Monday, July 23, 2012

A rare booklet visits the print shop

Kerr County history booklet, 1931
For several years I have been finding references to a mysterious museum which once displayed early Kerr County relics. It was the work of a teacher, Mrs. Kate Franklin, who taught history to middle school students back in the late 1920s and early 1930s.
The display was called the Kate Franklin Museum and for several years it was housed in the Franklin Middle School. It had in its collection many items from Kerr County's earliest days, objects once used by the pioneers who settled this area.
In addition to the display, the students in Mrs. Franklin's class gathered information, often from families of the earliest settlers here, and these reports were gathered together and published by the Kerrville Mountain Sun in 1931 to celebrate the county's 75th birthday.
A few weeks ago a copy of that booklet was brought by the print shop for me to copy. The booklet, along with some wonderful old Kerr County photographs, are a part of the Meeker family's collection. It was such fun looking at all of the items Steven Meeker brought by!
I particularly liked the history booklet written by the students. Because many of the stories come from talking with people who were actually on the scene in those early days, I've learned a great deal, often from stories which I've never read anywhere else.
Over the next few weeks I'll share some of them here.
We should start with Joshua D. Brown, the founder of our community. The schoolchildren making the report talked with two of his nine children, Mrs. Alonzo Rees of Center Point, and Mr. Potter Brown of Kerrville.
Born in Virginia in 1816, Joshua Brown's first home in Texas was in Gonzales. There he met his future wife, Sarah Goss, as well as Major James Kerr, for whom our community is named.
In 1846 Brown moved to what is now Kerr County, one of the first settlers of this section. He came here with ten men, "locating on the river back of Henry Weiss' place, near the spring."  Today that would be near the parking lot on Water Street opposite the front door of the sanctuary of Notre Dame Catholic Church; on the river side of Water Street you'll notice the small stub of a street there, Spring Street, which is marked by a very lonely street sign.
According to the students' report, "In 1850 Mr. Brown moved to what is now known as the old Brown place, where he built the old log barn that has recently been torn down. Later he built another house which had a forty foot by twenty-five foot cellar which he lined with rock."
It's not exactly clear, but this "old Brown place" seems to have been near the present-day V. A. Medical Center. "This property stayed in the Brown family until 1921, when the old place was sold for the hospital at Legion."
"A tract of land, comprising of 100 acres, near the Mosty farm (then owned by the Jarmon family) was given to Nick Brown by his father, Joshua Brown," the report continues. The Mosty farm was on the eastern side of the Schreiner University campus, from what I remember. "He gave this to Mr. Jarmon for a horse. Much of Joshua Brown's land was sold for 50 cents an acre. Years and years after his death, blocks of land here and there throughout Kerrville were found to have been Mr. Brown's and never left his hands." 
The thing about these reports I find most endearing is their voice: you can tell, as you read them, they were written by some very erstwhile young students, eager to tell our community's story, and happy in the tasks Mrs. Franklin gave them.
Until next week, all the best.
Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who collects Kerrville and Kerr County historical items. A part of his collection, along with other folks' collections, is currently on display at the Kerr Arts and Cultural Center. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times July 21, 2012.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Joe - this book is available in Schreiner University's Logan Library Special Collections. Our copy looks quite a bit more worn though!


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