Saturday, February 1, 2014

Captain Joseph Tivy photograph mystery

A wagon bearing the name Capt. Jos. A. Tivy
Where was the photograph taken?
Mysteries -- local history mysteries -- come across my print shop desk most days. This particular one came in the form of a very (very) dark negative.  It was so dark the image was not visible to the naked eye.  I was doubtful about my chances, but I put it in my trusty scanner and adjusted the settings to a level likely to coax an image from the old film.
What was there surprised me: a wagon bearing the name of Captain Tivy.  It is decorated with flags, as if for a parade.  I wondered where the shot was taken, and I wondered when it was taken.
The building didn't look like any building in Kerrville I recognized, but it did remind me of a building I remembered in Fredericksburg, an old house at 243 Main Street.

243 Main Street, Fredericksburg, from Google Street View.
Checking closely between the two buildings, I noticed the balconies were different.  But in all other ways they appeared to be the same, down to the number of stones from the roof to the porches, and the supports under the eaves.  I'm satisfied the photograph was taken in Fredericksburg, and that the wagon was participating in a parade.
Captain Tivy died in 1892, though this picture might date after that time.  Wagons aren't buried with their owners, so it's entirely possible this shot was after 1892.  But I'd like to think it was taken in 1892 or earlier, and I'd like to think Capt. Tivy was holding the reins.
So why would Tivy have a wagon in Fredericksburg?
It could be he drove it over for the parade.
Or -- again, this is speculation -- it could have been in Gillespie County in conjunction with Captain Tivy's real estate development, Tivydale.
Captain Tivy sold tracts in "Tivydale" from about 1877 to 1885.  Perhaps this wagon was a part of that effort, used to transport prospective buyers out to see the property.
If anyone knows the age of the house at 243 Main in Fredericksburg, that might be a clue; another might be when they added the second floor to the building just to the left of the house.  In the old photograph, that left building is only one story high; in the new image, you can see the outline of the old one-story building.
I'm thinking there's a chance the photo was taken in 1886, the fortieth anniversary of the founding of Fredericksburg; the 110th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.  Again, that's just a guess.
If you have an idea, let me know in the comments section below.
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  1. Hi Joe,

    I love this old photo.

    Hoping to find the age of the building, I went to the Gillespie County Appraisal District's online system

    and did a search, but I couldn't find that address. I then went to Google Map and found the house that you displayed, however it appears to have a different street address. The building to its right is listed as #254, and the # on the house that you displayed appears to be 252. However, I'm not certain because the Google photo was a bit blurry. Either way, I couldn't find the age of the house.

    I did find something interesting though. The house at 101 North Lincoln appears to be identical to the house you showed us (although it's been updated). For some reason, 132 North Lincoln will take you to the same house.

    For you to be able to find the identical house in Fredericksburg that matches the house in that old photo is uncanny. In addition to calling you the Kerr County Historian, we will have to call you the Kerr County Savant.

    (Note: On Google, I found numerous definitions of the word "savant." My meaning, when referencing you is: "An expert or wise person"). :)

    Great work, Joe. I enjoyed trying to learn more about the house.

    It was fun, fun, fun.

  2. I always wondered the details behind the name "Tivydale", now I know, thanks once again for your awesome detective work Mr. Herring!

  3. According to Old Homes and Buildings of Fredericksburg by Elise Kowert (1977), the Keidel home and adjacent Drug Store were built on Townlot 179. Dr. Albert Keidel and his wife bought the property on May 21, 1881, for $1,800 from Wilke & Koennecke. Wilke's will dated 7-11-1862 gives the following to his wife, "Townlot 179 with all improvements thereon; household stuff, furniture and tools, outstanding debts . . . " A blacksmith shop was located west of the house when Frederick Wilke (blacksmith) owned the lot from 12-31-1860 to its sale to the Keidels in 1881. Dr. Albert Keidel is credited with having the 2 story building west of the house built (enlarged?) in 1909 for medical offices upstairs and the Drug Store downstairs. Prices for the lot before and at the Wilke purchase seem to indicate it was a vacant or near vacant lot ($135 in 1858 and again in 1860). So it would seem the house was built sometime between 1860 and 1862. Hope this is helpful, Joe. Lynn in Fredericksburg

  4. Other than selling lots, how did Captain Tivy earn his living?

    He was a man of property, but I don't recall his profession.

  5. Before asking about Captain Tivy's profession, I should have searched the internet. On the web I found a treasure trove of information pertaining to Captain Tivy.

  6. Joe--the house is currently owned by Kurt Keidel who was raised here in Kerrville. His father was a local dentist. I think Kurt is currently in the process of restoring the house.and at least one of his sister's and possibly his mother still live here in Kerrville.


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