New Kerr County History Book Available!

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Wow. H-E-B and the H. E. Butt Foundation made a huge donation for our community.

Kerrville's new H-E-B store under construction, June 2020.
The store includes a replica of the original 1905 grocery store Florence Butt opened here.
Click on any image to enlarge.

Last Tuesday, during grand opening ceremonies for Kerrville’s new H-E-B store, representatives from the H. E. Butt Grocery Company and the H. E. Butt Foundation presented two checks to the Friends of the Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library; each check was for $500,000. These two gifts were for the creation of Heart of the Hills Heritage Center, a project designed to tell the story of our community in a museum setting.
According to a press release on the H-E-B corporate website, “H-E-B will make a $500,000 gift to the Friends of the Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library, which the H.E. Butt Foundation will match. The $1 million gift will support the creation of The Heart of the Hills Heritage Center, a sustainable history and heritage museum that will interpret the rich history of Kerrville and the surrounding area.
“When we learned that H-E-B was celebrating the new store grand opening with a generous gift to the Hills Heritage Center on the Campus of the Butt-Holdsworth Memorial Library, the H. E. Butt Foundation Board of Directors voted to match the company’s generosity to this project,” David Rogers, President of the H.E. Butt Foundation. “A gift of this nature seemed like an appropriate way for us to support the Butt family history and legacy in Kerrville.”
Gentle Reader, consider me thrilled. 
J. J. Starkey (left) with
Charles Real
The idea of creating a history museum for our community has been around since the late 1920s, when a group of middle school students, as part of Mrs. Kate Franklin’s Texas history class, collected local historical items, interviewed families of the early settlers of our community, and wrote a 52-page history of Kerr County.
The items they collected were later displayed in the “Kate Franklin Museum” in 1936. The museum created by the students was placed in the Franklin Junior High School, which was part of the school campus in the Tivy and Barnett streets area, and remained on display there for many years. When the rooms occupied by their museum were needed for instruction, the school is said to have returned many of the items to the families which donated them.
The students were not alone in dreaming of a local history museum.
Clarabelle Snodgrass

J. J. Starkey, who was editor and publisher of this newspaper, also pushed for the creation of a Kerr County Museum, and organized a collection of local historical items to display. In looking through old issues of the Kerrville Times I find many pleas by Mr. Starkey for items for the proposed museum, in articles published from the early 1930s through the early 1940s.
Mr. Starkey's father had been Kerr County's "Chief Justice," or county judge, during the Civil War; J. J. Starkey was born here in 1870. I'd consider both men Kerr County pioneers.
In many newspaper issues he noted what had been donated to the "museum collection" and by whom. In December 1935 he reported a place had been found for the collection in the home of Bert C. Parsons. "Mr. and Mrs. Parsons are on the premises practically all of the time," Starkey wrote, "and articles brought in will be as well safe-guarded as in any museum."
The Parsons lived in a house near where the Founders Tree stands today, next to our print shop.
Dodo Parker
Photo by Ridge Floyd
In the mid-1970s, Josephine “Dodo” Schreiner Parker led the creation of the Hill Country Preservation Society, a museum housed in the home of her great-grandfather, Charles Schreiner. She and hundreds of volunteers worked hard on their museum, and it served our community as a viable history center for over three decades. In 2009, the building was donated to Schreiner University, which later sold or donated most of the historical items in the collection in a jumble sale at the old Union Church. The building is currently owned by the Cailloux Foundation, which operates it as a ‘historic house museum’ and event center.
Others who have dreamt of having a local history museum were Clarabelle Snodgrass and Michael Bowlin; both now gone from us. They were dedicated local historians who carefully preserved important stories of our community’s past.
The Heart of the Hills Heritage Center is led by a group of volunteers interested in our region’s history. Its chairman, Dr. William Rector, has worked very hard to guide the board toward building a sustainable museum. It is a 501(c)3 charitable organization.
A. C. and Myrta Schreiner
home, Kerrville

The Center will tell more than just the stories of the early settlers here – exhibits are planned on the geology of our area, of the fossil record which can be found here, of the Native American groups which preceded those first Kerr County ‘settlers’ by more than ten thousand years.
And now, thanks to the generosity of H-E-B and the H. E. Butt Foundation, this long-held dream of a local history museum may actually come to pass. I’m very grateful for their generosity.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who learned this week that Greg Nichols, the general manager of our local H-E-B stores, can really keep a secret. I had no inkling of the announcement of such a wonderful donation.

This newsletter is free, but not inexpensive to produce.  You can help by forwarding it to folks who might find it interesting.  And it's holiday time -- my Kerr County coffee-table books make wonderful gifts.

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