New Kerr County History Book Available!

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Ladies on Horseback Sought Christmas Gift for Kerrville.

The restored Union Church, on the Schreiner University Campus,
after a snowfall, 2003
History can be made even during the busy holiday season, as I found in my dusty files:
Not many know that churches in our community also had their beginnings during the Christmas season.
Although Joshua Brown and his crew of shingle makers arrived in our area in 1846, settling permanently in 1848, the first church buildings in Kerrville weren’t built until 1885 with the completion of the Union Church.
Union Church, 1914
The Union Church’s story is interesting to me for several reasons, because the building was shared by four congregations.
Considering that it took our community so long to build churches – almost 40 years – a generation of Kerrville residents had grown up in a community without a church building.
In 1876 the Kerr County Commissioners Court approved the use of the county courtroom for “use as a place of worship of Almighty God,” but this arrangement, for several reasons, “wasn’t satisfactory.” The court’s order stipulated that the sheriff be paid $5 per day for the use of the courtroom, and that “no distinction shall be made between associations, sects, classes, or denominations of the community.”
Union Church, ca. 1955
This experiment was not successful, and was soon abandoned.
In 1885, according to Bob Bennett, “Mrs. Whitfield Scott, who had come to Kerr County with her husband Captain Whitfield Scott, a Confederate veteran, and her sister, Miss Laura Gill, who later became Mrs. William Gray Garrett, began to solicit funds for the building of a Union Church. They were later joined in this work by Mrs. J. M. Starkey, a Methodist, and Mrs. Adeline Coleman, a member of the Christian denomination.
“These ladies went from house to house on horseback and wrote appealing articles in newspapers of that day to stimulate interest. There appears in the Christian Observer, a Presbyterian publication, in 1885, an article under the title “An Urgent Call,” which told how the youth of Kerrville were growing up without religion training, how there was no place of worship…, and how valuable a church would be to the growing community.”
Union Church, on Lemos Street
around 1970
According to an article published in the Kerrville Times in March, 1928, “Mrs. Scott and Miss Gill drove from house to house, not only in Kerrville, but throughout the county soliciting funds. It was hard work. People were poor, some did not believe in churches.”
The ladies were persistent, and ultimately successful.
Two lots were given by Capt. Charles Schreiner for the construction of the church in September, 1885; the lots were located on Clay Street, across the street from Pioneer Bank. A convenience store and gas station are on the site today.
The original church cost $190 to build, which was the low bid presented by A. Allen & Co. The building was completed just before Christmas, 1885.
 Union Church, 2002, in its
current location
“For several years thereafter, all denominations held services in the Union Church. It was agreed that the Methodist Church should use the building the first Sunday of every month; the Presbyterian the second Sunday; the Baptist the third; and the Christian Church the fourth Sunday. After 1914, when the other denominations had erected their own places of worship, the Christian Church began to use the building.” The building was deeded to the First Christian Church in September, 1925.
Years later, the building was moved to Lemos Street, and when I was a boy housed an Army Navy Surplus store where a generation of children bought camping gear.
Then the Friends of the Kerr County Historical Commission restored the church, and it now resides on the corner of the campus of Schreiner University, moving from its original lots donated by Captain Schreiner, next to Lemos Street, and finally to a corner site on the college campus which bears his name.
I suppose at Christmastime back in 1885 there was a lot of rejoicing in the new church building. As you visit your church during this time, take a moment to remember those determined women, riding house to house on horseback, working to build the community’s first church.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who remembers his father today, who was born on December 14, 1936. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times December 14, 2019.

I have two books available, both filled with historic photographs of Kerr County.  Both books are available at Wolfmueller's BooksHerring Printing Company, and online by clicking HERE.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please remember this is a rated "family" blog. Anything worse than a "PG" rated comment will not be posted. Grandmas and their grandkids read this, so please, be considerate.



Related Posts with Thumbnails