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Sunday, March 10, 2019

The Original Deed to a Legend

Faltin & Schreiner's original store, founded in 1869
Art by Harold Bugbee
Click on any image to enlarge

A long-time friend brought by an amazing historical Kerr County document this week -- and it contains a small mystery.
The deed to all properties fronting
the northwest side of
Earl Garrett Street, from
Main to Water streets.
On February 12, 1870, W. D. C. Burney sold 4 town lots in Kerrville to August Faltin and Charles Schreiner. The original deed for the transaction used a printed form, with the particulars filled in by hand, in a rustic Spencerian script common to 19th century Texas documents.
The handwriting, while beautiful, is a little hard to read.
W. D. C. Burney was an early Kerr County pioneer, and served as our county's very first sheriff, from 1856-1857. He also invested in town lots, buying them from the founder of Kerrville, Joshua D. Brown.
August Faltin was a merchant who lived in Comfort, Texas, and provided capital to a young Charles Schreiner to open a store in downtown Kerrville. That store was known, initially, as Faltin & Schreiner, and opened on Christmas Eve, 1869.
The location of that first store was recorded in an interview Charles Schreiner gave to J. E. Grinstead: "It was a small beginning, just a little cypress shack that stood where my residence now stands."
That means the first store stood about where the Charles and Magdalena Schreiner Mansion now stands on Earl Garrett Street. The first store was only 16x18 feet, but it was the beginning of a string of very successful businesses for the Schreiner family.
The deed my kind friend brought me shows that Burney sold Faltin & Schreiner lots 104-106 and 114 in the "Town of Kerrsville." Faltin & Schreiner paid 150 "Coin" dollars for the lots; paper money was probably either in short supply or not to be fully trusted.
In my office I have several old maps showing the various blocks and lots of "Kerrsville" as it was originally platted. I've checked several, and if I'm reading them correctly, the lots purchased by Faltin & Schreiner faced what is now Earl Garrett Street, and stretched from Main Street to Water Street.
To orient you, that means the business partners bought property along Earl Garrett Street starting at the Kerr Arts and Cultural Center, continuing to the Schreiner Mansion, and ending with a portion of the current Schreiner Building, about where Keri Kropp Design currently displays goods and furnishings in the corner of the old Schreiner Company building, facing Water Street.
And now for the mystery:
If Faltin & Schreiner opened their store on Christmas Eve, 1869, but purchased the land on which the store stood on February 12, 1870 -- were they originally tenants of Mr. Burney? It's apparent they did not own the land on which that first store stood -- at least for 49 days.
There are several plausible explanations for the delay. Perhaps they'd come to an agreement on sale of the lots, but one or more of the parties was unavailable to complete the transaction. Perhaps the partners had to collect $150 in coin. Those details are lost to time.
Schreiner eventually bought out Faltin's interest in the store. Schreiner later built his home on a portion of several of the lots; where the Kerr Arts and Cultural Center stands today was originally a garden, with a big greenhouse. The store was built on another of the lots, and then expanded to face Water Street.
Having the original deed to what are now so many iconic parcels of downtown Kerrville is simply amazing, and I'm thankful to the kind person who brought them by.
Until next week, all the best.

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Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who enjoys the historical treasures that come his way. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times March 9, 2019.

Joe's latest book is selling well!  You can get your copy at Wolfmueller's Books, Herring Printing Company, or online by clicking HERE.  (PS: he's offering a discount online.)

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