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.