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Sunday, October 2, 2022

The Story Behind Two Kerrville Streets

Emmett Rodriguez and Francisco Lemos, 1918.
Click on any image to enlarge.

Francisco Lemos died on September 15, 1918 during World War I – a little over 100 years ago. I was thinking about him this week, and one of the two photographs in my collection I have of him.
For those who do not know, Private Francisco Lemos was on scout duty with Company G, of the 168th Infantry, 42nd Division, in the Saint-Mihiel Sector, about 1,500 yards northeast of the Louisville Farm, when a German high explosive shell killed him instantly. That same shell injured another soldier from Kerrville, his friend Emmettt Rodriguez, who survived the explosion.
Francisco Lemos had been in France with his regiment for only a short time, and the Battle of Saint-Mihiel was his first engagement. He was 30 years old when he died.
Lemos, who was born in San Diego, Texas, on December 7, 1887, volunteered for service in Kerr County, where he worked for the Schreiner Cattle and Sheep Company in Mountain Home. His nickname was ‘Quico,’ which is pronounced Kee-koh.
In honor of his sacrifice, the citizens of Kerrville named a street after Francisco Lemos. (Two other fallen soldiers from World War I were also honored with streets named in their honor: Sidney Baker, and Earl Garrett. All three died in the last months of the war.)
Looking at one of the two photographs I have of Francisco Lemos, I noticed one includes his friend, Emmettt Rodriguez.
Calvary Baptist, 1940s
Did you know there’s a street in Kerrville named in honor of the Rodriguez family and their long service to Kerr County?
This is from the “Kerr County Album,” a wonderful book published in the 1980s by the Kerr County Historical Commission:
“Emmett V. Rodriguez was born to a noted pioneer Hill Country family, in Bandera, Texas, on July 14, 1895. His grandfather was the famous Indian fighter, Army scout, Mason, Guide, Surveyor, rancher, and Methodist minister, ‘Polly’ Rodriguez.”
Calvary Baptist, 1970s
When the U. S. entered World War I, Emmett Rodriguez was one of the first young men to volunteer, at age 17.
The shell that killed Francisco Lemos injured Emmett Rodriguez. For the rest of his life, he had difficulty hearing, but that did not stop him from serving his community.
Soon after returning to Kerrville, Emmett Rodriguez began studying to become a minister. His professor was Dr. Felix Buldain, of Baylor University. In 1921, he was ordained as a minister, and became pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Kerrville, where he served 40 years as pastor, and 10 years as pastor emeritus.
He was tireless in his work for Spanish-speaking churches in the region. He helped establish Baptist missions in Rocksprings, Junction, Mountain Home, the Y.O. Ranch, Center Point, Comfort, Bandera, and Fredericksburg.
He married Maria Garcia on December 30, 1920. She, too, was active in our community, teaching three generations in her private bilingual kindergarten – which was one of the first bilingual kindergartens in Texas, which started in 1935.
Mary and Matias Rodriguez
The couple had four children: Emmett, Jr.; Matias; Elias; and Adelaide. All were born in Kerrville. Of the four children, I knew Matias best – he, like his father, was a longtime pastor at Kerrville’s Calvary Baptist Church. I graduated from Tivy with his son, David.
When Emmett Rodriguez Sr. passed away, on March 28, 1973, the City of Kerrville renamed Houston Street to Rodriguez Street in his family’s honor. Rodriguez Street once stretched from Water Street to McFarland Street, and parts of the street remain today, despite development and construction along its path.
Emmett Rodriguez

I've heard a story about the moments before the shell exploded that killed Lemos and injured Rodriguez, about how Francisco Lemos was singing as the scouting party proceeded along carefully, walking through a muddy field in the rain. I'd like to think the story is true, and that Lemos died singing quietly, singing a song of home.
If it’s true, one of the last things Emmett Rodriguez heard clearly was the singing voice of his friend, as the two of them walked in the rain in France.
Until next week, all the best.

Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who needs to lose a few pounds. This column originally appeared in the Kerrville Daily Times October 1, 2022.

You can help by sharing this story with someone, by forwarding it by email, or sharing it on Facebook. Sharing is certainly caring. (I also have two Kerr County history books available online, with free shipping!)


  1. Wow.. what a beautiful story. Thank you for all the long hours, reasearch and time you spend bringing our history to life.

  2. I did not know the story behind this so interesting

  3. Truly enjoy these stories of our history's past


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