Monday, October 14, 2013

A centennial celebration: Clarabelle Snodgrass turns 100

Well over 100 people joined together Saturday to wish
Clarabelle Snodgrass a very happy 100th birthday.
There are several people in our community who know a lot more about local history than I, and one of them, Clarabelle Snodgrass, celebrates her 100th birthday today.

The event will be held at the Western Hills Baptist Church’s Fellowship Hall, at 2010 Goat Creek Road, from 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday. The invitation reads “your presence is your gift; cards appreciated.” Everyone who loves Kerrville history is invited to attend.

Mrs. Snodgrass is the foremost historian of our county. Among her many accomplishments are the publication of the “Kerr County Album,” which so many of us use as a resource; spearheading the effort to save the Tivy School, which is now the home of the Kerrville Independent School District’s administrative offices; and many interesting articles and books about our local history.

Her most recent book, “The Last Bale of Hay,” was published last year and tells the story of her early years here, and of her family, especially her parents. The book is available at Wolfmueller’s Books, at 229 Earl Garrett St.

I’m very impressed by Mrs. Snodgrass’ memory — she can remember where everything was, who worked where, who lived where, and even what happened when. I can barely remember what I had for breakfast this morning.

The book is written in an easy style, as if you were sitting in Mrs. Snodgrass’ living room, listening to her tell you a story.

And the stories she tells! A whole parade of Kerr County characters pass through the pages of her book. Her family, of course, but also others like several of the Schreiners, Starr Bryden, John Leavell, the family of Florence Butt, the Bernhards making sausage around a table, stories about Pampell’s, about her neighbors in town, and about local schools.

Mrs. Snodgrass attended the Turtle Creek School, starting in the winter of 1921, when she finished first grade there. Her teacher was Miss Hattie James. While there, she was promoted from second to fourth grade.

During her fifth grade year, Kerr County lacked the funds to pay a teacher for a full school term at Turtle Creek, so young Clarabelle attended the Scofield School for Girls for several months. That school was on the hill where Highways 16 and 173 split south of town, one heading to Medina, the other to Bandera. The old school building is still there, though in sad disrepair.

She attended Tivy in 1926, and graduated in 1930.

She got her driver’s license at 13, given special permission to drive so young since she needed to travel from Turtle Creek to Tivy to attend school, driving a Ford coupe with one seat inside and a rumble seat outside in the back.

Her memories of life in the 1920s and 1930s in Kerr County are quite remarkable. Though her childhood was really not that long ago, life was so different then. Her family’s ties to agriculture — both in ranching, farming, and in the bountiful gardens they raised — gave young Clarabelle so many happy memories. The stories of neighbors, both in the country and in town, reflect a simpler time, when neighbors spent time with each other, and joined in working together.

And now the girl who grew up on Turtle Creek is a centenarian! I hope you’ll stop by and congratulate her.

Reader request: Information about Francisco Lemos, Sidney Baker, and Earl Garrett wanted:

I had an interesting visit from Bill Sloan, of Dallas, who is busy at work on a history of three local boys who gave their lives for their country — Lemos, Baker, and Garrett — and for whom Kerrville streets are named. While other Kerr County boys died in World War I, those three were honored in this way.

Sloan, who served as managing editor of the Kerrville Daily Times in the early 1960s, has written several books of military history, and he’s long been fascinated by the story of the Kerrville trio. I know he’d appreciate your help.

If you have information about any of those three doughboys, please contact Sloan at 214-388-3653, or by email,

Milestone: I was saddened to learn of the passing of one of my favorite high school teachers, Ms. Kathleen Akin. Ms. Akin attempted to teach me English during my junior and senior years, building upon the work of Maud Jennings, Margaret Syers and Helen Eisaman. Each of my former English teachers tried, in vain, to teach me how to construct a sentence.

Ms. Akin inspired her students by introducing them to literature, encouraging concise, clear writing, and by her obvious love of the English language. Getting a good grade in her class required hard work, and plenty of it. I learned much from her, and I hope it shows.

The many mistakes I make writing this column are my own; whatever good comes the patient work of those four women: Jennings, Syers, Eisaman and Akin.

Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who collects Kerrville and Kerr County historical items, especially photographs. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times on October 12, 2013.

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