Sunday, July 15, 2018

Who owns Tivy Mountain?

Tivy Mountain in Kerrville 2018
The Tivy family cemetery on top of Kerrville's Tivy Mountain, as it appeared in January 2018.
Click on any image to enlarge.
Tivy Mountain, one of the landmarks of our community, has been closed off from the public for several decades.
Since the mid-1990s a locked gate stops visitors from driving to the top of the hill, reportedly to stop vandalism, litter, and other unsavory activities.
Though the city grades the road about once a year, and though Tivy High School seniors make an annual trek to the top of the site as a part of their Senior year traditions, it's unclear whether the public can actually climb the hill on foot.
At the top is a family cemetery, where Captain Joseph A. Tivy, his wife Ella Lossee Tivy, and his sister Susan Tivy are buried. There's also a marker for the family's cat, who was buried in the corner of the plot, according to legend, by none other than a young Chester A. Nimitz.
Captain Joseph A Tivy of Kerrville
Capt. Joseph Tivy
Joseph Tivy was Kerrville's first mayor. The City of Kerrville was incorporated in 1889, and it had its beginnings, in part, because Tivy wanted to donate land to the community on which a public school could be built.
Joseph Tivy married late in life, to a woman much younger than he, the widow of a friend. Ella Tivy died in 1888; Joseph Tivy died in 1892. They had no children, and it appears Tivy's sister, Susan, inherited much of the family's property.
The Tivys owned a lot of land in Kerrville, and also in Gillespie County, at a place called Tivydale. There were possibly other real estate holdings, too, in Karnes County and elsewhere.
Susan Tivy had no children, and, when she died in 1902, the "probable" value of her estate was $12,000, according to court records.
Though newspaper reports from the 1990s suggest she set aside the Tivy Mountain property as a memorial to her family, her will makes her intentions quite clear:
"First, I direct that all my just debts shall be paid and that a monument suitable to my station in life be erected over my grave.
Tivy Mountain monument in Kerrville, Texas
The monument on
Tivy Mountain
"Second: subject to the forgoing charge, I give bequeath and devise to my friend John Mosby, the only son and child of my very dear and devoted friend L. J. Mosby, all of my property and estate, real personal and mixed and choses in action, of every character and description whatsoever and wheresoever situated."
The will was signed in March, 1901. Miss Tivy died in July of that same year. I found it interesting that one of the witnesses to the will was A. C. Schreiner, eldest son of Charles and Magdalena Schreiner.
A listing of her estate shows various Kerrville lots she owned. Tivy Mountain is not specifically mentioned by that name, though it may be part of the real property described in the document. For example, one of the parcels is described as 367 acres with a value of $1,500.
I can find little information on the Mosby family. There was apparently a John Mosby who was a court clerk in Kerrville; a John Mosby that appeared in a play staged at Pampell's; and a J. B. Mosby, who, with his wife, founded a relief society for Kerrville's poor. A John B. Mosby is buried at Kerrville's Glen Rest Cemetery, next to his wife, Maude Mosby. In 1901, when Susan Tivy died, that John Mosby would have been 33 years old.
1950s view of Kerrville from the top of Tivy Mountain
1950s postcard of the view
from the top of Tivy Mountain
Various newspaper articles since the 1990s identify John Mosby as "John Mosty," or "John Mosly," but a close inspection of Susan Tivy's will clearly reads "Mosby."
Who owns Tivy Mountain? Many have searched records to find out. Previous county courts have suggested it be taken by eminent domain by the county government, and made into a public park.
I know of no resolution to the question, however. Does the city own the property? The school district? The county? I do not know, though there are newspaper articles suggesting a Tivy graduating class purchased the property for the school district, back in the 1940s or 1950s. I don't know if that deed was ever filed.
It's a riddle I'd like to see solved. Free the Tivy Four.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who graduated from Tivy High School a very, very long time ago. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times July 14, 2018.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

A surprising twist: How Kerrville really got its name

Major James Kerr of Texas for whom Kerr County was named.
Major James Kerr, for whom Kerr County and Kerrville were named.
Incidentally, he pronounced his name "Karr," rhyming with "star."

One of the items I've reported here in years past may have a new twist which, frankly, surprised me. It involves the naming of Kerrville, which was originally called Kerrsville, back in 1856, when Kerr County was organized.
In previous columns, I've written variations of the following:
"Joshua Brown, the founder of Kerrville, convinced the very first Kerr County commissioners court to make the land he'd only recently purchased the county seat; Brown wanted the town to be called Kerrsville (with an 's') after his friend (and brother of his maternal aunt) Major James Kerr. It is unlikely Kerr ever saw the land which now bears his name; by the time Kerr County was formed by the Texas legislature, Kerr had been dead more than five years."
Parts of that are very accurate: Joshua Brown did convince the very first Kerr County commissioners, at their very first meeting, to place the county seat on 640 acres of land he'd only recently purchased from the heirs of Benjamin F. Cage, for $2 per acre.
Joshua Brown, our community's founder, arrived here in the late 1840s, leading a group of ten men to build a shingle makers' camp beside the Guadalupe. Their idea was to cut down the cypress trees, slice the trunks into disk-shaped slabs, then carefully spit those disks into rough shingles which could be further shaped by hand. The finished shingles were then hauled to market, most likely in San Antonio. It was hard work for little pay.
Neither Brown or those with him owned the land where they camped. The ground beneath them had been awarded by the State of Texas to Benjamin F. Cage. The deed read “the grant is made in consideration of Benjamin F. Cage having fought in the Battle of San Jacinto the 21st of April 1836.”
Joshua, Sarah, and young Potter Brown of Kerrville, 1873
Joshua Brown, his wife Sarah,
and their youngest child, Potter, in 1873.
I like the fact that they're holding hands.
Joshua Brown bought the land which became Kerrville in 1856 from the stepsons of Cage's mother -- Cage was thought to be dead at the time of the sale, though there is some evidence he was quite alive and well and living near Blanco. And Brown bought the land at about the exact same time Kerr County was being organized.
The creation of Kerr County in early 1856 by the Sixth Texas Legislature presented an opportunity for Joshua Brown. If he could have the county seat located on land he owned it would allow him to sell parcels and lots to new townsfolk.
Here's how it happened:
On November 12, 1855, "Sundry citizens from the 70th district of Bexar county" petitioned the state to create a new county.
"We, the undersigned citizens residing on the Guadalupe River and its tributaries in the counties of Comal, Bexar, Gillespie, laboring under great embarrassment, owing to the remoteness from their respective county seats, and having a sufficient population to justify it, we respectfully petition for the formation of a new county so that the Guadalupe River may be central in passing through it, to include such limits and territory as your honorable body's wisdom may seem proper and reasonable."
Below were affixed over 85 names, including Joshua Brown's. I recognize quite a few of the names, like J. M. Starkey, who was an early millwright, or Fritz Tegener, who was a leader of the Unionists during the Civil War, and who barely escaped the Battle of the Nueces. There are some Burneys, some Ridleys, a Stieler, and even the first head of Kerr County government, Jonathan Scott. Doubtless descendents of many of the original petitioners still live in our county.
Nowhere in the petition does it request the county be named for James Kerr.
As the bill progressed through the legislature, a provision was made that the county seat be selected by the inhabitants. The final bill called for the county to be named for James Kerr, "the first settler on the Guadalupe." James Kerr had settled on the Guadalupe near the Gulf of Mexico in the 1820s.
However, the bill also specified the county seat "shall be called Kerrsville unless the site selected shall already have a name."
The site was not selected by the original county commissioners court; it was selected by a vote of the people, who chose the center of county surveys Nos. 116, 117, 118, and 119 by a whopping 26 votes. The commissioners accepted Joshua Brown's offer of a donated four-acre county square, a parcel for a school, a parcel for a church, and a parcel suitable for a public jail. Brown, at the time the commissioners accepted the site, had owned the land for four days.
Likewise, the county commissioners did not chose the name, despite Joshua Brown's friendship with James Kerr; the Texas legislature named the community. Whether Joshua Brown had influence over the naming of the county or county seat I cannot determine.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who thinks this summer is already too hot. This column was originally published in the Kerrville Daily Times July 7, 2018.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: This column was written on Thursday, July 5, and published on July 7.  All day Sunday, July 8, I've been thinking about how Joshua Brown could have insisted the town be named for his friend, James Kerr.  
Here's one plausible scenario:
The legislature directed the county seat to be named "Kerrsville" unless the place selected by the voters of the county already had a name.
What if Joshua Brown's shingle camp already had a place name?  Brownsborough has been mentioned elsewhere, though there's evidence that place existed beside the Guadalupe River, downstream from Comfort.
So, if the settlement already had a name, some variation of "Brown's Camp" or "Brownville" or "Brown-whatever,"  it makes sense the new owner of the land, Joshua Brown, could recommend it be named for James Kerr, his friend.
Just a theory....

Sunday, July 1, 2018

A Kerrville mystery: who is the woman in this photo?

Woman and buggy Kerrville 1890s
A woman in a buggy, date unknown.
Click any image to enlarge.
The story of Captain Charles Schreiner is well known in our community, but the story of his wife, Lena, has been hidden by time.
I have several photographs of Charles Schreiner in my collection of Kerr County historical items. I have one that I know is a photograph of Lena, taken with her daughters, and another which Schreiner family tradition suggests is of Lena. This week, however, I may have confirmed another photograph of Lena Schreiner.
Lena Schreiner with her daughters Frances, Caroline, and Emilee
Lena Schreiner and her
daughters Frances,
Caroline, and Emilee
Charles Armand Schreiner was born February 22, 1838, in Alsace-Lorraine, the neither-land between France and Germany. Schreiner's family arrived in San Antonio in 1852, when he was 14. That was the year his father died, killed by a snakebite as he gathered firewood. His mother died four years later and was buried near Cibolo Creek. About this time Charles Schreiner joined the Texas Rangers for a year or so, scouting and serving in the defense of settlers in a hostile country. In 1857 Schreiner and his brother-in-law Caspar Real built a log cabin on Turtle Creek and 'settled down to ranching.'
It wasn't a very prosperous beginning, filled with isolation and danger, and seasoned with long, hard labor. The early grasses that tempted our area's first settlers had been the result of centuries of growth; they fell rather quickly away with intensive herding. There was seldom enough rain, never any money in the whole area. Life here was poor, it was hard, and it was lonely.
Charles Schreiner married Mary Magdalena Enderle October 15, 1861. Like her husband, "Lena" was an immigrant, moving to Texas with her parents from the Black Forest region of Germany. They made their first home on the ranch on Turtle Creek.
Then came the Civil War. Charles Schreiner marched off to fight, a private in the Confederate Army. He left in August, 1862, marching off to war three months before their first son, Aime Charles, was born. He left Lena to run their ranch, when she was pregnant and alone.
Lena Schreiner and child at Kerrville mill dam
Schreiner family tradition
says this is also a photo of Lena
and a child, taken at the mill dam
in Kerrville
Of course her brother- and sister-in-law were nearby, but in those days the dangers of frontier life were plenty. Various Native American tribes were hostile to settlers; there was always the danger of illness or infection; and she faced childbirth without modern medical help. In addition, with most of the able-bodied men away from the county, fighting in the war, the frontier was unprotected, and raids on farms and ranches increased.
She must have been a woman of firm resolve, brave and resourceful.
Charles Schreiner returned from the war in 1865.
In 1869, Charles Schreiner started a store in Kerrville. Once again, he left Lena behind at Turtle Creek to manage the ranch. This time she was left with two small sons. The dangers were still there, and once again, she faced them mostly alone, for over a year. The store was fifteen miles away, which was a great distance when travel in Kerr County was by foot, wagon, or horseback.
Finally Lena and the children moved to Kerrville, in a little house on Water Street, not far from Washington Street. The first store, a small wooden building made of cypress, stood about where the Schreiner Mansion stands today.
While looking among my photographs, I ran across an image given to me by James Partain years ago. It's of a woman in a carriage who looks a little like the photograph of Lena Schreiner with her daughters. The woman has many of the same features as Mrs. Schreiner: a fancy hat, glasses, and a determined facial expression.
Charles and Magdalena Schreiner home in Kerrville
Charles and Magdalena's home in Kerrville, on what
is now Earl Garrett Street.
Click to enlarge to see the horse and buggy.
By accident, the next photo displayed on my computer was of the Schreiner's home on Earl Garrett Street, the Schreiner Mansion. I've always called that image the "Black Horse" photo, because I think it shows the mansion in good detail, complete with the iron balconies facing Water Street, and also shows what I think is the building which housed the first Schreiner store, tucked away between the mansion and where the store stands today.
Because I saw one photo immediately after the other, I noticed something I'd never seen before. It looks like the horses match. And then, on closer inspection, it looks like the buggies match, too. The type of bench, the number of spokes in the wheels, the attachment for the buggy whip -- they seem to match in both photos.
Of course, I'm no expert on buggies. There might be differences I cannot see.
However, I'm confident enough to suggest the woman driving the buggy in the photo may well be Mary Magdalena Enderle Schreiner, of whom so few photographs exist.
For all of his success, Charles Schreiner would not have prospered without Lena. She kept things going when he was absent.
The Schreiners had 8 children; three daughters and five sons. They were married for almost 44 years. Lena Schreiner passed away on September 7, 1905; Charles Schreiner, February 9, 1927. After Lena's passing, Charles Schreiner never remarried.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who enjoys puzzles about Kerr County's history. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times June 30, 2018.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

The Railroad Comes To Kerrville

Kerrville depot of San Antonio and Aransas Pass railroad
The Kerrville Depot of the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railroad.
Click on any image to enlarge.
The coming of the railroad in 1887 changed everything for Kerrville -- because it allowed commerce with the world beyond our hills.
Until that time all freight came to Kerrville by wagons. Every nail, piece of paper, shoe, piano, and most of the cloth and lumber was hauled over the hills by oxen, with most of the freight coming to us from San Antonio.
Kerrville Eye September 29 1887
The Kerrville Eye, Page 1
September 29, 1887.
Click to enlarge
In 1887, no other community in the hill country was served by a railroad. Fredericksburg didn't get her railroad until November 1, 1913, twenty-six years after Kerrville, and that line was never really profitable. Other nearby communities, like Junction or Rocksprings, never saw a train arrive. Kerrville's trains ran until the 1970s.
Kerrville Eye September 29 1887
The Kerrville Eye, p2
I have a copy of the October 6, 1887 "Kerrville Eye," a newspaper of the era. The publisher printed 2,000 copies of the edition -- a huge number, considering Kerrville probably had less than 400 residents.
In the issue several other newspapers' reports of the railway's arrival in Kerrville was reprinted. "Plucky little Kerrville," the San Angelo Standard reported, "has obtained her railroad, and if ever a town and county deserve the iron horse, Kerrville and Kerr County did. A bonus of $50,000 was raised in the middle of the drouth and $46,000 of that bonus has been raised in cash; a few more thousand had to be raised to buy the right of way over land belonging to fossils of the tertiary period, a few of which are settled in that county. We hope the boon for which Kerr County has worked so strenuously will prove an even greater blessing than they anticipate."
Kerrville Eye September 29 1887
The Kerrville Eye, p3
The Burnet Hero declared "The Aransas Pass Road has reached Kerrville. The 'Eye' therefore excusable for being jubilant and winking many triumphant winks, as it worked hard to bring that town and section to the front of the railroad men. We know how it is ourselves and don't blame the 'Eye' for feeling proud. The 'Hero' got out an extra to celebrate the completion of the Dallas, Granite and Gulf road to Burnet, as it was the first air line to the point from the north -- but alas it was an air line with a vengeance. It was built of air, by air, through air."
Kerrville Eye September 29 1887
The Kerrville Eye, p4
According to the Texas Transportation Museum website, “at 11:45 AM on October 6, 1887, the first train arrived in Kerrville. On board the six Pullmans were 502 passengers, 200 from San Antonio, 131 from Boerne, 141 from Comfort and 30 from Center Point. Altogether this was 200 more people than actually lived in Kerrville. It was a banner day for the town, with parades and speeches.”
There were more than speeches and parades that day: there was also business to be transacted.
According to the 'Eye,' "A large lot sale will take place here about the 22nd of October. The magnificent ground near the depot has been laid off in lots by Capt. Schreiner, and will be sold that day. This is going to be a town. Don't miss the sale. Come and bid on a few lots."
Then later, a few inches down, the 'Eye' continues: "Visitors to Kerrville, did you ever see a prettier site for a town? Kerrville has the prettiest depot grounds of any town on the Aransas Pass [railway]. Capt Schreiner has cut this fine plot of ground up into lots... You will regret to the end of your days if you fail to attend the sale, and purchase a lot."
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who remembers the train rolling into Kerrville when he was a boy.  This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times June 23, 2018.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

The Mystery of Captain Tivy's Other Tombstone

Tivy Mountain in Kerrville photo by Joe Herring Jr
The cemetery on top of Tivy Mountain, in Kerrville, as it appeared in January 2018.
This is the final resting place of Joseph Tivy, his wife Ella, his sister Susan, and Susan's cat.
Click on any image to enlarge.

A little over four years ago, I got a telephone call from a fellow who said he'd found Captain Joseph Albert Tivy's tombstone in some rubble on his property.
The mysterious tombstone of Joseph A Tivy
The mysterious tombstone
I was, of course, surprised. The last time I'd seen the tombstone, it was up on Tivy Mountain, near the intersection of Cypress Creek Road and Veterans Highway (Loop 534).
The caller was kind enough to let me come take photographs of the carved stone he'd found, and sure enough, it was indeed the tombstone of Captain Tivy, his wife Ella, and his sister, Susan, though not the same one I remembered from Tivy Mountain.
Why, I wondered, were there two tombstones?
But first, who was Captain Tivy?
Joseph Albert Tivy was born in Toronto, Canada during the winter of 1818, raised and educated in New York state, and headed to Texas when he was 19, when it was a new republic.
The mysterious tombstone of Joseph A Tivy
Another view
His first stop in Texas was in Houston, next to Washington County, and then on to what is now Burleson County, where he lived for several years. This community was considered the extreme western frontier at the time. He was a true frontiersman, spending months in the field, and spent a lot of time with Captain George Evart.
During those early years in Texas, he was as a chain carrier for a survey crew out of the General Land Office. He was later promoted to General Surveyor, and his travels brought him to the Guadalupe River valley. In 1842, he acquired the ‘military’ grant to the heirs of Thomas Hand, a tract of 640 acres. That land later became important to the young community. (He acquired this land even before Joshua Brown started his shingle camp.
Captain Joseph A Tivy first mayor of Kerrville
Captain Joseph A. Tivy
There was no City of Kerrville then. Kerr County was part of the Bexar District, and Tivy served as deputy surveyor. He had also served with Jack Hays’ Rangers, joining Hays in 1844.
Then, 1849, the gold bug bit, and Tivy went out to California to seek his fortune. I don’t know how successful a miner he was, but history records he was a surveyor in California, ran a hotel (the "United States Hotel" past Tejon Pass) and later a store, and served in the California Legislature during the winter of 1853-54. He also served in the Texas Legislature during another part of his life, winning election in 1873.
Coming back from California, he spent a year in New Mexico, then returned to Texas settling in Karnes County in 1858.
During the Civil War, Tivy served in the Confederate Army from 1862-64, being discharged with the rank of Captain. While in the service, his health deteriorated, and he left the army in 1864.
And finally, after all of this, in 1872 he and two spinster sisters moved to Kerrville, to their 640-acre tract of land. I guess you could say he was one of the first retirees to move here.
Like most retirees here, he was active: seeing the need for a sound public school system, he gave the community 16 2/3 acres to be used to build free schools. Because the only entity that could accept the gift was an incorporated city, petitions were circulated and the City of Kerrville came into existence in 1889.
Not coincidentally, Captain Tivy was Kerrville’s first mayor.
He also gave the lot for St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, which still stands on the site.
Captain Tivy married late in life. His wife, was the widow of Dr. Henry Losee, a U. S. Army surgeon who died in Kerrville.
Kerrville Tivy Seniors on the annual student pilgrimage to Tivy Mountain, 1960s
Tivy Seniors on the annual student pilgrimage
to Tivy Mountain, 1960s.
Click on any image to enlarge.
"For some time," the book by Brown reports, Tivy "had been actively engaged in overseeing the work of boring for artesian water on his place. Owing to his advanced age and physical condition, this undue activity brought on stomach complications which proved to be the immediate cause of his demise."
Captain Tivy is buried with his wife, one sister (Susan), and his wife’s cat on the top of Tivy Mountain, to the east of the downtown area. The hill has a dirt road, off of Cypress Creek Road, leading to its summit; this road used to be open to the public. An excellent view of our valley home is afforded from up there, and you ought to take the time to visit the hill. Up there in the sunshine, with the wind blowing and the smell of cedar trees, you’ll find the four graves and a small stone obelisk. Looking below you can see what the Captain’s land has become.
As for the recently found tombstone, it was likely the victim of hooligans who vandalized the gravesite numerous times, knocking over the monument. Some claimed lightning toppled the old carved stone. It was replaced by the current memorial obelisk, a gift of the ex-students association, in 1956. At the time the graves were repaired, and the decorative fence was replaced and repaired.
I suppose, when the new monument was installed, the old one was simply discarded. That's the one found a few years ago, in the rubble behind the man's house.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who remembers climbing Tivy Mountain with his classmates in the spring of 1979.  This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times June 16, 2018.



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