Thursday, September 27, 2012

Kerrville in 1873

If ever there was a time machine which could take one back to Kerrville's earliest days, it was a little booklet written by schoolchildren and published in 1931 to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the founding of Kerr County.  I was loaned a copy of the booklet by Steve Meeker. 
The stories in it were written for a class in Texas History taught by Mrs. Kate Franklin at the Franklin Junior High School, and very many of the stories were written from interviews with some of our community's earliest settlers.
Take, for instance, this account of Albert Enderle, which is found in the booklet, to which I'll add a few notes to help you place the descriptions of early Kerrville:
"I came to Kerrville in the fall of 1873. The town was very small, there being about 20 of 25 houses, I suppose. Captain Joseph A. Tivy's house [at the intersection of Main and Tivy Streets] was at the outskirts of the town on that side. His field ran from Main Street down Tivy Street to Water Street and down to Quinlan Creek.
"From the ice plant [about where One Schreiner Center is today] down to B. A. Davey's place was also in a field; that is from Water Street to the river. This field belonged to Christian Dietert.
"Mr. Stanford had a field between Earl Garrett Street and Washington Street from Jefferson Street to the hill. Mr. Stanford's home was about where Ernest Schwethelm's home now is.
"Mr. Sanbolle had a field from Washington Street extending about halfway between Washington and Tivy Streets, running up the hill. He lived on Jefferson Street, about where L. T. Davis lives now.
"D. Michon had a field between Sidney Baker Street and Clay Street, from the railroad track up to the old cemetery."  [The Michons, by the way, were from Louisiana, and might have had an influence on the original name of the street we now call Sidney Baker Street -- in those days it was called 'Tchoupitoulas' Street.]
"The land between Quinlan Street and Town Creek was covered with timber. It was owned by Mr. Bowman, who later sold it to Dr. G. R. Parsons and Capt. Charles Schreiner. Dr. Parsons took the upper part, which is called Parsons' Addition.
"Christian Dietert had a sawmill where the ice plant is now [the Ice Plant was about where One Schreiner Center is today]. Lots of cypress logs were scattered about the place which were sawed into lumber. The Post Office was back of the Wall residence near the river [near today's Spring Street]. The mail was brought on horseback about twice a week from Comfort. Mr. Dietert was postmaster for about 20 years.
"Faltin & Schreiner had a store where the Charles Schreiner Company is now. It was a lumber building about 16 by 30 feet with a shed room about 8 by 30 feet.
"The court house was a one room log house about half way between Sidney Baker and Earl Garrett Streets, facing Jefferson Street. The jail was about 30 feet back from the site of the present jail. The jail was a small rock building of two stories. The prisoners were let down with a ladder and the ladder was pulled up again. It was enclosed with cedar posts about 24 or 15 feet high and the posts were pointed at the top.
"Mr. and Mrs. Hughs had a boarding house where the Dixie Theatre now is [about where Rivers Edge Gallery is today, in the 800 block of Water Street]. The land where the First State Bank is, up to as far as the Texas Power & Light building, was all covered with cedar poles [starting from the middle of the 800 block of Water Street, about where the Kerrville Telephone switching office is today, and heading toward Main Street].
"John E. Ochse had a store where the Catholic Church is [that is, the old Notre Dame sanctuary, at the corner of Washington and Main Street]. S. B. Spotts had a saloon where the W. B. Brown building is [at the corner of Earl Garrett and Main Streets, on the corner diagonally opposite the Kerr Arts and Cultural Center].
"The only amusement was parties or dances at private homes and going to church. After the county built the court house [in 1876], which later was used as the old jail, they held dances there.
"The town did not grow very much until about 1880.
"In 1878 Capt. Schreiner bought out Mr. Faltin's interest in the store and continued the business. In the winter of 1881 and 1882 he built the rock store about 30 by 80 feet and later added more to it. About 1887 we got the railroad and from then on the town began to spread and has been growing steadily ever since. I think the electric lights were installed about 1891 or 1892.
"Many herds of cattle were driven up Water Street, from 2,000 to 3,000 in a herd made their way to Kansas. A. Rassberg kept a blacksmith shop at the driveway to the ice plant [about where One Schreiner Center is today] and his home was on the present site of the Blue Bonnet Hotel [about where the parking lot between One Schreiner Center and the now-vacant Bank of America building is today]. At that time this was the most elaborate home in town. W. A. Spencer owned all of the property where the Peterson Garage is now located [today this site has the parking building at the intersection of Water and Sidney Baker Streets]."
I suppose the surprising parts to me were the number of fields mentioned, the cedar poles in the 800 block of Water, and the large herds once driven right down the middle of Water Street.
Until next week, all the best.
Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who is often surprised by the things he learns about early Kerrville and Kerr County. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times September 22, 2012.


  1. Could a nice Map be drawn from this description?
    --Dana Lowe

  2. This is interesting.

    "D. Michon had a field between Sidney Baker Street and Clay Street, from the railroad track up to the old cemetery."

    To which cemetery does this passage refer?


    1. The railroad track was along North/Schreiner Street; Sidney Baker and Clay are still in the same spot. I think the cemetery mentioned is the Mountain View Cemetery, just downhill from Tivy Stadium.

  3. Joe, glad to see you back in the saddle. We missed you. Take care.

  4. Would the John E. Ochse store be the mystery building in your post from a couple of months back?

  5. If anyone is interested in viewing or reading this booklet, "Kerr County," we have it at Schreiner University's Logan Library. It is located in the Hill Country Collection, so it can't be taken out of the building. Please contact us if you would like to view it.


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