Monday, July 9, 2012

Kerrville history on display

A few of the items to be displayed
For the past several weeks Lanza Teague, Julius Neunhoffer, other members of the Kerr County Historical Commission, along with yours truly, have been preparing a show of historical items which will be on display at the Kerr Arts and Cultural Center (the old post office) from July 12th through August 5. Though the show doesn't "officially" start until next Thursday, I have a feeling many of the items will be on display as early as Tuesday the 10th.
The show will feature artifacts, photographs, maps, and memorabilia which tell the story of our community.
As with all exhibits at the Kerr Arts and Cultural Center, there is no admission to see the presentation. It's free and open to the public.
I've been reviewing the show list, and I am impressed. This will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see some of these items, since most of them are in private collections and are rarely exhibited in public.
Kerr Arts and
Cultural Center
As you know I have a particular fondness for Kerrville and Kerr County photographs. Among the images I'll be displaying from my collection are a portrait of James Kerr, the man for whom Kerrville and Kerr County are named. I'll be showing a portrait of Joshua D. Brown, his wife Sarah, and their youngest child, scanned from the original tintype photograph. (Brown is the man who founded Kerrville and asked that it be named for his friend, James Kerr.) Other notable Kerr citizens whose portraits will be displayed during the show: Joseph A. Tivy, Charles Schreiner as a young man, Florence Butt (who founded a well-known grocery store), and Mr. and Mrs. Sid Peterson.
Ms. Teague will be displaying extremely rare photograph of the Gregory Hotel, which was on the corner of Water and Tchoupitoulas Streets; the hotel was later purchased by J. L. Pampell, turned into a confectionery and renamed Pampell's. (And Tchoupitoulas Street was renamed after a local boy who died in the First World War, Sidney Baker.)
Mr. Nuenhoffer has a number of interesting items he's considering for the show. Among the items I believe he'll be displaying are some desks from an early Kerr County school, perhaps some of the original fencing from the 1876 Kerr County Courthouse, and some very early surveying equipment.
One thing that separates this show from many others I've seen will be the maps on display. Ms. Teague has a 1924 survey map; Mr. Neunhoffer has reproductions of the earliest surveys of our county.
I'll be displaying a number of Sanborn maps of our downtown area. Sanborn maps are interesting because they show where the buildings stood and what businesses were where. The earliest Sanborn map on display will be from 1898; the latest, 1924. In reviewing the maps in sequence, you'll see the downtown area as it changed and grew.
The consistent thought I've had as we prepare for this show is this: our community needs a museum. Not just so folks like Lanza, Julius, and I can display our treasures, but also where young people can learn about our community's past.
As I've studied various efforts to create a community museum I've found that most times the desire for a museum never got beyond the "talking about it" phase.
Two notable exceptions exist, of course: Mrs. R. A. Franklin's junior high class actually displayed a collection for several years at the school, back in the 1930s, and of course Mrs. Josephine Schreiner Parker's tireless efforts to create a museum in Capt. Charles Schreiner's downtown home.
No one is sure what happened to the items collected by Mrs. Franklin's class; I'm afraid they are now lost to the winds of time. Mrs. Parker's collection (or, rather, the collection of the Hill Country Preservation Society) is now a part of the Schreiner University library collection.
Yet there are many others who gathered together materials for a museum who never saw their dream accomplished. The late J. J. Starkey, a former editor and publisher of this newspaper, who collected many items from the pioneer era, comes to mind. He published many columns asking for the relics of our history to be gathered together. I'd certainly love to see what he saw. He was so much closer to our community's beginnings than am I.
The items I've collected, for instance, range from the 1880s to the 1970s. So far I have not found a willing, secure, and suitable home for the collection, though I continue to work to find one. I know Ms. Carolyn doesn't want them to come to our house.
As for the upcoming show at the Kerr Arts and Cultural Center: I hope you'll stop by and see some of the items on display. I believe you'll see a collection which reflects our community's past and heritage. And you can't beat the admission price: free.
Until next week, all the best.
Joe Herring Jr. is a  Kerrville native who is hard at work on his second book, an illustrated collection of more than a few of his newspaper columns. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times July 7, 2012.


  1. If I didn't live thousands of miles from Kerrville, I would attend the show's opening.

    I, too, believe that Kerrville needs a museum.

    It could be built where the old Schreiner Bank once existed.

    Demolish the existing bank building and build one that has the "look" of 1800's Kerrville.

    Hire a curator and staff to maintain it, (not open on Sunday - perhaps not open on Sunday and Monday).

    Form a board to oversee the entire system.

    Now, who would pay for such a treasure, the citizens, or local government?

    No, Kerr County has many wealthy people, and one or more of them could create a legacy for themselves by funding such a blessing to Kerrville.

    Ok, I have solved that problem, but here's a question about a different matter.

    On June 3, 2012, ten free copies of an "extremely rare copy of the Kerrville Mountain Sun, the Christmas 1899 edition" were offered to the public.

    I'm wondering if, and hoping that a .pdf version is now available.

    Joe, please say yes.

    Thank you.

    1. The big problem is this: the size of the PDF is HUGE. I haven't figured out a way to post it where folks with average Internet connections would be able to download it. If I make the file zize smaller, then the words are too hard to read. I'm still working on this, but I don't have a good solution yet.

  2. Would it be economically feasible to print and sell the document?


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