Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Davey & Schott

My most recent post about Weston Farm got me thinking about B. F. Davey & Bruno Schott, the builders of the house.  Davey & Schott was a prominent construction company in the late 19th and early 20th century in and around Kerr County, including projects in neighboring counties. Bruno Schott proudly said his buildings were built to last.
Some of the structures they built in Kerr County that still stand include:
Charles Schreiner Mansion
The 1890 Tivy school (now the administration building for the Kerrville Independent School District)
The 1890 Weston Building 
The 1905 Weston Farm
The 1909 building at 715 Water Street
The ca 1910-1914 building at 1312 Water Street
The 1914 Peterson-Kennedy house, 840 Earl Garrett Street
The 1916 Zion Lutheran Church
The 1887 Guthrie Building, 241 Earl Garrett 

In an interview in 1939 Schott claimed to have built every building on Water Street but one. He also said he built 3/4 of the residences in the city, including houses for four members of the Schreiner family. Many are gone now, but I will add to this list as I learn of others still standing.

Benjamin F. Davey passed away in 1942 in Kimble County and is buried at Glen Rest. By 1924 Wilhelm Bruno Schott had formed a partnership with J. E. McCreary. Schott passed away August 1949 and is also buried in Glen Rest.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Weston Farm

The 1905 Weston farm house, located on East Main Street, is now part of the Schreiner University campus, the university having taken possession of the house and surrounding acreage in 2012.
Malachi F. "Mack" Weston was the original owner of the house. It remained in the family for more than a century before its transferred to Schreiner.

The first mention of the property is in the March 4, 1905, Kerrville Mountain Sun, which reads,
"Davey & Schott have secured the contract to erect a modern stone residence for Mr. M. F. Weston, on his property recently purchased from the Harris estate east of the city.  Work will begin at once."

Davey & Schott was a prominent builder in Kerrville. The work must indeed have begun "at once", because the July 29, 1905, Kerrville Mountain Sun reported a surprise party was held at the "beautiful new home of Mr. and Mrs. M. F. Weston east of town" just four and a half months later. He lived here the rest of his life, passing away at the age of 89 in 1961.

The house originally had expansive sleeping porches on three sides, but one side was later enclosed to allow year-round use.

At the time the house was built Mack Weston operated the Ranch Saloon downtown.  Today the building houses Francisco's Restaurant. Later he ran the Favorite Saloon. In 1914 he began to diversify his business interests by buying the Overland auto dealership. By 1922 the Boeckmann & Weston garage sold and serviced Hupmobile and Dodge automobiles.  His January 1962 obituary reported he was involved in stock farmimg, the automobile and real estate business for the previous half century.

The fireplace is made of local rock.

Beautiful herringbone pattern in ceiling.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Polly's Fort

J. P. "Polly" Rodriguez erected a house of limestone rock on the banks of Privilege Creek in Bandera County. The ruins of the house are on private property. The current owner said it was burned by vandals several decades ago.  It was called the Fort because of its design and because people in the community sought refuge there during Indian raids.  Rodriguez built not only this sturdy house by himself, but constructed a high rock wall all around his property. Read more here.
To learn more about Polly, Texas, go here

Ruins of Polly's Fort.

Remains of Polly's rock wall.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Polly's Chapel

It is thought the charming rock 1882 Polly's Chapel was built almost entirely by hand by J. P. Rodriguez after he converted to Methodism and became a preacher.  It isn't usually adorned with sky blue ribbons. A wedding was about to take place.
The property has a Texas historical marker.
To learn more go here.

The cornerstone, April 17, 1882.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Polly's School House

A couple of months ago a friend and I had an outing to Pipe Creek to visit the old community of Polly, Texas. This beautiful valley along Privilege Creek in Bandera County was discovered by J. P. Rodriguez in 1858 and subsequently purchased by him. The settlement that grew up once contained a school, chapel, cemetery, general store and post office. Polly's Fort, his home, was destroyed by fire many years ago by vandals.  Our original goal was to find the schoolhouse, which is currently being restored.  By the time we were done we had picked up a delightful guide--a board member of the association--who took us to the church and the ruins of the fort--but we ran out of time for a cemetery visit. Another time I suppose.

(Polly's Fort is on private property and requires permission to access.)

Polly is named for Jose Policarpio "Polly" Rodriguez, well known as a scout and guide, a Texas Ranger, a Bandera County Justice of the Peace, and later as a Methodist minister.  You can learn more about him here at the Polly Texas Pioneer Association website.

The schoolhouse is located at 2320 Bear Creek Road in Bandera County.  The day I visited a group of volunteers were cleaning the building and clearing the land around the 1882 schoolhouse in preparation for a dedication ceremony.  See the low roof line below the main peaked roof? I was told it is thought the addition was a room that once served as living quarters for the teacher.
The school operated for about 40 years before consolidating with Bandera.
Note the beautiful floors and ceiling.

Interior of school. Note fireplace and enclosed bookshelves.

The interior had a fireplace at one end. Off to the left, and just out of view there was also evidence that a wood-burning stove had provided heat in the building.

The association is currently raising money for the restoration of the schoolhouse. Go to the website  to learn more.

Piles of cedar cuttings where the parking lot is now.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Fork Inn, Hunt

This rock building at 1225 Highway 39, Hunt, now known as Elaine's Table, was first called the Fork Inn.
It sits on the South Fork of the Guadalupe opposite the Hunt Store.  According to the restaurant website, this building has housed a restaurant for most of its existence.

It dates to about 1940. It apparently had been operating for several years when the first mention of the Fork Inn appeared in the Kerrville Mountain Sun 9 October 1946. It was reported that Mr. and Mrs. Wilson Taylor entertained with a party the previous Saturday evening at the Fork Inn, to honor their daughter and new son-in-law.
The next mention is when the Mountain Sun reported 19 May 1949 that "Mr. and Mrs. Sid Cooke have returned from Houston and now have the Fork Inn open for business.  They will welcome all their old friends.  The Inn has been painted inside and out and is very attractive."

The Cookes, who were English, bought a small 1/3 acre property in Hunt in 1940 and came from Houston for summers several years.  They operated the restaurant for the spring and summer camp and tourist season, although it appears it also opened for special events because I found mention of dinners in February. By 1954 it may have been operating year round.

In April 1964 it changed hands, was completely renovated and became Connie's Corral, operated by Connie Covert and Grace Frazier. The Hunt-Ingram Lions Club met there regularly.

In April 1998, Elaine's Table opened for business and continues today.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The 1886 Courthouse and Where it Went

I first wrote about the Courthouse here.

It may surprise people to learn that parts of the 1886 Kerr County Courthouse still exist in the area.  After the current courthouse was opened for business in 1926 the previous 1886 courthouse was torn down and the materials sold. T. W. Sawyer was in charge of the razing.  The March 1, 1928, Kerrville Mountain Sun listed everyone who purchased materials from the courthouse.  Those who bought the limestone rock were: Sid Peterson, Mrs. H. C. Geron, Herb Johnson, W. A. Lochte, Aron Denton, Mrs. Geo. Morris, Oliver Goss, Mrs. H. A. Shand, Louis Domingues, G. W. Walthers, J. C. Adrian, Schreiner Institute, Robert Saner, Jack Moore, Otto Bernhardt, August Leeder, Heidel.

Those who bought lumber, "which by the way was in splendid condition, straight grain, heart pine,"
were: Judge Baker, Harry Karger, P. L. Raaz, J. C. Hux, W. H. Reshworth, T. K. Carr, J. W. Denton, Jim Whalen and I. W. Van Hoozer.

Those who bought tin were: Fred Real, Ameil Harbecker, Capt. McCaleb and A. J. Colbath. B. C. Richards bought the old vault doors; A. L. Starkey, window sash; Mrs. S. E. Thompson, the iron cornice and Mrs. P. J. Domingues and Louis Domingues, bought the judge's desk, bannisters and stairway, all solid walnut wood.

The largest purchaser of rock was the Schreiner Institute, who got 108 loads.  August Leeder was next with 75 loads.

Remaining material was ground up and used as the road base for the parking lot surrounding the courthouse.

What did Schreiner Institute do with the rock from the 1886 Courthouse?  The August 9, 1928, Kerrville Mountain Sun reported that the limestone wall along the Old Spanish Trail (Hwy 27/Memorial Boulevard) came from the old Kerr County Courthouse! Although the main entrance to Schreiner is being widened, it appears that some of the old wall, built from these historic materials, is still there.
I think the wall around Glen Rest Cemetery is part of that. There is a rock wall along a house on Jackson Road in the same style that MAY also be from the 1886 courthouse.
Doubtless there are other remnants of the courthouse still around as well. If you know more, please let me know.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Valley View Addition

Kerrville Mountain Sun, January 7, 1926
In 1926 L. A. Schreiner's Valley View Addition opened in Kerrville. It was close to Hillcrest Addition. I've already written about Hillcrest here. That subdivision opened in 1922. Four years later a section in the same area called Valley View also opened. The surveyor's notes in the Kerr County deed books show that the main road in the subdivision is Mae Drive.  It runs northwest from Stadium Drive.  This Valley View Addition should not be confused with the Valley View Road of today located south of the river.

The Valley View portion of the advertisement to the right from the Kerrville Mountain Sun, January 7, 1926, reads

E. L. Sublett and M. F. Weston, Proprietors. Exclusive Agents for Hillcrest Addition.
L. A. Schreiner Valley View Addition.
Valley View
This beautiful new addition to Kerrville is located above the city just off the Fredericksburg Road and overlooks the Quinlan Creek Valley, hence the name "Valley View."  Property in this desirable addition is being sold in acreage tracts and already several nice suburban homes have been built in this section.  These beautiful home sites are priced very reasonable and will be sold on easy terms.  If you are in the market for a home or a good investment, let us show you over this property and quote prices.

Kerrville Mountain Sun, January 21, 1926
The first sales in Valley View reported in the newspaper were L. A. Schreiner to Walter A. Lorenz, lot 6, block 5, for $2,550, and L. A. Schreiner to T. G. Johnston, lots 1, 8, 9, block 5,  $1,700, followed shortly by a sale to Peter Dondlinger of lot 10, block 1 for  $650, and to Walter E. Saenger lot 2, block 5 for $500.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Barnett Chapel United Methodist Church

Barnett Chapel United Methodist Church, 710 Paschal Street, was established in 1896. It is the oldest historically black church in Kerrville.   Due to segregation, there were no schools or churches for non-whites for the first four decades of the county’s existence.  The black community was very small.  Four of the first black families in Kerrville were the Buckners, the Robinsons, the Butlers, and the Blankses.  Recognizing the need for a church and school, Mr. and Mrs. Jim Barnett were instrumental in organizing the first religious observances, first in homes then in a small, one room building in 1897. Later the congregation met in an old schoolhouse.
In 1898 they bought the land they still own today and have worshiped at this location continually since. The present house of worship was erected in 1963, adding a parsonage in 1976 and a multi-purpose building in 1982.
Josephine Barnett, whose name the church carries, was one of the original church trustees. The others were Levi Butler, Z. T. Wilson, and James Askey
Circuit-riding ministers from Bandera, Uvalde and Fredericksburg preached the early services until 1902 when the Reverend W. M. Mosby, a Methodist, was assigned as the first minister to Barnett Chapel.
Barnett Chapel has been an active participant in Kerrville since its earliest years. Notable programs have included Juneteenth and Heritage celebrations, youth programs, emergency relief, Women’s Conferences, musical programs, evangelism and outreach, and community-wide interracial programs.  Through its many years of service and mission, the church has had a significant impact on the community and region.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Westland Hills

The first announcement of Westland Hills was in the November 26, 1925, Kerrville Mountain Sun: "Model Home to be Erected in Westland Hills".  A group of Kerrville businessmen had completed plans for "Kerrville's first model home" at Site No. 8, Block 51, facing on Circle Drive. It was to be of "natural beauty-stone of the Hill Country ... blending the unusual artistic lines of the cottage into the artistic emerald setting which has been chosen for the enterprise."  (That stretch of Circle Drive is now known as Jackson Road and is between West Main Street and West Water Street.)

"The winding macadamized drive will diverge from the main boulevard at its intersection of Circle Avenue and will lead the visitor directly to the entrance to the home."

"The house was completely furnished, lighted and heated by the merchants of Kerrville."

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Lowry Addition

Lowry Addition is the section more or less between Guadalupe Street, Town Creek, and Hugo Street. Guadalupe was once part of the old road to Ingram known as the Old Spanish Trail. Streets include Lowry Street, Hugo Street, Hamilton Street, Palmer Street, and Starkey Street. Hamilton is named for Jack Hamilton, Palmer for J. E. Palmer, and Starkey for A. L. Starkey.
Also in that area is Spence Drive, named for E. L. Spence who was the principal developer of the former Fair Grounds section. Marion G. Lowry's wife, Mary, was a Spence before her marriage.
Map clipped from Sanborn fire insurance map for 1930

The first mention of Lowry Addition is in the Kerrville Mountain Sun of March 16, 1907, were it is reported 
M. G. Lowry, who recently purchased the Mrs. L. A. Lowrance property near the fair grounds, consisting of about 60 acres, has had the same surveyed into town lots and will in a short time place them on the market.  Streets have been layed [sic] out and it will be known as the Lowry addition to Kerrville.  Mr. Lowry is now engaged in building a house in the new addition and more will be commenced soon.  There is [sic] eleven blocks in the addition and all are cut up into sixteen lots each making some very desirable building sites.  When placed upon the market, they will be put at reasonable figures.
I don't know for certain these are the first houses, but the first mention in the newspaper of a real estate transfer in Lowry Addition was in the Kerrville Mountain Sun for November 13, 1909, when it was reported M. G. Lowry sold to Mrs. Laura F. Hay, lot 7, Lowry addition, and Mrs. Alice Schumacher, purchased lot 8. Lot 7 is bounded by Hugo, Starkey, Lowry, and Palmer.  Lot 8 is bounded by Hugo, Palmer, Lowry, and Guadalupe. Each lot has several houses in it today.

There are a couple of buildings of special historical note here. At the corner of Guadalupe and Lowry is a rambling house that once served as a private sanitarium run by the Steifel and Anderson families called Hillcrest Sanitarium. Hillcrest Sanitarium should not be confused with Hillcrest Addition subdivision on the opposite end of town.
There is also a rock house at the corner of Hugo and Guadalupe that was once a small service station.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The female mayors of Kerrville

On May 17, 2016, Bonnie White, a local businesswoman, was sworn into office as the second female mayor of Kerrville.  But who was the first?  A little research showed it's been four decades since Kerrville last had a female mayor. 

The first female mayor was Zelma Boyd Hardy, who was mayor 1973-74 and 1975-76.  She was also the first woman on the Kerrville City Council, serving from 1970 to 1976.  According to her obituary in the March 12, 2003, Kerrville Daily Times, the city made many improvements to streets, upgraded the drainage system, and voted to build the city's swimming pools and Singing Wind Park. She was an English teacher at Tivy and later at Schreiner College (now University).  It was said she had a "way of making things happen."  Mrs. Hardy died in March 2003 in Stone Mountain, Georgia, where she had move to live with her daughter.   She and her husband George, a chaplain at the VA hospital, are buried at Fort Sam Houston.

40 years between female mayors.  Hopefully it won't be 40 years until the next one.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Legion Heights

Legion Heights was opened October 1945. It was a section of 43 lots, 24.56 acres, belonging to O. W. Goss, and lying east of downtown Kerrville.
The first two records of a sale was from O. W. Goss and wife to Thos. Dean Teague and wife (Bertha), lots 13, 14, and 15, and O. W. Goss and wife (Bessie) to H. C. Pope, lots 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, and 21.
Goss Street is the primary road.

In January 1949 there was an effort to annex this and several other neighborhoods east of downtown. When put to a vote, the annexation failed.
One of the benefits of annexation was to be connection to city water. Even though the election had failed, in July of that year the county commissioners granted permission to the City of Kerrville to lay water mains in Oak Park and Legion Heights, so they got city water anyway.

After this there is very little additional news from Legion Heights.

To learn about other subdivisions in Kerrville go here.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Place Names: Brownsborough

All across the internet, from the City of Kerrville website to The Handbook of Texas Online, one can read that Kerrville was originally named Brownsborough, but was it?
There are some historians who believe this is a misreading of the historical record.
There was a community in Kerr County called Brownsborough that was about four miles downstream of Comfort where some early legal events occurred.  Today that community is in Kendall County. All that remains today is a cemetery and some scattered buildings.  It is unlikely there would have been two communities in the same county with the the same name.
In the Galveston Flakes Daily Bulletin of June 16, 1868, June 25, 1868, and many other issues, both Brownsborough and Kerrville are mentioned as separate places.

As proof, at the first county court session May 19, 1856, a second class road was ordered laid from Kerrsville to Brownsborough by way of Comfort.
Old maps also show Brownsborough being east of Comfort.
"Be it ordered by the Honorable County Court of
Kerr County that there is hereby appointed five
Commissioners to review and locate a road from
Kerrville to the North Bank of the Gaudiloupe (sp)
River at Brownsborough by the way of Comfort
it is further ordered that E.A. McFadin, J.M.
Starky, J.C. Ridley, Theodor Wiedenfeld and
R.E. Brown are the Commissioners appointed to
lay out and locate said road and that said
road shall be lain out and located on the best
and nearest route without partiality or

If Kerrville were Brownsborough, it would not have been possible to locate a road from Kerrville to Brownsborough. I have seen a few referrals to Brownsburg. More likely Kerrville was known as Brownsburg rather than Brownsborough.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Remembering Clarabelle Snodgrass

Today we buried Clarabelle Barton Snodgrass in a beautiful ceremony that honored a life well lived.  She was 102 when she passed away this past Monday, February 29, 2016.  Clarabelle was the Queen of Kerr County History.  A lifelong resident of Kerr County, Texas, she had lost most of her vision and much of her hearing, but her mind was sharp until the very end. It seemed liked she remembered EVERYTHING about Kerr County.  We are all the richer because of Clarabelle. She was responsible for saving the old Tivy School and the Schreiner Chapel of the First Presbyterian Church as well as editing the Kerr County Album and writing a memoir. Most of the 80+ historical markers in Kerr County are due to her unceasing work.  I now serve as the marker chair for the Kerr County Historical Commission. I hope I can be half as successful as she in marking and saving our history.

Turtle Creek Cemetery where her parents are buried
She was born in Kerrville in a house on Water Street, on October 13, 1913, and spent her early years along Turtle Creek. After she and Ross Snodgrass married, they moved to the Divide and began ranching. They later moved permanently off the Divide and into Kerrville where she spent the last decades of her life.

I've only know Clarabelle a few years, just since 2010. I talked with her on occasion about some of my research.  She was always supportive, and usually confirmed what I had "discovered".

This past October the Friends of the Kerr County Historical Commission asked her to speak on "102 years of Kerr County Memories" focusing mostly on Turtle Creek and the Divide.  I am so glad we did this.  It turned out to be her last public appearance. The photos here are from that talk.

Since her husband, Ross, lived to be 107, I guess we thought she'd be around forever--or at least another few years. There are a few more things I'd like to know. Those questions will have to wait until we meet on the other side.

The last time I talked to her she told me that she wanted to live long enough to write a book about the Divide. Some of us should take that on in her memory.  Anyone?

Friday, March 4, 2016

B. C. Richards' First Addition

This subdivision lies across Quinlan Creek near Schreiner Institute.and opened in March 1924.
"Located on the high elevation adjoining the Presbyterian Encampment and the Schreiner institute grounds, these beautiful lots appeal to everyone who desires a home-site that combines all the natural advantages of good location with solid groves of Live Oaks on each lot, and besides cement sidewalks, cement curbs and graveled streets throughout the entire property."

The neighborhood is more or less from the corner of Travis and Aransas, north on Travis to Main, east on Main to Rawson, south to Aransas. It was once bordered on the south by the railroad.

To learn more about other Kerrville subdivisions, go here.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Methodist Encampment

Methodist Encampment is built around the Mount Wesley Conference Center.  It is a community of homes originally built to provide housing for families attending the annual denominational encampment each year.  The first season was 1924. Originally the homes were primarily for summer use, but today they are occupied year round.

The first mention of Methodist Encampment in the Kerrville newspapers was November 1, 1923, when the Kerrville Mountain Sun reported that H. C. Geddie "represented the local Chamber of Commerce in the matter of the Methodist Encampment for this city."
Then on February 7, 1924, the headlines in the Mountain Sun were "Kerrville Lands Methodist Encampment."
   Kerrville's proposition of a site of 200 acres of ground with frontage on the Guadalupe River was accepted by the local committee of the Methodist Encampment, West Texas Assemby, subject to the raising of $11,500 by a local committee for purchase of the land.
   The site accepted for the encampment consists of the Bud Porter place of 160 acres, including a hilltop from the J. J. Starkey place adjoining, not to exceed 40 acres in extent. The location is within three miles west of the city on the Old Spanish Trail.

On April 1, 1924, a lot sale and barbecue were held at the Encampment grounds. An estimated 500-600 prominent Methodists ministers and laymen attended the opening. One hundred thirty lots ranging in price from $100 to $1000 were offered for sale on opening day. Ninety one of them sold.  By then there were two roads from the Old Spanish Trail (Junction Highway) to the top of the mountain, a water system, electric lights, telephone, cafeteria, and a number of tents, all in preparation of the program beginning July 8 and lasting until August 3.
W.H. King was hired to construct the cafeteria for the camp--the first community building. The  auditorium and commissary soon followed.

The first cottage builder (in 1924) was J. M. Calhoun.  The house was a frame building finished with cobblestones. Other houses continued to go up, but the next mention of homes in Methodist Encampment was June 3, 1926, when Hill View Times reported on two new cottages. One was owned by Mrs. M. E. Moore of San Angelo. "It is a beautiful building with cobblestone front, and cobblestone columns.  The grounds have been beautifully laid out, terraced, and flower gardens planted." The other was a "fine new 5-room house for Mrs. Phoebe Storms. [A] beauty in every respect, with front porch and sleeping porch". The builder for both was Moore & Saner, who was the contractor for most of the early encampment buildings.  Many of these original cottages remain.

I have been told that Alice Street in Methodist Encampment was so named because the first owners were all from Alice, Texas, and similarly McAllen Street and Uvalde Street. Lazy Lane was originally Shady Lane.  The name was changed sometime before September 1958 when rural mail service was extended to the Methodist Assembly area.

Kerrville has several historic neighborhoods suitable for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. This is one of them.

To learn about other Kerrville neighborhoods, go here.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Richards Park

Richards Park Addition opened November 1941--just before the attack on Pearl Harbor and the beginning of World War II.  This ad appeared in the November 20, 1941, Kerrville Times. It was advertised as the first FHA planned residential district in Kerrville.  Frank Richards was the developer.

The Federal Housing Administration was created in 1934 during the Great Depression when the housing market was flat. The idea was to help construction workers get back to work and to help people become homeowners. At that time America was a nation of renters rather than home owners, fewer than half owning their own homes.  Mortgage terms were very difficult, with large down payments, short repayment schedules of 3-5 years and final balloon payments. The FHA changed that.

To learn about other Kerrville subdivisions, go