Monday, March 19, 2012

The story of Kerr pioneer Sam D. Glenn

Sam D. Glenn
There are a lot of folks in Kerrville related to Samuel Donley Glenn, including, if I remember correctly, the current city secretary of Kerrville, and a young person who works with me at the print shop. But there are probably hundreds more here.
Glenn was quite a hill country character, and I published two photos of him in my recent book. In the photos you see a hardy fellow who's obviously very tall.
Glenn, who was born in 1854 near Llano, was fond of telling folks he once ran a Comanche brave to death, by running away from him. Another family story says he took an axe to a sign at Schreiner Company because he kept bumping his head on it; he had warned Capt. Schreiner he'd better move the sign, and when his old Captain forgot, Glenn took the sign down for him. Permanently.
When Glenn was born, pioneers were in constant danger from the local native American tribes; not long after his birth his family moved to Fort Mason. Later, in 1862, when Gen. H. R. Bee ordered all settlers to band together for protection, the family moved to Kerrville. Glenn was an 8 year old lad when he moved here, but he was slightly older than Kerr County, which was formed in 1856.
In his front-page obituary in the April 20th, 1939, issue of the Kerrville Mountain Sun, a description of Kerrville was given: "At the time Kerrville was a small village, the water being carried from the springs on the river, and the houses made of logs, with shingles carved from the huge cypress trees along the river's banks."
The Glenns on their golden wedding anniversary, Kerrville, 1925
When Glenn was 19, in 1872, Glenn made his first "trip up the cattle trails."
"The journey was made to Wichita, Kansas, and the men drove 1700 wild beef cattle up a trail that crossed the Colorado River at Austin, the Red River at Red River Station near Denison, and then on through the Indian Territory [present-day Oklahoma] to Kansas."
He joined another trail drive in 1873, driving cattle to the Smoky River, near Ellsworth, Kansas.
In both drives, Glenn was a "drag driver," which meaning he followed the herd on foot. He walked to Kansas. Twice.
In 1874 he married Miss Martha Jane Crawford and together they raised nine children.
In 1876 Glenn was a part of the Kerr County Minutemen, lead by their elected captain, Charles Schreiner. (It was from this group Schreiner earned the title "Captain.")  Glenn participated in a shootout where the Minutemen fought some horse thieves near Flat Rock in Gillespie County.
He also joined the gold rush in the Black Hills of South Dakota around 1877. Going to the country beyond Dead Wood, where the Sioux were giving miners "trouble," Glenn found the excitement was too much, and he was hungry and cold. He said "he learned after a few weeks all that glitters is not gold, and he returned home, coming most of the way by foot."
In one of the photos I have of Glenn, I'd noticed his boots before. I didn't know they were walking shoes, but they were.
His last trip was in 1882, when he headed to Nebraska. On the way he "spent the night in a small city that was blown away during the night by a cyclone."  It was after this event Glenn decided to settle in Kerrville permanently.
He was a stone mason by trade and helped build many of the stone buildings and homes in Kerrville from that era, including the Weston Building, which now houses Francisco's Restaurant, and the Masonic Building, which now houses Sheftall's Jewelers.
I suppose the most telling item in Glenn's obituary was the account of the African-American nanny that raised Sam Glenn as a child. Fannie, when told of her liberty after the Emancipation Proclamation, replied "I always was free."  Father Kemper, Glenn's pastor, made a point to tell that story in the words he wrote about Glenn.
Until next week, all the best.
Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who needs to slow down on the sweets. Too many pies and cakes, lately, and ice cream, too.  Your chubby columnist is getting even chubbier. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times St. Patrick's Day, 2012.


  1. I enjoyed that story very much, and I'm not even related to Sam Glenn.

  2. I enjoyed it even more because Sam was a first cousin of my great great grandfather John B. E. Glenn. Poor grandpa was only six feet five, according to his U.S. Volunteer Service discharge after the Mexican War, while Sam was six feet seven. Joe, do you have more pictures. I have 3 now, two thanks to you.

  3. Sam Glenn was my great-grandfather's cousin. John Glenn(Wister,Okla)married to Susan Virginia Smith,thanks so much for putting this on here I had never heard this story enjoyed it so much LK


Please remember this is a rated "family" blog. Anything worse than a "PG" rated comment will not be posted. Grandmas and their grandkids read this, so please, be considerate.



Related Posts with Thumbnails