Monday, July 18, 2011

Pages of History: gifts of books makes me very happy!

It's amazing what comes through the doors of the print shop, and I'm so thankful for the folks who have helped me build up a collection of historic items. Recently a kind reader brought by two books on Texas: "The Indian Wars and Pioneers of Texas," and "Maury's Manual of Geography," with a special supplement on Texas Geography.
For someone like me who loves history, this was like winning a year's supply of Blue Bell Ice Cream (Homemade Vanilla). What a treat.
The geography manual includes a colorized map of Texas from 1878. A lot of the counties have changed shape since then -- some, like Crockett County and Tom Green County used to be quite huge. An engraving of the Capitol Building in Austin is included -- and it's not the pink granite Capitol we'd recognize. Another image shows the Alamo, in ruins, as it must have appeared when the manual was published.
Map of Texas, 1878
I'm fascinated by these old maps and the descriptions of various Texas towns. Dallas is mentioned, with a population of 10,358. Houston, with 16,513, is not the largest community listed: that distinction goes to Galveston, with a population of 22,248. Cities like Lubbock and Amarillo are not even listed, though our neighbor to the north, Fredericksburg, is mentioned, at a population of 2,000.
John Henry Brown's book
The binding on the old geography book has given up the ghost, but the pages, for the most part are still there, though brittle and fragile. Though I could not find a publication date, a quick look on the Internet suggests the book was published in 1880 by L. E. Daniell of Austin. The book was printed and bound in St. Louis.
It's a much bigger book than the geography book, with 762 pages, and many illustrations. The first part of the book is a narrative of conflicts with the various Indian groups across the state; the second, a series of mini-biographies of many different pioneers. The book was written by John Henry Brown.
I looked to find local families listed and have found quite a few references to Kerrville. This is a book I will study for many years, I think, and I am thrilled to add it to my collection of Texana.
Joseph A. Tivy
The book has a long biographical sketch on Joseph A. Tivy, Kerrville's first mayor, and the gentleman who gave land for our public schools. (Joshua Brown also gave land for public schools, but that is another story.)  The sketch reveals several new facts about Capt. Tivy I never knew -- and will work them into a column very soon. I think the story might even shed some light on a mysterious set of photographs I have, some of which show Capt. Tivy's hotel here in Kerrville.
Other names include the Dieterts, the Schreiners, and families from Comfort and Fredericksburg.
Let me say, again, how thankful I am to all of those who've brought by historical items. Even photographs showing Kerrville and Kerr County in days gone by -- which I can copy and give back to you -- are so welcome.
Until next week, all the best.
Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who collects items showing Kerr County's history.  This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times July 16, 2011.

For more information about Joe's book, which has over 200 historic photographs
 of Kerrville, please click here.

1 comment:

  1. Joe,
    Thank you for sharing all the old stories and photos that you receive.

    We truly enjoy all the information that you provide us.


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