New Kerr County History Book Available!

Sunday, June 19, 2022

The Texas Roots of Juneteenth

Major General Gordon Granger, U. S. Army,
who issued General Order No. 3, Galveston Texas, June 19, 1865.

On June 19, 1865, some two months after the Civil War ended, U. S. Army Major General Gordon Granger issued General Order No. 3 from his new headquarters in Galveston, Texas.
“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor.
“The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere. By order of Major General Granger.”
The text was recorded by the Assistant Adjutant General Major F. W. Emery, and bound in a record book of general orders issued by the U. S. Army. That record book is now housed in the National Archives, and the original handwritten copy was digitized by the National Archives in 2020, and made available to the public online at
That scan is interesting. General Order No. 3 starts on the bottom of one page, and continues on the next. In typical government fashion, it takes something incredibly significant -- freeing all of the slaves in Texas -- and places it on two pages, among routine orders issued by an Army general.

Page 1, Click to enlarge
Page 2, Click to enlarge

Though Abraham Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation over two years earlier, his proclamation freed slaves only in the states of the Confederacy. Since the Confederate states were in open rebellion against the United States, there was no way to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation until Union troops advanced through the southern states.
Texas, because of its distance from most of the battles of the Civil War, was the last of the states to end the institution of slavery, because it was the last state for the Union Army to enter and set up headquarters.  Indeed, though the Civil War ended in April, 1865 – the last battle of the war was in May, 1865, at Palmito Ranch, at the very southern tip of Texas, along a bend of the Rio Grande River, in Cameron County..
General Order No. 3 was issued on June 19th, and the date was shortened into a new word: “Juneteenth,” and celebrated under that name and “Emancipation Day,” or “Freedom Day.” In 2021, Juneteenth was made a national holiday. Its origins, though, are in Texas.
The earliest record of General Order No. 3 I can find was published in Texas was in the Galveston Daily News on June 21, 1865. That issue also printed General Orders No. 1-5. General Order No. 1 had General Granger assuming command of all troops in Texas; General Order No. 2 announced the staff of the District of Texas; General Order No. 3 freed the slaves; General Order No. 4 declared the governor and legislature illegitimate; General Order No. 5 directed all cotton to be turned into the Quartermaster’s Department, ‘for shipment to New Orleans.’
There’s no way to tell when the news of emancipation arrived in Kerr County, or when the slaves held here were finally freed. No newspapers served Kerrville at the time; the entire county only had 634 people in 1860, and 49 of those were slaves. The online newspaper research service I use has no local or nearby newspapers from June 1865 on file.
The first mention of “Juneteenth” in local newspapers came on June 19, 1941, when it was mentioned in Mrs. W. A. Salter’s column, “It Happened Here,” in her newspaper, the Kerrville Mountain Sun. She reported Kerrville’s Juneteenth celebration that year would feature patriotic speeches and a big barbecue.
This year, at the Doyle Community Center pavilion, Juneteenth is being celebrated, in part, with a Blues Fest, from 4-8 pm. There will be food and beverage booths, and activities for the kids. For more information about Blues Fest 2022, please call 257-4446.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who wishes all the fathers in Kerr County a very happy Father’s Day! This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times June 18, 2022.

Though this newsletter is free, it isn't cheap. You can help by sharing it with someone, by forwarding it by email, or sharing it on Facebook. Sharing is certainly caring. (I also have two Kerr County history books available online, with free shipping!)

Sunday, June 12, 2022

It's summer camp season in Kerr County

Postcard showing campers at the Texas Lions Camp, Kerrville, 1970s.
Click on any image to enlarge.

The summer youth camp season is in full swing in Kerr County – with thousands of young people from all over the world coming here to our community to make memories and have fun.
Not long ago, my friends Sandy and Jon Wolfmueller gave me a collection of local postcards, including images of local summer camps. Some of the postcards show camps which no longer exist. 
Camp Arrowhead
What I particularly like about the old postcards the Wolfmuellers gave me is how they show young people having fun outdoors. They show a lot of Guadalupe River scenes, and quite a few show kids on horseback.
Camp La Junta
When the first sleepaway youth camps in Kerr County opened, in the 1920s, there were no Interstate highways and local air travel was extremely rare. Most campers came from Texas's largest cities -- but especially from Dallas and Houston -- and they arrived by train or bus. Leaving the cities in the heat of summer, and then arriving here, where it's cooler because of the elevation, would have been a welcome trip. Then campers were taken from town to camp, traveling unpaved roads which dipped into the riverbed here and there. Higher and higher the campers would travel, winding their way deeper into the green hills, following the ribbon of river. 
Camp Rio Vista
When they finally arrived at their camp, and settled into their cabins, tired and hungry, a special paradise greeted them. The green river beckoned. Horseback riding was available. Campers were taught to shoot guns, arrows; they were instructed in athletics; they learned to paddle a canoe.
And more than one camper wrote home to tell how good the food was at camp, how it was piled high on the tables, and how, after a day busy with camp activities, the food tasted so good.
Why wouldn't campers, even later in life, think of Kerr County as paradise?
Camp Stewart
As a child, I was fortunate enough to go to Camp Stewart. While there I learned to swim, learned to ride horses, and (almost) learned to shoot a bow and arrow. The counselor responsible for archery that term reported to my parents his hope that I’d be able to hit the target before the end of camp. I’m not sure his hope was ever realized.
Learning to swim, of course, was one of the most important life skills I learned that summer. Our class met at a quiet bend in the river, where the water was shallow and warmed by the sun. I remember the instructors were very patient. It didn’t take long for me to learn to swim; they were good teachers.
Camp Waldemar
I may have had some other strong motivations to learn to swim, as well. Until you passed your swimming test, you weren’t allowed to join other activities, like learning to canoe, or using the long rope swing in the deeper pool near the dining hall.
That summer I was eight years old – and I can still remember how one event in particular filled me with dread. Then, as now, the boys at Camp Stewart attended dances at several of the nearby camps for girls. I particularly remember the dance held at Camp Mystic that year.
Heart o' The Hills
At eight years old, I had yet to discover what fine company young ladies could offer. We boys were encouraged to dance, and I remember being one of the last ones on the sidelines as the music played.
Then there was an announcement – only those who danced could have ice cream, which was being served next to the dance floor. Quickly, I found a partner – who likely didn’t want to dance much, either – and soon we two were in line for ice cream.
Though it was over fifty years ago, I still have fond memories of that summer at Camp Stewart. I have no doubt the youngsters visiting Kerr County this summer will be making plenty of memories, too.
Thank heaven for summer camps, for the folks who run them, for the counselors who guide the campers, for the cooks who feed everyone, and for the blessings of safety and health for all.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who can still swim. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times June 11, 2022.

Though this newsletter is free, it isn't cheap. You can help by sharing it with someone, by forwarding it by email, or sharing it on Facebook. Sharing is certainly caring. (I also have two Kerr County history books available online, with free shipping!)

Sunday, June 5, 2022

The case of the missing Kerrville airport

Louis Schreiner Field, an early airport, January 1935.
Though it has the same name as our current municipal airport, it was
in a different location.  Click on any image to enlarge.

I’ve had an interest in local aviation since I was a student at Starkey Elementary, when my mother got her private pilot’s license, and we often flew together as a family. Her instructor was the late Les Cruthirds, and her pilot’s license was for VFR – visual flight rules. She flew small Cessnas – 152s, which was a two-seater, and 172s, which had four seats. 
We flew out of the Kerrville Municipal Airport which is between Kerrville and Center Point, beside Texas Highway 27. The entrance to the airport had a big wrought-iron entryway over the road, and it read “Louis Schreiner Field.”
I’ve known for some time that location was not the first location of “Louis Schreiner Field,” but I was never certain exactly where that first airport was. Though the current airport had its beginnings in the early 1940s, there was an earlier “Louis Schreiner Field” somewhere between Kerrville and Ingram.
In the summer of 2000, the late Bob Sieker, who for many years operated a flying service at the site of today’s airport, sat for an interview with the Kerr County Historical Commission as part of their oral history project.
Airport gas station, 1930s
“The [first] airport was established between Ingram and Kerrville,” Sieker remembered. "Mr. [Louis] Schreiner gave them that land and that was midway – you’re probably familiar with the country enough to know that between here and Ingram, that’s halfway.” That first airport was sold during the war, they “took the money and bought Goss’s farm east of Kerrville and renamed it Louis Schreiner Field. And they did away with the old Schreiner Field.”
Mr. Sieker learned to fly at the old airstrip.
Driving between Kerrville and Ingram, I’ve often wondered where that old airport was located. There are plenty of flat fields on either side of the road, even “midway” between the two communities. But none of them seemed large enough to contain an airfield.
Louis Schreiner field, 1935, another view.
I think my mistake was thinking a 1930s-era airport would be like our municipal airport today. I was imagining paved runways and taxiways, with perhaps a hangar or two, and a brightly colored windsock.
That first Louis Schreiner Field was well-named. It was basically a field. No runways. No hangars.
I learned this looking through “The Portal to Texas History,” a comprehensive website maintained by the University of North Texas. You can visit the site at
While rummaging through other items, I ran across two photographs of the old Louis Schreiner Field, both taken by the U. S. Army Air Corps in January of 1935. Looking at the roadways shown in the photographs, I finally knew exactly where the old airport was once located.
Driving toward Ingram, and crossing Goat Creek, the highway makes a curve to the left. After the curve, and on the left, is the entrance to Arcadia Loop Road. Continuing on Junction Highway, and turning right on Mill Run, you enter an industrial park, which is built on relatively flat land.
Judging from the photographs, that area was the site of the old Louis Schreiner Field, where many local aviators took to the sky, and there they first “slipped the surly bonds of Earth.”
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who fondly remembers flying with his mother, Pat Herring, the pilot. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times June 4, 2022.
Though this newsletter is free, it isn't cheap. You can help by sharing it with someone, by forwarding it by email, or sharing it on Facebook. Sharing is certainly caring. (I also have two Kerr County history books available online, with free shipping!)

Sunday, May 29, 2022

The Story of the First Kerrville Folk Festival

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

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

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

Though this newsletter is free, it isn't cheap. You can help by sharing it with someone, by forwarding it by email, or sharing it on Facebook. Sharing is certainly caring. (I also have two Kerr County history books available online, with free shipping!)

Sunday, May 22, 2022

A packet of Kerr County photographs from the 1950s

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

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

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

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

Though this newsletter is free, it isn't cheap. You can help by sharing it with someone, by forwarding it by email, or sharing it on Facebook. Sharing is certainly caring. (I also have two Kerr County history books available online, with free shipping!)



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