New Kerr County History Book Available!

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Kerrville's Schreiner Institute in 1929

Schreiner Institute Administration Building Kerrville 1929
Schreiner Institution, Administration Building, Kerrville, as it appeared in 1929.
Click on any image to enlarge.
Schreiner Institute Dickey Hall Kerrville 1929
Dickey Hall, 1929
This week a long-time friend brought by a copy of the 1929 Recall, the yearbook of Schreiner Institute. The book, with an elaborate cover, has about 186 pages, and has a lot of wonderful photographs of the school and its students.
Schreiner Institute is now Schreiner University, and was started in late 1917, when Charles Schreiner donated $250,000 to establish the school, along with 140.25 acres of land, with the condition construction not begin until World War I was over and at least one year had passed from the signing of the peace treaties. In the years after that first gift, Schreiner added to his commitment, eventually providing a little over $550,000 to start the school.
Schreiner Institute Headmasters House Kerrville 1929
Headmaster's House, 1929
Construction on the campus began in 1922. Three buildings were erected: a three-story main building, today called Weir Academic Building; a dormitory, Dickey Hall; and a headmaster's house, now used as the Alumni House. The architectural style of the buildings was described in the Kerrville Mountain Sun as "English Colonial," a style "which is specially adapted to the rugged surroundings and has the further advantage of being very homelike."
Schreiner Institute Hoon Hall Kerrville 1929
Hoon Hall, 1929
The choice of this architecture style is interesting. Charles Schreiner was not English, but was born in Alsace, a region of France bordering Germany. I wouldn't call the architecture style of Charles Schreiner's own house on Earl Garrett Street "English," either, though his eldest son's house might have some English inspiration. It's the big house between the print shop and the library.
Schreiner Institute A C Schreiner Hall Kerrville 1929
A. C. Schreiner Hall, 1929
Perhaps the style of architecture was chosen because it best represented a local idea of what a school should look like, using design to create something from nothing.
In September, 1923, classes began at Schreiner Institute. This means the 1929 yearbook given to me this week offers a glimpse of the school from its earliest days.
Five brick buildings are featured in the 1929 yearbook: in addition to the original three, A. C. Schreiner Hall was built in 1925, and Hoon Hall in 1926.
Two Kerrville homes are also featured in the yearbook: the Water Street home of A. C. Schreiner, who was the president of the Schreiner Institute's board of directors in 1929; and the home of Louis Schreiner, "Tulahteka," which is south of town on a hill, and was most recently the headquarters of the LDBrinkman Corporation.
Schreiner Institute football team Kerrville 1929
Schreiner Football, 1928 season
In 1929, J. J. Delaney was the school's president, who lead a faculty of twenty men and women.
The students ranged from high school freshmen through college sophomores. 34 college sophomores are listed in the yearbook, all pictured in military uniforms. Most of the young men are from Texas towns, ranging in size from Dime Box to San Antonio. Many of the sophomores are from Kerrville. There were 77 college freshman listed, and there were 94 students enrolled in the high school department. The student body, when combining the high school and college student, was 205 young men in 1929.
Schreiner Institute basketball team Kerrville 1929
Schreiner Basketball, 1928-29 season
The sports teams at Schreiner had a successful season in 1929. The football team won 8 out of 9 games, only losing to Texas Tech; the basketball team won 17 of 20 games.
Schreiner Institute 1929 Recall yearbook Kerrville Texas
Recall, 1929
Sixty nine diplomas were awarded in 1929, with 22 graduating as college sophomores, and 47 graduating as high school seniors.
I visited the Schreiner University campus this week, and was reminded what a special part of Kerrville it is. We are very lucky to have the school in our community.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who is especially fond of one particular Schreiner College graduate, the lovely Ms. Carolyn. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times December 8, 2018.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Courthouses of Kerr County

Two of Kerr County's courthouses in a single photo.
The smaller building behind the man is Kerr County's second courthouse, completed in 1876;
the taller building is Kerr County's third courthouse, completed in 1886.
Click on any image to enlarge.

There have been either four or five courthouses in Kerr County.
The very first Kerr County courthouse was made of logs and stood opposite Jefferson Street from the courthouse square, about where the parking lot of Grimes Funeral Chapels is today, and was ordered by the very first session of the newly-formed Kerr County commissioners court.
The very first session of the Kerr County Commissioners Court was not held in Kerrville, but at Commissioner George M. Ridley's farm opposite Center Point, either in Mr. Ridley's home or in a brush arbor on his place.
The first problem for the new court was to provide a place for the new county to conduct its business. On May 20, 1856 the commissioners accepted land from Joshua D. Brown, a site located in Survey No. 116.
According to that morning's proceedings, the commissioners directed the Brown "shall make a good and satisfactory warrantee deed to said county to at least four acres of land for a public square, all the streets that may be laid out in the town plat, said streets leading out from the public square to be eighty feet wide and the cross streets to be sixty feet wide; one choice good lt fronting on the public square for county use, one lot in suitable place for public church, one lot in suitable place for public school house, one lot in suitable place for jail."
Kerr County Texas courthouse completed in 1886
Another view of the 1886 Kerr County Courthouse
In the same meeting, the commissioners also authorized a contract for the first courthouse, ordering "that there be a contract made by the County Court for the building of a temporary Court House in Kerrville, to be built as follows: Of logs sixteen feet long, skelped down and to be eight feet high, the cracks to be boarded up, sawed rafters and good shingle roof with gable ends well done up, good batten door strongly hung and corners sawed down."
'Skelped,' by the way, may be a word which time has rendered difficult to define. In this case it might mean 'struck with a sharp blow.'
That same afternoon they accepted a bid from Wm. D. Hendrix, one of the commissioners, to build the temporary courthouse for $100.00, and stipulated the structure be completed by August 11th. From specifying the particulars of the first courthouse to the completion of the building would take 83 days; the building was accepted by the court on August 18, 1856.
There are no known photographs of that first courthouse, though the second courthouse and the third courthouse can be seen in several photographs.
In March, 1860, by a vote of 78 to 21, some Kerr County voters chose to move the county offices to Comfort. While there, the commissioners voted to build a new courthouse on five acres of land given to the county for a public square. I'm not sure if that courthouse was ever built.
When Kendall County was created, in 1862, Comfort found itself just over the county line, and out of Kerr County, so the county seat came back to Kerrville.
County business was held in several buildings until 1875, when Kerr County finally built a more permanent courthouse on the courthouse square.
This second courthouse was built by Hamer & Faltin, the only bidder the project, for $4,460. It was to be made of stone and have a single story.
However, a petition "from a majority of the taxpayers of the county" was presented to the court asking for a second story, to be used for community events, which raised the price by $2,000.
Kerr County Texas courthouse completed in 1927
The 1927 Kerr County courthouse
This courthouse was accepted by the commissioners court in August, 1876.
The next courthouse was built in 1885, and the older 1876 stone courthouse was recycled, becoming the Kerr County jail.
The 1885 courthouse was attractive, and I have several good photographs of the building. Most of the building was two stories, but it also had a three-story tower. The building faced Main Street, and was not in the center of the courthouse square. Both the 1876 and 1885 courthouse were closer to Main Street, with a lot of room behind them on the square.
This courthouse was completed in 1886 at a cost of $19,545. A total of $25,000 in bonds were sold by the county for the project; $3,000 of which went for the jail "cages," and $500 for the court house furniture. $100 was paid to Mrs. Jane Brown, widow of Kerrville founder Joshua Brown, for the stone from her quarry, to be used in the construction of the courthouse.
In November 1925 the commissioners court decided it was time to build a new courthouse. They put the matter to a vote of the citizens. 953 votes were cast, and, by a majority of 227 votes, the county proceeded in January 1926 to issue $110,000 in bonds for the construction of the courthouse.
The new courthouse was designed by Adams & Adams, architects out of San Antonio. W. C. Thrailkill, of San Antonio, won contract to build the courthouse.
This courthouse was completed in early 1927, and is still in use today, though an annex built in the 1970s greatly enlarged the building.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who needs to get started on his Christmas shopping. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times December 1, 2018.

Friday, November 30, 2018

My New Book is Available for Pre-Order!

Looking Back, by Joe Herring Jr., NEW for 2018!
192 pages, lots of historic photographs,
and a collection of columns about the history of our community.

Order HERE. Use the promo code NEWBOOK to save $5

This book is a collection of newspaper columns I wrote for the Kerrville Daily Times, all written since the publication of my last book, Kerrville Stories, in 2012. This new book also includes photographs from my collection of historic Kerrville and Kerr County photographs, many of the published here for the first time.

Writing a weekly column for the Kerrville Daily Times has allowed my family and me to explore many places seldom seen by others, from Native American pictographs in the far western part of Kerr County, to the search for tunnels beneath Water Street in downtown Kerrville.  I've learned so much about our community's history from these adventures, and I've had a lot of fun sharing these stories with you.

This book is an attempt to preserve these stories and images from Kerr County's past for future citizens of our community.

Pre-Publication Sale!

 "Looking Back," my third book about the history of Kerrville and Kerr County is in production at the book bindery, and should arrive back in Kerrville the week of December 17, 2018.

The book is 192 pages, and includes lots of historic photographs, some published here for the first time.  Also included are a selection of my columns written between 2013 - 2018.

As with my first two books, I'm offering you a chance to save a little money on the book if you order in advance of the book's publication.   The price of the book is $39.95 (as it was on my 2010 book and my 2012 book).   Order before December 15, and you'll save $5.00 on your order!  When you order just use this Promo Code: NEWBOOK 

The book website will also offer you the option of having the book shipped to you, or for you to pick up the book at our print shop in Kerrville.  If you choose to pick up your book, you'll also save the $4.95 shipping cost.

To order, click HERE.

Thanks for your support and encouragement.  I really appreciate it!


The book website is a little confusing, so here are instructions on claiming your $5.00 off coupon and also how to save on the shipping by picking up the book at our print shop:

How to Save $4.95 on Shipping:

If you'd like to pick up your order at Herring Printing Company, 615 Water Street, Kerrville,
and save the $4.95 shipping cost, just click on Shipping as shown above,
and changing it to Pickup as shown below.

Select "Pickup" as shown

By selecting Pickup, you'll save the $4.95 Shipping Charge
Joe's new book will be available for pickup the week of December 17, 2018.
We will email you when your order is ready to pick up.

How to enter the Promo Code to save $5.00 off your order

 Promo code is NEWBOOK

The Promo Code for the Pre-Publication Sale is
which will save you $5.00 on your order during the sale.

Again, thanks for your support and encouragement.  Please share this post with your friends on Facebook and Twitter, by clicking the buttons below.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Making Sugar on Johnson Creek in 1907

Kerr County Sorghum mill around 1915
A sorghum mill on Fall Branch, which I believe was similar to the mill
described by Herbert Oehler below.
Click on any image to enlarge.
As I finished up another slice of leftover Thanksgiving pie, I remembered a story about farmers making sugar from cane right here in Kerr County, taken from my files:
In years past, as the days grew shorter and the temperature began to cool, work on Kerr County farms didn’t slow down. Take for instance the Oehler family who had a small molasses mill on their farm between Ingram and Mountain Home in the “upper Johnson Creek valley” in 1907.
You and I don’t really think about sweeteners: if we want sugar we just hop over to H-E-B and buy a package. And while sugar was available at grocery stores in Kerrville in 1907, many families grew their own cane and had it processed by a neighbor.
Herb Oehler, in his book “Hill Country Boy” writes about his family’s molasses mill:
“We didn’t get into molasses making intentionally. It happened because there was a molasses mill and cooking vat on the place when we bought it… and Papa was not one to pass up an opportunity to cash in on the use of available equipment, even if it wasn’t familiar to him. I am sure that the Tom Parks family who lived on the place before we moved there were instrumental in teaching Papa and Mama how to operate it. While we always process the other neighbor’s cane crops for them, I remember that the Parks’ made arrangements each year to use the equipment to process their own crop.
“Papa preferred orange or redtop cane rather than the sugar cane because it had tendency to fall over when nearly mature, resulting in the stalks becoming twisted and crooked. This made them hard to handle and hard to feed into the mill.
Sorghum mill on Fall Creek, operated as a
community project by Clate Smith.
“When the cane was ripe it had to be stripped, that is, the leaves had to be knocked off. This was done with wooden paddles while it was still standing in the row. Tripping paddles were made of boards two or three feet long and three or four inches wide. With a drawing knife a handle was shaped on one end and the two sides were sharpened. Sugar barrel staves were ideal for this since they were made of light, tough wood and were the proper length and width.
“After stripping, the cane was cut by hand with sickles and stacked in small piles so the tops could be cut off. The tops from four piles were tossed together into one place and left to dry for several days before being gathered and threshed. Threshing was done by placing the tops on a wagon sheet, beating them with a flail, and then winnowing out the chaff. The grain was used as seed the next season or was sold.”
Even though it was a lot of work to get the cane ready to process, the real work began once the cane was taken to the mill.
“The molasses mill was a heavy piece of machinery set on stout cedar posts about three feet high. This height enabled the one who fed the cane stalks into the mill to sit in comfort while performing his task. The mill consisted of three iron rollers about eighteen inches tall. Each one had an iron cog on top. The rollers were set on end with heavy iron frames keeping them in place….”
The mill was powered by a horse, traveling round and round the mill, “turning the big roller whose cog turned the other rollers…the cane juice was squeezed out as the stalks were fed into the mill onto a sort of slide…when the slide was full, the horse was unhitched from the mill, hitched to the slide, and the crushed stalks hauled off to one side and dumped.”
The cane juice was cooked, and impurities skimmed off “with a sieve-like, long-handled” skimmer. This scum was fed to the hogs.
The finishing the molasses was tricky: “Mama presided over the vat. Knowing when it was done enough to be drained off into cans and buckets required knowledge gained from experience. If it cooked too long, the molasses was thick and stiff when cold and if it wasn’t cooked long enough, it might retain too much moisture which could make it ferment or sour.”
The price of molasses in those days was about 10 cents a pound. The Oehlers processed a lot of cane for their neighbors in the early part of the last century, during harvest time.
Making things sweeter took a lot of work!
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who is thankful for many blessings, most of them sweet. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times November 24, 2018.

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.



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