept, as well as the KUTS-Clay South trail. 






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