Monday, March 21, 2016

Forgotten Kerr County towns

Kerr County postal map, 1907.
Click to enlarge.
I enjoy studying old maps, especially when they contain a surprise or two.
Recently, I came across several old maps of Kerr County which noted a few things I wasn't expecting: town names for places which no longer exist.
These aren't maps from the 1800s, either -- they range in age from 1907 to the 1940s, so they're fairly recent. They're certainly recent enough to expect similarities to the places we know from current maps.
Take the community of Eura, for instance. That community still exists in the upper middle portion of the county. However, it goes by a different name now: Mountain Home. In most maps, including the 1907 map I found, it's called Mountain Home (or Mountainhome), but in a map from 1925, it is labeled Eura.
On several post office maps show other community names which no longer exist. Most of the post office maps were created, I suppose, to show where post offices were located.
If so, our county had several post offices which are now gone.
Kerr County map from the 1920s.
Click to enlarge
Take Pebble, for example. As I've reported earlier, "According to the Kerr County Album, 'the Pebble Post office was established in 1905. The location was the Sam Taylor property and it was situated between Camp Heart O' the Hills and Camp Mystic. A small room was enclosed on the end of the front porch. Ms. Emma Taylor was the postmistress. Mr. Cleve Griffin carried the mail on a horse called 'Ole Blue' and Mr. B. F. Merritt carried the mail on a horse called "Old Streeter." The horse pulled a buggy most of the time; It took all day to make the trip to Ingram and back to the Pebble post office.'
"There is some disagreement as to the exact location of the Pebble post office; some say between Heart o' The Hills and Camp Mystic; others near present-day Crider's. I really don't know where Pebble was. Perhaps a member of the Merritt family can help solve the mystery."
One of the early maps does show the exact location of Pebble, but unfortunately that portion of the map is obscured by a crease and a tear. With some patience, though, the mystery could be solved. It was on the south fork of the Guadalupe. Pebble appears in maps as late as the 1940s.
There was also a post office at Vix, which was about 10 miles west of Hunt on the north fork of the Guadalupe, in the mid-1880s. I haven't seen much information about Vix, but if it was 10 miles from Hunt on the north fork, it was between Camp Waldemar and Mo-Ranch.
Japonica was a community near Hunt, according to one map. Hunt is shown on the 1907 post office map, and just a little bit north, Japonica.
A different map, from 1920, shows two communities between Kerrville and Center Point: Parson and Split Rock. Parson was about where the Veterans Administration hospital stands today, and Split Rock was just past where the Kerrville Municipal airport is today. Parson could have been named for Dr. George Parsons, an early physician here who started the very first tuberculosis clinic, but I'm not sure; it could have been named for the Presbyterian Encampment which once stood where Schreiner University now stands. I think these were both train stops back when the old San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railroad ran between Kerrville and San Antonio.
Kerr County Map from the 1940s.
Click to enlarge.
In a 1940s map, the name Parson has been changed to Legion, and a new spot has been added between Kerrville and Legion -- Schreiner. I'm guessing it was Schreiner Institute, which may have had its own post office, and also had a stop on the rail line. As late as the 1940s Split Rock was shown on the map. I'm old enough to remember when the area near the V A Hospital was called Legion -- after the American Legion, who first built a hospital for veterans there in the 1920s.
There is one other place name I found on a 1908 map: Ganahl, which the map places between Center Point and Kerrville. I have a copy of a plat for Ganahl, on which lots and streets were designated. I don't think Ganahl ever got off the ground, though.
It was likely named for Dr. Charles Ganahl, who represented Kerr County in the secession convention just before Texas joined the Confederacy. He also happened to own the greatest number of slaves in the county in 1860 (24), which was almost half the slaves held here (49). His plan to use slave labor to grow cotton here obviously failed for several reasons, but the scheme to create a new community didn't fare much better.
A lot of the old maps misspell Camp Verde as Camp Verda. Even printers make mistakes sometimes.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who can get lost with or without a map.  This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times March19, 2016.

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