Monday, October 3, 2011

Remembering the Pampell family

When I was a boy I would walk from the print shop to get my hair cut at Randy Follis' barber shop on Main Street. To get there I would head west on Water, cross in front of the Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library, pass by the H-E-B Grocery store on the corner of Water and Quinlan, cross Quinlan, round the corner of Quinlan and Main by passing the Burton Insurance Agency, and get in line at Randy's barber shop. Both the insurance agency and the barber shop spaces are now taken by Little Caesar's Pizza.
There was a large fir tree on the corner, by Mr. Burton's office. I remember it clearly because it was very large and also because fir trees are relatively rare here. I recently went to that corner to see if I could see any evidence of the old tree, either a stump or roots. I've heard the tree died some time ago.
The tree interested me because it was planted by a blacksmith named August Breautigam in the front yard of his daughter and son-in-law's house to commemorate the birth of his grandson Milton Pampell in 1898. (I didn't learn this until recently when Steve Kensing dropped by a copy of a photograph of the Pampell's house.)
Pampell home, corner of Quinlan
and Main streets, Kerrville, around 1929
I recently received a copy of a July 15, 1948 story from the Kerrville Mountain Sun which tells the Pampell family's story.
J. L. Pampell came to Kerrville in July, 1890 from Brenham, and worked as the express messenger for the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railroad here. It was Pampell's first job outside of working for his father's Brenham mercantile store. Kerrville had about 1,500 people when Pampell arrived.
"I was impressed with the first sight of the beautiful hills, the Guadalupe River, and the splendid class of people which I met. There were not carrying six-shooters, neither were they lacking in their welcome to a stranger," Pampell said.
"Captain Schreiner's store, and residence, the St. Charles Hotel and Dr. Parson's livery stable, with dance hall above it, were the chief buildings except the courthouse and the Union Church, where all denominations worshiped."
To help a 2011 reader, Parson's Hall was on land my family now owns, the parking lot between our print shop and Grape Juice.
"There was no paving in the town, and no sidewalks. On rainy days, when we walked down Water Street, we clung to the high picket fences to keep out of the mud. Water was hauled in barrels, and sold to customers at 10 cents per barrel. Hauling was done by oxen and it was not unusual to see them trudging along with heavy loads.
"Old time camp meetings, picnics, barbecues, old fashioned dances and horse racing were the entertainment features of the day," Pampell remembered for the 1948 article.
"My first business was an Ice Cream Parlor and Confectionery'" which stood in the middle of the 700 block of Water Street, just on the Sidney Baker Street side of the Schreiner building being currently renovated.
"I opened this business about six months after my arrival in the city. When the wool and mohair building was started, I moved across Water Street, and later purchased the present location which was known as the 'Gregory Hotel.'"
In their new location the Pampell family made and sold ice cream, candy, and bottled soda drinks. "1916 he acquired the franchise for the Coca Cola agency for this section, which was considered as 'pioneering' in that field," the 1948 article reports.
There was also a "Pampell's Hall" in the second story of the building, where many dances, theatricals, concerts, and even motion picture shows were enjoyed.
Soon after his arrival in Kerrville, J. L. Pampell married Miss Annie Brautigam, and their son Milton, for whom the tree was planted, came along in 1898.
Until next week, all the best.
Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who loved going to Pampells to visit the Hoods, buy a candy bar from Virgie Morris, and get a malted milkshake from Emmy Kneese. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times October 1, 2011


  1. Joe, this is a great article.

    I remember that tree. It was very different looking than the other ones in this area.

    The Pampell's were good people. They were liked by everyone.

  2. Randy Follis cut my hair, too.

    Before Randy, barbers at the Blue Bonnet Barber Shop cut my hair.

    Before the Blue Bonnet, a barber named "Henry" cut my hair. I never knew Henry's last name. His shop was in the general vicinity of your printing company.

    Before Henry, there was Mr. Richerson's Barber Shop.

    Before Mr. Richerson, my wife cut my hair.

    Before my wife, my great aunt cut my hair.

    Before my great aunt, my great-great aunt cut my hair.

    Before my great-great aunt, my ... actually, I don't remember that far back.

    I won't tell you how many years all those hair cutters take me back, but believe me, it is a longggggggggggg time.

  3. Henry's Barber Shop was owned by Henry Grimm.

    His shop was located at 619 Water Street across from Peterson's Garage.

  4. Randy Follis was a great guy. We were roommates in the early 60's. Then he married Fredericksburg's ex-mayor's daughter. Randy left this world too young.


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