New Kerr County History Book Available!

Sunday, January 10, 2021

The Mosty Family of Kerr County: Generations of Service

The eight Mosty siblings celebrating their mother's birthday:
Left to right: Lee, Harvey, Lizzie, Mark, Addie, Karl, Sam, and Ruth.
Seated: Elizabeth Bean Mosty.
Click on any image to enlarge.

Leroy Mosty, of Mosty’s Garage, at the corner of Water and Lemos streets in downtown Kerrville, loaned me a nice book the other day. It’s called “Mosty: From There … To Here.”
It’s a brief history of the Mosty family, as remembered by Harvey Mosty. The book was produced by his grandson, James Craft.
Harvey Mosty
“The following was originally handwritten by Harvey Mosty (my grandfather) at the request of my mother, Marie Annaletta Mosty Craft,” James Craft writes on the introduction page. The original text was put on paper by Harvey Mosty in the 1950s.
Harvey Mosty was the second child of Lee Anthony (L. A.) Mosty and Elizabeth Bean Mosty; he was born in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1885.
L. A. Mosty was a noted nurseryman in Kerr County, and many of the plants and trees sold in Kerrville from the turn of the last century came from a Mosty family nursery. Quite a few of these trees still grace Kerrville’s older neighborhoods.
Although I’ve known members of the Mosty family all of my life, I didn’t have a real understanding of their family history until I read this little book.
L. A. Mosty was born in Akron, Ohio in 1851. He married Elizabeth Bean at Lampasas, Texas in 1881. The young family moved from Lampasas to Kansas City, Missouri, around 1883, and where Mosty worked at a hardware store, and later as a cattle buyer. He moved his family to Kansas in 1889, and they farmed there. On Thanksgiving Day 1894, they loaded up a wagon and returned to Lampasas, to a ranch owned by Elizabeth Bean Mosty’s family. The journey lasted until March, 1895, and included a crossing of the Red River near Dennison.
“After crossing the Red River,” Harvey Mosty writes, “I saw my first Live Oak Tree. Sure looked good to me. Had never seen a broadleaf evergreen before.”
I notice several places in the book where Harvey mentions things a nurseryman would know from years of experience
“In the fall of 1896, I planted my first crop,” he writes. Harvey Mosty would have been around eleven years old at the time.

L. A. Mosty display at the 1914 West Texas Fair

“Dad and Lee had left for Menard, Texas, hunting work. Grandad Bean furnished me a double shovel plow and showed me how to sow the oats and plow it in. He started me off keeping the front plow shovel in the furrow left by the rear shovel the previous round. I got about half through the field and it looked like I was not getting along fast enough, so I took to running both plows, cutting 2 furrows at each round. When spring and summer came, the oats planted according to Grandad Bean’s instructions made a good crop. The rest that I had hurried on was nothing but weeds. I learned then to do everything right and as told by older people.”
L. A. and Elizabeth,
and I think Lee, Jr.
I noticed a passage about a trip from Lampasas to Menard in 1897, where Elizabeth Mosty and the kids at home boarded a train in Lampasas, traveled to Ballinger, then took a stage coach to Menard, where they joined L.A. and Lee, Jr. at their “camp on the Gus Nois farm a few miles below Menard on the San Saba River.”
That name, Gus Nois, might have been a young Harvey Mosty’s memory of a man name Gus Noyes. His son, Charles Noyes, would later be the subject of a bronze statue by Pompeo Coppini, which stands today on the courthouse square in Ballinger, Texas.
Later that year the family moved from Menard to Kerrville: L. A., Elizabeth, and their eight children. In 1897, L. A. Mosty established his nursery business here in Kerrville. 
This family has had a great impact on the history of our community.
Harvey Mosty was a nurseryman, and, with his brother Lee, of Center Point, was credited as offering the “first soft-shell pecans on native stock.” They had quite a business. In 1936, for example, the brothers shipped “a full [rail] carload of peach trees to Sherman, numbering 12,000 plants.” What an incredible number of trees.
Harvey Mosty was active in his community: he served on the school board, the chamber board, was one of the developers of the Garden of Memories cemetery, was a Mason, and was a member of the Baptist Church. He passed away in 1958, here in Kerrville.
Mosty Brothers Nursery is still in operation, in Center Point.
I’m very thankful to Leroy Mosty for loaning me this delightful book.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who is thankful for our community. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times on January 9, 2020.

This newsletter is free, but not inexpensive to produce.  You can help by forwarding it to folks who might find it interesting.  If you'd like to learn more -- my Kerr County coffee-table books are collections of my Kerr County history columns.

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Top Ten Most Popular History Stories in 2020

Click on any image below to enlarge.

As I research our community’s history each week, I’m continually finding stories I’ve never known before. Some of this research has resulted in new history facts for our community, and I enjoy sharing these finds with you here each week.
At the end of the year, it’s good to look back and see what new things we’ve learned this year, and an easy way to summarize this new knowledge is to share the ten most popular columns published in the past year. Here’s the list, as determined by the number of pageviews each of these stories received on my blog at

The Baker brothers
Number 10
: “Five Brothers, Soldiers from Kerrville, 1917” published April 12. 
A kind reader brought by a very brittle photograph showing five men who served in World War I. It took a bit of digging, but I figured out who was in the photograph: it was five brothers, Sidney, Leroy, Claude, Frank, and Iva Baker. The photo provided a never-before-seen image of Sidney Baker, for whom a major street in Kerrville is named.

The Barbara Dullnig Building
Number 9
: “The Secret Life of Kerrville’s Trailhead Building,” published October 11.
My friends the Walthers, working with Schreiner University, converted an old building on the edge of campus into a college gathering place. But what was the history of that old building? A postcard found on eBay provided the clue: it was built to honor a Presbyterian home missions pioneer named Barbara Dullnig, one hundred years ago.

The Cascade Pool
Number 8
: “In the heart of downtown Kerrville: The Cascade Pool,” published September 13. I’m not old enough to remember the municipal pool which once was located near the intersection of Water and Earl Garrett streets, but many readers have very fond memories of the pool. New research confirmed an old rumor: it was closed due to desegregation in 1960.

Pampell's, 1902
Number 7
: “A newly discovered print of a 1902 photograph of Pampell’s,” published October 25. 
A kind reader brought by a new print of a photo I’d seen before, taken at the corner of today’s Sidney Baker and Water Streets, of J. L. Pampell’s fancy emporium. This new print was so sharp and clear, many new details could be seen.

Camels at NYC's Central Park
Number 6
: “What happened to the camels of Camp Verde?” published January 5.
I’ve wondered for a long time what happened to the camels kept at Camp Verde after the army post was closed by the government, and I was surprised by what I found. A number of the camels ended up in New York City, and some of those were used to give rides in that city’s Central Park.

Home of A.C. and Myrta Schreiner
Number 5
: “A new museum for the Texas Hill Country,” published January 26.
With much fanfare the City of Kerrville and the board of the Heart of the Hills Heritage Center announced plans to transform the former home of A. C. and Myrta Schreiner into a regional history museum. The home, built in 1909, will be preserved and become part of the Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library campus.

Bachelor Mountain
Number 4
: “Finding a historic African-American cemetery with lots of help,” published May 3.
Honestly, this was one of my favorites for 2020, not only because of discovering the location of an African-American cemetery, but of an afternoon spent exploring the area with my son, Joe 3. While the existence of Lane Valley Cemetery No. 2 was known, its location was a mystery.

Florence Butt in her first store
Number 3
: “Florence Butt and the new H-E-B store in Kerrville,” published March 8.
I found a newspaper article written by Florence Thornton Butt, the founder of what is now H-E-B Grocery Company, telling of the company’s earliest days. I compared her story to the news about the new, huge H-E-B being constructed.

Our Lady of Guadalupe School
Number 2
: “Kerrville’s response to the 1918 Flu Pandemic,” published March 15.
Kerrville was not immune from the 1918 ‘Spanish’ flu, and many people here died from the illness. However, there were five heroes who helped save hundreds of lives. One was a priest, two were nuns who were also skilled nurses, one was an English doctor, and one was the richest lady in town.

Lane Valley Cemetery No. 1
And the most popular column of 2020, Number 1: “A lonely Kerr County cemetery in the middle of a plowed field. Who’s buried there?” published March 1.
On Lane Valley Road, just after you cross the Guadalupe River, on the right is a plowed field. In the center of that field is a small cemetery containing just three graves. One of those buried there, Jack Hardee, had quite an adventurous life, including being captured by a band of Native Americans and finding a way to escape. Many of Jack Hardee’s descendants still live in our area.

I’m grateful to the Kerrville Daily Times for sharing space in the newspaper with me, and I’m grateful for the readers who’ve encouraged me to write about our community’s history. A community is stronger if it knows its story.
Until next year, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who wishes his friend Louis Amestoy the best of luck in the next chapter of his professional life. This column appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times December 26, 2020.

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Sunday, December 20, 2020

High Finance for a Hotel in Downtown Kerrville

Mortgage Bonds, issued by the 'Kerrville Hotel Company,' in 1926

A few days ago, a long-time friend brought an interesting set of financial documents by the print shop, bonds being issued by the “Kerrville Hotel Company” in July, 1926.
I was intrigued, and most readers know I enjoy a good history puzzle. 
The bonds were sold by the hotel company, and jointly by R. L. Burney, E. G. Walsh, and H. M. Harrison. Buyers of the bonds could expect seven percent interest per year, “in United States Gold Coin.” Most of the documents have the interest coupons clipped off, but one still had a nice collection of coupons, offering interest payments of $17.50 in gold. If I could just find the office of the bond’s underwriters, the J. E. Jarratt Company in San Antonio, perhaps I could collect a few gold coins.
I don’t remember a 1920s-era hotel in Kerrville called the “Kerrville Hotel,” so I started investigating.
The first thing I found was a real estate transfer in 1926 from A. C. and L. A. Schreiner to Harrison and Burney, part of lot 25, in the B. F. Cage Addition of Kerrville. Further research said that lot was at the southern corner of the intersection of Water and Earl Garrett streets.
The 1926 developers used similar tactics as developers do today; they made a “definite proposition” to build a hotel in downtown Kerrville if the “city would donate a site at the corner of Water and Earl Garrett streets” (the lot owned by the Schreiner brothers), plus “a cash bonus of $10,000.” Within six hours Kerrville businesses had donated more than $10,000; later the Schreiners would donate the corner lot.
The Blue Bonnet Hotel at five stories
I do remember a hotel which once stood on that corner, opposite Water Street from today’s Francisco’s Restaurant. The grand hotel was the Blue Bonnet Hotel. Today the site is a parking lot.
A story in the March 31, 1927 issue of the Kerrville Mountain Sun about the grand opening of the Blue Bonnet Hotel mentions it was financed by “Harry M. Harrison and R. L. Burney of San Antonio.” It fails to mention the $10,000 raised by Kerrville businesses.
It also has an ad by the general contractor who built the Blue Bonnet Hotel: Walsh & Burney. That ad said the contractors started work on September 1, 1926 and completed the five-story building in March, 1927. (The Blue Bonnet was enlarged to eight stories about a year later.)
Walsh & Burney were busy in Kerrville. They’d already built fourteen buildings at the “American Legion Memorial Sanatorium,” the site of today’s V. A. Medical Center. They built the Sunshine Laundry, which was in the 600 block of Water Street. At the same time they were building the Blue Bonnet Hotel, they were also building a home for Scott and Josephine Schreiner, a beautiful structure which still stands just off of Jackson Road.
And later, at eight stories
Construction of the hotel building cost around $250,000, according to news reports. It was designed by Paul G. Silber & Co., architects, of San Antonio.
One thing I could not figure out, at first, looking at the bonds – the name “Kerrville Hotel” was not the name of the Blue Bonnet Hotel.
It turns out the “Kerrville Hotel Company” owned the building and real estate, and leased these to the “Blue Bonnet Hotel Company.” I think this might be a technique still used in commercial real estate development. 
The president and general manager of the Blue Bonnet Hotel Company was Floyd Singleton. 
The company hoped to build Blue Bonnet Hotels in other cities, including San Antonio. By 1928 it hoped to have six or seven new hostelries open and operating across Texas.
Of course, the Great Depression intervened.
By 1937 both the Kerrville Hotel Company and the Blue Bonnet Hotel Company were in receivership, unable to pay interest or principal on the bonds they’d issued, and the property was sold to new owners.
I guess that means I’ll never collect the $17.50 in “gold coin” I was hoping for.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who wishes you a very Merry Christmas this week. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times December 19, 2020.

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Sunday, December 13, 2020

Photographer? Radio expert? Chess master? Golfer? --- or Kerrville's Secret Agent?

Patent 1,500,077, awarded to Kerrville's S. H. Huntington, 1924

I was searching through U. S. patents the other day, just to see which brilliant inventors lived in Kerrville. I was surprised to find well over 100 patents awarded to local inventors, ranging from a ‘cat restrainer’ to a ‘vaned rotor engine and compressor.’ There were many clever and complicated inventions listed, and all were invented right here.
One particular patent intrigued me. It was a patent for a coding device, for sending secret messages. It had two disks, one attached on top of the other, the top disk smaller than the one below. Etched on each disk were the letters of the alphabet. Kerrville’s S. H. Huntington was awarded patent 1,500,077 for the device July 1, 1924.
Huntington Photography studio, around 1902
Honestly, the critical working parts of the device looked a lot like the “secret decoder” rings we used to find in boxes of cereal back in the late 1960s.
The patent intrigued me for two reasons: first, secret messages are automatically intriguing; second, I recognized the name, S. H. Huntington.
Spencer Hinsdale ‘Dale’ Huntington was born on 1877 in Ohio. He lost his mother and a sister in 1879 when he was a toddler. His father and grandfather were civil engineers who designed and built railroads; his father, George Spencer Huntington, was the constructing engineer on the cogwheel railroad which travels up Pike’s Peak, and died there during its construction in 1889. 
So our Kerrville inventor, Dale Huntington, was an orphan by the time he was 12. I think he was raised by two of his paternal aunts, Fannie and Sarah Huntington, and all three arrived in Kerrville in 1901, when Dale was around 24. 
The Huntington's home, 232 A St, Kerrville
That would put Dale Huntington in Kerrville at the same time a photography studio stood on the corner of todays’ Water and Sidney Baker Streets, where the municipal parking building is located today. 
I have several copies of a photograph of that studio, which has an elaborate sign reading “Huntington/ Photographer.” I believe Dale Huntington was that photographer, and I have several of his historic photographs in my collection, some of which are ‘signed,’ and several I strongly suspect were taken by him.
I don’t think Huntington would consider himself a photographer. Most of his creative work went into oil paintings, which he often showed a local fairs. In fact, his occupation is listed as artist in several places. Hopefully one of his paintings still survives; if you have one, I’d certainly like to see it. 
He had a varied career. On his World War I draft registration card, when he was 41, he listed his occupation as “show card painter,” for a company in San Antonio. A 5,000 acre ranch, on Kelly Creek, in west Kerr County, was called the “S. H. Huntington Ranch,” so at least at one point in his life he had some capital, and was a rancher. He was interested in a new technology: radio. He had a store selling and repairing radios, and, according to a front-page story in the Kerrville Times, built ‘the world’s largest radio,’ with 23 tubes, and taking up one side of a room.
Picture postcard by Huntington
He served as the city secretary of Kerrville; he was the enumerator of the 1920 census; he was an avid golfer who was on the very first board of directors of the first golf course and country club here in 1924 (now Scott Schreiner Municipal Golf Course); he competed in chess championships; he taught astronomy to local boy scouts. Just a typical guy.
In 1921 he came up with his idea for a coding device. Similar wheels of letters had been devised before, but Huntington improved the design in a clever way. A blank space was added to both disks, meaning a space could substitute for a letter, and a letter could substitute for a space. This made the beginning and ending of a word more difficult to ascertain, because the spaces would be mixed in at the wrong spots. Plus, the key letter was easy to set and place at a specific spot in the message, so the message could be deciphered by the recipient.
Dale Huntington died in Kerrville in 1949, and was buried next to his aunts at Glen Rest Cemetery.
The coding device was not the only patent he received from the U. S. Patent Office; I found one more, for a cleverly-designed thimble. That patent, No. 805297, was awarded him in 1905. Perhaps he held more patents than I’ve found.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who collects old photographs of Kerrville and Kerr County. If you have one you’d like to share with him, it would make him very happy. He’ll scan it and give you back the original. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times December 12, 2020.

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Sunday, December 6, 2020

A new “Pop-Up” Museum display

Pop-Up Museum display, December 2020: Kerr County Leaders
on display now at Pint & Plow Brewing Company, 332 Clay Street, Kerrville
Click on any image to enlarge

As I study local history, I come across hundreds of stories about people who worked hard to make our community a better place. Some are people you’ve probably heard of before, but most are folks few remember.
From time to time I put up a history display at Pint & Plow Brewing Company, in their coffee shop, thanks to the generosity of the Walther family who make a wall there available to me. I call these displays a “Pop-Up” Museum, because they’re temporary and come and go without notice.
Hopefully our community will someday have a history museum, and I’ve been encouraged by the progress being made by the Heart of the Hills Heritage Center and the City of Kerrville, who are working together to create a museum in the old A. C. and Myrta Schreiner home next to the Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library.
For many years places around town have displayed items from my collection of historic items from Kerrville and Kerr County. I’ve put on displays and exhibits at the Kerr Arts and Cultural Center, the Museum of Western Art, Grape Juice, Starbucks, and what was then called Hastings. The display at Pint & Plow is different: the owners have kindly provided a wall there for history displays, and for several years I’ve displayed items on that wall. I’ve shown old Kerrville maps and photographs; a collection of photographs by the pioneer photographer Starr Bryden; and most recently, an illustrated guide to making cypress shingles. (Kerrville was founded by a group of men who made shingles from the beautiful cypress trees along the Guadalupe, back in the late 1840s.)
This week I put up a new display at Pint & Plow: “Kerr County Leaders.”
Gentle Reader, I’ve never claimed to be unbiased. There are some characters in our community’s story I like more than other characters. In fact, some of the folks I’ve learned about are now heroes of mine, and in many of those cases I wish I could time travel and visit with them.
This new display features six of my favorites. Five of the six have passed away, and the sixth has moved away from our community to be closer to family.

Here are the six:

Florence Butt, entrepreneur. Butt started a grocery company on Kerrville’s Main Street over 100 years ago. That’s not why she is included in the display; plenty of folks have started businesses here. She’s in the display because of her faith, her generosity and her exceptional grit.
Camilla Salter, publisher. At age 35 she was widowed. She had a young son to raise alone. And suddenly she had a newspaper to run, the Kerrville Mountain Sun. During the Great Depression. Salter worked for decades to make our community a better place to live. Some of the projects she championed are still benefitting us today.
Itasco Wilson, teacher. Wilson and her husband arrived in Kerrville in 1940 to lead Kerrville’s school for African-American students. Together they made the segregated school a center for learning and community, teaching lessons of dignity and excellence to the children our community chose to separate from others. After segregation finally ended, in the mid-1960s, Wilson continued to teach these same lessons to all of her students.
Zelma Hardy, mayor. In the mid-1970s, after a long career in public education, Hardy ran for a seat on the Kerrville City Council, and won. Later the council chose her to serve as Kerrville’s mayor from 1973 to 1974.
Clarabelle Snodgrass, historian. Snodgrass worked for decades recording and preserving our community’s history, through books, talks, and a newspaper column. She helped save the Tivy School building and the Union Church building.
Susan Sander, naturalist. When Sander arrived in Kerrville in the 1980s, she noticed an abandoned pioneer’s home on Water Street which was surrounded by wildflowers. The name of the old home was “Riverside,” and there she had the idea to make a community-based nature preserve in downtown Kerrville. Which she did.
I hope you’ll stop by to see the display. Pint & Plow Brewing Company is located at 332 Clay Street in beautiful downtown Kerrville. Admission is free, but get a beverage and some food while you’re there. Tell them Joe sent you.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who collects historic items from Kerrville and Kerr County. If you have an item you’d care to share with him, it would make him very happy. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times December 5, 2020.

This newsletter is free, but not inexpensive to produce.  You can help by forwarding it to folks who might find it interesting.  And it's holiday time -- my Kerr County coffee-table books make wonderful gifts.



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