Historic Guadaluple County: An Illustrated History

An illustrated history of Guadalupe County, Texas, paired with the histories of local companies and organizations that make the county great.

An illustrated history of Guadalupe County, Texas, paired with the histories of local companies and organizations that make the county great.


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COUNTY<br />

<strong>An</strong> <strong>Illustrated</strong> <strong>History</strong><br />

by E. John Gesick, Jr.<br />

A publication of the Seguin-Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> Heritage Museum<br />

HPNbooks<br />

A division of Lammert Incorporated<br />

San <strong>An</strong>tonio, Texas

❖ The Barbarossa Trough on FM 758 in Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>.<br />

First Edition<br />

Copyright © 2016 HPNbooks<br />

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, without permission in writing<br />

from the publisher. All inquiries should be addressed to HPNbooks, 11535 Galm Road, Suite 101, San <strong>An</strong>tonio, Texas, 78254. Phone (800) 749-9790, www.hpnbooks.com.<br />

ISBN: 978-1-944891-01-5<br />

Library of Congress Card Catalog Number: 2016933582<br />

<strong>Historic</strong> Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>: <strong>An</strong> <strong>Illustrated</strong> <strong>History</strong><br />

author: E. John Gesick, Jr.<br />

cover artist: Robin H. Roberts-Walker<br />

contributing writer for “Sharing the Heritage”: Joe Goodpasture<br />

HPNbooks<br />

president: Ron Lammert<br />

project manager: Joe Neely<br />

administration: Donna M. Mata<br />

Melissa G. Quinn<br />

book sales: Dee Steidle<br />

production: Colin Hart<br />

Glenda Tarazon Krouse<br />

Evelyn Hart<br />

Tony Quinn<br />

Tim Lippard<br />

Christopher D. Sturdevant<br />

2 ✦ H I S T O R I C G U A D A L U P E C O U N T Y


4 PREFACE<br />


6 CHAPTER ONE Prehistoric and Pre-Contact Periods<br />

8 CHAPTER 2 Contact and Early <strong>History</strong><br />

10 CHAPTER 3 The Early Settlements<br />

28 CHAPTER 4 Twentieth-Century Seguin and Central Guadalupe <strong>County</strong><br />

40 CHAPTER 5 Marion, Schertz, Cibolo, and Selma<br />

58 CHAPTER 6 The Switches<br />

64 CHAPTER 7 A Tale of Two Switches<br />

76 CHAPTER 8 Rural Communities of Western Guadalupe <strong>County</strong><br />

84 CHAPTER 9 Rural Communities of Eastern Guadalupe <strong>County</strong><br />



❖ The old general store in Zorn.<br />

C o n t e n t s ✦ 3


❖ Juan Seguin.<br />

This is not the first history of Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>. There have been a number of predecessors in<br />

this constantly evolving process. Coming to mind are Asa J. Sowell’s histories, Willie Mae Weinert,<br />

Max Arward Moellering, <strong>An</strong>ne Brawner, and Father Lawrance Fitzsimons. The list also includes<br />

students throughout Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> writing their term papers or sharing their historical insights,<br />

and the ever vigilant contributions of the newspapers as the forerunners who lead to history. To all<br />

and each I offer my sincerest thank yous.<br />

There are two very special people who have been overlooked—both women. One set the stage for<br />

women becoming mayors in Seguin and Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>’s many towns. The other, through her<br />

keen business instincts, guided Seguin into taking a bold step into its economic development for the<br />

twenty-first century and beyond.<br />

Betty Jean Jones was Seguin’s first woman mayor in its history. Her accomplishments were many<br />

including the eventual progression from a mayor-city council form of governance to the city<br />

manager-council-mayor form of governance which remains quite healthy through the present.<br />

Betty <strong>An</strong>n Matthies was the second woman to ascend to the office of Mayor. Like Betty Jean she is<br />

a native of Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> and Seguin, having attended a <strong>County</strong> School — Dowdy — and Seguin<br />

High School. Betty <strong>An</strong>n’s accomplishments were also many, but one of them changed the course of<br />

Seguin’s economic development. With the creation of the Seguin Economic Development Committee<br />

Betty <strong>An</strong>ne was able to work and guide the city government to look strategically towards its economic<br />

future. It is because of this that Seguin is, today, on the cusp of entering a period of almost<br />

unmeasurable economic growth.<br />

Two women, two different centuries, each with vision and remarkable aplomb.<br />

Of course this could not have been possible without their predecessors and the Guadalupe <strong>County</strong><br />

office holders in each incorporated area of Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>. Nor the people either for that matter,<br />

in all fields of everyday life. To each and all, what a story you have been a part of throughout these<br />

past 177 years. God Bless each and all.<br />

4 ✦ H I S T O R I C G U A D A L U P E C O U N T Y


Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> is steeped in unrecorded and recorded geologic, geographic, and cultural<br />

history. Indeed each of these factors have shared in creating and bringing together vegetation, animal<br />

life, and peoples to forge a fascinating blending of history that is as dynamic today as it was during<br />

each of these epochal periods. Some people call this period of millions of years ago prehistoric,<br />

mostly because there have yet to be found written documents produced during that time other than<br />

prehistoric cave paintings, archaeological discoveries, and symbols that represented the thoughts of<br />

early peoples.<br />

Early Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> falls into this area of pre-history. As will shortly be presented, one will<br />

see this area of Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> reaches back millions of years. Were it not for geologists,<br />

archaeologists, paleontologists, geographers, anthropologists, and historians assembling these<br />

complex findings there would be a lot less known today than what we now know.<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> and all of its surrounding counties have revealed much of its past. There is still<br />

more to be learned. But what we do know is because of the revelation of nature’s waters and the<br />

earth‘s treasures that she has shared.<br />

The knowledge that we have from the beginnings of the written word reaches back to more recent<br />

times than do the geologic epochs. From early cave drawings and written or drawn characters on clay<br />

tablets to today’s computer driven world, our knowledge of the past becomes even greater. <strong>An</strong>d it<br />

is because of the sums of these shared discoveries that our knowledge becomes even deeper<br />

and broader.<br />

The sequencing of this book focuses mostly on the settlements, towns, and cities of Guadalupe<br />

<strong>County</strong> from the past to the present rather than just focusing on the <strong>County</strong> itself. Thus, this is a<br />

story of the parts making up today’s whole. <strong>An</strong>d that is how it will be seen when the conclusion is<br />

but a new step into its next chapters’ in history.<br />

❖ F. C. Weinert (center), a merchant and politician from Seguin. He served in both houses of the state legislature.<br />

I n t r o d u c t i o n ✦ 5


P R E H I S T O R I C A N D P R E - C O N T A C T P E R I O D S<br />

❖ Prehistoric ocean sandbars, now called the “Sand Hills.”<br />

The <strong>County</strong>’s history dates to the Late<br />

Cretaceous Age of 125-62 million years ago<br />

when marine life occupied the area in the<br />

then much larger Gulf of Mexico which<br />

extended to today’s Hill Country of South<br />

Central Texas and regions further North<br />

and westward. As the waters receded from<br />

ice age to ice age and the climates began<br />

warming, landforms began to emerge and<br />

sprout life. Nature left behind a bounty of<br />

treasures that have helped this region<br />

determine its own history. That is where<br />

this history begins — the exposure of life<br />

and its historic treasures that will guide the<br />

reader to the present.<br />

The prehistoric treasures found in the<br />

South Texas/Central Texas region, which<br />

includes Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>, were mostly<br />

sea and fresh water artifacts until the<br />

waters receded. Dr. Evelyn Streng,<br />

Professor Ermeritus of Texas Lutheran<br />

University and long term Chair of the<br />

Geography Department, has provided a<br />

substantial collection of prehistoric<br />

marine, plant, and animal life dating from<br />

the Late Cretaceous Age through the last<br />

Ice Age of approximately twelve thousand<br />

years ago. Several of these artifacts are the<br />

procistis glaalris or fossilized algae<br />

spores; fossilized tylostoua gastropod<br />

(snail); as well as pelecypods, crinoids,<br />

and algae spore.<br />

Towards the end of the last ice age,<br />

about 12,000 to 10,000 years ago the<br />

climate’s warming left evidence of animal<br />

and human adaptation. <strong>An</strong>cient palm<br />

trees (now fossilized) began appearing on<br />

the edges of the receding coast line that<br />

once hugged the area from the vicinity of<br />

present day San <strong>An</strong>tonio to New<br />

Braunfels, Austin, Waco and perhaps to<br />

points further north. Today, as one drives<br />

south of Seguin towards Wilson <strong>County</strong>’s<br />

town of Stockdale, they will notice more<br />

than just a few undulating hills locally<br />

referred to as the “Sand Hills.” Put into<br />

perspective these substantial undulations<br />

strongly suggest these were sand bars<br />

extending from the continually receding<br />

waters of today’s Gulf of Mexico.<br />

Mastadon, as evidenced by tusks, teeth,<br />

and bones, early horse (eohippus) and<br />

ultimately buffalo were present in today’s<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> and surrounding<br />

regions. There has been no evidence, to<br />

date, that dinosaurs visited this region. It is<br />

certain, however, that dinosaurs thrived in<br />

Central Comal <strong>County</strong> near present-day<br />

Canyon Lake, about thirty miles northwest<br />

of Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>.<br />

When the climate warmed, wooly<br />

animals such as the mastadons emigrated.<br />

Those who did not migrate or adapt to<br />

changing climates perished and left<br />

behind bones, teeth, molars and other<br />

skeletal fragments. Some of those remains<br />

are also on display in Seguin. The<br />

buffaloes also ranged, at a later time,<br />

throughout Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> and the<br />

region. However, few remains have been<br />

located except near the towns of present<br />

day Cibolo and Schertz. Bear also were<br />

sited as far south as the Sand Hills in<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> until the 1940s.<br />

About 12,000 years ago early human<br />

life began appearing in today’s Guadalupe<br />

<strong>County</strong>. These peoples, later called Indians<br />

by their European discoverers, forged a<br />

way of life that is still being discovered,<br />

oftentimes by accident (amateurs stumbling<br />

over an unknown but interesting<br />

looking artifact) as well as by design<br />

through the work of professional archaeologists,<br />

anthropologists, and scientists.<br />

Historian William Foster stated in his<br />

Spanish Expeditions into Texas that there<br />

were at least thirty identifiable groups of<br />

indigenous peoples who had journeyed the<br />

Guadalupe River region of present day<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>. Many other indigenous<br />

names that the early Spanish explorers<br />

encountered have been lost to history.<br />

Nonetheless, within Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>,<br />

there are forty-eight Native American burial<br />

sites registered and recorded with the State<br />

of Texas. Names such as Apache,<br />

6 ✦ H I S T O R I C G U A D A L U P E C O U N T Y

Comanche, Cibolo, or Tonkawa and<br />

Karankawa are more commonly known<br />

throughout Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> and the surrounding<br />

counties of South Central Texas.<br />

One of the best known recent<br />

archaeological sites in Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> is<br />

the McKee Site, now just inside Seguin’s<br />

city limits. It is located along the<br />

Guadalupe River which flows through the<br />

Starcke Park area. This site was discovered<br />

several years ago on the owner’s property.<br />

Several stone artifacts were tentatively<br />

identified as <strong>An</strong>gostura points possibly<br />

dating to 9000-6000 bce in the Late<br />

Paleolithic era. These were later confirmed<br />

by professional archaeologists from the<br />

Texas <strong>Historic</strong>al Commission as well as<br />

academic scholars. This “find” was<br />

published in Ellen Sue Turners’ last edition<br />

of Texas Stone Artifacts, often used in<br />

undergraduate and graduate studies for<br />

archaeological students as well as students<br />

studying geology and anthropology.<br />

Artifacts such as turquoise from Arizona,<br />

pottery from the Mexican State of Coahuila,<br />

and other artifacts from Oklahoma, East<br />

Texas, and the Gulf Coast were excavated.<br />

In one location there was even a newer find<br />

by Archaeological Steward Richard Kinz. It<br />

is a Comanche hearth just a foot or two<br />

below the surface. This was particularly<br />

interesting because it presented newer<br />

insights into Comanche practices. Many<br />

historical accounts reflect the Comanches<br />

were marauders, hunters and kidnappers,<br />

who seldom settled for any period of time<br />

so they could plunder other peoples, let<br />

alone engage in trading. This site indicated<br />

that such was not the case.<br />

Also interesting about the McKee site<br />

was that although it parallels the present<br />

day Guadalupe River it is on much higher<br />

ground which helps support well known<br />

local Geologist Gary Bowman’s observations<br />

that the river was not originally a “trench”<br />

river, but rather one that was originally vast<br />

and wide and shallow thousands of years<br />

ago. Since the last Ice Age, the river began<br />

receding and etching its banks over time<br />

thus creating a trench that became the<br />

much deeper river it is today.<br />

❖ Prehistoric ocean fossils found in Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>.<br />

❖ Arrowheads found in Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>.<br />


C h a p t e r O n e ✦ 7


C O N T A C T A N D E A R L Y H I S T O R Y<br />

With the 1519-1521 Spanish conquest<br />

of Mexico, so-called civilization reached<br />

the New World. The Spanish began their<br />

explorations northward and southward<br />

from Mexico City and its environs for<br />

they were encouraged by the numbers of<br />

converts among the indigenous groups,<br />

the great wealth from the natural<br />

resources, and an endless work force<br />

from among the natives. The Spaniards’<br />

northward advances changed the<br />

dominance of the New World from one of<br />

only indigenous habitation to what<br />

became a multicultural legacy. Those<br />

same dynamics continue to this day, and<br />

are also influenced by the other great<br />

powers that explored the New World<br />

from England and the main northern<br />

European countries such as France and<br />

England. Other cultural influences<br />

present today include those from the Sub<br />

Saharan African Indigenous peoples who<br />

were captured, enslaved, and brought to<br />

the New World.<br />

The local indigenous peoples were<br />

eventually brought into the fold of a<br />

new world as first the Spanish, and<br />

later the American explorers, brought<br />

their forms of government, religion,<br />

education, and technology.<br />

Numerous tribes were trading and<br />

making their homes in what was to<br />

eventually become Guadalupe <strong>County</strong><br />

during this period of discovery. Those<br />

identified in the western end of what<br />

today is Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> were<br />

migratory Comanche, Lipan Apache,<br />

Tonkawa, Karankawa, Wacos, and<br />

numerous smaller bands. The Indians<br />

gave the name “Cibolo” to an eventual<br />

settlement along the Cibolo Creek.<br />

The word Cibolo means buffalo which<br />

were in abundance prior to and after<br />

discovery by the Spaniards and<br />

the <strong>An</strong>glos. The Indians traveled along<br />

the major rivers of South Central Texas<br />

such as the San <strong>An</strong>tonio, Guadalupe,<br />

and San Marcos Rivers. Water was a<br />

source of life, a source of food, and<br />

indeed very necessary to the perpetuation<br />

of the earliest inhabitants and those<br />

who succeeded them.<br />

During the early 1600s and 1700s<br />

more Spanish explorers and settlers<br />

began exploring northward from Mexico<br />

City. Numerous expeditions on their way<br />

to and from the San <strong>An</strong>tonio region<br />

crossed the present day Rio Grande from<br />

the Mission San Juan Bautista located<br />

about twenty miles south of present day<br />

Piedras Negras, Mexico and its American<br />

neighbor, present day Eagle Pass, Texas.<br />

This route became one of the Caminos<br />

Reales, or Royal Roads, from the Rio<br />

Grande to and through San <strong>An</strong>tonio and<br />

East Texas.<br />

One of these expeditions included<br />

Father Massanet and explorer Domingo<br />

Teran who, in 1691, explored the region<br />

of present day Guadalupe and Comal<br />

Counties. The next expedition to this area<br />

was by Governor Martin de Alarcon,<br />

Governor of the State of Coahuila and<br />

Texas, who was directed by Spanish<br />

officials in Mexico City to establish a<br />

mission and support station for the East<br />

Texas Missions. By May, 1, 1718, the<br />

Mission of San <strong>An</strong>tonio de Valero was<br />

founded. On May 5, approximately one<br />

mile distant, the Presidio of San <strong>An</strong>tonio<br />

Bexar was established. Some ten families<br />

settled around the Presidio thus<br />

providing security for the blossoming<br />

population of early San <strong>An</strong>tonio.<br />

Alarcon then conducted a series of<br />

expeditions into the surrounding area.<br />

His diarist, Father Francisco Celiz,<br />

between 1718-1719, drew a map of<br />

Alarcon’s three expeditions. His second<br />

expedition brought him to the area of<br />

present day Seguin, Belmont, Kingsbury,<br />

Saturn, Fentress, and Martindale.<br />

At the same time this was occurring in<br />

the nearby north eastern reaches of San<br />

<strong>An</strong>tonio, the evolution of one of the main<br />

trails connecting the Missions of San<br />

<strong>An</strong>tonio to East Texas was happening in<br />

the northwestern reaches of present day<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>. What later settlers<br />

called the Old Spanish Trail extended<br />

north from San <strong>An</strong>tonio towards present<br />

day New Braunfels, passing close to<br />

present day Selma, Schertz, and Cibolo,<br />

and thence east northeast towards the<br />

present day Old Bastrop Highway and<br />

thence more easterly and north to East<br />

Texas. Of course there were any number of<br />

secondary and minor trails extending from<br />

the main part of the Old Spanish Trail.<br />

According to some sources, the<br />

Spaniards even considered establishing a<br />

mission where present day New<br />

Braunfels is located but the idea was<br />

abandoned. Ultimately there were no<br />

known missions built in present day<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>. Nonetheless the<br />

Spaniards had made their presence felt,<br />

as did the Indians.<br />

At the same time, the <strong>An</strong>glos who<br />

settled in the eastern regions of what was to<br />

become the American colonies and<br />

eventually the United States, began to<br />

make their presence known, especially<br />

through their colonial wars for<br />

independence from England. The French<br />

and English remained very effective in<br />

what became Canada and the far reaches of<br />

the northern states of the eventual United<br />

States to the West Coast.<br />

However, it was the land west of the<br />

Mississippi that began to bring Mexico<br />

and the United States into closer and,<br />

more often than not, confrontational<br />

relationships. This also included clashes<br />

with the indigenous peoples.<br />

With the 1810 cry for Mexican<br />

Independence from Spain by Father<br />

Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a new era<br />

8 ✦ H I S T O R I C G U A D A L U P E C O U N T Y

❖ Jose <strong>An</strong>tonio de Navarro.<br />

began. During Mexico’s 1810-1821<br />

Revolution against Spain there were<br />

already a number of foreign visitors to the<br />

Spanish settlements north and east of the<br />

Rio Grande. Some were explorers and<br />

surveyors like Zebulon Pike who was<br />

arrested by Spanish authorities but later<br />

released. <strong>An</strong>glos began expressing<br />

interests in Texas and Coahuila. The 1813<br />

Battle of Medina was a major battle along<br />

the banks of the Medina River south and<br />

west of San <strong>An</strong>tonio and was the first<br />

overt battle of <strong>An</strong>glos and Tejanos against<br />

Spain’s sovereignty in the Department of<br />

Bejar. Although the Spaniards prevailed<br />

there was quiet support for the defeated<br />

rebels by leading Tejanos such as Erasmo<br />

Seguin and his family, Jose <strong>An</strong>tonio<br />

Navarro and his well established family,<br />

and a host of others.<br />

As Father Miguel Hidalgo de Costilla’s<br />

Revolution continued to gain support<br />

and momentum from southwestern<br />

Mexico, it spread northwards towards<br />

what were to become today’s states of<br />

Coahuila and Chihuahua. However,<br />

matters began to deteriorate for the<br />

Revolution. After suffering defeats in the<br />

southwestern part of Mexico, he and his<br />

closest supporters were arrested, found<br />

guilty, and beheaded. In spite of this the<br />

Revolution continued.<br />

By September 16, 1821, Spain abdicated<br />

and Mexico became an independent nation.<br />

Soon thereafter, Stephen F. Austin, who<br />

carried on his deceased father’s wishes to<br />

establish a colony in Texas, was allowed to<br />

visit the new Government in Mexico City<br />

and gain permission to organize the first<br />

<strong>An</strong>glo Colony in the newly established state<br />

of Coahuila and Texas.<br />

Mexico needed the colonists who had<br />

to pledge allegiance to and obey Mexican<br />

law and their system of government<br />

from the state and national levels to the<br />

regions in which they settled. The<br />

colonists were also expected to help<br />

defend Mexico from encroachment from<br />

the French in Louisiana and the emerging<br />

and expanding United States.<br />

There were also other applicants<br />

seeking colonial establishment in Texas.<br />

Spanish, Mexican and <strong>An</strong>glos were<br />

required to wait until the new 1825<br />

Mexican Government put together its<br />

Congress, Constitution, and decrees for the<br />

new nation. Guidelines for outside colonial<br />

development in Coahuila and Texas were<br />

to be established within these decrees.<br />

❖ The Navarro ranch house near Geronimo.<br />

C h a p t e r T w o ✦ 9

In 1825, the Green DeWitt colony was<br />

the second <strong>An</strong>glo Colony to be<br />

established, just southeast of the Austin<br />

Colony, in the small settlement of<br />

Gonzales named in honor of the<br />

Governor of Coahuila y Tejas, Don Rafael<br />

Gonzales. Its nearest support was from<br />

San <strong>An</strong>tonio, some 72 miles distant to the<br />

southwest. This second established<br />

colony, ultimately gave birth to the town<br />

of Seguin and eventually what became<br />

modern Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>.<br />

As a historical note, the Green DeWitt<br />

Colony’s establishment was preceded by<br />

Jose de la Baume who, in 1806, received<br />

a Spanish land grant in the Capote Hills<br />

(often referred to today as the “Sand<br />

Hills” ) in present day Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>.<br />

However, its title did not clear until 1832,<br />

which was well after the Green De Witt<br />

Colony was legally established.<br />

Little by little the Green De Witt<br />

colony grew. By the early 1830s land for<br />

developing in and around the small town<br />

of Gonzales ran out. However, that did<br />

not stop new settlers from coming with a<br />

desire to live in the Green De Witt<br />

Colony. Perhaps what was exceptionally<br />

attractive to the new colonists was the<br />

topography and what it had to offer in<br />

terms of livelihood.<br />

Interestingly, of the some 22 families<br />

who came to settle in De Witt’s colony a<br />

number of the settlers and future settlers<br />

obtained land in the eastern parts of<br />

present day Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> along<br />

creeks eventually named Nash, Darst,<br />

Mill Creek and many others.<br />

Rivers have historically played large<br />

roles in the survival or decline of<br />

civilizations and the Green De Witt<br />

Colony was no exception. It had the<br />

San Marcos, the Lavaca, and the<br />

Guadalupe Rivers, with a number of<br />

creeks from the Cibolo in the west<br />

to Darst Creek in the east along with<br />


T H E E A R L Y S E T T L E M E N T S<br />

a host of smaller creeks. In the<br />

northwestern part of the De Witt Colony<br />

there were no major rivers save the<br />

Guadalupe River, the Cibolo and Santa<br />

Clara Creeks, and a host of smaller<br />

intermittent creeks. All, in time, would<br />

reveal themselves to the settlers and their<br />

eventual adversaries.<br />

There were three major areas or types<br />

of agricultural use by the new settlers due<br />

to the location of the available waters and<br />

the nature of the soil within this region.<br />

Of the major land forms in Texas the Gulf<br />

Coastal Plains formed the majority of the<br />

Green De Witt Colony and eventually<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>. Within the Gulf<br />

Coastal Plains are three local land forms<br />

that continue to this day: The coastal<br />

prairies in the eastern part giving way to<br />

the post oak belt and then to the black<br />

land prairies in the west.<br />

The coastal prairies are really plains<br />

that border the tidewaters of the Gulf<br />

Coast. These are excellent for raising<br />

livestock and farming. The post oak belt<br />

extends from the Red River in the north<br />

and northeast to just southeast of San<br />

<strong>An</strong>tonio. The post oak environment was<br />

and remains mostly brushy and wooded<br />

while the black land prairies are a<br />

relatively level region to the west of the<br />

post oak belt and north of San <strong>An</strong>tonio.<br />

This land was historically used to<br />

cultivate and grow numerous types of<br />

crops from cotton to grain and provided<br />

ample grazing for livestock, all of which<br />

continue to this day.<br />

Rain was and remains tremendously<br />

important to this region of Texas for<br />

the replenishment of the numerous<br />

aquifers flowing beneath the soils of<br />

present day Guadalupe and Gonzales<br />

Counties and the Edwards aquifer to the<br />

west of Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>. Rainfall in<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> averages 30” to 34”<br />

per year. Some years there are prolonged<br />

droughts such as that experienced in the<br />

1950s to the more approximate and<br />

recent 2010-2015 drought of more than<br />

modest severity that tested the best minds<br />

in agriculture.<br />

From the earliest flora, fauna, and<br />

wildlife to the earliest humans, all of<br />

these factors helped shape life in all<br />

forms. From literally millions of years ago<br />

to the present, life still adjusts, adapts,<br />

and continues its respective journeys.<br />

So what were the stories of early<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>? To be sure there were<br />

far more than can be presented in these<br />

few pages. During the 1840s and the<br />

1850s, until the American Civil War,<br />

Seguin and its blossoming communities<br />

throughout Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> began to<br />

emerge. It was during this period that<br />

many issues needed to be addressed such<br />

as Mexico, new immigrants, Indians,<br />

bandits, roads, home building, schools,<br />

and churches.<br />

For example, at the same time as<br />

these events evolved, there were the<br />

German immigrants and the French<br />

Alsatians traveling through the old Green<br />

De Witt Colony and Guadalupe <strong>County</strong><br />

enroute to New Braunfels, San <strong>An</strong>tonio<br />

and the surrounding areas. These<br />

immigrants were to play key roles in the<br />

eventual settlements and towns of<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>.<br />

What follows are some of the histories<br />

of communities that played contributing<br />

roles in the evolution of Guadalupe<br />

<strong>County</strong> including Seguin, Schertz,<br />

Cibolo, Selma, Marion, Staples,<br />

McQueeney, Santa Clara, and Kingsbury.<br />

To be true to all of these communities, a<br />

brief mention will be made, within space<br />

limitations, of the historic schools,<br />

churches, businesses, recreation, and<br />

politics. In that Seguin is the oldest<br />

settled incorporated town in Guadalupe<br />

<strong>County</strong> the stories will begin there.<br />

1 0 ✦ H I S T O R I C G U A D A L U P E C O U N T Y

❖ Early Texas Rangers in or near Seguin.<br />

S E G U I N A N D E A R L Y<br />

G U A D A L U P E C O U N T Y<br />

Seguin was founded among the Oak<br />

and Walnut trees dotting the banks of<br />

Walnut Springs. Through the efforts of<br />

Joseph S. Martin, who teamed with James<br />

Campbell, Arthur Swift, and Matthew<br />

Caldwell in 1838, one half of the<br />

Umphries Branch League was purchased<br />

and sold for the purpose of building a<br />

town. Umphries Branch purchased his<br />

League in 1831, part of which was along<br />

Walnut Branch and its springs. After the<br />

March 6, 1836, battle of the Alamo and the<br />

attempts by Mexico to retake Texas, he<br />

agreed to sell half of his League which<br />

included what became Seguin and later<br />

the county seat of Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>.<br />

Originally there were thirty-three<br />

interested takers for this endeavor. Many<br />

of these men served proudly in the Texas<br />

Militia during the Revolution with many<br />

continuing their service without<br />

protection of which 33 were of the early<br />

Gonzales Texas Rangers. They went on to<br />

establish Seguin. As early as 1828, they<br />

established their camp at Walnut Springs<br />

which included a Ranger Station. Ten<br />

years later, under the leadership of Joseph<br />

Martin, their dream came true. Many<br />

frontier communities could not have<br />

survived without protection.<br />

Perhaps, as a result of the Ranger<br />

Station being built in this location, and<br />

with more settlers moving into the Green<br />

De Witt Colony and not finding sufficient<br />

land to settle, they began to move farther<br />

west, settling the Sycamore Community<br />

as well as along Nash and Darst Creeks in<br />

present day eastern Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>.<br />

On August 12, 1838, Walnut Springs<br />

was founded. There were 44 shares of<br />

which 33 were sold to 33 men and 11<br />

were reserved for Martin to dispose of as<br />

he saw fit. After these shares were turned<br />

into actual property no further action was<br />

taken for about six weeks. On September<br />

22, 1838, the shareholders reconvened<br />

and established a form of government<br />

with French Smith elected as President.<br />

The layout of the city, which basically<br />

remains the same today as it did 175<br />

years ago, was planned by James<br />

Campbell, John Russell, John Gray,<br />

George Nichols, and Michael Cody.<br />

The town of Walnut Springs (later<br />

renamed Seguin), was organized into four<br />

sections: The central or inner lots, acre<br />

lots, timber lots, and farming lots. Within<br />

the inner lots, two blocks were set aside<br />

strictly for the public’s use. Today the<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> Courthouse occupies<br />

one of the blocks. The second block,<br />

directly to the south of the Courthouse, is<br />

a public square for use and enjoyment by<br />

its citizens and visitors.<br />

Community leaders soon learned there<br />

was another community named Walnut<br />

Springs several years earlier. On February<br />

25, 1839, James Campbell and John R.<br />

King made a motion that the town be<br />

named in honor of the contributions<br />

during the fight for independence from<br />

Mexico of not only Juan Seguin, for<br />

whom the town was named, but also his<br />

father, Erasmo, and brothers. The<br />

shareholders, by a vote of 18-7, agreed to<br />

the name of Seguin rather than the<br />

offered name of Tuscumbia. Later, on<br />

January 29, 1842, the Congress of the<br />

Republic of Texas passed an act to create<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> which was finally<br />

enacted into law by the new State<br />

Legislature on March 30, 1846, thus<br />

creating a “….new county out of part of<br />

the counties of Gonzales and Bexar to be<br />

called the <strong>County</strong> of Guadalupe.”<br />

As a side note, one of the pre-Seguins<br />

early settlers was a casket maker, named<br />

Solomon Brill. When Juan Seguin was<br />

tasked to bury the dead, he contacted<br />

Solomon Brill to make the caskets for the<br />

presentation of the dead Alamo defenders.<br />

But not all was going well for 1838<br />

Seguin. Even though Santa <strong>An</strong>na was<br />

captured at the Battle of San Jacinto on<br />

April 21, 1836, he was soon released to<br />

Washington, D.C. for consultations and<br />

eventually allowed to return to Mexico.<br />

Several more attempts to retake Texas were<br />

to be made.<br />

The first was the Cordova Rebellion,<br />

named for Vicente Cordova, who, in<br />

1838, was already organizing rebellion<br />

with resident Mexicans in East Texas<br />

and some 300 Cherokees under Chief<br />

John Bowles. Their mission was to create<br />

a rebellion within the new Republic<br />

so Mexico could reinvade a weakened<br />

Texas, retake it, and ultimately reclaim<br />

Texas for Mexico.<br />

A Company of Texas Rangers was<br />

formed, during March, 1839, by Matthew<br />

C h a p t e r T h r e e ✦ 1 1

❖ Ezekiel Smith, a founder of Seguin.<br />

Caldwell, in Seguin. He was to reinforce<br />

Colonel Edward Burleson in his attempts to<br />

staunch the Cordova Rebellion. Regardless,<br />

Cordova continued moving south and<br />

eastward towards the recently formed town<br />

of Seguin with his mixed force of rebels<br />

which had shrunk to about 75 Mexicans,<br />

Indians, and Negroes.<br />

On March 26, 1839, Burleson’s forces<br />

picked up indicators of Cordova’s<br />

movements southward from the Piney<br />

Woods of East Texas. Three days later his<br />

scouts picked up Cordova’s trail leading to<br />

the confluence of Mill Creek and the<br />

Guadalupe River in the present day Hidden<br />

Oaks development just east of Seguin.<br />

Cordova escaped and became history,<br />

however, no dent was made in discouraging<br />

Mexico’s designs to retake Texas.<br />

Tension and ill feelings between <strong>An</strong>glo<br />

settlers and the Indians added to the<br />

confusion of the times. One such incident<br />

further tested the resiliency of the<br />

fledgling Republic. In early January,<br />

1840, three Comanche Chiefs rode into<br />

San <strong>An</strong>tonio and demanded a treaty. The<br />

parties agreed to reconvene in March at<br />

the Council House in San <strong>An</strong>tonio. The<br />

Comanche were to bring all of the<br />

enslaved white women and return them<br />

to the Texans.<br />

In March, 65 Comanche arrived with<br />

fifteen women, one of whom, Matilda<br />

Lockhart, was taken to the Court House.<br />

She was filthy, emaciated. Her body was<br />

brutalized, showing bruises on her<br />

exposed limbs and coal burned flesh<br />

around her nose. Sobbing, she told her<br />

story to the seated Texans, pointing out<br />

there were others held not far to the west<br />

of the Council House.<br />

Colonel William G. Cooke of Seguin,<br />

the incumbent Indian Commissioner of<br />

the Republic, was appalled. He was<br />

accompanied by Texas Ranger Captain<br />

Matthew Caldwell, a founder of Seguin,<br />

and other Rangers who were equally<br />

appalled. Control was quickly lost, and,<br />

in the ensuing fight, several Rangers were<br />

killed as a number of Comanches<br />

retreated from the Council House.<br />

For perhaps one of the last times<br />

in this region the Comanche reaction<br />

was violent and bloody. They went on<br />

a rampage throughout southeast Texas,<br />

killing, burning, mutilating, and stealing.<br />

Victoria and Linville fell to over 1,000<br />

Comanche. Michael Erskine, then living<br />

in Linville, survived that raid and later<br />

bought the Jose de la Baume Capote<br />

Ranch located in the southeastern part of<br />

the Sand Hills of Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>. His<br />

granddaughter, Mary B. Erskine,<br />

eventually became the first principal of<br />

Seguin’s first High School which was later<br />

named for her.<br />

Having exhausted themselves on<br />

this extensive raid, the Comanche<br />

returned and fled to the northeast<br />

through Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> towards<br />

Plum Creek near present day Lockhart.<br />

It was there that the Comanche were<br />

confronted by Edward Burleson and Sam<br />

Huston (not related to Sam Houston)<br />

and roundly defeated. There were<br />

no more incidents incited by the<br />

Comanche following this incident in<br />

South Central Texas.<br />

In 1841 the next major international<br />

incident involving Mexico, Texas, and<br />

members of the Seguin community<br />

occurred when a trade mission by the<br />

Republic to Santa Fe crossed a disputed<br />

area of the Texas-Mexico border.<br />

Trade with the United States was<br />

minimal at this time and the Republic’s<br />

treasury was getting close to defaulting.<br />

President Mirabeau Lamar felt that as the<br />

boundary of the Republic followed the<br />

Rio Grande basically to its northern<br />

sources, trade could be established with<br />

Santa Fe as it was on a west to east route<br />

from California.<br />

Although the Republic claimed the Rio<br />

Grande as its boundary, Mexico<br />

recognized the Nueces River as its<br />

boundary with the Republic. The issue<br />

would not be settled until after the 1846-<br />

1847 War with Mexico. Thus, when<br />

William Cooke’s (who was married to<br />

Luciano Navarro’s daughter) Texas<br />

contingent of 200-270 men rode into<br />

Santa Fe they were met by a Mexican<br />

military garrison. Cooke’s party was<br />

arrested, imprisoned, and then marched<br />

southward to Perote Castle near Mexico<br />

City. Several members were parceled out to<br />

other prisons, or, in some cases, placed<br />

under house arrest in private homes.<br />

While Navarro was in Perote Prison he<br />

proclaimed he would never deny his<br />

allegiance to Texas. <strong>An</strong>d he didn’t.<br />

Although a few Texans successfully<br />

escaped their prisons, the majority of the<br />

prisoners were not released for another<br />

three years. This event, combined with<br />

increased patrolling of Galveston Harbor<br />

and points southward indicated to Santa<br />

<strong>An</strong>na that Texas was not going to abide by<br />

the Treaty of Velasco and was trying to<br />

incite trouble with Mexico.<br />

To further exacerbate problems between<br />

Mexico and Texas, Juan Seguin was<br />

captured while trying to establish ties with<br />

Mexican businesses in Saltillo, the capital of<br />

the state of Coahuila. His capture was<br />

ordered by Santa <strong>An</strong>na who gave Seguin the<br />

opportunity to either join the Mexican<br />

Army or be executed. He chose the former.<br />

1 2 ✦ H I S T O R I C G U A D A L U P E C O U N T Y

Shortly afterwards, General Vazquez<br />

received orders to invade Texas. By March<br />

5, 1842, some 1,400 Mexican soldiers<br />

recaptured Goliad, Victoria, and San<br />

<strong>An</strong>tonio. Vazquez raised the Mexican Flag<br />

over San <strong>An</strong>tonio and departed two days<br />

later. Jack Coffee Hays was able to put<br />

together a small contingent and followed<br />

the Vazquez retreat as far south as the<br />

Nueces River.<br />

Matters soon became worse in these<br />

fledgling years of the Republic. There was<br />

to be yet another invasion by Mexico into<br />

the Republic. While Mexico was<br />

preparing for this invasion, war fever<br />

began sweeping the Republic. Congress<br />

wanted a declaration of war with Mexico.<br />

Sam Houston wanted peace. While he<br />

debated and argued, Captain French<br />

Smith’s Company, with John R. King and<br />

William G. King, stole a six pound<br />

cannon from San <strong>An</strong>tonio. It was one less<br />

cannon for the advancing Mexican Army.<br />

General Adrian Woll led the advance<br />

into San <strong>An</strong>tonio with Juan Seguin as one<br />

of his cavalry men. On September 11,<br />

1842, Woll invaded and captured San<br />

<strong>An</strong>tonio on September 11, 1842. Word of<br />

this quickly spread.<br />

The Flores Ranch once again became the<br />

rallying point for the volunteers. Captains<br />

Matthew Caldwell and Jack Coffee Hays,<br />

James Byrd, and James Callahan rallied a<br />

force of 200 Rangers, scouts, and<br />

volunteers. Sixty were from Seguin and San<br />

<strong>An</strong>tonio alone. On September 17th, 1842,<br />

they rode their horses to Salado Creek,<br />

located between present day Rittiman and<br />

Eisenhauer Roads.<br />

Captain Jack Coffee Hays, Lieutenant<br />

Ben McCulloch, and Sergeant Ackland<br />

put their heads together and came<br />

up with a plan to lure Woll’s forces into<br />

a trap. Two days later these men<br />

were chased by hundreds of Mexican<br />

soldiers after they were spotted atop a<br />

small ridge about three to four hundred<br />

yards east of the Alamo. The Texans<br />

stopped on the ridge and quickly<br />

assessed the Mexican forces. Then, they<br />

suddenly raised their hats shouting and<br />

challenging the Mexican army to do<br />

something, anything. Within moments<br />

about 400 Mexican cavalry stormed<br />

through the gates of the Alamo,<br />

supported by a platoon of infantry.<br />

Hays quickly retreated up the ridge in<br />

the direction of Salado Creek but slowed<br />

down when he was too far ahead of the<br />

Mexican pursuers. Hays wanted to draw<br />

the Mexican forces even closer to where<br />

the rest of the Texans lay in wait.<br />

Hays led the Mexican cavalry into<br />

Caldwell’s concealed positions and the<br />

Battle of Salado erupted. Juan Seguin was<br />

spotted and recognized by the defenders<br />

on the Salado. Even though Seguin carried<br />

no weapon his fate was sealed in the eyes of<br />

the Texans. To them he was now a traitor.<br />

This was what Santa <strong>An</strong>na wanted.<br />

By 1:00 pm on the nineteenth, General<br />

Woll arrived and took personal command<br />

of his army. Supported by artillery, the<br />

Mexican infantry repeatedly charged the<br />

Texans, only to be repulsed each time.<br />

The carnage was devastating for Woll.<br />

However, his soldiers killed almost all of<br />

Captain Dawson’s 54 volunteers from<br />

Fayette <strong>County</strong>. Woll’s forces surrounded<br />

Dawson’s men, isolated them from<br />

reinforcements, and killed or mutilated all<br />

but three soldiers who managed to escape.<br />

By sundown General Woll began his<br />

withdrawal. The Texans won the day —<br />

the first successful victory against Mexico<br />

since becoming a Republic.<br />

Research has shown that Juan Seguin<br />

indeed was at the Battle of Salado and<br />

under the command of General Adrian<br />

Woll. However, it was also noted he never<br />

showed a weapon and although he had<br />

a sabre it remained sheathed throughout<br />

the battle. Following the battle, a number<br />

of Tejano refugees accompanied Woll<br />

to the Mexican recognized border of<br />

the Nueces River. Erasmo Seguin and his<br />

wife accompanied their son, Juan.<br />

However, after several days Erasmo<br />

informed Juan that they were returning<br />

home to San <strong>An</strong>tonio.<br />

The last effort to punish Mexico for<br />

trying to destroy the young Republic of<br />

Texas was the Sommerville Expedition<br />

into Mexico which later came to be known<br />

as the Mier Expedition. It was an effort by<br />

the Texas Militia to invade and punish<br />

Mexico for its repeated attempts to retake<br />

Texas. The expedition was a failure. Many<br />

Texans were lost. Others were incarcerated<br />

and publicly humiliated as they were<br />

marched through the streets of Monterrey<br />

and Saltillo to Mexico City. Many of those<br />

Texans were eventually released or able to<br />

escape and return to Texas.<br />

However, the most significant battle<br />

with Mexico occurred following<br />

statehood with the United States. It was<br />

the War with Mexico in which Seguinites<br />

participated and helped settle the major<br />

differences between Mexico, Texas, and<br />

the United States. This included the<br />

establishment of the international<br />

boundaries that exist to this day.<br />

When General Taylor was marshaling<br />

his forces near Corpus Christi Bay before<br />

the march into Mexico he heard of the<br />

Texas Rangers. He recruited the Rangers<br />

to be his eyes, ears and warriors where<br />

and when needed. Among those Rangers<br />

were Ben and Henry McCulloch, Jack<br />

Coffee Hayes, and a host of others.<br />

General Taylor was appalled at the<br />

appearance of these true rough riders of<br />

the western frontier but he overcame that<br />

distaste once he saw how effective they<br />

were in finding, locating, and arranging<br />

the attacks on Mexican troops. They also<br />

knew the land. It was the Rangers who<br />

guided Taylor’s forces to Brownsville and<br />

helped them stave off a number of attacks<br />

and skirmishes with the Mexican troops<br />

before continuing southward to Monterrey<br />

and ultimately to Mexico City.<br />

At this same time, German and French<br />

Alsatian immigrations were occurring<br />

north and northwest of the area that<br />

was still a part of the Green De Witt<br />

Colony. These German immigrants would<br />

play a key role in what eventually<br />

became Schertz, Selma, Cibolo, Santa<br />

Clara, Marion, and many other<br />

communities that eventually became<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>.<br />

C h a p t e r T h r e e ✦ 1 3

❖ The home of Juan Seguin’s father-in-law, Jose Flores, in the town of Seguin. Flores married his wife, Josefa, in this<br />

house. The site of this house is the current site of the Saffold-McKee house.<br />

While these evernts were occuring for<br />

the survival of the Republic and its early<br />

towns, Seguin was developing its own<br />

identity in what today is Guadalupe<br />

<strong>County</strong>. First to be discussed is Seguin’s<br />

establishment. There were two major<br />

projects needing attention: Rules for<br />

homebuilding and establishing roads. The<br />

first thing required in terms of town roads<br />

was that they be seventy feet wide and<br />

running north to south and east to west.<br />

To this day the earliest main streets, some<br />

renamed, still hold to this requirement.<br />

However, as the town grew into a city, the<br />

more outlying neighborhood streets<br />

became narrower.<br />

Early homes were often built of<br />

varying materials. Some were classic log<br />

cabins such as the Campbell log cabin,<br />

today owned and displayed by the Seguin<br />

Conservation Society. Eventually porches<br />

and dog runs were added. The Campbell<br />

log cabin had two elevated rooms: One<br />

for sleeping and one for cooking and<br />

maybe eating. The hearth was outdoors.<br />

Between the timbers, with twigs and mud<br />

caulking, the cabins were fairly well<br />

protected from the winter chills.<br />

Others, were described by German<br />

scientist-botanist Ferdinand Roemer,<br />

when visiting Seguin in 1846. His<br />

description of the Rancho Flores owned<br />

by Juan Seguin’s father-in-law said, “The<br />

spacious yard was enclosed according to<br />

Mexican custom with a palisade of<br />

Mesquite trees. The one story home and<br />

various outhouses were made of logs<br />

standing perpendicular to the crevices of<br />

which were filled with clay.” The clay was<br />

more likely a combination of homemade<br />

adobe mixed with the clay which remains<br />

close to the surface in many areas of<br />

Seguin and its immediate region. Today<br />

the Flores adobe homestead is covered by<br />

the Saffold-McKee home.<br />

Early marriages took place in these<br />

homes as did church services and<br />

teaching for the children. Among the<br />

earliest marriages were those of Juan<br />

Seguin in the Flores home. Melissa Day<br />

(daughter of Sarah Day who tended to<br />

dressing wounded Texas Rangers at the<br />

Ranger Station) married early Texas<br />

Ranger James Callahan. Within a<br />

short period of time Jack Coffee Hays<br />

married Susan Calvert in the Magnolia<br />

Hotel. This adobe structure remains<br />

standing and is in continued use on<br />

South Crockett Street.<br />

Interestingly, Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> has<br />

had two designations as a <strong>County</strong>. Under<br />

the 1842 Republic of Texas it was<br />

organized as a judicial county, but<br />

was revoked by the Texas Supreme Court<br />

which declared judicial counties to<br />

be unconstitutional. By 1846, after<br />

annexation, Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> was<br />

formed from parts of Bexar and Gonzales<br />

counties with 862 square miles. This was<br />

later reduced when Wilson and Blanco<br />

counties were formed. Today Guadalupe<br />

<strong>County</strong> covers 713 square miles.<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> itself was officially<br />

enacted in 1848 by the State’s first<br />

Legislative Session. A county government<br />

❖ The historic Campbell log cabin was built in early Seguin. The cabin is in the Seguin Conservation Society’s<br />

<strong>Historic</strong> District.<br />

1 4 ✦ H I S T O R I C G U A D A L U P E C O U N T Y

was organized that continues to provide<br />

administration for Guadalupe <strong>County</strong><br />

and the cities and communities of the<br />

<strong>County</strong>. The first elected county officials<br />

were: <strong>County</strong> Judge, Michael Erskine;<br />

<strong>County</strong> Clerk, Thomas H. Duggan;<br />

Sheriff, Milton Osborne; District Clerk,<br />

Asa J. L. Sowell; Assessor and Collector,<br />

William G. King; <strong>County</strong> Commissioners,<br />

William Tom, William Beard, James M.<br />

Day, and Jeremiah S. Calvert; Constable,<br />

George W. Price; and Appointed<br />

Treasurer, Thomas H. Hollamon.<br />

<strong>Historic</strong>ally Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> has been<br />

an agricultural community. This is seen<br />

throughout the histories of Seguin at one<br />

end of the <strong>County</strong> and Selma/Schertz/<br />

Cibolo at the other end with the numerous<br />

smaller communities to the east, west, and<br />

central parts of the <strong>County</strong> such as Marion<br />

in the center, Kingsbury to the east, New<br />

Berlin to the southwest of Schertz and<br />

Cibolo, and Galle and Staples to the<br />

north and eastern parts of the <strong>County</strong>. Each<br />

has its own history and yet each has<br />

interacted with the other communities<br />

throughout their respective years.<br />

Schertz and Seguin shared a number<br />

of similarities, yet differed as well due to<br />

the distance between each, topography,<br />

and climates of the land, approximation<br />

to other communities, and the cross<br />

cultural interchanges and their effects on<br />

businesses. The same can be said for New<br />

Berlin and Kingsbury and all the other<br />

communities past and present. Each was<br />

an entity unto themselves but still had<br />

binding ties in commerce, education,<br />

religion, and socio/political interchanges.<br />

Four of these just mentioned<br />

communities share the common<br />

dynamics of the 1870s railroad building<br />

era supported by Governor John Ireland<br />

of Seguin. Each has a history of churches<br />

and places of gathering including<br />

Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish. <strong>An</strong>d,<br />

all of them have a strong agricultural<br />

history and can trace their early days<br />

to the Indians, Spanish explorations,<br />

the Mexican Revolution, the Texas<br />

Revolution and statehood, the antebellum<br />

❖ The first church in Seguin was built on the southwest corner of Crockett and East Live Oak. Today it is next to the<br />

log cabin in the Seguin Conservation’s <strong>Historic</strong> District.<br />

period, the Civil War, and the major<br />

periods (economic, military, political, and<br />

social) of the nineteenth to the twenty<br />

first centuries.<br />

The <strong>County</strong> also provided administration<br />

for Seguin until it organized its<br />

government and administration. When<br />

Seguin was incorporated and received its<br />

Charter in 1853, the <strong>County</strong> discontinued<br />

its administration of the newly incorporated<br />

city. John R. King was Seguin’s<br />

first interim Mayor that same year.<br />

Because there was no Courthouse at<br />

that time, the early representatives met<br />

under oak trees or in private homes near<br />

the center of downtown. The first grand<br />

jury met under a live oak grove and the<br />

District Court tried its first cases in the<br />

home of Paris Smith. The <strong>County</strong> Clerk<br />

could be found in a separate room in<br />

Wilson Randle’s home. In 1847 an old<br />

two story framed structure was moved<br />

near downtown to the northwest corner<br />

of North River and Court Street. The 30<br />

foot by 50 foot structure’s second floor<br />

served as the courtroom while the lower<br />

floor had four offices for most of the<br />

county officials.<br />

Education was a top priority for<br />

Seguin’s early citizens. As all of this was<br />

happening in the early 1840s, so too<br />

were the parents becoming more involved<br />

in the education of their children. With<br />

the arrival of Methodist Minister<br />

Reverend David Evans Thompson and<br />

his wife, Elizabeth <strong>An</strong>n, a more formal<br />

era of education began. By 1845,<br />

Reverend Thompson started a school and<br />

taught in the first school house on the<br />

northeastern corner of Nolte and Milam<br />

Streets. It was a three room adobe<br />

building which, by 1890, was beaten<br />

down by the weather.<br />

In conjunction with the establishment<br />

of more permanent ministers coming to<br />

Seguin such as the Thompson family. Mrs.<br />

Thompson was also an accomplished<br />

school teacher who graduated from the<br />

first class of the Georgia Female College,<br />

the forerunner of Wesleyan College. Mrs. J.<br />

A. M. Boyd (Rachel Boyd), was also an<br />

accomplished teacher and the beginning of<br />

public education for Seguin’s youngsters.<br />

Shortly afterwards a group of men, in<br />

what was then known as Guadalupe City<br />

(west of present day Guadalupe Street),<br />

met to organize an educational system for<br />

Seguin and the <strong>County</strong>. These men,<br />

William E. Jones, Michael Erskine, Dr.<br />

John E. Parks (inventor of the classic Park’s<br />

Concrete of which over 100 homes were<br />

built), Joseph F. Johnson, and Martin<br />

C h a p t e r T h r e e ✦ 1 5

Lewis, established the groundwork for<br />

public education in Seguin. By 1849 there<br />

was an educational institution in Seguin,<br />

called Guadalupe College, which the<br />

founders joined. By 1850 the school was in<br />

full operation and its first Superintendent<br />

was Mrs. Mary Hill. Professor J. W. Glass<br />

was its first principal.<br />

Within less than thirty years another<br />

Guadalupe College was to be built near<br />

downtown Seguin. Its’ history continued<br />

into the twentieth century. It was the<br />

southernmost Black College in the United<br />

States and graduated a number of students<br />

who became leaders in their communities.<br />

But more on this a little later.<br />

In 1858, through a close cooperative<br />

spirit of local citizens, $3,800 was raised<br />

to purchase property for a new school.<br />

The names of the original Academies<br />

were changed to the Guadalupe Male<br />

Academy and the Guadalupe Female<br />

Academy. Between the trustees who put<br />

this academic package together, and in<br />

cooperation with the Methodist Church<br />

and the State Legislature, incorporation<br />

of a public school was authorized. It<br />

further provided “that the Methodist<br />

Church would be responsible for the<br />

maintenance of said institution” which<br />

was approved on February 8, 1860. So<br />

successful was this renewed educational<br />

endeavor that by 1860 there were a<br />

minimum of six schools throughout<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>: Duggar School, Elm<br />

Creek, Schumannsvile, Upper Mill Creek,<br />

Concrete School, and York’s Creek.<br />

As these schools within Seguin grew in<br />

numbers and subjects so too did education<br />

throughout Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> from the<br />

1800s and well into the twenty-first century.<br />

Following are representatives of the schools:<br />

Dietert School near Zorn on Highway 123<br />

and Dreibrodt Road on the East side of the<br />

highway; Elkins School on Highway 90A at<br />

Brelsford Ranch Road; Hoover School on<br />

14356 Highway 90A East. All in all, ranging<br />

from Schertz and Cibolo to Staples and Zorn<br />

and Zuehl to Darst Field and Kingsbury to<br />

New Berlin and Olmos to many other<br />

communities in Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>, there<br />

were approximately sixty-six rural schools<br />

prior to the early twentieth century when<br />

Texas, its incorporated cities, and counties,<br />

began to formalize the state’s public<br />

education system.<br />

❖ Saint James Catholic Church at 510 South Camp and West Convent. Construction of the church began in 1872.<br />

The church was dedicated on March 30, 1873.<br />

To this day Guadalupe <strong>County</strong><br />

residents will find, in almost all of the<br />

incorporated communities, private<br />

denominational and nondenominational<br />

academies and public schools from<br />

prekindergarten to high schools. There are<br />

also five public high schools ranging from<br />

Class 5A to 3A and at least three private<br />

elementary schools and one private high<br />

school within today’s Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>.<br />

The Catholic Legacy in Guadalupe<br />

<strong>County</strong> has been one of religion and<br />

education. Indeed, Saint Joseph, later<br />

Saint James Catholic Church, has the<br />

oldest school for youngsters in Texas.<br />

They were followed by the Franciscan<br />

order in establishing a private Mexican<br />

School in Seguin on present day Jones<br />

Street, just across the street from the<br />

original Our Lady of Guadalupe Church.<br />

This school served as both an elementary<br />

and high school. What this indicated, in<br />

its earliest years of the 20th century, is<br />

that Mexican students could not go to a<br />

city public school. However, that was<br />

overcome on the part of private citizens<br />

and in working with the City Council at<br />

the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries.<br />

<strong>An</strong>d this did not mean there was no<br />

schooling for Mexican children in<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>. There was schooling in<br />

the <strong>County</strong>’s communities. For example,<br />

in Barbarossa there was a Mexican school<br />

as well as a White school. The same was<br />

true in Geronimo where there was a<br />

Mexican and a White school as well as in<br />

Laubach near Seguin and the Weinert<br />

Community also provided a Mexican and a<br />

White school. There were also Black<br />

schools throughout Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>.<br />

Six were later designated as Rosenwald<br />

Schools which were partially funded by<br />

Sears and Roebuck President Julius<br />

Rosenwald who worked with Dr. George<br />

Washington Carver to establish vocational<br />

oriented schools throughout the South.<br />

These schools were jointly paid for by the<br />

Rosenwald Foundation and the rural Black<br />

and White communities. But there were<br />

also non-Rosenwald Black schools in<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>.<br />

1 6 ✦ H I S T O R I C G U A D A L U P E C O U N T Y

❖ The original Our Lady of Guadalupe Church on<br />

Jones Street.<br />

Religion has been a profound part of<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>’s earliest settled<br />

history to the present. The First Church,<br />

which still stands on today’s Seguin<br />

Conservation Society’s downtown historic<br />

park, was originally built on the<br />

northwestern corner of Austin and Market<br />

(now Nolte) Streets. Its construction was<br />

of lumber shipped from Indianola, a three<br />

week journey by wagon.<br />

As previously mentioned, the<br />

Methodists were among the earliest<br />

denominations to become a part of<br />

Seguin’s growing population. The earliest<br />

Methodists were very generous in the use<br />

of their church. It was used not only by<br />

peoples of different faiths but their<br />

church also served as a schoolhouse<br />

when needed. Yet services were also held<br />

in private homes, the courthouse, and<br />

other available buildings until other<br />

denominational churches could be built.<br />

In 1850, the Presbyterian Church<br />

began its work. In 1857 they joined<br />

with the Baptists in constructing<br />

a church of concrete and adobe. The<br />

March 27, 1858 Seguin Journal reported<br />

that “Reverend J. M. Wilson of the<br />

Presbyterian Church preaches at the Male<br />

Academy at eleven a.m. on the second<br />

and fourth Sabbath of each month.<br />

Reverend L. H. Jones of the Episcopal<br />

Church holds services at the Female<br />

Academy every Sabbath at ten and one<br />

half o’clock and at three and one half<br />

o’clock p.m.”<br />

As best as can be determined, the<br />

Baptists and Episcopalians arrived shortly<br />

after 1851, led by Reverend Lucius H. Jones<br />

who established its first church and was<br />

followed, in 1853, by Reverend L. H. Jones<br />

who also held services at the Female<br />

Academy. The First Baptist Preacher was<br />

Reverend Z. N. Morrell who was a veteran<br />

of the 1837 Battle of Salado. He was<br />

succeeded by Reverends Hagnly and Foster.<br />

It goes without saying the Roman<br />

Catholics were first in this region as they<br />

accompanied the Spaniards and Tejanos to<br />

San <strong>An</strong>tonio during the Mission and<br />

Presidio eras of exploration. The<br />

Franciscans were the predominant order<br />

but there were also other Orders such as<br />

the Jesuits. As previously mentioned in<br />

Father Celiz’ diaries between 1715-1718,<br />

there were Spanish explorations up and<br />

down the Guadalupe River which<br />

included the Seguin and New Braunfels<br />

region which would have also<br />

encompassed the present day locations of<br />

Schertz and Cibolo.<br />

Healthcare was a constant constraint<br />

in the pioneering days. Guadalupe<br />

<strong>County</strong> was no exception. The earliest<br />

hospital was the Ranger Station along<br />

Walnut Creek where Sara Day nursed the<br />

wounds of the early Texas Rangers and<br />

others as needed. More often than not<br />

local remedies were used for everything<br />

from boiling water to knives heated in<br />

open flames to whiskey and poultices,<br />

local herbs and seeds and pastes from the<br />

waxy stems of flowers. The first<br />

recognized hospital after the Ranger<br />

Station was in a private home that was<br />

vacated by its owner, Joseph Sonka and<br />

his family, so there could be a hospital in<br />

Seguin. He moved his family across the<br />

street on Guadalupe Street to another<br />

home he owned and was able to continue<br />

operating the Sonka Brick Company, and<br />

his cotton gin just a short distance away.<br />

Due to changing times at the turn of<br />

the 19th-20th centuries physicians began<br />

using their private homes which could<br />

take in a limited number of patients.<br />

There were at least three homes that<br />

participated in this effort. <strong>An</strong>d then,<br />

when the Park Hotel (today the Plaza<br />

Building) on south River Street and across<br />

from the City Square, was built in 1917,<br />

the top floor became a hospital. But,<br />

again, only for a short while because a<br />

new hospital was established in a home<br />

on East Weinert Street, to be later<br />

purchased by two nurses. It remained a<br />

hospital until 1965. In that year a new<br />

hospital was built on East Court Street<br />

where it was dramatically expanded in<br />

2012 and is now the Guadalupe Regional<br />

Medical Center (GRMC). It is truly a state<br />

of the art hospital and well staffed with<br />

doctors, administrators, nurses and all<br />

the support personnel needed to provide<br />

top-rated attending.<br />

Business is what drives market forces.<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> and its cities, towns,<br />

and communities were and are no<br />

strangers to making a living. Guadalupe<br />

<strong>County</strong> is no different than the other 253<br />

counties in the State of Texas when it<br />

comes to business. But what is facing<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> today is that more<br />

agricultural land is falling to urban<br />

developments with the oncoming and<br />

increasingly larger businesses as the I-35<br />

and I-10 corridors become two very major<br />

transportation venues for not only trade<br />

with Mexico and Central America, but also<br />

for access to major ports along the Gulf of<br />

Mexico as well as access to railways,<br />

maritime, ground transports, and airways.<br />

One hundred seventy five years of<br />

agricultural history is now finding itself<br />

having to readjust to these new dynamics<br />

and changes of a more varied and even<br />

more diversified economy. But, due to<br />

the tremendous legacy of agricultural<br />

leadership from the past and the present,<br />

these adjustments are being made by its<br />

leaders, and for that matter, all the<br />

business and professional leaders who<br />

now exist throughout the <strong>County</strong>. The<br />

C h a p t e r T h r e e ✦ 1 7

<strong>County</strong>’s agricultural heritage will not be<br />

lost as the 21st century gains momentum.<br />

As an example, long time agricultural<br />

leader Wilfred Bartoskowitz, in<br />

Geronimo, established the Big Red Barn<br />

on Cordova Road and State Highway 123<br />

between Geronimo and Seguin. It has<br />

since become a major focal point for<br />

school children to grandparents sharing<br />

observing, and contributing to the<br />

agricultural heritage of this region.<br />

Each of Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>’s communities<br />

came after the establishment of<br />

Seguin, yet, each made tremendous<br />

contributions to what today is Guadalupe<br />

<strong>County</strong> and South Central Texas. These<br />

communities were of the same ecological<br />

and geographic histories through the<br />

millions of years before human kind<br />

came to this area. Over the millennium<br />

animals and eventually humans came<br />

to this region and adapted to their<br />

environments. They adapted to the<br />

weather, the flora and fauna, the climates,<br />

and everything in between in order to<br />

survive and in many cases, thrive. Rivers<br />

too were important just as were the<br />

grasses and the prairies and the sand hills<br />

and black land prairies and post oaks<br />

and walnut and pecan trees and the<br />

wild game from eohippus to horses<br />

to mastadons to buffalo and deer and<br />

bear and plentiful subterranean aquifers<br />

and springs.<br />

❖ The Agricultural Heritage Center’s Big Red Barn.<br />

Agriculture was the foundation of early<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> businesses. But supplies<br />

are needed as are parts for equipment<br />

repairs, wood for building homes and stores<br />

and churches, transportation for hauling<br />

goods for consumption such as food,<br />

supplies, equipment, tools, reading<br />

materials, nails, spikes, iron and coal and<br />

steel, and the list goes on. Enterprising<br />

young men and women became the back<br />

bone of the early stores fulfilling these needs<br />

while others became store clerks, or haulers,<br />

or teachers and preachers, or blacksmiths or<br />

curanderos, doctors and nurses, and<br />

midwives and horse shoers, and the list<br />

continues. <strong>An</strong>d as the lists grew in numbers<br />

of peoples in the business sectors so too did<br />

their communities grow. Safes in general<br />

stores became banks which led to lenders<br />

and then the building of banks, and school<br />

houses emerged, and roads began<br />

improving and these early communities<br />

began to either flourish or disappear.<br />

What came to be Guadalupe <strong>County</strong><br />

was indeed a place a person could settle,<br />

raise a family, and by working hard they<br />

could have a good life. From each corner<br />

of the <strong>County</strong> there were opportunities<br />

that availed themselves to the settlers, to<br />

businesses, and to imagination and the<br />

willingness to work. Those who failed left<br />

and sought other places where maybe<br />

they could succeed. But Seguin was not<br />

the only place emerging.<br />

So too were other communities<br />

beginning to become a permanent part of<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>. A number of these<br />

communities will soon tell their stories.<br />

Transportation, by the mid 19th<br />

century, was improving. By 1847 cart<br />

trails and roads were pretty well<br />

developed thus connecting Seguin, Cibolo<br />

Valley and eventually Schertz and Seguin.<br />

So too were trails emerging between New<br />

Berlin and bordering counties to the west<br />

and Kingsbury and Staples to the east and<br />

south as well as to Seguin.<br />

One of the not too often mentioned<br />

trails or early roads in the histories of this<br />

region was the San <strong>An</strong>tonio road to<br />

Gonzales that was developed during the<br />

early Spanish explorations. This road was<br />

south of present day Seguin and ran west to<br />

east from San <strong>An</strong>tonio and crossing the<br />

Cibolo River to the Guadalupe River below<br />

Seguin and then following the river below<br />

the sand hills and the Capote peak to<br />

Gonzales. It was used not only by the early<br />

Indians but by Santa <strong>An</strong>na’s forces during<br />

the Texas Revolution, and later by the<br />

German immigrants and freight haulers.<br />

As Seguin and other towns in<br />

this region became established so too<br />

did commerce and communications.<br />

Some of this region’s earliest stage<br />

coaches began in the Cibolo Valley and<br />

Selma areas as well as in Seguin. In 1847<br />

there was a stage coach route that<br />

extended from Selma through the Cibolo<br />

Valley to New Braunfels to Seguin and<br />

thence to Gonzales and beyond which<br />

became very popular for early travel. In<br />

the 1850s General Jefferson of Seguin<br />

made part of his fortune on his stage<br />

coach operation which continued well<br />

into the Civil War period.<br />

There was one particular incident in<br />

local history that came to be called the<br />

“Cart Wars” between 1854 and 1855 that<br />

reflected racial and economic overtones<br />

beyond the slavery issue. The Cart Wars<br />

involved the original cart haulers, begun<br />

by the early Mexicans who were proud of<br />

their freighting successes from the coastal<br />

areas to the hill country and in between.<br />

1 8 ✦ H I S T O R I C G U A D A L U P E C O U N T Y

It was their living. They perceived the<br />

Germans as taking their business away.<br />

The Cart Wars were fought north and<br />

west of Seguin. Fortunately this war was<br />

settled by the Texas Rangers.<br />

As the Germans and many other<br />

Europeans began migrating and settling in<br />

this region and into the Hill <strong>County</strong>, they<br />

also sensed a way to make money and<br />

became involved in the carting business. It<br />

was not long before the new German<br />

arrivals became unappreciated by the<br />

established carters. One new carter was<br />

Heinrich Timmermann, who, upon<br />

leaving the Merriwether Plantation near<br />

present day Clear Springs, became a very<br />

successful carter from New Braunfels to<br />

the ports in Corpus Christi. However he<br />

managed to avoid direct confrontations<br />

with the established Mexican carters.<br />

According to Wanda Timmermann, a<br />

direct descendant, Heinrich Timmermann<br />

always carried a small safe with him under<br />

the buckboard just in case he needed it to<br />

conduct a transaction.<br />

One of Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>’s proudest<br />

traditions is its annual <strong>County</strong> Fair which<br />

is one of the oldest established <strong>County</strong><br />

Fairs in Texas. The Guadalupe <strong>County</strong><br />

Fair traces its history to October 13,<br />

1859, on the City Square. Although there<br />

was no formal Fair Association then,<br />

there was an agenda for the day’s<br />

activities. In the morning there was a<br />

livestock show and in the afternoon a<br />

town meeting was conducted for the<br />

purpose of organizing a stock raising and<br />

agricultural organization. However there<br />

are no records that indicate there was<br />

another organized county fair until after<br />

the Civil War and the Reconstruction<br />

years of the 1870s. In 1883, an official<br />

fair was organized and in 1889, Fair<br />

Association President John Moore was<br />

pleased to state that the Fair Association<br />

was, in summary, well enough organized<br />

with dedicated leadership that there<br />

was “…more determined and settled<br />

resolve for a permanent annual display<br />

of the resources of the county.” It has<br />

been going strong ever since and<br />

❖ Cotton bales being transported in the early twentieth century.<br />

continues providing leadership and<br />

responsibilities for youngsters in<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> continuing well into<br />

the twenty first century.<br />

Slavery and the Civil War was an era<br />

that will perhaps be in history books for<br />

much longer than it was an institution in<br />

American <strong>History</strong>. It has been well<br />

documented that thirty-two percent of<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>’s population in the<br />

1850s to the mid 1860s were slaves.<br />

However, the majority of slaves were<br />

more in the central, eastern, and to a<br />

degree southern portions of the county<br />

which included the black land prairie,<br />

and the post oak belt and a combination<br />

of the two which supported farming and<br />

ranching. In addition there were slaves in<br />

adjoining counties such Bexar and<br />

Comal, but on a much lesser basis.<br />

There was corn to be raised, cattle and<br />

livestock to be husbanded, and there was<br />

cotton. Even though the predominantly<br />

German population in western<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> and into Comal<br />

<strong>County</strong> and Bexar <strong>County</strong> were not in<br />

favor of slavery a number of families<br />

did own slaves. The Merriweather<br />

Plantation, which was once settled to the<br />

south of New Braunfels along today’s<br />

Highway 46 towards Seguin from Comal<br />

to Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>, had a number of<br />

slaves who labored under white<br />

Overseers. Heinrich Timmermann, who<br />

learned to speak English from the slaves,<br />

was, for the rest of his life, chided by<br />

his German immigrant friends and<br />

colleagues, for his Gulla accent. He<br />

later left the plantation and for the rest of<br />

his life, after his carting business,<br />

dedicated himself to buying lands in<br />

northern Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> for farming<br />

and ranching.<br />

Nonetheless, Seguin and Guadalupe,<br />

as a whole, did fight for the Confederate<br />

States. According to Reverend Lawrence<br />

Fitzsimon’s work, the two most<br />

outspoken secessionists in Seguin and<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> were John Ireland and<br />

William P. Hardeman.<br />

Hardeman was a lawyer and planter<br />

from the Highsmith Community along<br />

the San Marcos River in the eastern part<br />

of the county. John Ireland was a Seguin<br />

lawyer who served as a Civil War<br />

battlefield officer and later became quite<br />

prominent in local and state government.<br />

Ireland ultimately served as Governor of<br />

Texas in the post Reconstruction era. Less<br />

than half the eligible voters voted when it<br />

came to casting ballots on whether to<br />

secede or not. There were 314 for<br />

secession and 22 against. What is not too<br />

well known, however, is that the first ever<br />

C h a p t e r T h r e e ✦ 1 9

military action of the Civil War involved<br />

Seguinites and the last battle of the Civil<br />

War was in Texas involving John “Rip”<br />

Ford, a Texas Ranger in Brownsville.<br />

In early February 1861, Guadalupe<br />

<strong>County</strong>’s Ben McCulloch was appointed a<br />

military commander. His instructions<br />

were simple, and direct: free the state of<br />

federal troops. At that time there were an<br />

estimated 2,800 Union soldiers in Texas.<br />

The largest garrison was in San <strong>An</strong>tonio,<br />

commanded by Major General Twiggs.<br />

With volunteers from Texas, including<br />

two companies of young men from<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>, during the night of<br />

February 16, McCulloch departed for San<br />

<strong>An</strong>tonio. On February 17, at the Alamo,<br />

General Twiggs surrendered his post with<br />

all the public property in San <strong>An</strong>tonio.<br />

He agreed to Ben McCulloch’s suggestion<br />

to withdraw his forces from Texas. Little<br />

did they know that Robert E. Lee was<br />

staying in a hotel not far from the Alamo,<br />

waiting for the stagecoach to arrive so he<br />

could leave early the next morning.<br />

Lee still had not made up his mind<br />

whether to fight for the Union or the<br />

Confederacy. When he left San <strong>An</strong>tonio,<br />

after having served a long tour along the<br />

Mexican border, he left via stage coach<br />

and spent the next night at the Polley<br />

Mansion, near Sulpher Springs in today’s<br />

Wilson <strong>County</strong>, just southwest of Seguin.<br />

Joseph Polley was an old friend of Lee’s<br />

and both spent precious time with each<br />

other before Lee’s return to Virginia.<br />

The last battle of the Civil War was in<br />

Brownsville, Texas, and it was there that<br />

Texas Ranger John “Rip” Ford was part of<br />

the effort to have the Union soldiers<br />

surrender their arms.<br />

The Post Civil War and Reconstruction<br />

period in Seguin and Guadalupe <strong>County</strong><br />

was not an easy period. The war took its<br />

toll on many. Ben McCulloch was killed<br />

in action at the Battle of Pea Ridge,<br />

Arkansas; Nathaniel Benton lost an arm<br />

yet went on to become a teacher and later<br />

was elected as a Chief Justice in<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> following the war;<br />

and John Ireland also distinguished<br />

himself during the post Reconstruction<br />

era not only in law, but in attaining the<br />

highest office in state politics.<br />

By the close of 1865, quietly and<br />

without fanfare, communities throughout<br />

the county, including Seguin and the<br />

Cibolo Valley Settlement, began to<br />

reweave the loose threads of life back<br />

together. Again they hoped to make<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> even better than<br />

before the Civil War. Fortunately, their<br />

houses still stood and the families<br />

remained unscathed from the scourges of<br />

war. Homes went untouched by enemy<br />

soldiers. The churches and schools still<br />

stood and functioned but the children<br />

had grown older and perhaps a bit wiser<br />

during the absences of their fathers. Like<br />

their mothers, they were the backbone of<br />

the home front.<br />

Although the National Reconstruction<br />

Act was not officially passed until March<br />

2, 1867, there were efforts in elements<br />

establishing law and social order during<br />

1865 throughout the South. The first<br />

observable act of Reconstruction for<br />

Texas was when General Gordon Granger<br />

proclaimed all slaves freed men on June<br />

19, 1865, when he arrived in Galveston.<br />

This celebration continues to this day<br />

in Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> and in many parts<br />

of Texas.<br />

On July 3, 1865, the last Guadalupe<br />

<strong>County</strong> Commissioner’s Court under<br />

the Confederacy, met again a few weeks<br />

later. President <strong>An</strong>drew Jackson appointed<br />

A. J. Hamilton as the provisional governor<br />

of Texas. By 1867 the Radical<br />

Reconstructionists were able to legislate<br />

reforms and make the Reconstruction<br />

period a difficult memory for the South.<br />

So thorough were the Reconstructionists<br />

that a Republican was not elected<br />

Governor of Texas for over 100 years.<br />

As an example, Brevet Major General J.<br />

J. Reynolds commanded the Seguin-<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> region which<br />

included all settlements throughout the<br />

county. <strong>County</strong> officials were appointed<br />

via his directives, juries were purged of<br />

Confederate sympathizers, and the<br />

Commissioners Court was directed to<br />

destroy all the Confederate currency in<br />

the Treasury. A special property tax was<br />

levied to help defray expenses in law<br />

enforcement such as arresting and jailing<br />

felons, feeding prisoners, road building<br />

and jail repairs. He further divided the<br />

county into five voting precincts with<br />

each having a justice appointed by<br />

the Reconstructionists. Max Arward<br />

Moellering’s 1936 master thesis reflected<br />

that General Reynold’s subordinates<br />

interfered in the voting elections of<br />

November, 1869, to ensure the proper<br />

radical officials were elected.<br />

The Freedman’s Bureau was located on<br />

the east side of the City Square in Seguin<br />

on South River Street, across from the<br />

<strong>County</strong> Court House. In addition,<br />

Federal soldiers were positioned along<br />

Washington Street where they<br />

bivouacked all the way to Walnut Creek.<br />

Civil law enforcement was also made up<br />

of all Reconstructionists, many of whom<br />

were not native to Texas. Freed Blacks<br />

were now Federal soldiers in segregated<br />

units commanded by White Officers.<br />

Economically the Reconstruction<br />

representatives worked to reorient the<br />

agricultural environment in Guadalupe<br />

<strong>County</strong>. Cotton was seized without<br />

permission of the private owners. The<br />

owners could replant but they had to<br />

follow stern restrictions and regulations.<br />

Many former cotton growers turned to the<br />

production of grains, feed, fruits,<br />

vegetables, cattle, hogs, and chickens.<br />

Cattle drives soon returned to Seguin<br />

thanks to the successes of the 1854 cattle<br />

drive to California. Mrs. Virginia Woods<br />

reflected in Seguin’s Bicentennial Minutes<br />

that, in 1866, “fat beeves brought up to<br />

$5.00 each, however a year later three year<br />

olds sold locally for $9.50 per head, while<br />

amazingly this same animal at that time<br />

would have sold for $70.00 in New York.”<br />

The cattle industry, between 1864<br />

and 1874, greatly helped the recovery<br />

of Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>’s struggling<br />

economy. By the 1880s, Guadalupe<br />

<strong>County</strong> experienced a resurgence that<br />

2 0 ✦ H I S T O R I C G U A D A L U P E C O U N T Y

eflected the recovery was in place almost<br />

as it was prior to the Civil War.<br />

Unfortunately, the 1880s also witnessed<br />

the decline of the cattle driving era in<br />

Texas and American history due to the<br />

introduction of barbed wire.<br />

Two other areas that adapted to the<br />

Reconstruction era in Guadalupe <strong>County</strong><br />

were education and religion. The<br />

Guadalupe Male and Female Academies<br />

were still functioning at the end of the<br />

Civil War. By 1868, the two Academies<br />

did not have the revenues to continue<br />

operating. They were sold several times<br />

until Dr. Franklin bought the Female<br />

College and J. A. McNeil bought the Male<br />

Academy. By 1872 both were defunct and<br />

the Jesuit Fathers bought them. They<br />

later sold the Female Academy to Colonel<br />

George W. Brackenridge. This building<br />

eventually became the First Negro<br />

College in Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>. It was<br />

called Guadalupe College, and was later<br />

moved from the site of today’s Joe F.<br />

Saegert sixth grade campus to several<br />

hundred acres of land just east of Seguin<br />

along Mill Road (now East Court Street)<br />

at the juncture of Highway 90 West.<br />

Sadly the College burned down in 1937,<br />

but many of its graduates went on<br />

to become successful administrators,<br />

teachers, and business leaders in their<br />

communities, including Seguin.<br />

One of the most remarkable stories<br />

that occurred in Guadalupe <strong>County</strong><br />

began prior to the Civil War, continued<br />

through the war and Reconstruction Era,<br />

and on into the early 21st century. It is a<br />

story for the ages and involved Whites,<br />

Black Slaves, Freedmen, businessmen,<br />

University scholars, archaeologists, and<br />

potters. It is the story of the Wilson<br />

Potteries that continues to this day.<br />

The history and story of this<br />

legendary pottery began in 1856 when<br />

Presbyterian minister John McKamey<br />

Wilson, Jr., arrived in Guadalupe <strong>County</strong><br />

and Seguin. He was white. With him were<br />

his wife, Philadelphia Herndon Fox, their<br />

eleven children and nineteen slaves.<br />

According to Elmer Joe Brackner’s written<br />

work (among numerous other works) on<br />

the Wilson Potteries, the Reverend<br />

Wilson was the second minister of<br />

Seguin’s Presbyterian Church as well as<br />

headmaster of the Guadalupe College<br />

Female Academy before it was<br />

discontinued. John M. Wilson had a more<br />

than passing interest in the making of<br />

pottery and he began creating it to<br />

preserve foods. He also trained his slaves<br />

to make pottery in the various kilns they<br />

built. Eventually they developed a salt<br />

glaze to cover the pottery to help preserve<br />

its strength, decrease breakage and<br />

increase the insulation properties which<br />

increased their sales.<br />

Although the Reverend Wilson fully<br />

supported slavery and the Confederate<br />

cause he allowed his pottery sites to be<br />

handed over, at no charge, to his former<br />

slaves. They continued the legacy, beauty<br />

and function and Wilson Pottery became<br />

well known and cherished.<br />

When the Civil War was over,<br />

Reverend Wilson arranged for the former<br />

slaves to continue their work. Thus was<br />

laid the cornerstone for the first Black<br />

owned free enterprise in Texas following<br />

the Civil War.<br />

Four separate kilns functioned in<br />

Guadalupe and Wilson Counties. The<br />

Black Wilson extended families sold their<br />

wares in Guadalupe, Wilson, Gonzales,<br />

Caldwell, Comal, and Bexar Counties.<br />

As their business flourished so too did<br />

their land holdings. By the end of<br />

the 19th century and early years of the<br />

20th century the demand for their<br />

pottery declined and the kilns were<br />

closed. But that did not stop the pride of<br />

their families.<br />

In the late twentieth century a Texas<br />

<strong>Historic</strong>al Marker, was dedicated to<br />

the Wilson Pottery site. Later, with the<br />

help of Texas Archaeological Steward<br />

Richard Kinz, a host of Archaeological<br />

Stewards teamed up with the Texas State<br />

University Archaeological Department.<br />

Funding grants soon followed from<br />

several organizations including the Texas<br />

<strong>Historic</strong>al Commission. Through this<br />

effort this exceptionally active site<br />

was preserved, through GPS recordings,<br />

and was buried so that its legacies<br />

would forever remain as the 21st<br />

century loomed.<br />

Today the Wilson Pottery is now on<br />

display in Seguin’s historic Sebastopol<br />

House, which was formerly a Texas State<br />

Park until the City of Seguin purchased it.<br />

The Heritage Museum also has pieces,<br />

some of which are on display in the Star<br />

of the Republic Museum, Washingtonon-the<br />

Brazos, Texas.<br />

Following the scars left by the Civil<br />

War and Reconstruction eras, Seguin rose<br />

to the challenge of moving forward. Its<br />

history was based on the proud frontier<br />

heritage of honesty, hard work, and<br />

community well being. It can be said that<br />

by the end of the 1880s Seguin and much<br />

of Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> had made a<br />

remarkable recovery. Insight, tenacity,<br />

and a sense of community spirit and<br />

pride kept the communities together and<br />

helped them grow well into the next<br />

two centuries.<br />

Although no Chamber of Commerce<br />

existed in Seguin following the Civil War<br />

and Reconstruction era, by 1921 there<br />

would be one. But that did not mean<br />

there was not a business climate present.<br />

Actually the first bank in Seguin emerged<br />

during the Reconstruction period. It was<br />

Nolte Bank.<br />

In 1868, Edouard Nolte had a safe in<br />

his store which led to the beginnings of<br />

the Nolte Bank. His general store was on<br />

the southwest corner of South Austin and<br />

Nolte Street where today the same<br />

building houses Gift and Gourmet. For<br />

years Mr. Nolte stored gold and currency<br />

for his customers’ safekeeping in his safe.<br />

This same safe can still be seen in the<br />

Starcke Furniture Store in the next block,<br />

immediately south of Gift and Gourmet.<br />

Like his fellow merchants, Mr. Nolte<br />

granted credit for family operations where<br />

he sold seed, feed, and housewares to the<br />

predominantly agricultural community.<br />

When the harvested crops went to market<br />

he collected the owed monies, or if there<br />

C h a p t e r T h r e e ✦ 2 1

❖ The Walter Nolte residence in Seguin.<br />

was a crop failure he fairly negotiated an<br />

extension of the loans.<br />

However, the safe could no longer<br />

securely hold the monies. A larger place<br />

was needed. Mr. Nolte, with sons Walter<br />

and Frank, established Seguin’s first<br />

bank, eventually moving catty corner<br />

across South Austin to where the Wells<br />

Fargo Bank Branch is today. <strong>An</strong>d there, in<br />

1900, the brick and stone building<br />

became the new Nolte Bank where it<br />

remained until the 1980s when it was<br />

absorbed by Victoria State Bank, and<br />

eventually to the Wells Fargo Bank<br />

Branch that it is today. Just to the north of<br />

the original Nolte Bank (the store) were<br />

the beginnings of the Vivroux Hardware<br />

Stores in the next block north and on the<br />

west side of South Austin Street.<br />

Eventually this became several stores<br />

housing hardware products, agricultural<br />

tools and livestock feed.<br />

The 1876 Guadalupe Times newspaper<br />

published a Seguin Directory which listed<br />

some 36 businesses and five fraternal<br />

organizations. Some of these were the<br />

Julius Prochnow Saloon, Baker’s General<br />

Store, Graves and Young General Store,<br />

several Doctors offices and Law Offices,<br />

the H. Krezdorn Jewelry Store and the<br />

Fritz Building along with a host of other<br />

downtown businesses.<br />

If there was one person from<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> who affected the<br />

development of trade, commerce, and<br />

communication in the second half<br />

of the nineteenth century in Guadalupe<br />

<strong>County</strong>, and perhaps the state, it was Civil<br />

War toughened John Ireland. This fiery,<br />

feisty lawyer and unheralded Texas<br />

statesman changed the course of post-<br />

Reconstruction Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>.<br />

He settled in Seguin and lived on the<br />

then outskirts of post Civil War Seguin.<br />

Ireland’s residence and land was on the<br />

west side of North Austin Street, on<br />

today’s West Ireland Street. It was but a<br />

short walk or buggy ride to downtown<br />

Seguin where he had his law office close<br />

to the <strong>County</strong> Court House.<br />

Not only was he successful for<br />

filing cases against his adopted home<br />

town, Seguin, such as the infamous<br />

calaboose (a horse or mule drawn<br />

wooden shelter for hauling prisoners),<br />

being housed on the downtown<br />

central square, but he also went on to<br />

challenge Governor Davis’ policies<br />

and won a seat, in 1872, in the Texas<br />

House of Representatives. <strong>An</strong>d although<br />

he was against the exemptions to the<br />

railroads he did believe in railroads tying<br />

Texas together.<br />

His railroad legacy will shortly be<br />

covered in more detail in a separate<br />

chapter entitled The Switches.<br />

By 1879, two mills were operating in<br />

Seguin. The first was begun by <strong>An</strong>drew<br />

N. Erskine as early as 1854 which was<br />

later expanded by W. E. Jones and Joseph<br />

F. Johnston with the addition of a cotton<br />

gin. Later this became the Seguin Milling<br />

and Power Company which was later<br />

replaced with the beginnings of<br />

Structural Metals, Incorporated by<br />

Marvin Selig. The second mill was Henry<br />

Troell’s Flouring and Corn Mill and<br />

Cotton Gin basically at the corner of what<br />

today is West Court Street (then called<br />

Mill Road) and Guadalupe Street.<br />

L. R. Cockrum ran a stage coach route<br />

from Seguin to Sutherland Springs in the<br />

late 1870s for those who wanted to relax<br />

and enjoy the soothing, healing powers of<br />

the sulfur springs, much like those of the<br />

historic Hot Wells of southeast San<br />

<strong>An</strong>tonio. As the Harrison and McCulloch<br />

stagecoach route from San <strong>An</strong>tonio and<br />

Austin to Schertz and southeastward to<br />

Seguin and Gonzales to the Coastal Bend<br />

was a form of the early transportation<br />

routes, so too was Mr. Cockrum’s to the<br />

southwest. <strong>An</strong>d, it was in 1875 that Thad<br />

Miller built his bridge across the<br />

Guadalupe River (no longer was a ferry<br />

now needed) several hundred yards<br />

northwest of the present day F. C. Weinert<br />

Bridge, which is commonly called the<br />

Starcke Park Bridge. The Miller Bridge<br />

abutments on the west side of the River<br />

can still be seen, just beyond Henry<br />

Troell’s Power Plant, now a popular<br />

restaurant called the Power Plant.<br />

Seguin’s earliest access to bricks came<br />

from nearby McQueeney by C. E.<br />

Blumberg. A little more on this will be<br />

addressed in a separate chapter on<br />

McQueeney. However, Seguin citizen<br />

Joseph S. Sonka later established his brick<br />

works along North Guadalupe Street not<br />

far from his home which today is a Bed<br />

2 2 ✦ H I S T O R I C G U A D A L U P E C O U N T Y

and Breakfast. As are Mr. Blumberg’s<br />

bricks a steadfast part of the early<br />

buildings in Seguin so too are Mr. Sonka’s<br />

which were also used by Henry Troell<br />

when, in 1898, he built what today is the<br />

Heritage Museum.<br />

Perhaps one of the proudest<br />

possessions of the original Reliance Fire<br />

Department, which was started near the<br />

present day corner of Gonzales and North<br />

Austin Street, is their Reliance Fire<br />

Department Charter of August 26, 1882,<br />

received from T. H. Bowman, Secretary of<br />

the State of Texas.<br />

The original Fire Department had<br />

twenty eight members who adopted<br />

the motto of “Always ready, depend<br />

on us,” although the original “Body<br />

Corporate” of the Reliance Fire Company<br />

listed twenty five. Later, as they<br />

expanded, they incorporated young<br />

men whom they labeled the “Heel Flies”<br />

and who became legendary in their<br />

own right. The Auxiliary Fire Department<br />

was also established and these ladies<br />

religiously worked throughout the<br />

community instilling hours of voluntary<br />

work in supporting their fire department<br />

and its firefighters. As one of the oldest<br />

organized fire departments in the state<br />

it continues to honor their motto<br />

everyday under current Fire Chief<br />

Dale Skinner.<br />

Businesses were expanding by the end<br />

of the 19th century. Seguin became more<br />

prosperous. So too did the towns and<br />

communities across Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>.<br />

As Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> entered the<br />

twentieth century it remained very<br />

agricultural. By the end of the twentieth<br />

century it still was very agricultural but it<br />

was also becoming one of the most<br />

dynamic growth areas in the State of<br />

Texas. As the county became more<br />

prosperous so too did each of its<br />

communities. At first it was a very slow<br />

changing <strong>County</strong> in many different areas<br />

such as education, industrialization,<br />

communications infrastructure, and<br />

capital investment. <strong>An</strong>d the churches<br />

and schools, just as they do today,<br />

❖ The original brick fire station of the Reliance<br />

Fire Department.<br />

remained a very integral part of the<br />

<strong>County</strong>’s communities.<br />

It was also during this period that<br />

public and private services expanded<br />

in Seguin. Doctors in dentistry and<br />

medicine established themselves. A<br />

permanent Fire Department was now well<br />

established and there was a street railway<br />

system from downtown to the new Train<br />

Depot on North Austin Street. Seguin was<br />

becoming the <strong>County</strong>’s major economic<br />

hub while the Schertz-Cibolo area was<br />

developing into the leading hub that it is<br />

today. By the close of the 19th century<br />

electricity, the arrival of telephones, and<br />

water works, were becoming a permanent<br />

part of the county’s economic system.<br />

Perhaps one of the most far reaching<br />

advances in modern technology at that<br />

time in Seguin was through the tinkering<br />

of Henry Troell. Born in Germany, he<br />

migrated to Seguin in the last quarter<br />

of the nineteenth century. He lived on<br />

what today is South Austin Street, on the<br />

east side of the Guadalupe River just as<br />

one crosses over the F. C. Weinert Bridge<br />

(locally called the Starcke Park Bridge).<br />

Mr. Troell’s legacy was in the permanency<br />

of the buildings he constructed as well as<br />

electricity for Seguin. He was drawn<br />

to innovating and improving whatever<br />

he was engaged in and taking things<br />

to a higher level, be they buildings,<br />

electricity, grain storage and milling, or<br />

just plain business.<br />

But, it was electricity that first tweaked<br />

his imagination. <strong>An</strong>d that tweak came<br />

from the old Flores estancia, or ranch,<br />

and the dam the Manuel Flores family<br />

began to establish in the early 1800s in<br />

the Guadalupe River, just across from<br />

where he lived along present day South<br />

Austin Street. When William Saffold<br />

bought the property in the 1850s,<br />

including the ranch, he improved the<br />

dam by adding boulders and creating<br />

increased rushing water. Later, at the turn<br />

of the century, German Immigrant Henry<br />

Troell built his home near the former<br />

Flores-Saffold–McKee location on the<br />

east side of South Austin Street.<br />

After Saffold’s improvements, Troell, in<br />

1893, began to work on and built the<br />

Electric Light Plant with some city<br />

funding. By 1908 the City of Seguin<br />

purchased the Electric Light Plant for<br />

$50,000 and Seguin now had electricity<br />

and lights. The Plant remains today at its<br />

original site and has been converted into<br />

a restaurant overlooking the River with<br />

water recreational venues.<br />

Interestingly, this was also the same year<br />

that the Seguin Railway tracks were moved<br />

from the center of Austin Street to the east<br />

side of the street. This helped prepare the<br />

main roads of Seguin for eventual<br />

improvements and ultimately, paving.<br />

Education experienced a remarkable<br />

growth in quality during the transition from<br />

the 19th and 20th centuries in a number of<br />

ways. The cornerstone in education laid in<br />

the early years of the 20th century helped<br />

lead to the desegregation of schools in the<br />

latter part of the century.<br />

One of these evolutionary leaps<br />

forward in education in Guadalupe<br />

<strong>County</strong>, the state of Texas, and the south,<br />

was remarkable in its own right. <strong>An</strong>d it<br />

was begun by a Jewish businessman<br />

in Chicago.<br />

Julius Rosenwald, a child of German-<br />

Jewish immigrants, and a high school<br />

C h a p t e r T h r e e ✦ 2 3

drop-out, rose to become President of<br />

Sears, Roebuck and Company during the<br />

early 1900s in Chicago. He believed<br />

America could not prosper “if any large<br />

segment of people were left behind.” As<br />

he prospered in his own right he began<br />

donating his time and energies when and<br />

where he could.<br />

About 1912 he met and teamed up<br />

with Doctor Booker T. Washington, the<br />

founder of the Tuskegee Institute in<br />

Alabama, which focused on vocational<br />

education: carpentry, farming, and<br />

mechanics. In 1912, Rosenwald donated<br />

$25,000 for a Black Teacher Training<br />

program. However, a portion of that<br />

money was used to build six schools in<br />

rural Alabama. Two years later Rosenwald<br />

donated $30,000 to build 100 schools,<br />

and later donated more money for<br />

another 200 schools.<br />

Soon this program spread throughout<br />

the south, including Texas. His system<br />

was simple, direct, and required<br />

community support. Rosenwald would<br />

put up what it would cost to build a one<br />

teacher school house ($500) to a school<br />

needing ten teachers ($2,100) in order to<br />

build six schools in Alabama.<br />

In Texas alone there were 464<br />

Rosenwald schools. Six were in Guadalupe<br />

<strong>County</strong>. The majority of the funding was a<br />

2:1 ratio with Blacks, Whites, and the<br />

Rosenwald Foundation participating. Four<br />

of the known schools in Guadalupe<br />

❖ The Sweet Home Rosenwald School.<br />

❖ Henry Troell’s original power plant.<br />

<strong>County</strong> were Sweet Home, Jakes Colony,<br />

York Creek, and Randolph. However, it<br />

should be noted that Black schools were<br />

also present in Marion and New Berlin and<br />

other rural communities as well but they<br />

were not Rosenwald Schools.<br />

At about the same time in Seguin and<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> there were also<br />

Mexican Schools. Some of these were<br />

Barbarosa, Weinert, Laubach, Our Lady<br />

of Guadalupe, and Cordova. As the<br />

Seguin School District began to emerge in<br />

the early 1900s there was an effort to<br />

integrate the Hispanic students into the<br />

Seguin Education System. The only<br />

schools they had were through Our Lady<br />

of Guadalupe Church on Jones street and<br />

maybe a few students at Saint James<br />

Catholic School. As just mentioned, there<br />

were a few county Mexican and black<br />

schools, but not many.<br />

As the City Council and the new<br />

School officials worked together towards<br />

this effort several <strong>An</strong>glo businessmen<br />

bought or rented houses which served as<br />

temporary city Mexican Schools until the<br />

Seguin City Government could put<br />

together a program that included public<br />

education for the Hispanic Community’s<br />

children. However, after the first decade<br />

of the 20th century several citizens rented<br />

or bought homes for schooling young<br />

Hispanics. About 1913 William<br />

Griffenstein bought a house and while the<br />

political process was trying to get funding<br />

for a Hispanic School he was reimbursed<br />

2 4 ✦ H I S T O R I C G U A D A L U P E C O U N T Y

y the City for such a school. Although<br />

the first attempt at passing a bond issue<br />

for financing such a school failed, the<br />

second attempt one year later was<br />

successful. By 1918 the Juan Seguin<br />

School had opened its doors on<br />

Saunders, Medlin, Dolle, and Juan Seguin<br />

Streets. There was no longer a public<br />

institution in Seguin that did not include<br />

education for all of its children albeit<br />

there remained the issue of segregated<br />

black schools which included the<br />

Abraham Lincoln-Ball Elementary<br />

School, and the eventual Ball High<br />

School. Interestingly the Juan Seguin<br />

School and the original Abraham<br />

Lincoln-Ball School were less than two<br />

blocks from each other on either side of<br />

Walnut Creek.<br />

For the Hispanics, the first public<br />

school was the Juan Seguin School<br />

mentioned above. In the meantime the<br />

Mexican rural schools continued until the<br />

<strong>County</strong> School System, by the midtwentieth<br />

century, was consolidated with<br />

the Seguin Independent School District.<br />

By that time the Mexican Schools were<br />

increasingly being integrated into the<br />

overall county school districts.<br />

Not known at this time, a seed was<br />

planted for the future of not just Black<br />

integration but also a greater acceptance<br />

for the Mexican community which grew<br />

up mainly along and west of Guadalupe<br />

Street. This seed was community spirit and<br />

the effort to increase the knowledge of<br />

Hispanic contributions to Seguin and<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>. The Quinceaneras<br />

were and are a great part of this, but so too<br />

were their celebrations — Diez y Seis de<br />

Septiembre recognizing Mexico’s cry for<br />

independence from Spain to Cinco de<br />

Mayo and the defeat of the French<br />

incursions into Mexico. As well¸ slowly but<br />

surely, the troqueros or truck haulers of<br />

laborers from their neigborhoods to the<br />

many farms during harvest season to do<br />

the picking and hoeing and loading and<br />

unloading of the harvests began to<br />

decrease with increased agricultural<br />

mechanization and inclusion into the<br />

public school system. Noche de Gala<br />

reflects the spirit of Mexican arts today<br />

from the classroom to Texas Lutheran<br />

University as does La Noche Buena and<br />

the celebration of the birthing of Jesus—a<br />

multicultural experience every year in<br />

downtown Seguin.<br />

Integration for the Black schools did<br />

not occur until the 1960s, but once it did<br />

the original Abraham Lincoln School-Ball<br />

School continued to be used until the new<br />

Lizzie M. Burges School was built. Overall,<br />

educational integration in Guadalupe<br />

<strong>County</strong> was peaceful with all parties in all<br />

groups throughout the <strong>County</strong> coming<br />

together for a common goal—a good<br />

sound education for all, including<br />

vocational education. It was not always an<br />

easy effort but it was a peaceful and<br />

rewarding experience for the youngster’s<br />

future in the first half of the twentieth<br />

century. This spirit has continued since<br />

and bodes even better for the tomorrows<br />

to come.<br />

Seguin’s first high school was just<br />

that—Seguin High School, which was<br />

built in 1936 where it remained until 1952<br />

when the new High School was built about<br />

one mile to the east on Lamar Street,<br />

where it remains today. This first high<br />

school was later named in honor of long<br />

time teacher and superintendent Joe F.<br />

Saegert and is today a sixth grade campus.<br />

The second high school retains its name as<br />

Seguin High School and with the 2014<br />

passage of its bond package a major<br />

renovation began in 2015. It will remain<br />

on its current property between Highway<br />

123 South, East Cedar Street, Lamar<br />

Street, and East College Street.<br />

There was also a Black high school<br />

named Abraham Lincoln-Ball School and<br />

later Ball High School. It was first located<br />

on Saunders Street but then later moved<br />

to North Guadalupe Street and San<br />

<strong>An</strong>tonio Street. Today the site is Ball<br />

Elementary School.<br />

As the rural schools began closing their<br />

doors through consolidations from the<br />

1930s to the 1950s the students still<br />

needed nearby schools to attend. Thus it<br />

❖ The historical marker for the Juan Seguin School.<br />

was by the second half of the twentieth<br />

century that Schertz, Cibolo, Seguin,<br />

Marion, and Navarro (in Geronimo)<br />

became the nexus of regional Guadalupe<br />

<strong>County</strong> public education in each of these<br />

independent school districts. All have had<br />

remarkable successes in academics,<br />

athletics, and vocational (including<br />

agriculture) education, whether at the 5A,<br />

4A, 3A, 2A, or 1A levels of enrollment.<br />

Sadly, today there are fewer and fewer<br />

remaining rural school houses to be seen<br />

dotting the country sides of rural<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>.<br />

In terms of higher education there were<br />

two colleges in Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>, both of<br />

which were in Seguin. The first was the<br />

1884 Guadalupe College and the second<br />

was the 1912 Lutheran College. Thanks to<br />

the work of <strong>An</strong>ne Brawner’s Master’s Thesis,<br />

“Guadalupe College: A Case <strong>History</strong> of<br />

Negro Higher Education 1884-1886,” and<br />

other publications, the following is shared.<br />

Guadalupe College was established by<br />

the Guadalupe Baptist Association which<br />

included Black Baptist congregations from<br />

Guadalupe and surrounding counties. The<br />

early leaders in this effort were Reverend<br />

Leonard Illsley¸ a white itinerate preacher,<br />

and Dr. William Baton Ball. Its purpose was<br />

to stimulate and increase education<br />

C h a p t e r T h r e e ✦ 2 5

❖ The Lincoln-Ball Elementary School.<br />

awareness among the Blacks to train<br />

teachers and religious leaders. It was a four<br />

year institution leading to a bachelor of arts<br />

degree. In addition to education the other<br />

departments were theology, music, and<br />

industrial (vocational) education. Between<br />

1902-1906, Guadalupe College was rated a<br />

college of the first rank and was the only<br />

Black Baptist institution of higher learning<br />

in South Texas. Although most of the<br />

students were from south central Texas a<br />

number of Blacks from outside this region<br />

also came to the college. Enrollment<br />

reached 450 students in 1907.<br />

Its financial support came from<br />

individual donors and the district church<br />

associations as well as the statewide<br />

Missionary Baptist General Convention.<br />

However, funding also came from<br />

White benefactors such as George W.<br />

Brackenridge of Seguin and San <strong>An</strong>tonio<br />

who not only provided funding for the<br />

chapel-auditorium, but also 216 acres of<br />

prime land just west of Seguin and south<br />

along Highway 90 west to the Guadalupe<br />

River. It was that gift of land that the<br />

college moved from its downtown site on<br />

today’s Joe F. Saegert sixth-grade campus<br />

(previously Joe F. Saegert Middle School<br />

and Seguin’s first independent high<br />

school) and remained until, when in<br />

1936, it burned to the ground. Perhaps it<br />

was William Baton Ball, a former Buffalo<br />

Soldier and resident of Seguin, who led<br />

Guadalupe College through its most<br />

difficult times and who followed President<br />

David Abner, Jr.’s exemplary leadership<br />

and insights. Thanks to Dr. Ball the town<br />

college campus, in 1914, was moved to<br />

the new lands purchased by Mr.<br />

Brackenridge. It was at that location that<br />

the College flourished the most in its<br />

varied programs which included an<br />

academy and grammar school, traditional<br />

college courses, religious education and<br />

being required to work for the college for<br />

a number of hours each day. By 1929 it<br />

was designated a senior college.<br />

The last president of Guadalupe<br />

College was J. R. Lockett under whose<br />

tenure Guadalupe College tragically<br />

burned down. It has since been tended to<br />

by the Guadalupe Baptist Association or<br />

its affiliations. The benefits to Black<br />

higher education were increased pride in<br />

educational freedom, a demanding<br />

academic environment, and training<br />

leaders for the Black community schools<br />

and ministerial needs. Not by default, but<br />

by example, it also provided a matrix for<br />

the future of Black education in South<br />

Central Texas and beyond.<br />

Where education prepares the<br />

leadership for communities many other<br />

areas have a profound effect on the future<br />

of communities as well — hospitals, sports<br />

and recreation, businesses, manufacturing,<br />

agriculture, and churches.<br />

As well, there were other transitions<br />

being made from the 19th to the formative<br />

years of the 20th century. For example<br />

Seguin had established itself as a trading<br />

center aided by the railroad and its<br />

improving road system to its nearby<br />

communities and beyond. There were now<br />

established businesses downtown just as<br />

there were in Schertz and Cibolo. There<br />

was no doubt that free enterprise was alive<br />

and well during the confluence of these<br />

two centuries. By looking at the business<br />

directories and guides, six newspapers<br />

being published in Seguin by 1896—the<br />

Seguin <strong>An</strong>chor, the Guadalupe Times, the<br />

Seguin Mercury, the Seguin Times, the Seguin<br />

Record, and The Seginer Zeitung. It was quite<br />

evident that Seguin was on the threshold<br />

that would propel it into a role of cautious<br />

growth. So too were the fortunes of its<br />

neighboring communities, in one fashion<br />

or another, making their respective<br />

transitions into the twentieth century.<br />

By the end of the 19th and the<br />

beginnings of the 20th century there was, in<br />

Seguin, electricity, telephones had arrived,<br />

and a water works was functioning. Cotton<br />

gins, flour mills, bakeries, groceries, brick<br />

factories, blacksmiths, hotels, visiting<br />

drummers, drug stores, dry goods stores,<br />

vaudeville and opera houses, stately homes,<br />

banks, saddleries, saloons, private clubs,<br />

and organizations, schools and churches, all<br />

pointing to a healthy, vigorous climate for<br />

the twentieth and twenty first centuries.<br />

C. M. Holmes began, in 1886, the first<br />

waterworks franchise in Seguin based on<br />

the pioneering efforts of Henry Troell. On<br />

May 23, 1887, the standpipe, on the<br />

southwest side of the third county<br />

courthouse, was erected. Additionally, the<br />

2 6 ✦ H I S T O R I C G U A D A L U P E C O U N T Y

Reliance Fire Department, organized in<br />

1854, was divided into two companies:<br />

the Reliance Hook and Ladder Company<br />

and the Reliance Hose Company. The<br />

Seguin Enterprise was established by John<br />

D. Goodrich in 1888. In 1892 it was sold<br />

to John Moore.<br />

Interestingly, John Wesley Hardin, a<br />

famous outlaw from Gonzales, Texas,<br />

became a legend in his own time. In 1896<br />

Hardin came into Seguin, walked into the<br />

office of the Seguin Enterprise with<br />

his written autobiography and asked<br />

John H. Moore if he could publish the<br />

book. It was published as The Life of John<br />

Wesley Hardin as Written by Himself.<br />

Unfortunately some 2,500 of these early<br />

books were stored in a San <strong>An</strong>tonio<br />

warehouse and destroyed by a major<br />

flood with only a few remaining books in<br />

circulation. Today the University of<br />

Oklahoma retains the copyright. One<br />

book remains in the Seguin-Guadalupe<br />

<strong>County</strong> Heritage Museum.<br />

Charles E. Tips and Ferdinand Klein<br />

built an 1890 two story building on the<br />

northwest corner of South Austin and<br />

Court Street. It was made of Sonka Brick<br />

and originally divided into several parts:<br />

On the first floor from south to north was<br />

Ferdinand Klein’s saloon; J. B. Whittaker<br />

and Company’s store; and on the North,<br />

along Austin and Court Streets, was the<br />

law firm of Tips and Campbell. Upstairs<br />

was the Klein Opera House, which<br />

showed the first silent black and white<br />

movies in Seguin.<br />

Across the street, on the southwest<br />

corner of Court and North River Street, and<br />

on the site of Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>’s first<br />

Courthouse was the Hey Building which<br />

was once owned and operated by the John<br />

Hey family in the early 1900s. It was<br />

famous for its fresh potato chips and wide<br />

assortment of foods. Next door was the<br />

Fritz Building and to its west, on the<br />

southeast side of Austin and Court Streets<br />

was the newly built 1898 First National<br />

Bank. On the northeast side of this block<br />

and East Gonzales Street was the iconic<br />

Central Hotel with restaurant and stables<br />

for the early occupant’s horses. On the<br />

north east side of East Gonzales and North<br />

River street was the 1898 two story brick<br />

building constructed by Henry Troell that<br />

included up to five separate business kiosks<br />

on the first floor and the Kempen Stein<br />

Opera House on the second floor. It also<br />

served as a graduating venue for the Seguin<br />

High School students who graduated from<br />

the Seguin Public School on East College<br />

Street (later named as the Mary B. Erskine<br />

School) which continues to be used to this<br />

day.<br />

In these formative years of the twentieth<br />

century there seemed to be a convergence of<br />

good times ahead for Seguin and Guadalupe<br />

<strong>County</strong>. There was a local telephone system<br />

installed in the Donoho and Burges drug<br />

store which later housed A. Serdinko’s<br />

photographic studio as well as the early<br />

Southwestern Telephone Company. This<br />

was also the period of the Seguin Railway<br />

Company’s emergence in providing a mule<br />

drawn trolley car along rails to and from the<br />

Rail Road station to downtown.<br />

As the nineteenth century closed it saw<br />

the passing of Seguin legend, Governor<br />

John Ireland. His contributions have never<br />

been forgotten and in the early 1960s a<br />

❖ The third courthouse and water stand.<br />

committee of volunteers, led by Virginia<br />

Woods, planted fourteen live oak trees<br />

along the banks of the Guadalupe River<br />

next to the dam, today known as TP-4.<br />

These oaks, amidst native pecan trees,<br />

continue growing thus paying continued<br />

tribute to the governor’s contributions to<br />

the State of Texas.<br />

Although the story of Seguin and<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> continues into the<br />

20th and 21st centuries it should not be<br />

done at the expense of the <strong>County</strong>’s other<br />

emerging communities which have and<br />

will have their stories told in greater<br />

detail in the upcoming chapters. But it<br />

should also be noted that Guadalupe<br />

<strong>County</strong> would not be the <strong>County</strong> it has<br />

become without the many contributions<br />

of these communities. <strong>An</strong>d each will have<br />

their own places within this effort.<br />

Those joining Seguin as contributors<br />

to Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>’s history are Selma,<br />

Schertz, Cibolo, Zorn, Staples, Marion,<br />

McQueeney, Geronimo, Sullivan,<br />

Kingsbury, Highsmith, Ilka, New Berlin,<br />

Zuehl, and Santa Clara but not<br />

necessarily in that order. The following<br />

chapter will serve as a transition to these<br />

communities and others.<br />

C h a p t e r T h r e e ✦ 2 7


T W E N T I E T H C E N T U R Y S E G U I N A N D C E N T R A L G U A D A L U P E C O U N T Y<br />

The emergence of the twentieth<br />

century in Seguin’s history noted that<br />

Mrs. Joseph Dibrell established the<br />

Shakespeare Club which today has<br />

evolved into The Federated Women’s<br />

Club. It was and is a federation of several<br />

clubs and continues to meet each month<br />

where topics of interest are presented and<br />

discussed. Mrs. Dibrell went on to help<br />

lead the Federated Women’s Club into a<br />

statewide organization.<br />

Originally it was a place women could<br />

come, especially those from rural<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>, for the weekend<br />

market and have a place where they could<br />

comfortably nurse their babies, enjoy<br />

the quiet understanding that women<br />

share, and decompress from the<br />

demanding rigors of daily rural living. It<br />

was a place where topics of the day could<br />

be shared amongst these women and at<br />

their own leisure.<br />

The year 1907 was not only a<br />

celebratory moment when Seguin<br />

purchased Henry Troell’s greatest<br />

accomplishment, the hydroelectric plant<br />

that now was generating lights for the city<br />

and its citizens, but it was also the year,<br />

on May 4, that Seguin’s most devastating<br />

downtown fire occurred. It destroyed not<br />

only the Hey building but also the Louis<br />

Fritz building and the other buildings on<br />

that block facing Court Street.<br />

Fortunately the classically styled third<br />

Courthouse was untouched by the fire.<br />

Within one year all of these buildings<br />

were rebuilt and open for business, some<br />

of them being partly designed by the<br />

Mesker Brothers. The next year the<br />

Kempenstein Theatre opened on the<br />

second floor of today’s Heritage Museum<br />

on 114 North River Street. At about this<br />

same time, the Wonderland Theatre<br />

began showing its movies in the Tips<br />

Building’s Klein Opera House but later<br />

moved across the street to the middle of<br />

❖ First National Bank.<br />

North Austin Street on the east side. This<br />

theatre had floor candles which were<br />

placed in the aisles so the patrons could<br />

find their seats. When the automobiles<br />

arrived in Seguin, it was possible for<br />

county landholders to drive their<br />

children to Seguin to attend the Saturday<br />

movies while their fathers may have gone<br />

to a saloon for refreshments and their<br />

mothers did some shopping.<br />

As the early automobile began arriving,<br />

Seguin witnessed an increasingly popular<br />

downtown business district. A year<br />

later Seguin’s Fire Department built its<br />

new Fire Station one block to the north<br />

of its original location on Gonzales<br />

and North Austin Street. This new<br />

Fire Station’s Building was and remains<br />

in the 100 block of West Mountain<br />

Street but is no longer a fire station. Today<br />

it houses the Schertz-Cibolo-Seguin<br />

Water District.<br />

It was interesting that as businesses<br />

were expanding and downtown life was<br />

becoming more complex with the advent<br />

of the automobile, a new downtown<br />

railway was developed that brought in the<br />

era of a mule drawn trolley car to ferry<br />

people to and from the railroad station<br />

almost one mile from the Courthouse to<br />

the north on Austin Street. Perhaps as an<br />

indication businesses were increasing and<br />

that Seguin was becoming a bit more<br />

complex, more lawyers were making their<br />

appearances in greater numbers. Names<br />

such as J. B. Dibrell and Emil Mosheim,<br />

Harry Wurzbach, and Alvin Wirtz<br />

established their offices in the heart of<br />

downtown. Physicians also increased<br />

with the arrivals of such Doctors as B. W.<br />

Humphreys, B. L. Crawford, and John<br />

McKnight. Apothecaries and drug stores<br />

emerged downtown under the<br />

entrepreneurship of Louis B. LeGette,<br />

James Riley and Company and later the<br />

Burgess family and Parker’s and Williams<br />

which was located next to the New Fire<br />

Station. Theo Koch’s Saddlery opened<br />

from behind the Vivroux Hardware Store<br />

along South Camp Street. It extended to<br />

West Court Street, later being replaced, in<br />

part, by the iconic Pat’s Place, now a<br />

clothing store. Directly across the street,<br />

in the 100 block of West Mill Street<br />

from the former Pat’s Place was Schulze’s<br />

Bar B Que place, now a shoe store.<br />

2 8 ✦ H I S T O R I C G U A D A L U P E C O U N T Y

producing brands called “Sunset,”<br />

“Winner” and “Up-to-Date.” Rudolph<br />

Willmann bought the Seguin Street<br />

Railway with the intention of improving<br />

the service. A new closed winter<br />

passenger car was put into operation.<br />

According to the author’s records the first<br />

movie show in Seguin was shown at<br />

Klein’s Opera House in November.<br />

❖ Nolte Bank and Seguin Street Railway.<br />

Confectionaries were established,<br />

independent grocery markets emerged,<br />

bakeries, and clothing shops made their<br />

presences known in this growing early<br />

twentieth century downtown.<br />

Throughout the twentieth century<br />

Seguin and Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> were fairly<br />

conservative. It was a small town with a<br />

rural county whose leaders knew that<br />

growth had to come in order to survive.<br />

At the same time, it sought to keep alive<br />

and fresh the basic values upon which it<br />

was founded: Family, education, civic<br />

organizations, support of economic<br />

development, religious worship in all<br />

communities, the development of parks<br />

and recreation for the benefit of<br />

neighborhood communities, and a strong<br />

but not overbearing city and county<br />

government, all at a pace it could<br />

comfortably support.<br />

How it approached all of these was<br />

through the coming together of individuals<br />

and organizations in conjunction with the<br />

City Council and <strong>County</strong> Commissioner’s<br />

Court. Even Reverend Fitzsimon, in his<br />

writings, shared his observations on this<br />

transitional period:<br />

George B. Wagner on the editorial staff. A<br />

phenomenal cold spell occurred in<br />

February, with the thermometer reaching<br />

the all time low of three degrees above<br />

zero on the 12th. Among the new<br />

buildings on Austin Street was an<br />

addition to the St. Joseph’s Convent. The<br />

old Paris Smith house … was torn down<br />

to make room for a residence. Fire<br />

destroyed the Sonka Gin. This year was<br />

put into operation the Troell Flour Mill,<br />

However, once again, the movie house<br />

was to be moved. But this time from the<br />

movie house on North Austin Street to the<br />

south side of the original 1912 Starcke<br />

Furniture Store. Nora Nolte Starcke played<br />

the piano accompaniment for the silent<br />

movies in this theatre, now the Palace<br />

Theatre. There was a considerable amount<br />

of space between the Palace Theatre and<br />

the Starcke Furniture Building. Mr. Hugo<br />

Starcke bought that space and basically<br />

doubled the size of Starcke Furniture Store<br />

and its two floors.<br />

For the next ten years, downtown<br />

Seguin boomed. Charles Bruns built a<br />

beautiful downtown Victorian home on<br />

North Camp Street that continues to be<br />

occupied and well tended. The Seguin<br />

Milling and Power Company became a<br />

reality at the Erskine Falls location north<br />

of Seguin (the eventual site of Structural<br />

In January, 1899, appeared the<br />

Guadalupe Gazette with W. H. Bryan and<br />

❖ The Federated Women’s Club.<br />

C h a p t e r F o u r ✦ 2 9

Metals, Inc. and later Commercial Metals<br />

Corporation). Electric lights were now<br />

installed on the downtown streets, J. B.<br />

Dibrell became a Regent of the University<br />

of Texas and later an Associate Justice of<br />

the Texas Supreme Court; F. C. Weinert<br />

was elected as State Representative and<br />

later served a number of years as a<br />

distinguished State Senator in the State<br />

House. In 1902 the first rural postal routes<br />

were established in Guadalupe <strong>County</strong><br />

and by 1905 had increased to seven<br />

routes. The German-Methodist Church on<br />

North River Street was built by the first<br />

manufactured bricks at the Blumberg<br />

Brick Yard in McQueeney (today the Acme<br />

Brick Yard), and just west of Geronimo,<br />

Friedenskirche, a brick church, was built<br />

at the Lone Oak area where a cemetery was<br />

also established. This was also the year<br />

that Harry Wurzbach became <strong>County</strong><br />

Judge and was later elected to the United<br />

States House of Representatives thus<br />

becoming the first elected Republican<br />

from Texas to national office since the Civil<br />

War and Reconstruction.<br />

The next year saw the McQueeney<br />

bridge being built and Seguin State Bank<br />

became a reality with E. F. Maurer as its<br />

first president. A year later, 1907, for<br />

$1,000, Henry Troell sold his Electric<br />

Light Plant to the city. In addition to this<br />

public improvement for the city, a bond<br />

was issued for $6,000 to build the new<br />

Fire Station on South River Street and a<br />

new City Hall on the 200 block of North<br />

Camp Street. This location served the city<br />

well until the mid 1930s when the new<br />

and current City Hall was built on the<br />

Dibrell property on the east side of the 200<br />

block of North River. That was a great<br />

location for one of Seguin’s downtown<br />

business legends, Keller’s Bakery, which<br />

was almost directly across the street from<br />

the Old Dibrell House which eventually<br />

was replaced by the new 1930s City Hall.<br />

In 1911-1912, the second college came<br />

to Seguin. In 2012 Texas Lutheran<br />

University celebrated its first one hundred<br />

years and has become well known for its<br />

academics, sports programs, Fine Arts,<br />

❖ Students at Lutheran Colege in the early 1900s.<br />

and community inclusion with its many<br />

programs at the Wuppermann Theatre in<br />

the Fine Arts Building as well as Jackson<br />

Auditorium. All of this was made possible<br />

and was led, in part, by Louis Fritz, a<br />

businessman and a farmer in Seguin and<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>. He was a member of<br />

the Men’s Club of Seguin, a forerunner of<br />

the eventual Seguin Area Chamber of<br />

Commerce. They learned that the<br />

Evangelical Lutheran College, established<br />

in 1891, in Brenham, Texas, had<br />

undergone a series of setbacks from not<br />

only the after effects of the 1903 Galveston<br />

hurricane, but that the plant and animal<br />

diseases associated with the hurricanes<br />

destroyed numerous crops and livestock.<br />

So much so that by 1910 the college’s<br />

operating funds were negative and it was<br />

quickly heading towards bankruptcy.<br />

By 1911, Louis Fritz and the Men’s Club<br />

made an offer of fifteen acres with ten years<br />

of free water and light, and $20,000 in start<br />

up money. The offer was accepted and in<br />

September, 1912, the doors of Old Main<br />

opened at Lutheran College of Seguin. Its’<br />

doors remain open to this day, 103 years<br />

later. Reverend C. Weeber was its first<br />

president and moved with the College that<br />

same year. By 1928-1929 it achieved junior<br />

college status. In that same year Dr.<br />

William F. Kraushaar became the College’s<br />

new president and arranged a partial<br />

merger with Trinity College in Round<br />

Rock, Texas. The Association of Texas<br />

Colleges classified it as a junior college in<br />

1930 and its name, two years later was<br />

changed to Texas Lutheran College.<br />

In 1998, Texas Lutheran College was<br />

officially raised to University status and,<br />

just one year after celebrating its<br />

hundredth year, it added a fully certified<br />

nursing program in its 2014-2015<br />

curriculum. Also in 2014, the University<br />

dedicated and opened its new football<br />

stadium and renovated sports complex<br />

including the baseball, soccer, and softball<br />

fields. The August opening was hosted by<br />

one of its graduates, television sports<br />

commentator, Verne Lundquist. He was<br />

the Master of Ceremonies for this event.<br />

Shortly after the purchase of Henry<br />

Troell’s hydroelectric plant, a young<br />

lawyer who had married a Seguin native,<br />

Kitty Mae Stamps, then teaching in Eagle<br />

Lake, Texas, moved to Seguin to continue<br />

his law practice. His name was Alvin<br />

Wirtz. In his early legal profession he<br />

became a professional and casual friend<br />

with such community leaders as <strong>County</strong><br />

Judge and State Senator F. C. Weinert,<br />

Harry A. Wurzbach, Max Starcke, and a<br />

host of others. All of these saw the future<br />

in hydroelectricity for Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>,<br />

which eventually came to pass. It was<br />

through their efforts in the 1920s-1930s<br />

that they saw what would eventually lead<br />

to the development of today’s Lower<br />

3 0 ✦ H I S T O R I C G U A D A L U P E C O U N T Y

Colorado River Authority and Guadalupe<br />

Valley Electric Corporation as well as<br />

today’s alliance with the Schertz-Cibolo-<br />

Seguin Local Government Corporation.<br />

Unfortunately for all, events were<br />

occurring in Europe that led to World<br />

War I. This impacted Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>,<br />

its German immigrants and those of its<br />

neighboring counties in a very profound<br />

way. What ensued from that period is now<br />

being felt almost 100 years later—the very<br />

slow but inevitable loss of the unique<br />

dialect of the Texas-German language.<br />

It was during World War I that quiet,<br />

but publicly known discrimination began<br />

occurring against those who spoke<br />

German. By the time the rural German<br />

communities regained their stature with<br />

the rise of the Nazis and World War II<br />

most, if not all, of Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>’s<br />

German schools, disappeared. German<br />

was not allowed to be publicly spoken in<br />

many South Central Texas towns including<br />

Seguin and New Braunfels. In 1917-1918<br />

the German language newspaper, Zie<br />

Seguiner Zeitung, discontinued publication.<br />

Although there has been a resurrection<br />

and continuance of the German heritage<br />

through various celebrations, the former<br />

schools have been lost as has much of its<br />

culture in Seguin. No other ethnicity in<br />

Texas, except the Native Americans, have<br />

been forced to cease using their native<br />

language. This is not to say that German<br />

was totally eradicated in Seguin, but it was<br />

not to be spoken in public during the War.<br />

Regardless, many German Americans<br />

enlisted in the Army and Navy and served<br />

on Europe’s battlefields during World<br />

Wars I and II. Their patriotism was never<br />

questioned again following World War I.<br />

Nor were the Blacks and Hispanics<br />

overlooked in their patriotism throughout<br />

the Great War. Every segment of Seguin and<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> supported and helped<br />

the War efforts, each in their own ways so<br />

freedom could be attained and maintained.<br />

Patriotism was apparent throughout<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>, Texas, and the United<br />

States. Men were once again trained<br />

at Camp Clark near Staples, and near<br />

Lake McQueeney, ultimately to be<br />

shipped overseas.<br />

Elements of the U.S. Cavalry were<br />

stationed at what eventually became<br />

Randolph Air Force Base, almost next<br />

door to the communities of Schertz and<br />

Santa Clara. There were also Camp Travis<br />

and Bowie where many men were sent for<br />

training. Camp Travis was the home of<br />

the 90th Infantry while Camp Bowie was<br />

more of a training camp for inductees and<br />

a holding area for support units.<br />

Citizens of Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>, in<br />

1919, also bought Liberty Bonds in the<br />

hundreds of thousands of dollars. Private<br />

families participated in the rationing plans<br />

on meat, bread, flour, sugar, and butter.<br />

<strong>An</strong> honor roll in the Seguin newspapers<br />

was actually created honoring those<br />

buying Liberty Bonds. <strong>An</strong>d the <strong>County</strong><br />

Fair, the second oldest in Texas, was now<br />

blossoming into its own community<br />

major event which continues to this day.<br />

The 1920s to the 1940s was a period<br />

of growth and economic depression. Yet,<br />

again, the clouds of another World War<br />

darkened the skies.<br />

As the western end of Guadalupe<br />

<strong>County</strong> was further developing and<br />

❖ The original Park Hotel. Today, the site is the location of the Park-Plaza Hotel.<br />

defining itself, the twenties and thirties<br />

were good years for Seguin, despite the<br />

Great Depression. They experienced<br />

stability, growth, and inflation. Seguin’s<br />

population was concerned about schools,<br />

government, churches, and businesses.<br />

Streets began to be paved, electric lights<br />

appeared with underground cables and<br />

fairs and horse racing and baseball and<br />

football were the orders of the day. It was<br />

not uncommon to see the Lions Club and<br />

the Rotary Club facing each other on the<br />

baseball fields riding donkeys while<br />

playing baseball to raise funds for<br />

charities. The Chicago White Sox also<br />

played Spring baseball at the Fair<br />

Grounds and horseracing was indeed a<br />

popular event.<br />

With the advent of the automobile<br />

came a conflict of cultures. Collisions<br />

were not uncommon between these two<br />

modes of transportation. The livery<br />

stables such as the Starcke Stable on River<br />

and North Austin Street closed down as<br />

did the one behind the Grand Central<br />

Hotel on the northeast corner of North<br />

Austin and East Gonzales Street.<br />

Seguin’s economy dramatically changed<br />

as well. The frontier of oil, first felt in<br />

C h a p t e r F o u r ✦ 3 1

eastern Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> and western<br />

Caldwell <strong>County</strong> (Luling) in the early<br />

1920s, saved Seguin and the <strong>County</strong> from<br />

the 1930s Great Depression. Banner<br />

headlines showed that Seguin was in the<br />

center of Texas’ second largest oil field.<br />

Some wells were almost immediately<br />

pumping up to 4,000 barrels a day in the<br />

Darst Field, east and south of Kingsbury.<br />

Derricks went up so fast that at one point<br />

a count was lost on production. Even at<br />

the Sullivan Switch/Gander Slu region,<br />

north of the railroad tracks saw a small<br />

town emerge as well as the Magnolia<br />

Country Club just east of the Woodrow<br />

Center School on a rising knoll.<br />

During the oil boom it was only fitting<br />

that Kingsbury became the epicenter for<br />

development. So many workers poured<br />

in that new schools arose so that the<br />

workers and families in the oil camps<br />

could continue their children’s<br />

educations. New rural schools such as<br />

Dowdy School and Darst Creek were<br />

built and school busses provided the<br />

needed transportation for the youngsters.<br />

A new high school was built in<br />

Kingsbury. From York’s Creek to present<br />

day US Highways 90 and 90A and<br />

even further south to the Guadalupe<br />

River and the Sand Hills this pioneering<br />

oil boom has yet to be equaled in<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>.<br />

A new bank opened in Kingsbury while<br />

Seguin grew to five banks: From Nolte<br />

Bank, to First National Bank, Citizens State<br />

Bank, Farmer’s State Bank, and Seguin Bank<br />

and Trust. With the oil boom it was<br />

projected that the 7,500 citizens in Seguin<br />

would double within five years. Even two<br />

Handy <strong>An</strong>dy grocery stores and one Piggly<br />

Wiggly store located in Seguin in addition<br />

to the Red and White Stores of the<br />

Baenziger, Naumann, and Upper families.<br />

Seguin’s first fully independent high school<br />

was built on the site of the Female Academy<br />

and the first Guadalupe Baptist College on<br />

West Court and Mountain Streets bounded<br />

on the west by Guadalupe Street.<br />

The Works Progress Administration’s<br />

Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), with<br />

❖ A well on the Luling Oil Field.<br />

its barracks south of Seguin at the eastern<br />

junction of present day Tor Drive and<br />

Highway 123 Business (today South<br />

Austin Street), accomplished many<br />

improvements for Seguin during the<br />

1930s depression era. They created the<br />

Rose Garden of Walnut Creek and<br />

improved its appeal with the help of<br />

Robert H. H. Hugman who later went on<br />

to design the San <strong>An</strong>tonio River Walk. The<br />

CCC also helped stimulate the economy<br />

by helping build the present day<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> Courthouse (the<br />

fourth) and today’s City Hall on North<br />

River Street and a few other projects.<br />

As Texas celebrated its 1936 Centennial<br />

year so too did Seguin celebrate, in 1938,<br />

its first one hundred years. The Reverend<br />

Lawrence Fitzimon, Pastor of Saint James<br />

Catholic Church, wrote Seguin’s first 100<br />

years of history which remains a valuable<br />

source of information for Seguin’s<br />

formative years. Starcke Park became a<br />

reality, so named in honor of former Mayor,<br />

Max Starcke. The F. C. Weinert Bridge<br />

replaced the old Thad Miller Bridge across<br />

the Guadalupe River and a nine hole golf<br />

course was built that year and then later<br />

expanded to eighteen holes under the<br />

supervision of Professional Golf<br />

Association touring professional Shelley<br />

Mayfield, a Seguin native.<br />

During this same period not all local<br />

citizens experienced the pains of the<br />

Depression years. But, it was not<br />

uncommon to see rural school children<br />

having their school photographs taken<br />

and they had no shoes for their feet and<br />

little girls had but two dresses in their<br />

closets—one for every day wear and one<br />

for special occasions such as Church.<br />

This was not unusual throughout<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>.<br />

The seven Timmermann sisters of<br />

Geronimo, along with the hired help their<br />

father arranged, tended to mending<br />

fences, raising cattle, chickens, gardening<br />

making their own dresses, and harvesting<br />

crops. So too did their other rural friends<br />

and cohorts throughout the Geronimo<br />

and Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> areas. Many<br />

youngsters walked up to six miles in<br />

order to attend their rural schools from<br />

Cordova, Galle and Laubach, the New<br />

Berlin community to the west and to Elm<br />

Creek School to Barbarossa and to Staples<br />

and to the sand hills in the south. The<br />

more fortunate youngsters had a horse or<br />

a donkey which they tied up to trees or<br />

railings near their schools. Those better<br />

off might have had a horse drawn wagon<br />

or buggy, but most just walked. Books<br />

were really chalk slates with the better<br />

slates being framed in wood. <strong>An</strong>d it was<br />

not uncommon to hear a knock on the<br />

front or a house to open it and provide<br />

apples or bread to a local beggar or a<br />

transient who was seeking odd jobs<br />

during this period.<br />

One of the more fortunate events for<br />

the rural communities, during the<br />

depression era, was the coming of<br />

electricity and the radio. Those living<br />

close to Seguin were able to put away<br />

their hand cranked victrolas with their<br />

cannisters and buy the more modern<br />

electric victrolas with their thick records<br />

and listen to the radios with all the latest<br />

news. William Timmermann bought an<br />

Edison upright radio for his seven<br />

daughters and wife, Meta.<br />

Yet, people still read the newpapers<br />

and listened to their radios and were<br />

3 2 ✦ H I S T O R I C G U A D A L U P E C O U N T Y

fortunate to have electricity through<br />

federal rural programs. <strong>An</strong>d, of course,<br />

the telephone came into their lives as<br />

well. Soon, and sadly, through their<br />

crackling radios they began to learn of the<br />

Germans bombing England and<br />

threatening Russia. The idea of war once<br />

again threatened the world.<br />

The <strong>County</strong>’s entire citizenry became<br />

totally committed to the war effort. Red<br />

Cross drives, war bond drives, victory<br />

gardens, blackout practices, fuel and food<br />

rationing, scrap metal drives, anything<br />

and everything was done to help win this<br />

war, World War II. The young men and<br />

women did not protest against the draft<br />

and those who did still served their<br />

country in government or government<br />

related jobs. It was their duty, all citizens’<br />

duty, Black, White, Hispanic, to win what<br />

came to be the most devastating war,<br />

ever. <strong>An</strong>d indeed, the women were a very<br />

large part of this effort.<br />

Barbara Quirk Tiemann, of Seguin, has<br />

never forgotten the Japanese attack on<br />

December 7, 1941, at Pearl Harbor. Her<br />

father was in the Army and just before<br />

this Day of Infamy, she had been<br />

frolicking on the beach with parents and<br />

friends. To this day she still remembers<br />

those bombs falling, so many people<br />

being wounded, killed. Margo Trost, also<br />

of Seguin, became a Navy Nurse where<br />

she served overseas during the War.<br />

Women were on the factory floors and<br />

assembly lines thus releasing the men to<br />

go fight. Mrs. Thomas Mosheim, Mrs. W.<br />

F. Lovett, Mrs. Bryan Brawner, and Mrs.<br />

Sam Freeman (wife of one of the founders<br />

of the famous Freeman Coliseum in San<br />

<strong>An</strong>tonio) established a nurse’s first aid<br />

corps. They set up four sections to<br />

conduct ten classes on Mondays at 2:00<br />

pm and 7:30 pm at City Hall on North<br />

Camp Street. The instructors were<br />

Charles Ehrhardt, J. K. Jones, Arthur<br />

Thiele, and Kermit McGee, assisted by<br />

Dr. Allen Heinen.<br />

Dr. G. B. Friday also set up Negro first<br />

aid classes. The Negro citizens met at the<br />

courthouse for classes. Dr. Friday was<br />

assisted by S. T. Toney, Negro <strong>County</strong><br />

Agricultural Agent. There were tire<br />

rationing committees, food rationing<br />

committees, and continuous community<br />

efforts to stretch the American dollar and<br />

increase the support for the war effort.<br />

In the Red Cross fund drives not one<br />

community in Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> failed<br />

to help. Schertz, Cibolo, Selma,<br />

McQueeney, Schummansville, Tiemann<br />

School, Geronimo, Barbarrosa, Dugger<br />

School, Concrete, Eden, the Brickyard,<br />

Red Mill, Seguin Colored Citizens,<br />

Staples, Sweet Home, Capote Colored<br />

School, Cordova, Scheffel School, Latin<br />

Americans, Zorn and Galle were but a few<br />

of the communities, groups, and schools<br />

in Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> that rose to the<br />

clarion call.<br />

The horse cavalry was stationed at the<br />

fairgrounds where the coliseum stands<br />

today and they served in the China-<br />

Burma-India Theatre, with some of the<br />

men even becoming a part of Merrell’s<br />

Marauders. Several Seguin soldiers were<br />

captured but fortunately lived to be<br />

released and returned home in<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>. Some, such as former<br />

Superintendent of Schools, Ted Bilnitzer,<br />

were on the beaches of Omaha on June 6,<br />

1944, D-Day, where he was a Navy Medic<br />

and witnessed the naked, brutal ravages<br />

of war. He literally saved countless lives.<br />

<strong>An</strong>d a Liberty Class Ship that saw action<br />

was christened the Juan Seguin at the<br />

Houston Ship Yards. Indeed there was<br />

not a community in Guadalupe <strong>County</strong><br />

that was not touched by World War II.<br />

The <strong>County</strong>’s soldiers saw combat in<br />

every theater — from the already<br />

mentioned China-Burma-India Theater to<br />

North Africa to Italy, to northern Europe<br />

and elsewhere. There were heroes such as<br />

Captain Alvin J. Mueller who was awarded<br />

the Distinguished Service Cross in the<br />

Pacific Theatre. His plane was hit twice by<br />

anti-aircraft and attacked by ten Japanese<br />

airplanes. Captain Mueller maintained his<br />

position in the formation and managed to<br />

land safely, even with his damaged controls.<br />

When he returned to Seguin he<br />

received a hero’s welcome upon<br />

disembarking at the train depot where<br />

throngs awaited his arrival.<br />

In the August 8, 1944, edition of the<br />

Seguin Gazette-Bulletin one could read the<br />

headlines: The “Invasion of Europe was<br />

On.” The European Theatre of War ended<br />

on May 8, 1945, and on August 16, 1945,<br />

Japan unconditionally surrendered in the<br />

Pacific Theatre of War. The war was over,<br />

yes, but history has shown wars could<br />

and have continued well into the twenty<br />

first century.<br />

Following World War II the battles<br />

and the wars were two fold: first, from<br />

1950 to the 1991 fall of the Berlin Wall,<br />

they were fought from Korea to Vietnam<br />

to the Dominican Republic and elsewhere<br />

on the global scene. All focused on<br />

containing Russia and the spread of<br />

communism. From 1991 and soon<br />

thereafter the battles were characterized<br />

by the September 11, 2001 terrorist<br />

attacks on New York’s Twin Trade Towers,<br />

the Pennsylvania air plane crash, and the<br />

bombing of the Pentagon. In retaliation<br />

this resulted in the Desert Storm invasion<br />

of Iraq, followed by the longer Iraqi War<br />

and continues to this day with multi<br />

national forces including the United<br />

States, from Afghanistan to the Middle<br />

East. This war is/was unofficially labeled<br />

the War on Terrorism. As this book is<br />

being written this war still continues. The<br />

upside to this is that the United States has<br />

not, since the 2001 attack, been attacked<br />

on such a scale. However, the battles still<br />

rage and it is our young people who, as<br />

they have every century in America’s<br />

history, risen to defend their country.<br />

More than many have served from<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>, and done so<br />

voluntarily. The price of freedom is<br />

immeasurable and so are our young male<br />

and female soldiers.<br />

Fortunately, not all is war. There is<br />

more peace than war and there are the<br />

opportunities to further engage in<br />

businesses, improve education for<br />

children and tomorrow’s leaders, and to<br />

become a greater part of what it involves<br />

C h a p t e r F o u r ✦ 3 3

in being an American, a Texan. Especially<br />

so in a county that still maintains its links<br />

to the past in agriculture and business<br />

and all that they involve.<br />

Changes were taking place in the<br />

second half of the 20th century. There<br />

were changes in governmental systems at<br />

the city levels, a greater need for police<br />

and fire departments, and in education<br />

and religious institutions that continue<br />

well into the 21st century. Some of the<br />

smaller communities evolved into towns<br />

with charters while others disappeared or<br />

elected not to become chartered but<br />

rather to remain as communities such as<br />

the Galle Community near State Highway<br />

123 between Geronimo and San Marcos.<br />

Or perhaps the Weinert Community<br />

farther east of Highway 123 and also the<br />

York Creek Community. The Upper Mill<br />

Creek Community of the 1850s no longer<br />

exists nor does the early 1900s Middle<br />

Mill Creek Community. But active<br />

ranching and farming in both areas<br />

continue as have their legacies. <strong>An</strong>d the<br />

same can be said about the Sweet Home<br />

Community for the Black Community<br />

south and west of Seguin and Jake’s<br />

Colony, or the Roosevelt Community and<br />

the Mount Pleasant Community in the<br />

eastern part of Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>. All of<br />

these and more remain inhabited but<br />

their preferences are to remain<br />

unincorporated as did their predecessors.<br />

From this point forward this section of<br />

the book will focus on the post World<br />

War II era and attempt to present the<br />

highlights of the communities<br />

throughout Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>. With<br />

World War II over and the soldiers<br />

returning home there was a lot to catch<br />

up on.<br />

That the staid businesses throughout<br />

the county survived the war is no<br />

understatement. Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> has<br />

always been a county open to<br />

those who can help make it successful<br />

in many professional and vocational<br />

areas— business, education, religion,<br />

governmental service, medicine,<br />

including veterinarian, agriculture, and<br />

the many service and manufacturing<br />

businesses. Perhaps it was in<br />

manufacturing that Seguin began<br />

to change the most rapidly which led<br />

to greater economic and community<br />

change.<br />

As Clyde Selig and Bill Beck wrote in a<br />

book to soon be published, America’s Mini-<br />

Mill Industry: A Short <strong>History</strong>, Clyde’s older<br />

brother, Marvin, in 1947, completed his<br />

engineering degree at the University of<br />

Texas, just two years after World War II<br />

ended. Marvin became more than<br />

interested in metallurgy after he<br />

“completed a project on rerolling<br />

discarded sucker rod into useful smaller<br />

products… .” Upon graduation and with<br />

the help of three classmates and one of his<br />

professors they found a place …”on the<br />

Guadalupe River near the small<br />

community of Seguin and began searching<br />

for financing the proposed mill.”<br />

Young Marvin Selig “raised about<br />

$75,000 selling stock to local<br />

businessmen and obtained a matching<br />

$75,000 loan from the Reconstruction<br />

Finance Corporation. With the help of C.<br />

H. Donegan, head of the local bank, Selig<br />

convinced enough residents to buy stock<br />

and then put together a financing<br />

package for his proposed mill.<br />

From this grew one of the most<br />

successful mini mills in Texas and is<br />

today a part of CMC Steel Inc., which is<br />

listed on the New York Stock Exchange.<br />

It can be observed from the 1950s<br />

and the coming of steel to Seguin to<br />

today’s 21st century growth that<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> was and is steadily<br />

moving forward. What follows will<br />

be a greater integration of Guadalupe<br />

<strong>County</strong>’s communities and their<br />

increased contributions while at the<br />

same time maintaining their own<br />

individual identities.<br />

Not surprisingly it was Henry Troell’s<br />

cotton gin on Guadalupe and Court<br />

Streets that was moved to the new steel<br />

mill’s site and converted into a melt shop,<br />

not far from the old ferry and the new<br />

McQueeney rail road bridge.<br />

❖ Marvin Selig.<br />

Perhaps one of the lesser known<br />

histories of Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>, on a<br />

regional basis, is that of its medical<br />

history. For a town the size of Seguin,<br />

indeed one of the smaller surrounding<br />

incorporated towns of South Central<br />

Texas, it is a remarkable history.<br />

Its medical history, during the early<br />

and mid 1880s, was largely a history of<br />

frontier medicine. The physicians and<br />

curandero(a)s learned the herbs and<br />

plants native to their areas and how to<br />

apply what hopefully led to the healing<br />

processes. In Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>’s area<br />

the curanderos and curanderas tended to<br />

their Mexican and Hispanic patients<br />

throughout their <strong>County</strong>’s communities.<br />

The Black communities had no known<br />

early resident physicians but they did<br />

have home remedies and those who were<br />

more familiar with the healing powers<br />

with which they had been blessed. Often<br />

they relied on home remedies, healers,<br />

and maybe a few physicians in San<br />

<strong>An</strong>tonio, or as happened by the early<br />

twentieth century, resident physicians<br />

such as Doctor Friday and those with<br />

whom he consulted.<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>’s first hospital was<br />

the Ranger Station, which was located in<br />

present day downtown Seguin on the<br />

western bank of Walnut Creek, between<br />

Nolte Street to the south and West Court<br />

3 4 ✦ H I S T O R I C G U A D A L U P E C O U N T Y

Street on the north, and Guadalupe Street<br />

along the west side. Sarah Day, although<br />

not a physician, was well schooled in<br />

frontier injuries, from gunshot wounds to<br />

every day ailments. She was encouraged<br />

by the early Texas Rangers to use the<br />

Ranger Station for the treatments of<br />

their wounds and ailments and those<br />

of the early founding members of<br />

Seguin, their families, and anyone else<br />

needing attending. Seguin’s 1838 Charter<br />

required homes to be built and occupied<br />

within one year after purchasing a<br />

town lot. It was only an eventuality<br />

that husbands and wives and children<br />

were going to need some sort of resource<br />

for dealing with medical conditions. It<br />

can be said the Ranger Station was indeed<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>’s first hospital.<br />

Sarah introduced and set the stage for<br />

what today is called primary care for<br />

Seguin’s and Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>’s earliest<br />

settlers. Little local evidence exists as to<br />

what occurred in medicine between the<br />

1840s and the post Civil War period in<br />

terms of local physicians and their<br />

practices other than generic tales of local<br />

remedies and healing processes.<br />

However, the following is known.<br />

Physicians and nurses visited<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> during the years<br />

following the Civil War. Some<br />

homeowners even converted their houses<br />

or parts of their houses into hospitals,<br />

such as the Sonka House, between 1917<br />

and the early nineteen thirties. It was<br />

also called the Seguin Sanitarium.<br />

Shortly thereafter the hospital moved to<br />

the Martha Lee Home on North Milam<br />

Street. Wanda and Meta Timmermann<br />

once shared that they and their brother<br />

Dan were infected with the world wide<br />

flu epidemic and had to stay in the<br />

Martha Lee hospital. They remembered<br />

that they could hear the soldiers<br />

conducting their drills across the street<br />

in the evenings on the Mary B. Erskine<br />

campus. Nurses Dorothy Siepmann and<br />

Sarah Hazard served in both homes and<br />

each of the homes remain in place to<br />

this day.<br />

By the early 1900s doctors worked<br />

independently, needing more than the<br />

medical tools in their bags. Most made<br />

house visits into the surrounding rural<br />

communities. Often infants were born in<br />

their homes with a midwife tending to<br />

the preparations and deliveries.<br />

Even surgeries were performed in<br />

homes. A visiting doctor could remove<br />

appendices on kitchen tables with maybe<br />

drip ether gas as an anesthetic. Some<br />

opiates, such as laudanum, were also<br />

used, especially for birthing. This was a<br />

dramatic improvement from using<br />

whiskey to deaden pain as was so often<br />

done during the Civil War.<br />

In the 1920s, Seguin’s medical<br />

community talked with the business<br />

community about establishing a more<br />

permanent hospital. In 1927 the Seguin<br />

Hospital Corporation was formed. It<br />

occupied the top floor of the Park (now<br />

Plaza) hotel on the southeast corner of East<br />

Nolte and South River Streets. In 1930 the<br />

Seguin Hospital moved to 205 East<br />

Weinert Street. Nurses Dorothy Siepmann<br />

and Sarah Hazard converted this former<br />

home into a hospital, the structure of<br />

which remains today although it is no<br />

❖ The Joseph Sonka house on North Guadalupe Street in Seguin.<br />

longer a hospital. The first formal structure<br />

served well for a number of years, and<br />

then, when these two modern day<br />

pioneering Nurses purchased the hospital<br />

in 1946, with a $26,000 Veterans<br />

Administration loan, its tenure as a<br />

hospital was fully established. This effort<br />

effectively set the stage for where today’s<br />

Regional Hospital is on East Court Street<br />

and continues offering the excellent<br />

medical care for which it has been known<br />

for throughout Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> and the<br />

surrounding region. Yet, there was still<br />

work to be done. The journey from the<br />

early Ranger Station had yet to be fulfilled.<br />

<strong>An</strong>d a lot had to do not just with the<br />

nurses, but with the doctors as well. Many<br />

of the doctors at that time had their offices<br />

in downtown Seguin such as Doctor<br />

Joseph T. Goetz and Doctor Hugh Davis,<br />

who, when a patient asked how much<br />

money they owed for a visit he responded,<br />

“Well, how much money do you have in<br />

your pocket? Pay me half of what you<br />

have.” Doctor Carl Raetzsch practiced<br />

above the City Pharmacy, then on Austin<br />

Street as did his son <strong>An</strong>drew. His<br />

grandson, Doctor Thomas Raetzsch also<br />

practiced downtown, as did Doctor Friday<br />

C h a p t e r F o u r ✦ 3 5

on the 100 block of North Crockett Street<br />

for the Black Community. Other legacies<br />

in the medical profession were Doctors<br />

Robert Knolle and Joseph T. Goetz.<br />

Assisting the physicians were not only<br />

nurses Seipmann and Hazzard, but others<br />

such as Margo Trost who not only served<br />

in the Navy’s Medical Corps during World<br />

War II but later served the hospital as a<br />

nurse and volunteer well into her nineties.<br />

Later came Seguin’s first female physician,<br />

Doctor Ina Manheimer and the first<br />

Hispanic Physician, Doctor Juan Garcia.<br />

Times changed quickly after World<br />

War II and the Korean War eras. In 1961,<br />

Seguin and Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> came<br />

together to establish a newer and more<br />

modern hospital to serve the needs of a<br />

growing county and city population.<br />

Bonds were approved by the voters which<br />

led to the purchse of land along the 1200<br />

block of East Court Street. Eventually the<br />

land, buildings, and a few businesses<br />

were bought out and the new hospital, in<br />

1965, at 1215 East Court Street, became<br />

a reality. So tight were the monies that<br />

Doctor Heiner, when he closed his<br />

Guadalupe Creamery, donated his<br />

Guadalupe Creamery sign to the hospital<br />

which in turn placed its name on the<br />

sign. The hospital, since then, has never<br />

looked back and today is well known as<br />

the Guadalupe Valley Regional Medical<br />

Center. It is now the only city-county<br />

owned hospital in Texas.<br />

Led by Mrs. Luella Huffman Brown as its<br />

first administrator for the Seguin Hospital<br />

(1961-1965) and its transition to the<br />

Guadalupe Valley Hospital from 1965-<br />

1967, the institution established an<br />

exceptionally strong base. She was followed<br />

by Don Richey (1977-2003) who was<br />

successful in acquiring several properties<br />

such as Gibson’s 5&10 store and its<br />

adjacent land that led to the establishment<br />

of the Wellness Center and its expansions.<br />

Robert Haines (2003-present), building on<br />

the efforts of his three predecessors, was<br />

instrumental in guiding the hospital into<br />

the 21st century mission of becoming a<br />

highly rated Regional Hospital.<br />

As Selma, Schertz, and Cibolo, at the<br />

western end of Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>,<br />

witnessed the building of Interstate 35,<br />

replacing the Old Austin-San <strong>An</strong>tonio<br />

Road which disrupted their communities<br />

and daily businesses for a few years, so too<br />

was Seguin affected by Interstate-10’s<br />

construction efforts during the late 1950s<br />

and early 1960s. However, this disruption<br />

to its business community was much less<br />

than that for I-35’s communities in that I-<br />

10 skirted the northern business edges of<br />

Seguin due to US Highway 90 being the<br />

major highway linking San <strong>An</strong>tonio<br />

eastward to Houston and westward to<br />

El Paso. Later, Seguin was connected to<br />

San Marcos by State Highway 123, to New<br />

Braunfels by SH 46, and FM 725, which<br />

connected Seguin, McQueeney, and New<br />

Braunfels as well as State Highway 78,<br />

linking Seguin to San <strong>An</strong>tonio.<br />

Two of these connecting roads had<br />

significant historical roots. For example,<br />

FM 725 linking Seguin and New<br />

Braunfels some what paralleled the 1840s<br />

German immigration route from<br />

Indianola to New Braunfels and the<br />

eventual gateway to the early German Hill<br />

Country. FM 78, from Schertz to Seguin,<br />

was once a part of the Harrisson and<br />

McCulloch stage coach route from Selma<br />

through Schertz to Seguin and the coastal<br />

bend. It was not until the turn of the 20th<br />

century that US Highways 90 and 90 A<br />

passed through Seguin from east to west<br />

connecting southern California and<br />

Florida, much as I-10 does today.<br />

From a visible communication<br />

linkage, prehistoric and historic links of<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> were profound:<br />

Native American trading routes along the<br />

Guadalupe River, Cibolo Creek, the San<br />

Marcos River to spin offs of the Old<br />

Spanish Trail to the early and later stage<br />

coach routes and highways and<br />

interstates and railroads, this region has<br />

been most fortunate. Perhaps these are<br />

major reasons this region of Texas is<br />

favored for its linkage throughout the<br />

North American Free Trade countries<br />

from Canada to Mexico and Central<br />

America, not to mention its eastern and<br />

western corridors to the Atlantic and<br />

Pacific regions of North America.<br />

Although there have been more<br />

communities that have not survived than<br />

have survived in Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>, each<br />

left a legacy that continues well into the<br />

twenty-first century and hopefully<br />

beyond. These commonalities were forged<br />

prior to and during the emergence of the<br />

Spanish, Mexican, and <strong>An</strong>glo cultures<br />

coming to Texas. First there was the proud<br />

indigenous culture that changed<br />

dramatically upon the arrival of the<br />

Spaniards. Through intermarriage between<br />

the indigenous cultures and the Spaniards<br />

an entire new culture arose in this Nuevo<br />

Mundo or New World — the Mexican<br />

culture. This continues well into the 21st<br />

century and is known as the Hispanic<br />

Culture. With the arrival of the <strong>An</strong>glo<br />

Culture into Spanish Texas and later<br />

Mexican Texas, and even later, Texas, the<br />

lands of Texas welcomed this new culture.<br />

With that came the Germans of the 1830s<br />

and 1840s. Soon thereafter were the<br />

Czechoslovakians, Bohemians, English,<br />

Irish, Swedish, Polish, and many more.<br />

The Black slaves were not to be forgotten<br />

nor their emancipation and gradual<br />

inclusion into this “new” Texas-American<br />

culture. Fortunately, many of these groups<br />

have kept their cultures together into the<br />

20th-21st centuries.<br />

Regardless, Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> was a<br />

part of all of these encounters and there<br />

were common threads throughout all<br />

corners of the <strong>County</strong> that tied them<br />

together. A number of these threads<br />

continue to this day: A keen and deep<br />

sense of entrepreneurial opportunities<br />

where people are limited only by their<br />

desire, imagination, persistence, and of<br />

course, lady luck; an ever improving<br />

county road system and two Interstate<br />

Highways; the common unifying language<br />

of English that is inclusive of the Native<br />

American dialects, Spanish, and to a<br />

degree, German, Czechoslovakian, and<br />

Polish. Indeed, one only need go to the<br />

Institute of Texas Cultures and see how<br />

3 6 ✦ H I S T O R I C G U A D A L U P E C O U N T Y

many communities still celebrate their<br />

heritages throughout the State.<br />

Among Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>’s greatest<br />

strengths are its living and practicing<br />

multiethnic contributions and their<br />

entrepreneurial strengths and senses of<br />

education, and the sense of communities<br />

working in consonance rather than<br />

working apart.<br />

S E G U I N A N D G U A D A L U P E<br />

C O U N T Y ’ S T R A N S I T I O N<br />

I N T O T H E 2 1 S T C E N T U R Y<br />

In the concluding paragraphs of this<br />

chapter the past indeed has laid the paths<br />

to the present and these paths are leading<br />

to the future as did those paths in the<br />

early and mid -nineteenth century. It is<br />

only fitting that Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>’s first<br />

town, Seguin, now over 176 years old,<br />

can join in the remarkable and<br />

significant economic and social<br />

development that so many other <strong>County</strong><br />

communities have.<br />

No longer is Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> a 100<br />

percent rural community, but it has<br />

managed to continue its proud traditions<br />

and contributions to all the communities<br />

in the <strong>County</strong>. With the advent of the<br />

industrialization and technological ages<br />

in the late 19th century through the 20th<br />

century to today’s 21st century it is<br />

becoming quite evident that agriculture,<br />

businesses, education, religions, and<br />

increasing technology will continue to<br />

work together as they have in the past.<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> has adjusted well in<br />

its remarkable history.<br />

From the water wells and aquifers to<br />

the grazing and feeding of livestock in the<br />

nineteenth century to planting cotton and<br />

finding new ways to improve its<br />

harvesting and ginning as well as raising<br />

corn and other seed crops and adapting<br />

to the new technologies that have led the<br />

way to harnassing the river’s waters for<br />

irrigation and setting the stage for<br />

creating hydroelectricity to the<br />

development of towns with elected<br />

leadership and so much more, Guadalupe<br />

<strong>County</strong> has done well. <strong>An</strong>d then with the<br />

beginning of a heavier industry—the<br />

coming of the mini steel mill, Structural<br />

Metals Incorporated by Marvin Selig and<br />

willing bankers and investors in Seguin<br />

and Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> willing to take a<br />

chance on the mill paved the way for<br />

industrial development. <strong>An</strong>d in education<br />

within Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>, whether<br />

public or private, it is there for the<br />

students and their parents as seen<br />

through the legacy of Black, Hispanic,<br />

and <strong>An</strong>glo education and its continued<br />

movements forward. Higher education<br />

such as Guadalupe College and Texas<br />

Lutheran University are treasured<br />

examples of what can be done through<br />

increasing the levels of education.<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> was a part of all of<br />

these from every corner of the <strong>County</strong>:<br />

From Caldwell <strong>County</strong>’s Martindale<br />

across the river to Guadalupe <strong>County</strong><br />

and its nearby neighbors, to Staples,<br />

Schertz, and Cibolo in the northeastern<br />

and western parts of the <strong>County</strong>, to Zuehl<br />

in the far western part and its current<br />

evolution into a new economic era, as<br />

are New Berlin, Marion, and McQueeney<br />

in the central parts of the <strong>County</strong>, and<br />

on to Elm Creek and the Post Oak area<br />

in the southwestern areas of the<br />

<strong>County</strong>, to Seguin and Kingsbury, and<br />

farther south to the former communities<br />

of Darst Creek, Dowdy, Tiemann, Mill<br />

Creek, Randolph, Walters, Nixon,<br />

and Cottonwood, to Moss, Capote,<br />

Delaney and Jahns. With a large thanks<br />

to Stanley Naumann and Gerald<br />

Hartman, both natives and members<br />

of the Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> <strong>Historic</strong>al<br />

Commission, over two hundred known,<br />

registered, GPS’d and photographed<br />

<strong>An</strong>glo, Black, Hispanic and integrated<br />

cemeteries are now on record with the<br />

<strong>County</strong>. Indeed Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> has<br />

enjoyed a rich past and an exciting and<br />

beckoning future. Today the officials of<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> are led by <strong>County</strong><br />

Judge Kyle Kutscher and <strong>County</strong><br />

Commissioners Greg Seidenberger,<br />

Precinct One; Jack Shanafelt, Precinct<br />

Two; Jim Wolverton, Precinct Three; and<br />

Judy Cope, Precinct Four.<br />

For purposes of comparison, business<br />

data will be presented that reflects<br />

where the communities are in 2015<br />

as compared to that of what has<br />

already been presented in the formative<br />

years of registered settlements beginning<br />

with 1838. These statistics come from<br />

the Seguin Area Chamber of Commerce,<br />

the Seguin Economic Development<br />

Corporation with coordination with the<br />

University of Texas at San <strong>An</strong>tonio’s Small<br />

Business Development Center as well as<br />

the Chambers of Commerce in Schertz,<br />

Marion, and the incorporated towns.<br />

According to Seguin’s Economic<br />

Development Corporation the community<br />

is very much alive and well. The sales tax<br />

revenues that were generated by the small<br />

independent retailers went to a number of<br />

not for profit organizations that mean so<br />

much to Seguin’s residents. As an example<br />

these small businesses have given back<br />

thousands of dollars to the Children’s<br />

Advocacy Center, the Irma Lewis Seguin<br />

Outdoor Learning Center, Guadalupe<br />

<strong>County</strong> Family Violence Center, Project<br />

Graduation, and the Guadalupe Valley<br />

Youth Show, Seguin Youth Services, and<br />

more. All such businesses are very aware<br />

that it is our youth and their programs<br />

that help preserve and welcome the<br />

future. <strong>An</strong>d to be sure, it is the small<br />

businesses that are the backbone of the<br />

Texas and American economies. But the<br />

big businesses are very generous as well in<br />

their returns to our communities. <strong>An</strong>d<br />

Seguin, along with its sister communities,<br />

is no exception to this. In fact there<br />

are five major businesses in Seguin<br />

whose corporations are on the New York<br />

Stock Exchange: Commercial Metals<br />

Corporation (formerly SMI), Alamo<br />

Group, TPS/Caterpillar, Wal-Mart, and<br />

Continental (preceded by Motorola).<br />

Their combined number of employees in<br />

Seguin is approximately four thousand.<br />

However, there are other large businesses<br />

in Seguin as well: The Seguin Independent<br />

School District with 1,129 employees;<br />

C h a p t e r F o u r ✦ 3 7

Guadalupe Regional Medical Center with<br />

695, Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> with 586, Texas<br />

Lutheran University with 310, the City of<br />

Seguin with 333, and H-E-B with 250<br />

employees, thus giving Seguin 7,900<br />

employees plus. <strong>An</strong>d that is the beinning<br />

of where Seguin will be in the next five to<br />

ten years.<br />

What is equally as exciting are the<br />

newer businesses and homebuilding<br />

companies coming into Seguin: Starbucks<br />

just off of I-10 and SH 123 North; 1,500<br />

homes under development within Seguin;<br />

Grupo Siro USA LLC of Spain is locating<br />

one of their facilities to Seguin and looks<br />

forward to creating over two hundred jobs<br />

within the next six years. Helmerich and<br />

Payne of Tulsa, Oklahoma, is combining<br />

their Alice, Texas, facilities in Seguin<br />

which forecasts over four hundred jobs in<br />

the future; and Tractor Supply is locating a<br />

regional Distribution Center in Seguin<br />

thus creating more jobs, and the list<br />

continues. All of this attests to the business<br />

orientation one finds in Seguin’s history as<br />

well as its services in the medical area<br />

(Texas Lutheran University now offers a<br />

❖ The Seguin baseball team, c. the 1920s.<br />

degree in Nursing), public and private<br />

education from prekindergarten to high<br />

school, and vocational and technical<br />

education skills being offered at the Alamo<br />

Colleges of Central Texas near the New<br />

Braunfels Airport in northwestern<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>. The list, again, can and<br />

does go on.<br />

When the smaller businesses are<br />

included in that number, then the<br />

number of business employees more than<br />

doubles in terms of local employees. In a<br />

sense it can be observed that Seguin and<br />

its nearby communities thrive and<br />

survive because of their entrepreneurial<br />

orientation towards making theirs the<br />

best they can be and more. When one<br />

visits the Coliseum or the Fair Grounds<br />

or Starcke Park Golf Course and Baseball<br />

and Volleyball venues, not to mention<br />

fishing and boating and kayaking, they<br />

soon discover what a fun, communityoriented<br />

place this is to live.<br />

The City of Seguin’s leaders in all of<br />

these efforts are Mayor Don Keil and<br />

Councilmembers Ernest Leal, Jennette<br />

“Jet” Crabb, Phil Seidenberger, Thomas V.<br />

Castellon, Carlos Medrano, Fonda Mathis,<br />

Donna Dodgen, and Mark Herbold. The<br />

city secretary is Thalia Stautzenberger and<br />

the city manager is Doug Fasseler. Leading<br />

the Seguin Fire Department is Chief Dale<br />

Skinner and Police Captain Kevin Kelso is<br />

the chief of police. A mark of pride and<br />

distinction is that the Police Force has<br />

nine graduates of the FBI Academy.<br />

Seguin has enjoyed many remarkable<br />

people as its citizens. There have been the<br />

politicians, the business leaders and small<br />

business leaders, actors and actresses who<br />

have performed at the national levels, and<br />

super athletes and academicians, and<br />

doctors, scientists and musicians such as<br />

the founder of the Mid-Texas Symphony,<br />

<strong>An</strong>ita Windecker. It was through her<br />

foresight, in 1978, when she was teaching<br />

at Texas Lutheran College, that she<br />

spearheaded the establishment of the Mid<br />

Texas Symphony. The symphony has<br />

grown to heights never believed<br />

attainable and continues reaching out to<br />

all communities through its concerts in<br />

Seguin and New Braunfels, not just to<br />

adults, but to all ages through its many<br />

programs with the schools and<br />

communities in Central Texas. <strong>An</strong>d,<br />

gracing the venues of Country and<br />

Western Singers is Seguin’s Dottsy Brodt<br />

Dwyer who, in the last quarter of the<br />

twentieth century, put Seguin on the<br />

Charts with her country and western<br />

singing and so continues her gifts<br />

with the public today. Her contributions<br />

to the music world have yet to be written<br />

but her words, music, and songs<br />

thankfully are still here to be enjoyed and<br />

remembered by all. Yet, there is another<br />

person who also truly captured the eyes<br />

of sports and non sports fans in America.<br />

His name was and is Joe Williams.<br />

Joe Williams was born in his parents<br />

home on April 6, 1883, just a few houses<br />

south of the Second Baptist Church on<br />

South Goodrich Street. He passed away in<br />

Washington, D.C., where he was interred<br />

on March 3, 1946.<br />

Smokey Joe learned to play baseball in<br />

Seguin when the game was just beginning<br />

3 8 ✦ H I S T O R I C G U A D A L U P E C O U N T Y

❖ Legendary baseball pitcher Joe Williams.<br />

❖ The Aztecas baseball team, 1946.<br />

to gain wider popularity. When he was a<br />

teenager he went to San <strong>An</strong>tonio where<br />

he was able to take his game to a higher<br />

level and then he soared. At 6’7”, with a<br />

jutting angular jaw and the eyes of an<br />

eagle he was more than imposing. The<br />

Negro Leagues were formed for<br />

professional baseball due to segregation<br />

but some of America’s greatest players<br />

came from those leagues. Smokey Joe<br />

passed away before he could do what<br />

Jackie Robinson did by breaking the<br />

Colored barrier in professional baseball,<br />

❖ The Seguin Cardinals, 1972.<br />

but he had America’s attention. A 1952<br />

edition of Sports <strong>Illustrated</strong> stated simply<br />

that Smokey Joe Williams was the<br />

greatest pitcher of all time. No one ever<br />

argued that, in either league, and<br />

he indeed did pitch against many of<br />

the white professional teams throughout<br />

the years.<br />

In 1999 Smokey Joe Williams was<br />

inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in<br />

Cooperstown, New York. What made this<br />

so special, not just for Seguin and the<br />

baseball world, was that Nolan Ryan was<br />

also inducted in the same ceremony. Two<br />

of America’s greatest pitchers ever, and<br />

both from small Texas towns. Today<br />

there is a Smokey Joe Williams<br />

scholarship for graduating high school<br />

students and the City’s baseball field at<br />

the Fairgrounds is named in honor of<br />

Smokey Joe Williams.<br />

<strong>An</strong>d perhaps without anyone knowing<br />

it, there were five instances of Seguin<br />

and Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>’s baseball<br />

youngsters who played and or coached<br />

in the professional National or American<br />

Leagues: Ron Jones, Pat Patek, Chuck<br />

Hartenstein, Carleton “Buzzy” Keller,<br />

and just this year, 2015, Jon Borman<br />

of Navarro High School was selected by<br />

the Pittsburg Pirates for their Rookie<br />

Training Camp. Buzzy Keller remains<br />

active today with the Texas Rangers.<br />

Seguin and Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> have<br />

been exceptionally supportive of<br />

furthering interests in all of its sports<br />

and when one reads of all the<br />

scholarships for athletics throughout<br />

all of the school districts one cannot<br />

help but amaze at the remarkable<br />

academic and sports accomplishments of<br />

its young “tomorrows.”<br />

C h a p t e r F o u r ✦ 3 9


M A R I O N , S C H E R T Z , C I B O L O , A N D<br />

S E L M A<br />

M A R I O N<br />

Marion, like Schertz and Cibolo, is<br />

along FM 78 and is close to the central<br />

part of Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>, much as<br />

Geronimo is just to its east along SH 123,<br />

and north of Seguin. No doubt Marion<br />

was founded in 1877-1878, mostly due to<br />

the coordination with business magnate<br />

Thomas W. Peirce, who masterminded the<br />

laying of the Galveston, Harrisburg and<br />

San <strong>An</strong>tonio Railroad through Guadalupe<br />

<strong>County</strong> to San <strong>An</strong>tonio. It was in this<br />

location, much as Kingsbury was in its<br />

location, that a personal relationship<br />

evolved between Peirce and the local<br />

workers and landowners. Also it was<br />

Joshua Young who was willing to grant<br />

land rights for the railroad as it came from<br />

the Hilda Switch towards Cibolo. As a<br />

result, just as William Kingsbury paved<br />

the way for the laying out of the town that<br />

eventually bore his name, Peirce was able<br />

to lay out Marion. Interestingly his<br />

contributions to this has not changed that<br />

❖ <strong>An</strong> early saloon in Marion.<br />

much over the past 137-138 years<br />

although there is currently a concentrated<br />

improvement in upgrading the streets and<br />

parking areas in today’s Marion.<br />

Records reflect that Peirce laid out<br />

Marion in a rectangle consisting of 36<br />

blocks which were evenly divided by the<br />

tracks. Records in Peirce’s family holdings<br />

support the claim that Marion was named<br />

in honor of either his daughter or<br />

granddaughter, Marion Peirce, who actually<br />

accompanied him to Marion and the<br />

eventual celebration of the GH&SA Railway<br />

in San <strong>An</strong>tonio. Previous writings, one of<br />

which was by this writer, stated the town<br />

was named for Ms. Marion Dove, who was<br />

Joshua Young’s daughter and had married<br />

into the Dove family which donated land<br />

for the coming of the railroad, and perhaps<br />

her name was mentioned by townspeople.<br />

Regardless, the name of Marion is a strong<br />

name and one that has met the tests of time<br />

and acceptance.<br />

It was not long before businesses began<br />

sprouting in Marion. Hugh Hemphill, in<br />

his The Railroad in Marion, Texas, pointed<br />

out that it were not just the Drummers<br />

converging on Marion and all the other<br />

switches for business, but also because the<br />

farmers’ and cotton gins found new means<br />

of transporting their goods to markets,<br />

thus increasing more local businesses and<br />

their needs for more products to sell. From<br />

Sullivan and its later oil era to Schertz and<br />

Selma none of the switches would ever<br />

have to look back.<br />

But, and this is a key to understanding<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>, business has<br />

always been at the forefront from the<br />

smallest communities to the larger and<br />

eventually incorporated towns. Marion<br />

was indeed a very successful part of a<br />

much larger whole.<br />

This can be seen from H. Seligmann’s<br />

1877 store on Seguin Street, which later<br />

was converted into a rent house and post<br />

office under the William Loof family. The<br />

Miller General Mercantile store came in<br />

the 1890s. By then there was not only the<br />

Marion Railroad Switch but also its<br />

handsome and well laid out train station.<br />

As well there was a livery stable near the<br />

earliest hotel.<br />

Names such as Pfannstiel, Hicks,<br />

Klein, Kreuger, the Hilds Brothers stores<br />

and more—all catering to the needs of its<br />

citizens. <strong>An</strong>d the needs were many—from<br />

horse and mule shoeing to hardware store<br />

items, to butcher shops and saloons, to<br />

general stores, where the ladies might<br />

find dresses but if not, then they might<br />

take the train to San <strong>An</strong>tonio and back for<br />

a ladies “get away” day. But, of course, the<br />

favorite meeting place for all was the post<br />

office where all the quiet gossip and news<br />

could be shared or upcoming events were<br />

planned and discussed.<br />

As in many small towns there came to<br />

be, not just the post office for gatherings,<br />

but also the churches and schools, such as<br />

Saint John’s Lutheran Church.<br />

4 0 ✦ H I S T O R I C G U A D A L U P E C O U N T Y

❖ St. John’s Lutheran Church in Marion.<br />

St. John’s was organized eleven years<br />

after the railroad came, or October 20,<br />

1889. The stewardship was led by<br />

Reverend C. Kreuzenstein. It might be<br />

a matter of interest that the majority<br />

of the community was made up of early<br />

German immigrants who, like those in<br />

Schummansville, McQueeney, Seguin, and<br />

the western part of Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>,<br />

became the predominant organizers<br />

and leaders of the communities and<br />

to this day continue to be among the<br />

major contributors.<br />

Saint John’s first service was held on<br />

April 2, 1889, in Marion’s school house.<br />

After several votes the congregants agreed<br />

to form Saint John’s Congregation. They<br />

agreed that the Constitution would be<br />

known as the “German Evangelical<br />

Lutheran Church of Marion, Texas.” The<br />

first pastor was Reverend C. Kreuzenstein<br />

after having served as such in Cibolo and<br />

Emanuels in Seguin. From that time on<br />

its doors have been open and a number of<br />

its pastors had been affiliated with Texas<br />

Lutheran College (University) and<br />

Lutheran congregations throughout the<br />

counties of Bexar, Guadalupe, and<br />

Comal. All in all the Church has had<br />

three passages: The first was its original<br />

Church Building (1890) with a parsonage<br />

(1901) and a school (1901). Its second<br />

church building was completed on July 8,<br />

1923 and the third Church was built in<br />

1967, just south of Marion on FM 465.<br />

The Church itself has had its doors<br />

opened for 126 years as of 2015.<br />

<strong>An</strong>d there were and are other churches<br />

in Marion. The Savannah Baptist Church<br />

was, according to Delvin Weber, “first<br />

known as the African Church and School”<br />

and was built in town on a lot donated<br />

by the T. W. Peirce Estate. <strong>An</strong>d, not only<br />

was land granted for schools and<br />

churches in Marion by the Peirce Estate,<br />

but the same was also done for Kingsbury.<br />

Today it is on the corner of Schulz and<br />

Live Oak Streets and receives over 60<br />

congregants. The church’s architecture<br />

maintains the style of the late 1800s, thus<br />

maintaining its relationship with its<br />

original environment.<br />

There is also another Lutheran Church<br />

named the Evangelical Luther Melanchthon<br />

Church which was established on February<br />

19, 1902, in town. A parsonage was added<br />

where early services were held but the<br />

church was torn down forty-four years<br />

after the congregation dwindled and<br />

dispersed. However, the parsonage remains<br />

to this day.<br />

❖ First and second graders at Marion Elementary School, 1925.<br />

The Catholic tradition continues as<br />

well in Marion. It is the Immaculate<br />

Conception Catholic Church, organized<br />

prior to its May 30, 1954, opening<br />

celebration. Until then its congregants<br />

attended services either in Seguin at Saint<br />

James Catholic Church, or in neighboring<br />

communities such as Cibolo or Schertz.<br />

Its congregants number over 100 and all,<br />

joining their brothers and sisters in the<br />

other churches, provide many supporting<br />

activities for Marion’s community.<br />

<strong>An</strong>d, as religion continues so too does<br />

education. Marion’s history reflects that<br />

education began in 1878, shortly after<br />

Marion became more established with the<br />

railroad. Like the churches in Kingsbury,<br />

land was donated for its beginnings. It<br />

started out, according to Weber, as<br />

District 50 but by 1885 it became Marion<br />

School Community Number 47 and by<br />

1917 it was in the 31st District and was<br />

known as the Marion Public Free School.<br />

Like the rest of Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> the<br />

early public schools were segregated.<br />

There was a Mexican School and when<br />

the new two story brick school was built,<br />

in 1917, the Mexican students attended<br />

C h a p t e r F i v e ✦ 4 1

❖ Third, fourth, and sixth graders at Marion Elementary School, 1925.<br />

classes there. The Black students attended<br />

school at the Savannah Baptist Church.<br />

It was in the 1930s that the Works<br />

Progress Administration built a new<br />

school which, according to Weber,<br />

was dedicated with Miss Marion Peirce in<br />

attendance. Progress in county education<br />

was also being made statewide. Little by<br />

little efforts were being made for<br />

integrated education in Texas and by the<br />

1960s this was accomplished throughout<br />

all of Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>. No longer were<br />

there Mexican schools or Black schools<br />

and this is also evidenced in the private<br />

schools as well in Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>.<br />

Today Marion Schools are recognized<br />

for their quality of education from<br />

academics to vocational education and in<br />

extracurricular activities including<br />

academics, band, and sports. It is<br />

recognized for its quality performances in<br />

football, softball, baseball, volleyball,<br />

band contests, and University<br />

Interscholastic League academics.<br />

In terms of businesses and commerce<br />

Marion has enjoyed its business<br />

community which includes banking (the<br />

Marion State Bank), private businesses, the<br />

post office, and many in the agricultural<br />

sector from gins to repair shops to<br />

hardware, grocery stores and barber shops,<br />

to butcher shops and frozen storage<br />

lockers, filling stations, and restaraunts,<br />

saloons and more. Some of these<br />

❖ Roger Scheffel and his wife, Karen, were owners of the Helping Hand Hardware Store.<br />

businesses have been run by generations<br />

of families such as Helping Hand along FM<br />

78 as have a number within Marion.<br />

The Helping Hand Store reflects the<br />

business climate of Marion from the days<br />

of old to today and into the future.<br />

Marion’s place within Guadalupe<br />

<strong>County</strong> is and will continue to be a major<br />

contributor in all sectors. Their sense of<br />

history and community is indeed alive<br />

and well.<br />

Before closing a few snap shots will be<br />

shared of Marion’s early government and<br />

law along with its community social<br />

events, which begin with the 1880s Sons<br />

of Herman Lodge. Following this were<br />

the Bowling Club in the early 1900s close<br />

to Krueger Street. Soon the Marion Lions<br />

club was established in 1949. The women<br />

were active as well in the early 1900s<br />

such as the Ladies Civic Improvement<br />

Club with its first president, Mrs. H. W.<br />

Schulz. It has a long and proud history<br />

in civic improvements for all the<br />

community. The Parents Teacher<br />

4 2 ✦ H I S T O R I C G U A D A L U P E C O U N T Y

Association (PTA) has been exceptionally<br />

successful for addressing and helping<br />

raise funds for their schools and<br />

volunteering for school events and<br />

projects. The Boy Scouts were also<br />

organized in the early 1900s and<br />

continued well into the early 21st<br />

century. So too were the Girl Scouts<br />

proud members of their town beginning<br />

in the 1940s and today Marion sees<br />

volleyball, soft ball, tennis courts, a Little<br />

League Baseball Field and, beginning in<br />

1915, was the Motor Parade. <strong>An</strong>d few will<br />

ever forget the Centennial Celebration<br />

Committee beginning in June 1976<br />

which marched in Seguin’s July 4, 1976<br />

Parade. There was a Men’s Singing Club<br />

and the Marion-Zuehl Band that<br />

performed at special events.<br />

Sadly, amongst all of these exciting<br />

social gatherings and club activities<br />

there was a down side when the John<br />

Hicks store was robbed by three men.<br />

They were later apprehended with<br />

help from the Seguin Police Department.<br />

The first sheriff was Hardy Stolte towards<br />

the close of the 19th century and Justices<br />

of the Peace included such active<br />

members as William Loof, Bruno Koehler,<br />

Henry Schneider and more. There was<br />

also a jail which was built in the<br />

early 20th century and fortunately it<br />

did not have too many visitors, although<br />

one was found dead and the jail<br />

was never used again except as a<br />

store house for city equipment. Today the<br />

City Government has evolved quite<br />

well since its 1933 incorporation and<br />

its five aldermen. C. A. Krueger was<br />

the first elected Mayor, and the City<br />

Hall was built and operational in<br />

June, 1955.<br />

Today Marion is an incorporated<br />

City with its Mayor, William E. Seiler,<br />

and Council Members Donald<br />

Achterberg, James W. Gray and Belinda<br />

Reasor. The City Secretary is Laurie<br />

Huebinger. Public Safety is led by<br />

Police Chief Donald R. Crane with four<br />

Officers. There is also the Marion<br />

Volunteer Fire Department, and the<br />

Schertz EMS assists Marion in terms of<br />

emergency medical needs.<br />

The next story is a continuum of<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>’s remarkable towns,<br />

all of whom have survived the tests of<br />

time and adapted to an ever changing<br />

world.<br />

S C H E R T Z<br />

Schertz, Texas, was no more Schertz,<br />

Texas, in the beginning than Seguin,<br />

Texas, was, or New Berlin, or Cibolo,or<br />

Kingsbury, or Marion. Where Seguin was<br />

organized and established by a group of<br />

Texas Rangers from the Green DeWitt<br />

Colony, Schertz was an area that slowly<br />

evolved into a community. But, due to its<br />

proximity to Bexar <strong>County</strong> and San<br />

<strong>An</strong>tonio, and its eventual neighbor, New<br />

Braunfels, Schertz’ history was destined<br />

to become intertwined with their<br />

histories as well as Seguin’s and<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>.<br />

It was not originally planned to<br />

become an incorporated area as were San<br />

<strong>An</strong>tonio and perhaps New Braunfels. Yet,<br />

interestingly and thankfully, what became<br />

Schertz was indeed influenced more by<br />

immigrants than its neighbors. In this case<br />

the greater influence would be more from<br />

the Germans than the <strong>An</strong>glos.<br />

Indeed, just prior to Texas’ Statehood<br />

and shortly after (1844-1847), the<br />

European colonists who sought a new life<br />

in Texas were mostly German. Many<br />

signed agreements to become a part of<br />

Prince Solms efforts in what came to be<br />

New Braunfels. The period of 1844-<br />

1850s certainly applies to Solms efforts<br />

and those of other Europeans like Henry<br />

Castro’s efforts to bring colonists to Texas.<br />

Castro was an empresario or investor<br />

in lands within the Republic for eventual<br />

development by arriving European<br />

immigrants. In 1841, he was appointed<br />

by General James Hamilton, Loan<br />

Commissioner for the Republic of Texas,<br />

to conduct land sales under the<br />

laws governing such sales to immigrants.<br />

About the same time, Prince Solms<br />

of Germany had received the nod to<br />

develop another colony under the auspices<br />

of the Adelsverein.<br />

Castro concentrated his efforts on the<br />

Alsatians who were squeezed between<br />

eastern France and Western Germany<br />

whereas Solms had concentrated on the<br />

German city states. Castro’s eventual<br />

colonists were both French and German.<br />

There were more dissimilarities than<br />

similarities between the two colonial<br />

organizers. Henri Castro was a<br />

businessman but his methods were and<br />

continued to be questionable. Prince<br />

Solms led his colonial effort but relied on<br />

a consortium of German businessmen and<br />

professionals from different areas that was<br />

called the Adelsverein. The Castro effort<br />

succeeded in spite of Castro whereas the<br />

Solms effort succeeded because of the<br />

Adelsverein and its leadership.<br />

Having received the support of the<br />

Loan Commissioner for the young<br />

Republic of Texas, General James<br />

Hamilton, Henri Castro received the title<br />

of Consul General of Texas to France, and<br />

went on to recruit the majority of his<br />

eventual colonists from the Alsace-<br />

Loraine Region of France and a bit into<br />

the territories of west central Germany.<br />

The result: on October 23, 1843, 129<br />

colonists departed <strong>An</strong>twerp, Belgium.<br />

This was the third or fourth shipment of<br />

colonists destined for Castro’s colony,<br />

west of San <strong>An</strong>tonio. Among those<br />

boarding the Jean Key De Teau were<br />

members of the Joseph Schertz and <strong>An</strong>na<br />

Marie Schertz family, the family of Pierre<br />

Mergele, Peter Mergele and wife Barbara<br />

and family, Dionisius Sauter and wife<br />

Teresa, all from Alsace-Lorraine. There<br />

were a number of other passengers but<br />

those listed were destined to become the<br />

forerunners to the communities of<br />

Schertz and Cibolo.<br />

The length of the crossing from<br />

<strong>An</strong>twerp to Galveston, Texas, was<br />

reported by some as being 72 days while<br />

others remembered four months.<br />

Regardless it was not an easy passage—<br />

rationing of food, polluted water,<br />

C h a p t e r F i v e ✦ 4 3

unsanitary conditions including waste<br />

elimination and lack of washing facilities,<br />

no privacy, and the lack of circulating air<br />

in the ships’ holds existed. All of these<br />

made it very difficult for everyone, but<br />

mostly for the children and infants.<br />

Some decided to leave the ship while<br />

others took the advice of continuing to<br />

Indian Point or Indianola in Lavaca Bay,<br />

further to the south. After debarking, a<br />

number of passengers continued their<br />

new journey towards San <strong>An</strong>tonio where<br />

they hoped they would be met by Castro<br />

or one of his representatives. Included in<br />

the group were the Schertz and Mergeles<br />

and the Sauters among others. The<br />

Schertz families set up camp in San<br />

<strong>An</strong>tonio and sought out Castro. Like so<br />

many, they suffered diseases and<br />

afflictions due to limited protection from<br />

the elements and inadequate diets. <strong>An</strong>d,<br />

they were joined by many others<br />

suffering the same lack of contact with<br />

Castro or his representatives.<br />

They arrived in San <strong>An</strong>tonio in the<br />

spring, 1844, having endured numerous<br />

hardships, waiting to be contacted. It<br />

never happened. Finally, in early 1845,<br />

the Schertz and Mergele families left San<br />

<strong>An</strong>tonio and initially traveled towards<br />

Indianola. While enroute and, by pure<br />

happenstance, they met Prince Solms. He<br />

listened, encouraged the families, and<br />

then suggested they join his German<br />

Settlers in New Braunfels. The two<br />

families were promised a one half acre<br />

town lot and a ten acre plot to grow<br />

produce and perhaps have some<br />

livestock. This was agreed upon and the<br />

seeds were planted for the Schertz family<br />

and others to become a part of the<br />

planned German settlements at this<br />

gateway to the Hill Country. Little did<br />

they know that they would, within a few<br />

years, become directly involved in<br />

becoming some of the pioneers of what<br />

today is Western Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> and<br />

its reaches into Comal and Bexar<br />

Counties. The climate was agreeable, the<br />

land was available. Between the Comal<br />

and Guadalupe Rivers plus a number of<br />

smaller streams, fortunes began to turn<br />

from destitution and failure to one of<br />

promise and hope.<br />

Soon the families were engaging in<br />

developing their homes and land holdings<br />

and becoming settled amongst many of<br />

their culture who, too, were making their<br />

ways to their new homes. The 1850s<br />

looked promising, especially in the central<br />

area of New Braunfels, the Cibolo Valley<br />

Settlement, and San <strong>An</strong>tonio. They never<br />

had to look back from then on for these<br />

early settlers were well on their way to<br />

establishing themselves and their<br />

communities with or without Castro.<br />

What follows is based a lot on the work<br />

of the Schertz <strong>Historic</strong>al Preservation<br />

Committee and its researcher and writer,<br />

Dean Wirtz. Many of the people who<br />

helped with what became a book entitled<br />

Schertz, Texas, The Story of Great <strong>An</strong>cestry,<br />

Legacy and Development, are descendants<br />

of the original settlers. Other references<br />

were also used.<br />

The Schertz and Mergele families were<br />

met by the Verein Society for the<br />

development of New Braunfels on March<br />

25, 1845, and in April they drew town<br />

lots and acreage lots. They were home<br />

now and their family lives began anew in<br />

this New World. Interestingly, other later<br />

immigrants began to settle just south of<br />

New Braunfels in an area where there was<br />

a creek. It was called Cibolo Creek. This<br />

initially came to be called the Cibolo<br />

Valley Settlement. The creek, even to this<br />

day separates the eventual <strong>County</strong> of Bejar<br />

(Bexar) and today’s Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>.<br />

The Indians often used the steep banks<br />

of the Cibolo (an unknown tribal Indian<br />

word pertaining to Buffalo) to run the<br />

buffalo over and then use their prey<br />

for food, clothing, and other necessities.<br />

But when it rained, the Cibolo Creek<br />

often became a major flooding area that<br />

spilled over the banks. Because of<br />

this geographical phenomena the early<br />

settlers from New Braunfels called it “Cut<br />

Off” because they couldn’t cross the<br />

Cibolo to go to San <strong>An</strong>tonio. According to<br />

other sources the name “Cibolo Pit” was<br />

used before “Cut Off” because during<br />

these dry spells the Cibolo was used as a<br />

pit for driving the buffalo over the banks<br />

for slaughter. Regardless, the name “Cut<br />

Off” was the most common local name of<br />

that area, and was actually the name of<br />

the first post office, in 1884, established<br />

in present day Schertz. The name<br />

remained until the turn of the 19th to the<br />

20th century when it ws changed to<br />

Schertz, Texas. Even Sebastian and John<br />

Schertz, when they established their 600<br />

acres of land in 1849, were stymied more<br />

than once in trying to get to San <strong>An</strong>tonio<br />

because of the floods.<br />

As in the eastern part of Guadalupe<br />

<strong>County</strong>, Native Americans were numerous.<br />

There were the Lipan Apaches, Tonkawa,<br />

and to a degree the Karankawa and the<br />

W(Hueco). By the time the Germans<br />

made their entry into the South Central<br />

Texas region and its contiguous hill<br />

country the Comanche had been<br />

successful in driving the Apache out of<br />

that region and, for the most part, claimed<br />

it for themselves. The Comanche, like so<br />

many hunters and gatherers, were also<br />

traders, but selectively so.<br />

One seemingly common denominator<br />

among many indigenous peoples was the<br />

concept of ownership. There was a stark<br />

difference between the Indians “stealing”<br />

horses and cattle and that of “borrowing”<br />

when compared to the <strong>An</strong>glo<br />

interpretations of both of these words. By<br />

their very nature of existence if something<br />

was needed and could not be obtained at<br />

a trading site the Indians just might<br />

borrow what they needed from another<br />

tribe or band or newly arrived settlers. To<br />

the Indian they were borrowing rather<br />

than stealing. They might or might not<br />

return what they borrowed, even if it were<br />

in a different form such as a donkey for a<br />

horse. To the <strong>An</strong>glo and German settlers<br />

there was a culture clash on honesty and<br />

ownership and borrowing versus the<br />

Indians’ interpretations.<br />

The Comanche were one of the last to<br />

make their presence felt in this region.<br />

There was the 1840s Council Court House<br />

4 4 ✦ H I S T O R I C G U A D A L U P E C O U N T Y

Fight in San <strong>An</strong>tonio which resulted in the<br />

last Great Comanche Raid into Southeast<br />

Texas ending with the Battle of Plumb<br />

Creek near present day Lockhart, and the<br />

stealing of human life to further their own<br />

needs. Such was the case with Rudolph<br />

Fisher of the Schertz family when he was<br />

kidnapped and incorporated into the<br />

Comanche world. He became so<br />

assimilated that when he returned to the<br />

Cibolo Valley Settlement years later he had<br />

a Comanche name, spoke Comanche,<br />

visited with his kinfolk, and then returned<br />

northward to the Comanche lands.<br />

Doug Parker, an established Seguin<br />

pharmacist, is a descendant of Cynthia<br />

<strong>An</strong>n Parker who was taken in a raid and<br />

became a wife of Quanah Parker. She,<br />

too, was allowed to leave the tribe but<br />

soon returned to her captors and then<br />

bore children.<br />

Interestingly the Comanche worked<br />

closely with the German settlers of<br />

Fredericksburg and surrounding<br />

communities. So well was this<br />

relationship nourished that the “Easter<br />

Fires” are still celebrated each year just<br />

outside Fredericksburg. The majority of<br />

these German immigrants had earlier<br />

passed through, if not stayed in New<br />

Braunfels, and had heard of the Cibolo<br />

Valley Settlement.<br />

Farming and ranching in the Cibolo<br />

Valley Settlement area was the primary<br />

source of livelihood from the 1850s to the<br />

turn of 19th to 20th century. If there were<br />

any terms to describe this period they<br />

were terms reserved for an almost<br />

hardscrabble existence. There were few<br />

roads, numerous flash floods, rumors of<br />

Indian attacks, and Mexico trying to<br />

retake San <strong>An</strong>tonio, the Texas Republic,<br />

and even the whole state when Texas, in<br />

1845, was annexed to the United States.<br />

Politics were not at the forefront for the<br />

settlers, however. They had enough to do<br />

to make ends meet.<br />

In 1849, Sebastian Schertz and his<br />

brother, John, purchased about a league<br />

of land in what eventually came to be<br />

known as the Cibolo Valley Settlement,<br />

Cibolo Pit, and Cut Off. Later that year<br />

Sebastian married Marie Elizabeth<br />

Rittiman. They raised six children and it<br />

was on this land now known as Schertz<br />

and Cibolo that the western part of<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> began seeing<br />

settlement and development.<br />

If there was schooling it was<br />

rudimentary but sincere. Eventually,<br />

during this formative period, country<br />

schools appeared and disappeared and<br />

students in those days went to school only<br />

a few months of the year. There was work<br />

to be done on the farms and ranches with<br />

Mexican laborers, a few Black slaves, and<br />

the owners. In this part of South Central<br />

Texas slavery was an issue in many ways<br />

that were not agreed upon.<br />

However slaves were expensive to own<br />

and maintain. The Cibolo Valley<br />

Settlement was a hard working area<br />

where money was scarce. There were a<br />

few slaves but not on a scale as seen in<br />

the more richly producing regions of<br />

Central, Eastern, and Southern<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>. Slavery was not as<br />

often practiced in the Cibolo and Schertz<br />

regions of early Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>. There<br />

were reasons for this as will soon be seen.<br />

For example there is no mention<br />

of the Knights of the Golden Circle’s<br />

(KGC) presence in the Cibolo Valley<br />

Settlement nor in Comal <strong>County</strong>,<br />

although there was in San <strong>An</strong>tonio,<br />

Seguin, and surrounding counties.<br />

As the blossoming Settlement slowly<br />

began building itself, the major crops and<br />

livestock became corn, oats, beans,<br />

vegetables, cattle, oxen, pigs, goats,<br />

horses, and some sheep. Little by little<br />

other families began moving in and<br />

settling. However, the slave issue would<br />

not go away. It became even greater after<br />

the infamous 1855 slave catching raid<br />

into Mexico, led by James Callahan, of<br />

Seguin. The raid took place just south of<br />

Piedras Negras, Mexico, and Fort<br />

Duncan, from which Eagle Pass sprung.<br />

Clearly, by 1860, it was evident there<br />

was going to be a break up of the United<br />

States. <strong>An</strong>d there were going to be strong<br />

disagreements between supporters and<br />

non supporters of slavery and secession<br />

in Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>. This, however, did<br />

not mean that men from the Cibolo Valley<br />

Settlement or in Comal <strong>County</strong> or in<br />

Bexar <strong>County</strong> would not serve in the<br />

Confederacy. Many did.<br />

Although there were a few cotton<br />

plantations in this mostly German settled<br />

region of the Cibolo Valley Settlement,<br />

cotton was initially a small cash-crop.<br />

However, by the early 1900s , it became a<br />

major source of income . One reason for<br />

this post Reconstruction Era production of<br />

cotton was Sebastian Schertz. He built, in<br />

1871, the community’s first mule powered<br />

cotton gin. This was a very common<br />

practice in the early days of the gins<br />

throughout the southern states. Time<br />

progressed and technology improved with<br />

the gas powered boilers and later steam<br />

powered machinery. These advancements<br />

increased the production of cotton from<br />

just a few bales a day to over 1,000 per<br />

year. Perhaps what changed the Cibolo<br />

Valley-Schertz area the most were two<br />

things: The coming of the railroad and<br />

pure American ingenuity at work.<br />

One of the major events that tied into<br />

the coming of the railroad, Fromme’s<br />

Store, and the Post Office at Cut Off, was<br />

the continued success of the cotton gin.<br />

<strong>An</strong>d it was the cotton gin that helped<br />

spur the economy to new heights.<br />

When Sebastian Schertz passed away<br />

in 1890, his son, Adolph, took over the<br />

homestead and sole ownership of the<br />

cotton gin. By then it was known as the<br />

Schertz Cotton Gin. Adolph also owned a<br />

grain company that took in the corn<br />

which was shucked, weighed, and<br />

shipped to surrounding markets. There<br />

was also the family’s sugar cane press.<br />

When area farmers and ranchers brought<br />

their cotton to the gin to be pressed, they<br />

also brought their sugar cane to produce<br />

molasses. While they waited, many times<br />

their horses were often attached to the<br />

press to move it while the cane was<br />

cooked. This golden era of cotton<br />

production as a major cash crop in<br />

C h a p t e r F i v e ✦ 4 5

Schertz and Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> thrived<br />

until the 1940s.<br />

As the Schertz family established<br />

themselves, so too was the family of Jacob<br />

Schlather who, in 1867, also bought land<br />

in the Cibolo Valley area. His son,<br />

George, built a store where locals could<br />

purchase needed supplies. Later, in 1882,<br />

he sold the store to Charles Fromme.<br />

When the Galveston, Harrisburg and<br />

San <strong>An</strong>tonio Railway (GH&SA) was<br />

extended from Marion through the old<br />

Cibolo Valley Settlement (Schertz) not<br />

only did the store benefit, but the<br />

William Schertz family offered free land<br />

to build a depot for the switch. The<br />

Railway Company accepted the offer and<br />

the switch (a temporary stopping point<br />

and side railing for the early railroads),<br />

known as Cut Off, was built and<br />

eventually led, in 1883, to the first Post<br />

Office. Within a short time people began<br />

to call this small area “Schertz” instead of<br />

“Cut Off” for no longer were the early<br />

settlers and their children cut off from<br />

trade and transportation due to the<br />

vagaries of weather. On April 6, 1899, the<br />

town officially became “Schertz, Texas”<br />

with the final filing of the land grant.<br />

Times were changing for the better for<br />

those in the Cibolo Valley Settlement,<br />

including the farmers, ranchers, and the<br />

soon-to-come entrepreneurs.<br />

The Post Office, on May 23, 1884, was<br />

officially established. The first Post<br />

Master was John H. C. Bremer, who, in<br />

1899, was followed by William Schertz.<br />

The location changed several times until<br />

its current location which is next to<br />

Samuel Clemens High School.<br />

Perhaps of even greater importance to<br />

the eventual early Schertz and Cibolo<br />

area was the availability of water on<br />

Sebastian Schertz’s land. Almost all of the<br />

early farmers and settlers had hand dug<br />

wells. Commonly the shallow dug wells<br />

were plagued with the smell of sulphur or<br />

they went dry during periods of drought.<br />

The Schertz wells did not go dry, and he<br />

was able to supply water to needy<br />

families.<br />

However there was a spinoff in this<br />

effort. Sebastian Schertz, upon seeing<br />

water had become more of a commodity<br />

than just a need, created the Schertz<br />

Water Works Company which passed<br />

on through the Schertz family until<br />

well into the twentieth century. More<br />

will be addressed on that later but, suffice<br />

to say that the same old well is still<br />

a source of water for the lawns of<br />

his descendants.<br />

By the 1880s the Guadalupe <strong>County</strong><br />

census revealed there were sixty five families<br />

residing in the Cibolo Valley Settlement<br />

region. In addition, there were twenty three<br />

singles (a school teacher, laborers, and<br />

servants) residing in this region.<br />

<strong>An</strong>other major factor in the success of<br />

this region, and already alluded to, was<br />

that of education for the youngsters. The<br />

water issue will always be of paramount<br />

importance, but so too is the education of<br />

a community’s children for it is their<br />

knowledge that will help continue the<br />

currents of water, education, religion, and<br />

businesses flowing.<br />

In the latter part of the 19th century<br />

“field schools” were located where possible,<br />

to include money for support, in the<br />

Schertz and Cibolo area. In that there was<br />

no tax system to support education in the<br />

rural areas many of the rural communities<br />

not only had to provide some sort of<br />

building, but also hire a teacher and supply<br />

the best they could in terms of chairs,<br />

desks, and books or slates and chalk. By<br />

1954 rural communities were allotted<br />

minor funding from the state for each<br />

student and eventually more money for the<br />

teachers and school supplies. By the 1960s<br />

the county schools began to come under the<br />

Independent School districts in their areas.<br />

For Schertz education began with a<br />

one room field school west of Cibolo<br />

Creek and close to where the original<br />

horse stables were located near the<br />

present day Randolph Air Base which was<br />

then an Army installation. This early<br />

school had classes from first through<br />

eighth grade. Interestingly the two major<br />

communities in Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>,<br />

Schertz/Cibolo and Seguin built their<br />

own first major schools. Adolph Schertz<br />

donated land for its new school and in<br />

Seguin the land was acquired and<br />

remains to this day. Both structures, the<br />

Schertz School and the Seguin Public<br />

School (later renamed the Mary B.<br />

Erskine School) were two stories high<br />

and taught grades one through ten.<br />

Unfortunately the first Schertz Public<br />

School burned down but then was<br />

replaced by a two-story building, grades 1-<br />

10, on the same property and continued as<br />

an elementary and high school until 1936.<br />

The Schertz School later built the “O.<br />

Henry” high school which burned in 1990<br />

to be replaced, in 1990, by Corbett High<br />

School. The last construction of a high<br />

school was Samuel Clemens High School<br />

which opened its doors for the 1967-1968<br />

academic year.<br />

As Seguin was experiencing and<br />

enjoying economic expansion and with<br />

the agricultural industry expanding its<br />

productivity, so too was the Schertz/Cibolo<br />

region expanding. Not only was it a<br />

hardworking agricultural community but<br />

it, like Seguin, was making the transition<br />

to becoming a better functioning business<br />

and social community.<br />

By the turn of the 19th-20th centuries<br />

Cut Off/Schertz and the Cibolo area were<br />

led by thinkers and doers in terms of<br />

free enterprise and by those willing<br />

to take chances and work hard.<br />

Agriculture remained dominant until the<br />

mid- to late-20th century. Agriculture<br />

still remains important, but has changed<br />

with the times.<br />

For example, Schertz, in the formative<br />

20th century remained very agrarian.<br />

Corn, wheat, oats, livestock and gardening<br />

helped the majority keep their local<br />

communities alive. Even cotton remained<br />

the major crop until midcentury. To<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>’s rural communities<br />

the first and foremost job was to grow, eat,<br />

nurture and support their families. This<br />

included education.<br />

The Schertz Cotton Gin was the first<br />

business. The family operated another gin<br />

4 6 ✦ H I S T O R I C G U A D A L U P E C O U N T Y

❖ Schertz in the earliest twentieth century.<br />

in Selma. Sebastian’s sons continued his<br />

business legacy after he passed away and<br />

adjusted well to the changing times.<br />

After Adolph passed away his sons<br />

changed the name of the cotton gin to A.<br />

Schertz and Sons which was located on<br />

Main Street and, until the 1940s, it stayed<br />

in operation. Adolph’s brother, William,<br />

began “the largest mercantile business in<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>” right next to the old<br />

Cotton Mill on Main Street. Today it is the<br />

Sipple True Value Hardware Store. He also<br />

became the Postmaster and eventually<br />

sold his mercantile holdings to C. W.<br />

Koch. By the 1930s it was more than<br />

evident that Schertz was going to become<br />

a major economic partner for both the<br />

rural and urban areas of northwestern<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> as well as eventually to<br />

the rest of Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> and the<br />

surrounding counties.<br />

Other businesses that emerged<br />

included a blacksmith shop, the Cibolo<br />

Line Company, the Borgfeld Furniture<br />

Factory, the Schertz Drug Store, a meat<br />

market and grocery store, the barber shop<br />

on Main Street, a lumber yard, gas<br />

stations, Becks Land Field, and the 1913<br />

chartered Schertz Bank which now has<br />

branches in Seguin and throughout<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>.<br />

❖ Schertz Bank. This photograph was taken after a bank robbery.<br />


By 1911 the downtown area of Schertz<br />

truly looked like a town that was going to<br />

be a steady and proud downtown for<br />

quite some time. But mercantilism and<br />

agriculture were not the only growth<br />

areas in Schertz’ economic rise in<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>. If there is one<br />

commodity that agricultural and urban<br />

areas cannot do without it is water. So<br />

important is this issue that the old saying<br />

in Texas that “whiskey is for drinkin’ and<br />

water’s for fightin” in fact became a reality<br />

in Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>.<br />

As Henry Troell’s experiments with the<br />

magic of water and electricity in Seguin<br />

proved far sighted, so too was the same<br />

thing happening in Schertz. The Schertz<br />

Water Company was not built on an<br />

above ground flowing river such as the<br />

Guadalupe River, but rather on an aquifer<br />

later called the Edwards Aquifer. The land<br />

Sebastian Schertz bought in 1866 was<br />

atop this aquifer although they did not<br />

know this at that time. What they did<br />

know, however, was that the fifty foot<br />

deep hand dug well had clearer and<br />

cleaner water and their fellow farmers<br />

often came to the Schertz’s to work out an<br />

C h a p t e r F i v e ✦ 4 7

arrangement where they could acquire<br />

more pure and fresh water for their daily<br />

needs. Eventually this water source was<br />

called the Schertz Water Works Company.<br />

As the businesses and lands were passed<br />

on to the younger generations so too was<br />

the water company.<br />

Through the efforts of Walter J. Schertz<br />

and his family they were able to expand<br />

their sources of water to meet the area’s<br />

needs. Through gaining the rights to<br />

accessing the Edwards Aquifer in<br />

neighboring Universal City and Bexar<br />

<strong>County</strong> they were able to not only build a<br />

water tower in Schertz but also put in a<br />

main underground water pipe from Schertz<br />

to Universal City. Today the Schertz-<br />

Seguin-Local Government Corporation<br />

works closely to ensure their respective<br />

communities have sufficient water for their<br />

residents. By the time this book is printed<br />

this region will have experienced one of the<br />

worst drought periods in Texas since the<br />

major drought of the 1950s. Were it not for<br />

the far sightedness of the <strong>County</strong>’s early<br />

farmers, agriculture would have grown at a<br />

much slower pace.<br />

Not surprisingly, it was also the<br />

members of the Schertz family who<br />

became owners and managers of the<br />

Schertz City Electric Company. Ultimately<br />

it was sold to the Guadalupe Valley<br />

Electric Co-Op which today provides<br />

electricity for Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>.<br />

❖ The Randolph Lodge in old downtown Schertz.<br />

These past few pages have served as an<br />

introduction to a phenomenal period in<br />

local, regional, and state history. Seguin<br />

and Schertz were, in the early 20th century,<br />

not really partners in the issue of water but<br />

they were destined to come together in the<br />

late 20th and early 21st centuries on the<br />

issue of water and their respective futures.<br />

As a brief aside, regarding river water,<br />

its generation of power for electricity, and<br />

the accompaniment of all that is needed<br />

to encourage water to develop power, it<br />

can strongly be suggested that Henry<br />

Troell unknowingly set the stage for the<br />

evolution of the harnassing of major<br />

Texas rivers to provide electricity to cities<br />

and residents. Ultimately this led to<br />

greater cooperation on water issues<br />

between Seguin, Schertz, Cibolo and the<br />

rest of Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> towards the<br />

end of the twentieth century and beyond.<br />

It was also during this time that the<br />

advent of what today is Randolph Air<br />

Force Base occurred near Schertz.<br />

Although not in Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>, this<br />

US Army military post at that time, had a<br />

profound impact that is still being<br />

experienced in not only the local area,<br />

but in Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> as well. <strong>An</strong>d<br />

it was a young Army officer who led<br />

the way.<br />

Army Lieutenant Benjamin Fulois<br />

knew he could take off and land in the<br />

early 1900s on the marching fields at Fort<br />

Sam Houston, and he did. Although he<br />

made a few mistakes in the beginning<br />

with a few nonfatal crash landings, he<br />

ignited the military’s interest in exploring<br />

this potentially strategic and tactical<br />

method of surveillance (balloons were<br />

now on their way out) and warfare.<br />

Originally there were army stables at<br />

what today is Randolph Air Force Base,<br />

but there were no airplanes. Once Fulois<br />

and others demonstrated the airplanes’<br />

strategic and tactical promises for the<br />

future of warfare, they were removed<br />

from Fort Sam Houston to other facilities.<br />

Eventually Randolph was selected and<br />

prepared for continuing flight training<br />

into the future.<br />

Authorities visited and researched<br />

several sites near present day Randolph<br />

Air Force Base, but none were<br />

immediately selected. According to the<br />

Schertz <strong>Historic</strong>al Preservation<br />

Committee, of the “nineteen sites…<br />

submitted to the General (Brigadier<br />

General Frank P. Lahm)… the final<br />

selected site was a 3,200 acre tract<br />

adjacent to Schertz, Texas.” This land had<br />

two dozen privately owned farms, mostly<br />

settled by “German farmers who were<br />

reluctant to sell their hard worked land.”<br />

Eventually, through coordination with the<br />

San <strong>An</strong>tonio Chamber of Commerce and<br />

their work with Washington, D.C., the<br />

establishment of “the San <strong>An</strong>tonio Airport<br />

Company”, and local funding activities,<br />

the City was able to raise the money that<br />

enabled the granting of the land to the<br />

“Air Corps as a gift.”<br />

When the farmers made their last<br />

harvest of the season they vacated their<br />

homes (seventeen in all) so they could<br />

be leveled and the lands cleared. “On<br />

October 25, 1931, Randolph became<br />

the official headquarters of the Air Corps<br />

Training Center.” It was not long before<br />

the base became the “West Point of<br />

the Air,” according to Dr. Jopseh E. King’s<br />

submission, “A Pre-Base <strong>History</strong> of<br />

Randolph Air Force Base.” Certainly<br />

the citizens of Schertz and Cibolo and<br />

what was to become Universal City were<br />

4 8 ✦ H I S T O R I C G U A D A L U P E C O U N T Y

❖ Buildings in old downtown Schertz.<br />

very aware and happy with this<br />

blossoming of a rich and strongly<br />

continued relationship with Randolph<br />

Air Force Base and its effects on the<br />

regional economy.<br />

Randolph Air Force Base played a<br />

tremendous role not only with the<br />

economies of San <strong>An</strong>tonio and Universal<br />

City, but also Selma, Schertz, and Cibolo,<br />

and throughout Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> and<br />

San <strong>An</strong>tonio’s other surrounding<br />

counties. According to the Schertz<br />

<strong>Historic</strong>al Preservation Committee’s<br />

<strong>History</strong> of Schertz, Texas, “By 1939, with<br />

the war in Europe escalating, the Army’s<br />

flight training program accelerated and<br />

within months the Air Corps announced<br />

it would be seeking over 4,500 new pilots<br />

within the next two years. Between 1939<br />

and 1940, the number of cadets reporting<br />

to Randolph Field grew by 250 percent.<br />

In 1943, Randolph’s mission was<br />

expanded to include the teaching of<br />

instructor pilots. As an aside, an Army Air<br />

Corps practice landing field was<br />

established in the Zuehl community in<br />

the west central part of Guadalupe<br />

<strong>County</strong> but was then abandoned after<br />

World War II.<br />

The book continued to say that “San<br />

<strong>An</strong>tonio’s population grew by 61 percent<br />

during the war years” due to more civilian<br />

communities developing. Seguin was not<br />

alone in this. Many recreational spots<br />

existed around the San <strong>An</strong>tonio area,<br />

including the smaller communities with<br />

their festivities, golf courses, eating<br />

establishments, dance halls, and maybe<br />

even a little gambling.<br />

<strong>An</strong>d Schertz’ business successes and<br />

community support also reflected the<br />

vitality of Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> in terms of<br />

attracting businesses and community<br />

support venues from public and private<br />

schools that are in Selma and Cibolo.<br />

But, first a little about the business<br />

climate is in order. All in all there are<br />

approximately 2,770 businesses in<br />

Schertz today.<br />

For example, the 2014 CNN Money<br />

Magazine ranked Schertz and Guadalupe<br />

<strong>County</strong> as the fourth best place for job<br />

growth in the United States. Attesting to<br />

this was the location of new facilities by<br />

Amazon, Caterpillar, General Electric and<br />

SYSCO for their services and production.<br />

These, combined with the many mid-level<br />

and smaller businesses throughout this<br />

area indicate that from one end<br />

of Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> to the other it<br />

is receiving the bounty of its sound<br />

business practices, fairness, reliability, and<br />

perseverance in ensuring steadfast growth.<br />

This includes great education for its<br />

children and young adults, more than<br />

adequate and affordable housing, great<br />

recreation facilities for all ages, strong<br />

leadership in city management, churches<br />

for worship, and city support services.<br />

This area has excellent waste management<br />

for the citizens, fire and police<br />

departments, and most recently health<br />

care with the arrival of the Baptist<br />

Emergency Center being built on I-35 in<br />

2014, as well as having the Schertz <strong>An</strong>imal<br />

Hospital and veterinarians for horses to<br />

dogs and cats.<br />

In Schertz alone there are fourteen<br />

public schools from pre-kindergarten to<br />

five elementary schools, three intermediate<br />

schools, two academically ranked high<br />

schools, and one enhanced learning<br />

school. Schertz also has one Enhanced<br />

Learning Center and the Samuel Clemens<br />

High School, all of which at one time or<br />

another have been recognized in<br />

academics, athletics, and a host of<br />

University Interscholastic League activities.<br />

The results of the public and private<br />

educational systems in the Schertz area are<br />

remarkable. They have won numerous<br />

awards in academics such as the<br />

University Interscholastic League<br />

competitions, Academic Decathlon,<br />

Academic competitions in literature,<br />

debate as well as in Vocational Education<br />

competitions. Sports are at the top as well<br />

as in all areas. As of this writing Clemens<br />

High School will be playing for the State<br />

Championship in the highest classification<br />

of high schools in Texas Class 6A.<br />

Schertz is no longer the small<br />

community of the 1860s with just a<br />

handful of German farmers and their<br />

families. Nor is Cibolo, but the Creek<br />

remains. For a keen trek of what O’Henry,<br />

the famous writer who, while staying in<br />

the Menger Hotel in San <strong>An</strong>tonio and<br />

then visited this area, and what he saw in<br />

Cibolo and what so many farmers and<br />

early settlers called Cibolo Valley<br />

experienced, the reader is encouraged to<br />

visit these historical communities. Not<br />

C h a p t e r F i v e ✦ 4 9

much, other than urban population<br />

growth, has changed in this truly historic<br />

area of Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>.<br />

Schertz, like Seguin and its many sister<br />

communities, has steadily grown over these<br />

past sixty four years. Although there is<br />

never an unexciting period of a<br />

community’s history there are periods of<br />

economic expansion and contraction that<br />

affects all aspects of a community’s growth.<br />

The Schertz area literally experienced all of<br />

these but it had certain advantages over<br />

many small communities. For example, it<br />

was a contiguous neighbor to Randolph Air<br />

Force Base from its very beginnings, as was<br />

neighboring Universal City in Bexar<br />

<strong>County</strong>. Its present day roots came from<br />

New Braunfels through the 1840s-1880s<br />

German and European immigrations. The<br />

land holdings of the members of the Schertz<br />

and other families gave way to real estate<br />

developments for increased housing and<br />

businesses. In the 1950s though the<br />

present, such as Walter A. Schertz’ Aviation<br />

Heights, which led to the Green Valley<br />

Development Group, and perhaps equally<br />

important, the continued expansion of the<br />

Schertz water supply system which traced<br />

its origins to the 1860s and 1870s. It<br />

continues to this day.<br />

<strong>History</strong> has shown that communities<br />

which evolve and grow and become<br />

contributors to economic growth are not<br />

achieved by mistake but by planning for<br />

the future and assessing what the future<br />

bodes. The early families of the Schertz<br />

area knew this and, as in Seguin and<br />

other Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> communities,<br />

good solid planning and coordination<br />

with many businesses and agencies were<br />

and are needed.<br />

Thus, following the Korean War effort<br />

of the early 1950s, steps were taken that<br />

led to Schertz’s 1958 incorporation. This<br />

required agencies, and positions: A City<br />

Council and Mayor with city staff to<br />

address the needs of the city. Herbert P.<br />

Thuylmeyer was the first Mayor and City<br />

Council members were elected to office.<br />

This nucleus plus very alert businessmen<br />

and women did not want to be absorbed<br />

by San <strong>An</strong>tonio or New Braunfels.<br />

Through close coordination with their<br />

lawyers the blossoming Schertz<br />

government began acquiring land that<br />

ultimately stretched between I-10 along<br />

I-35 into Bexar and Comal Counties.<br />

The Schertz Chamber of Commerce is<br />

exceptionally active and works closely with<br />

the Schertz Economic Development<br />

Corporation. The City of Schertz today is a<br />

City Council-Mayor organization with a<br />

very vibrant City Manager. The Mayor is<br />

Michael Carpenter and the City<br />

Councilmen are Jim Fowler (Mayor<br />

Protem), Grumpy Arroz, Daryl John, Cedric<br />

Edwards, and Robin Thompson, and the<br />

City Manager is John Kessel. The Fire Chief<br />

is David Covington who is assisted by<br />

Captains John Perry and Chris Meek while<br />

the Police Department’s Chief is Michael<br />

Hansen who is supported by one Captain<br />

and three Lieutenants. Within the<br />

Department there are seven divisions that<br />

have established themselves as responsive<br />

operational and support units for the<br />

community at large.<br />

Residential areas were acquired for<br />

development as well as areas for utilities,<br />

schools, and businesses. Such was the case<br />

for Selma and Garden Ridge as well as<br />

developments along SH 78 and FM 3009.<br />

At the time of this writing homes can now<br />

be seen from I-35. When Schertz residents<br />

agreed to incorporate the city, it was<br />

Herbert P. Thulemeyer (1958) who led<br />

them. Simultaneously the City Council<br />

was elected. The following is taken from<br />

the Schertz <strong>Historic</strong>al Preservation<br />

Committee’s work, Schertz, Texas..<br />

As an incorporated home rule city<br />

Schertz had the authority to annex<br />

adjoining territory that was one mile<br />

beyond its existing city limits and<br />

controlled the extra-territorial jurisdiction<br />

(ET) another mile beyond the new city<br />

limits. Ultimately the City of Schertz was<br />

able to capture seven miles of territory<br />

along Interstate Highway 35, the major<br />

north-south corridor between San<br />

<strong>An</strong>tonio and all destinations north.<br />

Within four to six years the City had<br />

moved forward with annexation efforts<br />

that took the new city boundary<br />

northward all the way up Interstate 35<br />

very close to the city limits of New<br />

Braunfels, Texas. The same process<br />

served to allow expansion of city limits in<br />

1986 to the south as far as Interstate<br />

Highway 10. However, acquisition of<br />

land does not a success make for aspiring<br />

city planners. In addition to territorial<br />

acquisition, the prosperity of the Schertz<br />

Community would be dependent upon<br />

the proper mix of business and<br />

residential development.<br />

Schertz, since the 1958 incorporation,<br />

has enjoyed seven elected mayors<br />

including Mayor Thulemeyer. These were<br />

Dr. Roy Richard, Jesse Graham, Robert C.<br />

Bueker, Major Jack M. Stomackin, Early<br />

Sawyer, and Major Hal Baldwin.<br />

Interestingly there were nine City<br />

Managers: Denny L. Arnold, Walter W.<br />

Hill, Jimmy G. Gilmore, Steve Simonson<br />

(who was an Interim), Dewey P. Cashwell,<br />

Jr., Mark Marquez (Interim and full time),<br />

John Bierschwale, and Don E. Taylor.<br />

Some of the highlights of what Schertz<br />

has accomplished in these many years<br />

since the 1860s continue to reflect the<br />

energy and business acumen of what once<br />

was and remains the Cibolo River<br />

Valley/Cut Off. First and foremost that the<br />

very spirit of the early settlers remain<br />

intact—grit, determination, sound business<br />

acumen, creativeness, education, religion,<br />

and a strong sense of family and<br />

community. In the next few paragraphs<br />

the reader will appreciate the efforts<br />

Schertz has gone to, in direct<br />

coordination with Seguin, in maintaining<br />

and preserving water and the spirit of<br />

water conservation for Guadalupe<br />

<strong>County</strong>’s ever growing population. The<br />

business world continues in the Schertz<br />

spirit such as the 1913 Schertz Bank and<br />

Trust with its three branches; the Odo<br />

and Lucille Riedel family can never be<br />

forgotten for their mid to late 20th<br />

century business contributions such as<br />

the Riedel Lumber Company, their<br />

5 0 ✦ H I S T O R I C G U A D A L U P E C O U N T Y

furniture store, the Reidel’s Food Liner<br />

Grocery on the site of their Riedel Ice<br />

House, the trailer park, and their many<br />

contributions such as the Cibolo Creek<br />

Community Municipal Authority, the<br />

Cibolo Chamber of Commerce, the<br />

Schertz City Fire Marshall, and President<br />

of the San <strong>An</strong>tonio Grocer’s Association.<br />

<strong>An</strong>d, in 1973, the Wuest grocery store<br />

came to Schertz with its supermarket<br />

chain. Throughout its evolution, the Picn-Pac<br />

Quick Stops and gasoline stations,<br />

have remained a loyal part of the Schertz<br />

business community. Interestingly, the<br />

Pic-n-Pac evolution has placed the Wuest<br />

Chain into a regional chain of<br />

convenience stores in a number of towns<br />

throughout Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>.<br />

Slowly, steadily, through good and<br />

bad times, Schertz’ population base grew<br />

so that by 1985 the population expanded<br />

to 11,500. The Guadalupe <strong>County</strong><br />

Commissioners Court, in 1981,<br />

established a tax substation for vehicle<br />

registration and the city also rezoned<br />

property so the Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> <strong>An</strong>nex<br />

Building could be built in Schertz. Eight<br />

years later, Schertz introduced its<br />

Economic Development Task Force to<br />

promote business and industrial<br />

development within its city limits.<br />

Twenty years later, 2010, the population<br />

increased to 30,000 almost doubling<br />

from its 1985 population. Wal-Mart came<br />

in behind locally established Eric White’s<br />

Garden Ridge Pottery, and later, in 1996<br />

the White family donated one million<br />

dollars for the building of a new library.<br />

Those involved with the mechanisms of<br />

urban development and city management<br />

also approved and developed an<br />

Economic Development Task Force<br />

which, among many things, approved the<br />

Tax Abatement Plan as an incentive to<br />

attract new businesses in Schertz. This<br />

has proved very successful.<br />

In 1974 Dr. Tony Mays, became<br />

president of the Schertz Business Club<br />

(later called the Schertz Business<br />

Association, and in 2005, the Schertz<br />

Chamber of Commerce). Mays’ sister,<br />

Mary Lee Roberts, in her own right, was<br />

an enthusiastic citizen in Seguin and its<br />

business developments. This organization<br />

was heavily involved in promoting local<br />

businesses and attracting new businesses<br />

to Schertz. So many things, far too<br />

numerous to include in this brief work,<br />

emanate from this renascent spirit for the<br />

continuing business and community<br />

efforts towards making Schertz a<br />

destination for businesses, cultural<br />

organizations and family involvements.<br />

For example, the annual Festival of<br />

<strong>An</strong>gels, in 1985, sprang from the first<br />

Christmas tree lighting. The first July 4th<br />

Jubilee was celebrated ten years earlier.<br />

Just a few years later parades became a<br />

part of of the community’s July 4th<br />

activities. Scholarship programs, such as<br />

the James Shriver Memorial Scholarship,<br />

were added for today’s youth aspiring to<br />

higher education. Other organizations<br />

that grew out of this renaissance of the<br />

business oriented community were and<br />

are Project Graduation, the Cibolo Valley<br />

4-H Club, and the Schertz Citizens Police<br />

Academy Alumni Association.<br />

The motto of the Chamber of Commerce<br />

became “Building a Better Tomorrow.” The<br />

motto remains to this day as Schertz<br />

continues building better tomorrows.<br />

If there is one particular issue that<br />

remains today it is the same one Sebastian<br />

Schertz encountered. That issue is water.<br />

Water for the citizens of Schertz and its<br />

surrounding area. Schertz is not alone in<br />

this issue and the leaders created a<br />

paradigm for dealing with water<br />

availability for their citizens in a very<br />

strategic and partnering way with the<br />

City of Seguin. By the 1990s a sound<br />

business paradigm for Schertz was<br />

developed and implemented. Then,<br />

Schertz took steps that led well into the<br />

21st century. Those steps were<br />

developing a partnership between Schertz<br />

and Seguin to ensure their communities<br />

would have adequate water without<br />

having to rely on the Edwards Aquifer or<br />

the San <strong>An</strong>tonio Water Authority,<br />

although coordination would need to be<br />

effected amongst all parties involved. To<br />

this day Schertz, Seguin and Guadalupe<br />

<strong>County</strong> remain independent in their<br />

water usage.<br />

Consequently the Schertz-Seguin<br />

Local Government Corporation (SSLGC)<br />

was developed into a joint effort with the<br />

two cities buying land in Gonzales<br />

<strong>County</strong>, drilling water wells and piping<br />

the water to both cities. This water was to<br />

be pumped from the Carrizo-Wilcox<br />

formation. By 2013 water was being<br />

pumped that measured 1.5 million<br />

gallons per day. Interestingly, Schertz and<br />

Seguin officials did not burn their water<br />

bridges behind them. The SSLGC also<br />

closed on contracts for water with Selma,<br />

Universal City, and Springs Hill Water<br />

Supply Corporation for additional water<br />

from the aquifer. Guadalupe <strong>County</strong><br />

indeed was well prepared to provide the<br />

basic necessities for its citizens,<br />

businesses, schools, as well as possible.<br />

Today, this organization is housed in<br />

Seguin’s first constructed Fire Station<br />

(now remodeled on the inside but the<br />

outside original architecture remains<br />

intact) on South Mountain Street.<br />

Certainly the SSLGC will guide not just<br />

water issues to greater management but<br />

also ancillary to this issue is the attraction<br />

of businesses to locate in Schertz-Seguin-<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>.<br />

However, it was not just the increased<br />

cooperation between Seguin and Schertz-<br />

Cibolo that led to greater respective<br />

community development within the<br />

<strong>County</strong>. It was also the promotion of<br />

increasing cooperation between Mexico<br />

and the United States on the North<br />

American Free Trade Agreement.<br />

Since 1985, Schertz enjoyed the<br />

I-35 corridor’s contributions from the<br />

trucking business emanating from the<br />

trans Mexican-Texas Border region<br />

from Mexico to Canada and back.<br />

The same can also be said for Seguin, to a<br />

degree. Although I-10 is not a northsouth<br />

artery it does connect the heart<br />

of West Texas which borders El Paso,<br />

Del Rio, and Eagle Pass, which are now<br />

C h a p t e r F i v e ✦ 5 1

major international transient points to<br />

America’s industrial regions, thus<br />

enabling the further interchange of<br />

NAFTA products to the eastern and<br />

western regions of the United States. It is<br />

no mistake that there is a remarkable<br />

synergy of industrial and shipping<br />

activity in Seguin as well.<br />

Although the 1950s IH-35 project<br />

practically ran right through the heart of<br />

mid 20th century Schertz, disrupting the<br />

community and its daily businesses for a<br />

few years, Schertz rebounded within the<br />

decade and it has been growing ever<br />

since. Not only is Schertz dynamic on<br />

both sides of I-35. Its residential and<br />

business expansion can be seen not only<br />

for downtown but north and south and<br />

east and west from the interstate, FM 78,<br />

FM 3009 and a number of other arteries<br />

linking Schertz to its historic area but<br />

also directly with Seguin, New Braunfels,<br />

Bracken, Universal City, Selma, and<br />

San <strong>An</strong>tonio.<br />

As can be seen, Schertz has far<br />

more history than these few pages<br />

can provide. Nonetheless, it is indeed<br />

a rich and contributing story to not<br />

just Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> but to South<br />

Central Texas and, because of its<br />

remarkable location along the arteries<br />

of international commerce, a major<br />

contributor to tomorrow’s achievements.<br />

For example, Old Schertz on Main Street<br />

remains across the railroad tracks<br />

from FM 78. The Randolph Lodge is still<br />

there as well as Beck’s Red and White<br />

Grocery on the other side of the railroad<br />

tracks. Interestingly there seem to<br />

be more pecan trees than oak trees.<br />

<strong>An</strong>d the 1899 Depot’s location remains<br />

where it perhaps once was, but is no<br />

longer a depot.<br />

Modern day Schertz along the Schertz<br />

Parkway has its Civic Center and Visitors<br />

Center and the Forum and Olympia<br />

Parkway as well as the Retama Parkway<br />

and horse racing track can be seen across<br />

I-35. Certainly Sebastian Schertz and his<br />

family’s vision became greater than they<br />

ever imagined.<br />

❖ The Amazon fulfillment center in Schertz.<br />

C I B O L O<br />

Schertz’ closest neighbor to the east is<br />

Cibolo which is located along FM 78,<br />

thus connecting Schertz , Cibolo, Marion,<br />

McQueeney, and Seguin. As Selma and<br />

Schertz have remarkable early histories<br />

dating to the period of recorded<br />

indigenous peoples, referred to as Indians<br />

by the early Spaniards, so too does Cibolo<br />

which, according to some historians,<br />

comes from an Indian word attributed to<br />

the Comanches who were active hunters<br />

in this region, meaning “buffalo.”<br />

One of the remarkable geographic<br />

features of this part of the Cibolo Creek,<br />

which runs well into southeast Texas,<br />

were the exceptionally high and steep<br />

banks of the creek. Even today one can<br />

literally drive on one side of the Cibolo<br />

and see the steep rises which allowed the<br />

Indians opportunities to herd, stampede,<br />

and slaughter buffalo and other game for<br />

food, clothing, and shelter.<br />

This part of the Cibolo, running<br />

through Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> and<br />

southward to the San <strong>An</strong>tonio River, is<br />

not to be confused with what the<br />

Spaniards called the Carvajal Crossing<br />

and the close by El Fuerte del Cibolo.<br />

That portion of the Cibolo, as described<br />

by Historian Robert H. Thonhoff in his El<br />

Fuerte del Cibolo, was much farther<br />

downstream, just south of the Fuerte del<br />

Santa Cruz de Cibolo and was a major<br />

crossing over the Cibolo Creek (often<br />

called the Carvajal Crossing) which<br />

5 2 ✦ H I S T O R I C G U A D A L U P E C O U N T Y

connected San <strong>An</strong>tonio to the La Bahia<br />

Missions (present day Goliad).<br />

In 1867, the first recorded settler in<br />

the upper Cibolo area was Jacob<br />

Schlather of German descent. He and his<br />

son, George, engaged in ranching<br />

and cotton farming. The incoming<br />

settlers also adopted these means of<br />

making a living. The Schlathers soon<br />

built a general store for incoming settlers<br />

as they began buying land, building their<br />

homes, and ranching. As in Comal<br />

<strong>County</strong> and Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>’s Schertz<br />

and Selma, many of the early settlers were<br />

German immigrants seeking new lives<br />

and opportunities.<br />

It was during this period of early<br />

settlement that the 1876 Galveston,<br />

Harrisburg, and San <strong>An</strong>tonio Railway was<br />

built through Cibolo after building a switch<br />

for the railroad. When a railroad official<br />

was asked for a name for the switch he<br />

chose the name Cibolo which has endured<br />

to the present and will well into the future.<br />

In 1882, Charles Fromme bought the<br />

store from the Schlather family and the<br />

area became commonly known as<br />

Fromme’s Store. The next year the<br />

post office opened and was named the<br />

Cibolo Post Office. Due to good climate<br />

and rains, more crops such as corn,<br />

wheat, oats, and milo became the major<br />

farming crops. Within a quick seven years<br />

Cibolo had joined Schertz and<br />

surrounding communities with a cotton<br />

gin, a general store, and also claimed one<br />

hundred residents.<br />

By the turn of the 19th and 20th<br />

centuries the Cibolo Valley school boasted<br />

a teacher and thirty one students. This<br />

1904 school even had hitching posts for<br />

the students’ horses and mules and a shed<br />

for storing equipment and grains. William<br />

Sidney Porter (O. Henry) visited Cibolo<br />

Valley and reportedly wrote a story<br />

entitled The Smiling Valley of Cibolo.<br />

Ten years after the first school was built<br />

there was a second framed building<br />

constructed due to the increasing numbers<br />

of youngsters needing education. Two<br />

years later, 1916, local citizens voted for a<br />

bond issued to construct a two story high<br />

school which still proudly stands. The<br />

school trustees, F. J. Werner, George<br />

Schlather, and Alfred Sahm, also requested<br />

that it be a brick structure. Four years<br />

later, 1920, Cibolo High School saw their<br />

first senior class graduate.<br />

Cibolo continued to remain a rural<br />

community but its population and needs<br />

grew. By 1940 its 250 residents enjoyed a<br />

post office, a bank, and nine businesses.<br />

It was well after World War II and the<br />

Korean War that Cibolo became<br />

incorporated. By 1970, the population<br />

was estimated at 440 and had risen to<br />

1,757 within the next twenty years. In<br />

2000 the population almost doubled to<br />

3,035 and ten years later the population<br />

was three times that amount. Today’s<br />

population is estimated at about 25,403<br />

which indeed reflects the effect of<br />

population growth not just along<br />

Interstate Highway 35, but also of the<br />

many opportunities for people to settle in<br />

the Selma, Schertz, and Cibolo areas of<br />

❖ <strong>An</strong> early view of Cibolo.<br />


Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> as the 21st century<br />

continues unfolding its own story.<br />

Perhaps the two most important<br />

factors in Cibolo’s steady growth has<br />

been due to its proximity to and excellent<br />

relationships with Randolph Air Force<br />

Base and the phenomenal growth of<br />

I-35 and and its direct impact on Cibolo<br />

and its sister towns. As well, its<br />

population, businesses, schools, churches,<br />

and local government continue to weave<br />

their histories into the basic fabrics of<br />

what has held and continues to hold<br />

Cibolo together.<br />

Today’s government for Cibolo is a<br />

mayor-council form of governance with a<br />

mayor and seven council members. Lisa<br />

Jackson is the mayor. The executive staff<br />

is comprised of City Manager Robert T.<br />

Herrera with Timothy D. Fousse as<br />

director of public works; Peggy Cimics as<br />

city secretary, Mark Luft as director of<br />

economic development, Leigh <strong>An</strong>n<br />

Rogers as executive, and Gary Cox as<br />

chief of police.<br />

C h a p t e r F i v e ✦ 5 3

y Mark Luft. John Schneuker is the<br />

coordinator for business development.<br />

Due to the coordinated efforts of the<br />

mayor and city council and the directors<br />

of economic and business development,<br />

CNN Money Magazine ranked Cibolo in<br />

their list of “Top 100 Best Places to Live<br />

within the United States.”<br />

In terms of public schooling for Cibolo’s<br />

students they share with those schools of<br />

Schertz as well, thus increasing the<br />

opportunities for education for their<br />

growing populations. For example, Cibolo<br />

students enjoy seven elementary schools of<br />

which two are in Cibolo, four are in<br />

Schertz, and one is in Universal City. There<br />

are three Intermediate or Middle Schools<br />

with two in Cibolo and one in Schertz. For<br />

Schertz and Cibolo there is one high school<br />

for each, both of which have remarkable<br />

academic, sports, and band records.<br />

❖ A family in Cibolo, c. the 1900s.<br />


The 2015 city council is comprised<br />

of Jennifer Schultes, District 1; Verlin<br />

“Doug” Garrett, District 2; Vacant, District<br />

3; James “Jim” Doty, Jr., District 4; Jim<br />

Russell, District 5; Jay Hogue, District 6;<br />

and Allen Dunn, District 7.<br />

There is also a vibrant Cibolo<br />

Economic Development Corporation run<br />

S E L M A<br />

Selma has become a mini wunderkind<br />

that would make a Texas twister feel like<br />

a cool breeze coming off Canyon Lake.<br />

Just as its neighbors in Schertz and<br />

Cibolo were, it was settled by cattlemen<br />

❖ The old Cibolo School.<br />

5 4 ✦ H I S T O R I C G U A D A L U P E C O U N T Y

❖ <strong>An</strong> old Cibolo shop by the railroad tracks.<br />

❖ A Selma gentleman enjoying the moment, c the 1900s.<br />


and the influx of the 1840s German<br />

immigrants. Its settlement was established<br />

in 1847 by two cattlemen, John B. Brown<br />

and William Davenport, where they ran<br />

their herds until the eve of the American<br />

Civil War. It was about 1849 that Selma<br />

began to become more settled, along the<br />

Cibolo Creek and a little west of Cut-Off.<br />

According to Selma’s history, John<br />

Harrison and his wife settled in Selma<br />

where he became its first Postmaster and<br />

co-owner of the Harrison and McCulloch<br />

Stage line which also carried mail along<br />

its routes. According to local historians<br />

and the Visitor’s Bureau, Harrison and<br />

William McCulloch ran the stage line<br />

from the 1840s to the 1860s and had<br />

three routes: #6285—Austin, Cibolo,<br />

San <strong>An</strong>tonio; #6154—San <strong>An</strong>tonio,<br />

Gonzales, Bellvue, Seguin, New<br />

Braunfels; and #6155—Indianola,<br />

Victoria, Cuero, Gonzales. The original<br />

stage coach station proudly remains<br />

standing close to Selma’s Visitors Bureau<br />

and is a state landmark.<br />

By 1856 there was a post office and<br />

growing cotton had become a major<br />

industry. A general store was established<br />

and cotton soon became a major crop. As<br />

soon as the Schertz cotton gin was built<br />

C h a p t e r F i v e ✦ 5 5

Selma farmers and ranchers realized the<br />

need for blacksmiths to shoe their horses<br />

and mules. By 1885, a saloon appeared<br />

and was used for meetings and socializing<br />

as well as helping their local patrons to<br />

plan for what direction they wanted their<br />

new community to go. But the saloon was<br />

not the only establishment. The Post<br />

Office was next door. There were two<br />

general stores, two cotton gins, three<br />

blacksmiths, a school and a wagon<br />

maker. By 1896, Selma’s population rose<br />

to 600 but soon thereafter emigrations<br />

began taking place resulting in the<br />

decline of Selma’s population.<br />

When the post office closed in 1906<br />

mail was by rural delivery — first<br />

through Bracken and then San <strong>An</strong>tonio.<br />

However, Selma did not disappear. It<br />

refused to and its spirit prevailed.<br />

❖ The WOAI Radio transmitting station which became Selma City Hall along the San <strong>An</strong>tonio-Austin highway.<br />

Located sixteen miles northeast of San<br />

<strong>An</strong>tonio, by 1940 it had 100 people, a<br />

church, a school, and three businesses.<br />

Selma was incorporated in 1964 and by<br />

1980 it more than doubled in population<br />

to 240 and by 1990 it once again doubled<br />

its population. Some might say the<br />

growth was small and slow but<br />

percentages of growth might suggest<br />

otherwise. In 2000 it had risen to 799.<br />

Today Selma is roughly five square miles<br />

and it enjoys one major demographic that<br />

most communities of this size never<br />

experience. Selma, today, is roughly five<br />

square miles. Yet it lies in three counties:<br />

Bexar, Comal, and Guadalupe Counties<br />

and now has a population of some six<br />

thousand. There has to be a reason for<br />

this particular evolution.<br />

Although its city hall is located in<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> it has shown great<br />

skill and judgement by balancing its<br />

relationship with its other two sister<br />

counties, Comal and Bexar.<br />

No one would have ever believed that<br />

Selma would rise so high from its humble<br />

grass roots in cattle ranching, cotton<br />

farming, a school here, a church there,<br />

maybe a saloon or a bar, economic<br />

decline, rise, decline again, and then to<br />

have risen to the heights it enjoys today.<br />

These experiences reflect its deeply<br />

ingrained steadfastness to be more than<br />

just a survivor and to focus on what the<br />

future projects.<br />

Today, with a population between<br />

6,500 and 7,000 it is still growing. But<br />

its story does not stop at each one of<br />

these population increases for as San<br />

<strong>An</strong>tonio’s infrastructure grew outwardly<br />

towards the north and northeast so too<br />

did its business communities. According<br />

to community profiles on economic<br />

development, it was exactly that—it was<br />

location that was the major factor that<br />

contributed so much to Selma’s<br />

residential growth.<br />

First, it was and is close to Randolph<br />

Air Force Base, which also affected all of<br />

its surrounding communities in the<br />

western and northwestern parts of<br />

5 6 ✦ H I S T O R I C G U A D A L U P E C O U N T Y

❖ The Harrison-McCulloch stage coach stop in Selma.<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>. It is home to Retama<br />

Park, a noted horse racing facility replete<br />

with stadium seating, practice tracks and<br />

race tracks accommodating furlong and<br />

quarter horse races; the Forum Shopping<br />

Center which is indeed one of Texas’<br />

largest shopping centers thus enabling<br />

Selma to have one of the lowest utility fee<br />

schedules and tax rates in the area.<br />

Perhaps the reason for the ultimate<br />

successes for Selma’s growth, economically<br />

and population wise, was and is its<br />

location. According to one of Selma’s web<br />

sites its’ location was described thusly:<br />

…as Selma is located in one of, if not<br />

the largest growing corridors in the<br />

nation, the IH-35 Corridor linking San<br />

<strong>An</strong>tonio to Austin. Location has<br />

contributed mightily to the residential<br />

growth that Selma gained from 2000<br />

to 2010. During this time period, Selma’s<br />

population grew Over 600%, the largest<br />

percentage increase of the neighboring<br />

communities in and around Bexar<br />

<strong>County</strong>. Spanning approximately 5 1/2<br />

square miles, Selma is within minutes<br />

from Randolph Air Force Base,<br />

a beautiful horse racing facility, and<br />

the Forum Shopping Center, one Of<br />

the largest outdoor shopping centers<br />

in Texas. <strong>An</strong>d with this growth, Selma<br />

has maintained one of the lowest utility<br />

fee schedules and tax rate in the<br />

area. Selma’s ISO Rating 2 (out of 10)<br />

has helped keep fire insurance premiums<br />

low and emergency response times are<br />

almost instantaneous (under 5 minutes).<br />

We believe these are only a few reasons<br />

why Rush Business Center, Vermeer<br />

Equipment, Costco, Academy, a USAA<br />

Financial Center, among others<br />

have chosen to establish a presence<br />

in Selma.<br />

Today, Selma’s city administrator is<br />

Ken Roberts with Johnny Casias serving<br />

as the assistant city administrator.<br />

Governance is through the mayorcouncil<br />

form of government with Tom<br />

Daly as mayor and Ken Roberts as<br />

city administrator. In terms of education,<br />

ninety-six percent of its high school<br />

students graduate and have close<br />

access to nine colleges and universities<br />

in the San <strong>An</strong>tonio area, including<br />

Texas Lutheran University in Seguin-<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>. Selma also has<br />

a Standard and Poors Bond Rating of<br />

A+. Of all the towns in Guadalupe<br />

<strong>County</strong> it is the only town that shares<br />

its tax rates with the three counties<br />

of Bexar, Comal, and Guadalupe. <strong>An</strong>d<br />

although it is a small town it has<br />

ten departments, from animal control<br />

to a fire department established in<br />

1974, and a police department<br />

and public works. The Old Stage Coach<br />

Station is just off of I-35 and the<br />

Old Austin Highway. Its original<br />

City Hall can still be seen along<br />

I-35 North but was sold to a nationwide<br />

business and its architecture<br />

was changed.<br />

Selma truly was a remarkable<br />

small settlement from its infancy. Perhaps<br />

its earliest settlers are smiling and<br />

enjoying what they had sowed.<br />

C h a p t e r F i v e ✦ 5 7


T H E<br />

S W I T C H E S<br />

From the earliest of the frontier<br />

railroads to the present there have been<br />

switches. Switches often times were<br />

established so a train could off load its<br />

supplies, mail, or even stop for repairs<br />

when needed. Today they even have tracks<br />

switching off to the side so other trains can<br />

pass the one ahead of them or for offloading<br />

materials or just plain performing<br />

maintenance. In the pioneering days<br />

switches were also used as gathering areas<br />

for the work crews and many literally<br />

became small communities where the<br />

workers could gather for learning where<br />

their next job was going to be , or muster<br />

for getting in wagons and hauling their<br />

gear and equipment for laying, repairing,<br />

or sometimes altering the directions of the<br />

surveyed route. As time went on there<br />

were instances where communities grew<br />

out of the switches.<br />

Sometimes a person or a family would<br />

begin building a cabin. That cabin, or<br />

another one, might become a source of liquid<br />

or food nourishment for the work<br />

gangs and their supervisors. It was not<br />

uncommon for some switches to become<br />

more populated, even becoming communities<br />

or small towns.<br />

Such was the story in Guadalupe<br />

<strong>County</strong> in the last quarter of the 19th<br />

century. The switches in Texas were about<br />

six miles apart. Today, in Guadalupe<br />

<strong>County</strong>, these switches still exist. <strong>An</strong>d<br />

indeed, every one of them still has a sign<br />

signaling their roots and sometimes a little<br />

bit of their history. The switches in<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>, coming from eastern<br />

Caldwell <strong>County</strong>’s Luling and heading<br />

westward, began with the Sullivan Switch,<br />

followed by a small livestock loading<br />

station in Kingsbury, then the Ilka switch,<br />

Seguin (<strong>County</strong> Seat therefore it had a<br />

major railroad station), McQueeney,<br />

Marion, Cibolo, a small station in Schertz,<br />

and then to Bexar <strong>County</strong>. Of these eight<br />

switches only one today does not have a<br />

community although it did at one point in<br />

its history and may yet blossom into a<br />

community once again, as it did in the<br />

1920s. Its name was and is Sullivan, on<br />

the eastern end of Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>.<br />

That is where this story of the switches<br />

begins and the prelude ends.<br />

As a side note before this story continues,<br />

both Kingsbury and McQueeney have had<br />

remarkable histories as have Marion and<br />

Cibolo. In fairness to the switches’ histories<br />

all will briefly be mentioned in this chapter<br />

but there will be a separate chapter for<br />

Kingsbury, McQueeney, and Cibolo.<br />

There were several early railroads that<br />

spawned this vision of tracking and<br />

rolling through the very large state of<br />

Texas. Interestingly Seguin was discussed<br />

as having plans for a railroad before the<br />

Civil War. According to Reverend<br />

Fitzsimon’s work “long before the Civil<br />

War there were prospects of a railroad<br />

through Seguin on the route of a<br />

proposed San <strong>An</strong>tonio and Mexican Gulf<br />

Railroad….” Several other plans for<br />

railroads were the Gulf, Western Texas<br />

and Pacific Railway Company, and the<br />

Buffalo Bayou, Brazos and Colorado<br />

Railways. San <strong>An</strong>tonio, in July 1873<br />

raised a subsidy of $500,000 to bring a<br />

railroad to San <strong>An</strong>tonio in two years. The<br />

Buffalo Bayou, Brazos and Colorado<br />

Railroad changed its name to the<br />

Galveston, Harrisburg and San <strong>An</strong>tonio<br />

Railway and took the challenge. <strong>An</strong>d its<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> story begins. What<br />

follows is a brief journey into the<br />

railroad’s trek through Guadalupe<br />

<strong>County</strong>, home of Governor John Ireland<br />

and his belief in the railroads for Texas.<br />

T H E S U L L I V A N S W I T C H<br />

Sometime prior to the Civil War there<br />

was a community about six miles east of<br />

present day Kingsbury. Some say that from<br />

1859-1866 the community’s name was the<br />

site of a post office. The post office site was<br />

named Barrowsdale after local physician,<br />

Doctor Leonard Barrow, who lived in that<br />

area. When oil was discovered in 1922 it<br />

was recommended that the land from<br />

which the oil was being pumped be named<br />

Gander Slu as a variation on another<br />

nearby oil field called Goose Creek. Never,<br />

in anyone’s mind at that time, did they<br />

think this might become a permanent<br />

name and an important part of the oil<br />

discoveries of the twentieth century. It,<br />

and the railroads, took it to a new level in<br />

rural agrarian history.<br />

Located west of the San Marcos River<br />

which divides western Caldwell <strong>County</strong><br />

and Eastern Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>, there is a<br />

sign on the right hand side of Highway 90<br />

East, going west, that is on a slender,<br />

vertical post. On it is written the name of<br />

Sullivan. Today a few homes can be seen<br />

on the right and left side of the highway<br />

and tracks. As one looks north across the<br />

fields they are indeed looking into latternineteenth-century<br />

history.<br />

With the tracks having been laid, the<br />

trains were traveling through here by<br />

1876 on the Galveston, Harrisburg, and<br />

San <strong>An</strong>tonio Railway. The trains could<br />

stop here, maybe dropping off or loading<br />

cargo, mail, railroad supplies, and there<br />

may even have been a switch track off the<br />

main rail to do some repair work on the<br />

cars or the engines. Lore has it that the<br />

switch was named for Jim Sullivan. He<br />

was an engineer for this portion of the<br />

railway and by 1877 it became a<br />

passenger train from Houston to San<br />

<strong>An</strong>tonio. A few houses and homes<br />

remained. Eventually a road crossing<br />

connecting the north side of the tracks to<br />

the south side of the tracks enabled road<br />

traffic to continue going towards Luling<br />

or Seguin.<br />

5 8 ✦ H I S T O R I C G U A D A L U P E C O U N T Y

❖ Students from the Woodrow Center School and their school bus.<br />

In the late 1900s word began to spread<br />

in this part of Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> that<br />

there might be oil nearby. Certainly the<br />

Luling oil fields were not doing much to<br />

dispel this rumor. By 1922 oil had been<br />

discovered in a small community just<br />

north of the tracks and the Sullivan<br />

Switch was soon loading and hauling oil<br />

to its storage sites. Within less than two<br />

years the community of Gander Slu was<br />

laid out and a school was built for the oil<br />

field workers and their families. The<br />

school itself, Woodrow Center, lasted<br />

until production began a downward<br />

spiral. By the mid-twentieth century only<br />

the switch and switch house remained<br />

and the school was eventually vacated as<br />

the workers and families sought other<br />

fields for employment.<br />

T H E K I N G S B U R Y S W I T C H<br />

Six miles to Sullivan’s west was and is<br />

the farming and ranching community of<br />

Kingsbury, Texas. Unlike the Sullivan<br />

Switch’s origins, early leadership at what<br />

became the Kingsbury location was in the<br />

process of being settled as early as the early<br />

1870s. There was an agent for settlers<br />

seeking homesteads and community. Sam<br />

Neel, who also became involved with the<br />

next upcoming switch called Ilka, was<br />

looking for a place for English settlers. He<br />

had built a home near what was to become<br />

Kingsbury. His timing could not have been<br />

better, and maybe, in part, because of his<br />

initial efforts, a post office opened in 1875<br />

as the railroad continued its westward<br />

journey. Mark W. Izard was the first<br />

postmaster and he indeed witnessed a lot<br />

of history. Thomas W. Peirce, who was the<br />

mastermind in the GH&SA railway to San<br />

<strong>An</strong>tonio and beyond, was very<br />

instrumental in the laying out of<br />

Kingsbury just as he was later in Marion.<br />

In 1875 the townsite was laid out and<br />

given the name of Kingsbury in honor of<br />

William G. Kingsbury, who was one of the<br />

railroad officials overseeing this<br />

remarkable endeavor that would spirit<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> forward in ways rural<br />

areas never dreamed. This townsite grew<br />

exponentially. It was in a good location,<br />

being about ten to twelve miles from<br />

Seguin. According to several sources<br />

Kingsbury had turned into more than just<br />

a community. It became a town within less<br />

than five years, and a bustling community<br />

blessed with a church, a general store, a<br />

school and a steam powered gristmill. By<br />

the 1880s there were an estimated 130<br />

people living in Kingsbury.<br />

Within 20 years this population almost<br />

tripled to 346, and by 1904 there were<br />

two one-teacher schools for 59 Black<br />

students and two schools and three<br />

teachers for 123 white students. In 1962<br />

the Kingsbury school became a part of the<br />

Seguin Independent School District.<br />

The main agricultural crop for the<br />

Kingsbury area was cotton and a<br />

tremendous amount of cattle ranching.<br />

So much so that when the switches<br />

did come, transportation played a<br />

tremendous role in the marketing and<br />

income for the ranchers and farmers.<br />

Perhaps the most exciting era of<br />

Kingsbury history, aside from the railroad<br />

coming, was the discovery of oil, first<br />

beginning in Caldwell <strong>County</strong> followed by<br />

the huge discovery in the Darst Field, so<br />

C h a p t e r S i x ✦ 5 9

S E G U I N<br />

❖ The Kingsbury Switch and Train Station.<br />

named for Darst Creek and its environs.<br />

<strong>An</strong>d what an era that was. At one point,<br />

during the era of discovery and production,<br />

Kingsbury’s population exceeded Seguin’s.<br />

So many were the families that oil field<br />

camps were established and new rural<br />

schools such as Darst, Dowdy, Woodrow<br />

Center, and York Creek became<br />

communities themselves. The major point<br />

was that the children were going to have<br />

access to education. Fortunately that was<br />

solved by school busses. The churches also<br />

availed themselves to the many families.<br />

Indeed it was a profitable era and there<br />

are folks today who continue receiving<br />

their royalties.<br />

Kingsbury proper actually peaked out<br />

at about 450 people in 1968 and by 1990<br />

declined to roughly two hundred. Today<br />

there several businesses in downtown<br />

Kingsbury and the population is slowly<br />

growing once again.<br />

T H E I L K A S W I T C H<br />

Roughly six miles east of Seguin and<br />

six miles west of Kingsbury is the Ilka<br />

Switch. As communities developed<br />

around most of the switches so too did<br />

Ilka, but not for long. Most of the settlers<br />

were English immigrants who did well in<br />

this blackland and post oak region, but<br />

many began to emigrate to Seguin or<br />

Kingsbury either due to the oil<br />

discoveries or they sensed an increased<br />

encroachment from Seguin. For example,<br />

the poor farm was located close to<br />

present day Highway 90 and SH 123,<br />

which brought more competition for the<br />

land and thus decreased land holdings.<br />

As well, the Geronimo Creek had become<br />

a flood plain during the period of intense<br />

rains thus decreasing traffic to and from<br />

Ilka and Seguin.<br />

Today the Ilka Switch remains and only<br />

a small community. There are a few homes<br />

and small ranches and nearby restaurants as<br />

well as a well-kept cemetery. Nonetheless<br />

Ilka had its moments in the railroad’s<br />

history through Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>.<br />

❖ The Ilka Switch is six miles east of Seguin.<br />

Because Seguin was the county seat it<br />

was able to have a full railroad depot. In<br />

Seguin’s case it had a colorful history which<br />

abruptly came to an end in the mid-1980s<br />

when the station was torn down and<br />

removed by the railroad in the middle of<br />

the night. But until then it had more than<br />

its share of stories and even its midnight<br />

disappearance is still talked about by the<br />

older members of the community.<br />

When the depot opened in 1878 it was<br />

about three-quarters of a mile north<br />

of Seguin’s and Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>’s<br />

Courthouse, and the distance remains<br />

unchanged to this day. But, when the<br />

station was first established, it was far out<br />

in the country. In those days what became<br />

North Austin Street was a quagmire when<br />

it rained and often times people had to<br />

work their way around the sometimes<br />

swampy dirt roads in order to get to the<br />

station. Eventually the city decided, for<br />

commercial reasons, to build a more<br />

substantial road to the station by using<br />

gravel, clay, and dirt and tried as best as<br />

possible to make it a macadam road, or one<br />

whose center was higher than either side so<br />

that rain and minor floods would run off<br />

into the pastures or “bar ditches.” From<br />

that point on this area became a hub of<br />

activity unto itself.<br />

A few saloons opened up near the<br />

station as did a grocery store and by the<br />

turn of the century there was a variety<br />

store on the south side of the tracks, as<br />

well as stables and freight haulers. If there<br />

were salesmen and businessmen coming to<br />

town they were able to find individuals<br />

who, for a price, would put them in their<br />

carts and drop them off at one of the hotels<br />

downtown or sometimes private<br />

homeowners offered their upstairs<br />

bedrooms for boarding. By the close of the<br />

1800s, there were several hotels in<br />

downtown Seguin such as the Grand<br />

Central at the northeast corner of north<br />

Austin Street and East Gonzales. The hotel<br />

offered stables for visitors’ horses and<br />

wagons, had a small restaurant downstairs,<br />

6 0 ✦ H I S T O R I C G U A D A L U P E C O U N T Y

❖ The early Seguin Depot.<br />

and adequate stair cases for those sleeping<br />

on the second floor. There were also<br />

separate women’s and men’s restrooms on<br />

the second floor. Each room had transoms<br />

to let fresh air come in as well.<br />

The railroad station became a<br />

community unto itself. It served, for<br />

several years, as a site for the Guadalupe<br />

<strong>County</strong> Fair, as a sending off or<br />

welcoming home for their soldiers going<br />

to or coming home from wars, and of<br />

course for bringing and taking mail,<br />

newspapers, and a host of many other<br />

necessities for the community.<br />

Perhaps the most remembered<br />

attraction of the train station was that of<br />

the Seguin Railway Trolley. As mentioned<br />

in the main story of Seguin’s downtown<br />

business history, there was a mule (her<br />

name was Maude) pulled trolley which<br />

picked up and returned visitors and<br />

businessmen to the train station. The<br />

train had other uses as well such as when<br />

a young pilot who was flying a small<br />

plane from what was becoming Randolph<br />

Air Force Base. He crash landed at today’s<br />

Lower Lake Placid near where the old air<br />

field is today. It was all pasture then. He<br />

hiked all the way back to Seguin,<br />

obtained a one way ticket, and returned<br />

to Randolph. Later he and a crew were<br />

able to return and freight haul the<br />

damaged plane back to Randolph.<br />

M C Q U E E N E Y<br />

The next switch to the east was the<br />

McQueeney Switch. Although it was not<br />

the McQueeney Switch in reality. The<br />

switch’s original name was Hilda of which<br />

its origins remain somewhat unknown.<br />

As in the first several switches, Sullivan,<br />

for example, or Kingsbury, the Hilda<br />

Switch was not named for a railroad<br />

❖ A possible site of the Hilda Switch, now McQueeney.<br />

official. In the most recent book written<br />

about McQueeney by Linda Williams and<br />

Bruce Coggin, McQueeney, Texas, Hilda<br />

could have been the name of a local<br />

couple’s “…infant daughter of George<br />

Wallace McKean and his wife, Mary<br />

Blumberg McKean.” The lore of this most<br />

picturesque community today has been a<br />

remarkable sequence of events that will<br />

be in a larger part of McQueeney’s history<br />

in another chapter.<br />

This area of Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>, by the<br />

1870s, was heavily settled by German<br />

Immigrants. Many located and settled<br />

near and/or between Highway 78 and FM<br />

725. One of the higher concentrations of<br />

their settlements was Schumannsville,<br />

near FM 725 and just a few miles south of<br />

present day New Braunfels. One of the<br />

earliest settlers, C.F. Blumberg, was quite<br />

aware that the railroad was coming. Using<br />

his entrepreneurial spirit and sense of the<br />

future he built a store one mile east of the<br />

Switch with the hope that he could get<br />

the railroad to move the switch to his<br />

store’s location. He even offered to name<br />

the new switch in honor of the local<br />

railroad superintendent whose name was<br />

McQueeney. Neither happened. The<br />

Hilda Switch remained where it was as<br />

did its name.<br />

Regardless, C. F. Blumberg’s legacy<br />

remains just as important. The name of<br />

C h a p t e r S i x ✦ 6 1

his store and the Post Office, which<br />

located next to this store, eventually<br />

became the name of the town today<br />

popularly known as Mc Queeney, and<br />

the lake that was shortly thereafter<br />

built, Lake McQueeney, was built and<br />

remains a remarkable housing community.<br />

Indeed, of the eight switches<br />

in Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>, five, today are<br />

vibrant communities.<br />

M A R I O N<br />

Where C. F. Blumberg made an<br />

enterprising effort in having the switch<br />

renamed McQueeney from Hilda in<br />

order to have the original switch moved,<br />

such was not necessary for the Marion<br />

Switch. There were two major<br />

contributors to the evolution and<br />

building of the Marion Switch. One was<br />

Joshua W. Young, and the other was<br />

Thomas W. Peirce. Both men were<br />

prominent and major contributors in this<br />

particular effort.<br />

Joshua Young was a successful<br />

merchant and land owner in Seguin and<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>. The second person,<br />

Thomas W. Peirce, was the president of<br />

the G.H. and S.A. Railroad Company,<br />

which later became a part of the Southern<br />

Pacific Railroad.<br />

Joshua Young owned a substantial<br />

amount of land west northwest of Seguin<br />

between McQueeney, Seguin, and<br />

present-day Marion. This area was known<br />

for its cotton production as well as other<br />

products including cattle raising. He<br />

agreed to and sold the land needed for<br />

the railroad to come through from the<br />

Hilda Switch to Cibolo. He may have<br />

requested to have the switch named after<br />

a descendant of his family but there is<br />

also substantial evidence that “The town<br />

of Marion was named in honor of T. W.<br />

Peirce’s daughter, Miss Marion Peirce.”<br />

Other sources have suggested that the<br />

name selection was in honor of one of<br />

Joshua Young’s granddaughters.<br />

Regardless, the name Marion has<br />

remained for almost 140 years.<br />

Peirce, with permission from the<br />

Peirce Estate in New England, was the<br />

planner of what became downtown<br />

Marion by platting a “rectangle consisting<br />

of 36 blocks.” These blocks were then<br />

divided into 18 blocks each on either side<br />

of the railroad tracks. Some of the<br />

original street names continue into the<br />

21st century. Additionally enough ground<br />

was set aside for two parks and for city<br />

usage as was determined to be needed.<br />

The following is taken from a newspaper<br />

article on the 1917 town of Marion<br />

written by Mrs. A. W. Krueger:<br />

Budding from the date just named<br />

(1877), when the Southern Pacific was<br />

first reaching its long arm over the<br />

fertile prairies of Texas, the residents<br />

of the sparsely settled section of<br />

Guadalupe foregathered at that point,<br />

and without much ado gave the place<br />

the name it bears today, this act being<br />

complimentary to Miss Marion Peirce, a<br />

daughter of one of the builders of the<br />

new road. Some years back Miss Peirce<br />

and her distinguished father visited<br />

Marion and were royally entertained by<br />

the townspeople.<br />

<strong>An</strong>d indeed that is how Marion<br />

flourished along present day SH 78 and<br />

continues to this day maintaining its rich<br />

agricultural heritage and businesses.<br />

❖ <strong>An</strong> aerial view of Marion, c. the 1940s, showing the Marion Hotel and the train station and switch.<br />

6 2 ✦ H I S T O R I C G U A D A L U P E C O U N T Y

❖ The Cibolo Switch<br />

C I B O L O<br />

Unlike Marion, the Cibolo Switch was<br />

located where some young German<br />

immigrant ranchers and farmers, as early as<br />

1867, established themselves in this part of<br />

the Cibolo Valley, some six miles eastnortheast<br />

of Schertz. It wasn’t long before<br />

the family built a store as the number of<br />

arriving German immigrants continued to<br />

increase. The store turned into a general<br />

store due to increased and varied needs<br />

which needed attending. By the 1870s it<br />

was apparent to the railroad planners that<br />

Cibolo had what was needed for a switch—<br />

land, a working population, facilities, and<br />

water. The planners selected Cibolo for the<br />

beginning of their journey’s end to Bexar<br />

<strong>County</strong> and San <strong>An</strong>tonio with just one more<br />

switch in Schertz. <strong>An</strong>d, when Schlather<br />

responded to the railroad planners’ request<br />

about what the name should be for the<br />

switch, he could think of only one word—<br />

Cibolo. <strong>An</strong>d so Cibolo it came to be. But<br />

that was not the end of the Cibolo story as<br />

will be seen in a later chapter.<br />

Just a few years later, an increased<br />

population brought about several changes.<br />

Charles Fromme bought Schlather’s store .<br />

<strong>An</strong>d then next door, in 1883, the Post Office<br />

opened and was named the Cibolo Post<br />

Office. <strong>An</strong>d just down the Cibolo Valley,<br />

towards Cibolo Creek and Schertz, the last<br />

of the switches in Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> was on<br />

the cusp of being established.<br />

S C H E R T Z<br />

As Sullivan was the railroad gateway<br />

or switch to the building of the<br />

Galveston, Harrisburg and San <strong>An</strong>tonio<br />

Railway Company through Guadalupe<br />

<strong>County</strong>, so too was Schertz the final<br />

gateway or switch before the railroad<br />

found its last major station — in Bexar<br />

<strong>County</strong> and San <strong>An</strong>tonio.<br />

As earlier mentioned in the chapter on<br />

Schertz, the early Schertz family had built<br />

a store and then the Post Office came as<br />

did some gins and this became the<br />

Schertz Switch. The significance of the<br />

railway for Schertz, with its proximity to<br />

San <strong>An</strong>tonio and the surrounding<br />

counties, was revealed in a Bob Dale<br />

sketch of Schertz sometime in the 1930s.<br />

In this drawing the viewer is treated to<br />

the vast cultivated fields, then a part of<br />

Randolph Air Force Base, laced with a few<br />

dirt roads, one of which parallels the<br />

railroad tracks and the switch in the<br />

lower left hand side of the sketch. The<br />

Schertz Cotton Gin can also be seen along<br />

with other unidentified buildings, all of<br />

which indicate a busy business area.<br />

The train depot itself was located<br />

downtown just as was the Kingsbury<br />

switch, the Marion switch, and the Cibolo<br />

switch. <strong>An</strong>d it was in the downtown<br />

business area that a number of buildings,<br />

including the depot, reflected the business<br />

climate in that area. The streets witnessed<br />

the passing of transport wagons from<br />

cotton to produce and wares with<br />

destinations to the Schertz Cotton Gin,<br />

going to the Post Office, to the Schertz<br />

Mercantile Store, to homes and boarding<br />

houses such as the Schertz Boarding<br />

House as well as the Borgfeld Furniture<br />

Shop, and/or Schneider’s Saloon.<br />

Townspeople, visitors, and customers<br />

often spent time talking and visiting<br />

along the board walks or out in front of or<br />

inside the various establishments.<br />

From horses, to the stage coaches, and<br />

now to the railroad, Guadalupe <strong>County</strong><br />

was being well led into an era of business<br />

and transportation that few may have<br />

dreamed. As the 20th century loomed,<br />

these modes of transportation would be<br />

further advanced through the advent of<br />

the airplane and increasing technology in<br />

the 20th and 21st centuries.<br />

C h a p t e r S i x ✦ 6 3

Although McQueeney is not an<br />

incorporated town this does not mean it<br />

does not have a remarkable history. It<br />

does, as is well brought out by Linda<br />

Williams and Bruce Coggin’s, 2011,<br />

McQueeney, Texas. For the reader, this<br />

“Coffee Table Book” offers an excellent<br />

introduction and background for readers<br />

and researchers and is indeed a fun read<br />

at the same time.<br />

This brief history of Guadalupe<br />

<strong>County</strong> and its history of McQueeney<br />

reflects mostly on its early years but<br />

concludes with its many historical<br />

attractions from farming, businesses,<br />

education and religion, a sense of<br />

independence, and as a contributor to<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>’s history. It is only<br />

fitting that it serves as an example of the<br />

richness of the Guadalupe River’s many<br />

contributions to the attractions within the<br />

<strong>County</strong> itself.<br />

As already seen, even though Seguin<br />

was not established until 1838, a number<br />

of families who arrived too late to qualify<br />

for residency or could not find available<br />

land in Gonzales, in the Green DeWitt<br />

Colony, found and filed for lands west of<br />

Gonzales that now are in Guadalupe<br />

❖ Schumannsville.<br />


A T A L E O F T W O S W I T C H E S<br />

<strong>County</strong>. Jose de la Baume was one and<br />

others more often than not settled where<br />

there were flowing creeks such as Darst<br />

Creek, Nash Creek, or Mill Creek or any<br />

number of others. Such was the case in<br />

McQueeney’s early settled history.<br />

There were four people who affected<br />

the future of McQueeney’s early recorded<br />

history: Moses Baker, Joshua Young,<br />

Thomas W. Peirce, and C.F. Blumberg.<br />

One area that caught the attention of<br />

several early immigrants was essentially in<br />

the vicinity of where Lake McQueeney is<br />

today. The original purchaser of this land, in<br />

1831, was Moses Baker who settled his land<br />

but left following Texas’ independence from<br />

Mexico. According to Williams and<br />

Coggin’s work, South Carolinian Joshua<br />

Young, brought his family to Guadalupe<br />

<strong>County</strong> and purchased land between<br />

present day Seguin and New Braunfels,<br />

some of which had belonged to Moses<br />

Baker, as well as from the Esnaurizar Grant<br />

which was considerable in its own right and<br />

even included the land upon which Seguin<br />

was originally settled. Joshua Young shaped<br />

history by what he accomplished during his<br />

relationship with Seguin and central<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>.<br />

He was an exceptional businessman in<br />

downtown Seguin. Some say he was a<br />

builder. He was a builder in a real way<br />

and an abstract way. After settling down<br />

in Seguin he established his own business<br />

in Seguin’s business district along Austin<br />

Street. He was also a builder. He is<br />

credited with building the first church<br />

building in Seguin in 1849, helped<br />

develop the Methodist church, and by<br />

1857 owned a general store in downtown<br />

Seguin which was preceded by building<br />

his cotton gin two years earlier. <strong>An</strong>d it<br />

were his slaves who helped him design<br />

and build the Sebastopol House for his<br />

sister, Catharine Legette.<br />

During the 1850s, Doctor John Parks<br />

developed a type of concrete called<br />

limecrete. It became very popular,<br />

and found its way into over a hundred<br />

homes and buildings of which a number<br />

remain standing today. When Joshua<br />

Young teamed with Dr. Parks, one of<br />

the buildings they built came to be<br />

known as the Sebastopol House which is<br />

recognized as one of the greatest<br />

limecrete buildings remaining in Texas,<br />

according Vince Hauser’s Master’s Thesis<br />

on the Limecrete Era of Seguin. His sister,<br />

Catherine LeGette, with her eight<br />

children lived in that house for many<br />

years. Since then this house, after being<br />

abandoned on Mill Road (today’s East<br />

Court Street), was taken over by the<br />

Seguin Conservation Society in the 1950s<br />

and preserved as best as possible. With<br />

the later help of State Representative<br />

Edmund Kuempel, the State of Texas<br />

named it a State <strong>Historic</strong>al Park, and<br />

today it is owned by the City of Seguin.<br />

Now a museum, it houses the artifacts<br />

of the Sebastopol House and also<br />

works with the Hiram Wilson family<br />

descendants for housing and displaying<br />

the slave made and distinguished original<br />

Wilson Pottery.<br />

6 4 ✦ H I S T O R I C G U A D A L U P E C O U N T Y

It has also been documented that Young<br />

owned about six thousand acres and<br />

operated a plantation that fronted acreage<br />

on both sides of the Guadalupe River and<br />

its meanders between present day Marion<br />

and Seguin. Also, based on Williams and<br />

Coggin’s work, “He operated a plantation<br />

on both sides of the Guadalupe that<br />

included present day McQueeney and<br />

Treasure Island .”(although not then an<br />

island). According to Mark Gretchen’s<br />

seminal and well documented Slave Masters<br />

of Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>,Texas, Joshua Young<br />

and Jane M. Young, from 1847-1865,<br />

owned between 16 and 25 Slaves.<br />

On some of Young’s land, especially<br />

within the area of what is today’s Lake<br />

McQueeney, there was a low water river<br />

crossing that allowed future travelers to<br />

cross, especially the early German<br />

immigrants from Indianola enroute to<br />

Prince Solms’ Colony in New Braunfels. A<br />

German settlement, called Schumannsville,<br />

arose for those Immigrants who chose to<br />

live in Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>. It remains intact<br />

to this day, including the Schumannsville<br />

Cemetery east of FM 725 north of<br />

McQueeney, and the Blumberg Cemetery<br />

near today’s Lake McQueeney.<br />

One of the more discerning points on<br />

Young’s land of the future, Lake<br />

McQueeney, with its ford crossing nearby,<br />

was Young’s Ferry. According to Williams<br />

and Coggin, Young “operated on the<br />

honor system: if you used it, you left the<br />

money anyway if no one was around.”<br />

This particular area would figure in the<br />

eventual McQueeney Dam.<br />

<strong>An</strong>other ferry soon came into existence<br />

that helped lead the McQueeney settlement<br />

well into the future. <strong>An</strong>drew Erskine,<br />

possibly related to Seguin’s rancher and<br />

businessman, Michael Erskine, married and<br />

settled down, after the War with Mexico,<br />

and went to work for his father-in-law who<br />

also owned a ferry. This ferry crossed the<br />

Guadalupe River near today’s Acme Brick<br />

and opened up a new era of transportation,<br />

and accessibility for commerce.<br />

A member of the Blumberg Clan, Ernst<br />

H. Blumberg, saw an opportunity to<br />

❖ The Highway 78 card bridge over the Guadalupe and north of the new Highway 78 bridge (inset).<br />

increase accessibility at the turn of the<br />

19th and 20th centuries for transportation<br />

by building a bridge across where the<br />

Erskine Ferry had ferried its passengers<br />

back and forth. According to Williams and<br />

Coggins it was a Pennsylvania truss bridge<br />

that was to replace the ferries. The hope<br />

was for increasing transportation for social<br />

and business reasons. The bridge was<br />

successful in terms of increasing<br />

commerce, businesses, and accessibility to<br />

and from McQueeney. It succeeded<br />

immensely and, although it is no longer in<br />

use, it remains in its original place and can<br />

still be seen and admired.<br />

If one is driving along SH 78 from<br />

Seguin to McQueeney they will see the<br />

bridge, still intact, on the right side with<br />

the railroad tracks curving east and north<br />

to cross the river between the bridge and<br />

the highway. <strong>An</strong>d they can get a closer<br />

look if they turn right onto FM 725,<br />

passing through the original part of<br />

downtown McQueeney, and as they begin<br />

driving up the hill and look to the right<br />

they will again see the Blumberg Bridge<br />

that brought an end to the ferries and the<br />

beginning of a new era of transportation<br />

and commerce, the railroad.<br />

Suffice to say that Baker and Young laid<br />

the ground work for two major future<br />

events: The railroad coming through what<br />

today is McQueeney via land owned by<br />

Young and the eventual dam that created<br />

what today is Lake McQueeney, its<br />

residents and many visitors.<br />

The next person who helped nurture<br />

the evolution of this area just northwest<br />

of Seguin was C. F. Blumberg, including<br />

a host of relatives within the extensive<br />

Blumberg Clan, many of whom continue<br />

living not only in the McQueeney area<br />

but throughout Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>.<br />

C. F. Blumberg’s family’s predecessors<br />

accomplished and contributed in many<br />

ways to the growth of this area. But what<br />

C. F. Blumberg’s ingenuity and creativity<br />

led to was creating jobs, a town called<br />

McQueeney, and helping put more money<br />

into greater circulation in this small region.<br />

Among many farmers and ranchers<br />

there develops a union with the land they<br />

own and work. That also applies to any<br />

waters that may either go through their<br />

land or along its land, especially in<br />

the sometimes drought prevalent Central<br />

Texas and pervasive Central Texas<br />

floodings. According to Williams and<br />

Coggins, C. F. Blumberg, “made an<br />

intriguing discovery while fishing in<br />

a creek. He found clay suitable for making<br />

brick….” From that discovery he went<br />

on to build the Blumberg Brick Yard<br />

which, through skillful marketing and<br />

salesmanship became a major producer of<br />

bricks used throughout Central Texas<br />

from San <strong>An</strong>tonio and points north,<br />

south, east, and west. As brought out by<br />

C h a p t e r S e v e n ✦ 6 5

Williams and Coggins, and this is true to<br />

this day, Blumberg Brick was stamped<br />

either with Blumberg or Seguin on the<br />

face or underbelly of the brick. Brick<br />

continues to be manufactured by Acme<br />

Brick Company just a few miles west of<br />

McQueeney today.<br />

As Peirce’s Galveston, Harrisburg and<br />

San <strong>An</strong>tonio Railway continued to work<br />

its way from the Sullivan Switch, through<br />

Kingsbury, Ilka, and Seguin, Blumberg,<br />

circa 1900, sensed another opportunity<br />

had arisen to increase his business<br />

holdings. The Hilda Switch had possibly<br />

been established on the east side of<br />

present day McQueeney close to Hot Shot<br />

Road and the Georgia-Pacific Plant where<br />

it intersects with SH 78. Blumberg built<br />

a small store about two miles east of<br />

this switch and tried to get Peirce and<br />

the railroad to move the switch eastward<br />

to his, Blumberg’s store, and rename<br />

the switch the McQueeney Switch. Peirce<br />

refused, even though Blumberg was<br />

able to get the Post Office to open next<br />

to his store.<br />

Regardless, Hilda Switch remained<br />

and enjoyed a brief moment in local<br />

history by sporting a handsome small<br />

station for its occasional visitors and<br />

drummers as well as local residents<br />

wanting to go to Cibolo or Seguin or even<br />

San <strong>An</strong>tonio for shopping and visiting.<br />

The switch station is no longer there,<br />

although there is a switch to the left just<br />

as one nears the present day bridge from<br />

Seguin to McQueeney. <strong>An</strong>other era came,<br />

another era died, but at least in this case<br />

the railroad tracks remain and the woeful<br />

sounds of the trains’ whistles can still be<br />

heard across the fields, miles away. As a<br />

note: Today, there are no longer any<br />

stations or depots along the railroad from<br />

Luling to San <strong>An</strong>tonio.<br />

By the early twentieth century the<br />

wheels of motion, from horses and buggies<br />

and mules and wagons and ferries, made it<br />

evident that a new era was dawning. From<br />

that time on McQueeney became a critical<br />

part of Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> with its rail and<br />

road infrastructure. The remaining infrastructure<br />

was one of the first infrastructures<br />

in the history of Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>. It was<br />

the Guadalupe River but its local usage was<br />

about to have dramatic changes.<br />

One was the eventual constructions of<br />

dams along the Guadalupe River and the<br />

other was business and recreation.<br />

C. F. Blumberg’s attempts to have the<br />

Hilda Switch moved to his store was<br />

practical and would have been good for<br />

business. <strong>An</strong>d, he would have enjoyed<br />

having the name Hilda changed to<br />

McQueeney but it just did not happen.<br />

What did happen was that a business area<br />

developed in McQueeney that remains<br />

vibrant to this day, regardless of the<br />

number of recessions, and depressions<br />

that ocurred between the late 19th<br />

century and today’s 21st century.<br />

That downtown business area is at the<br />

juncture of SH 78 and FM 725 and along<br />

both roads leading into and out of<br />

McQueeney. For a point of reference,<br />

there is now a stoplight at the juncture of<br />

the two roads. If one drives from FM 78<br />

and turns onto FM 725, they are in the<br />

historic business area of McQueeney. It<br />

was here that C.F. Blumberg’s early<br />

business began, with the McQueeney<br />

Post Office next to the store.<br />

A new era began, as Williams and<br />

Coggins well described it, when “…Ed<br />

❖ The original Wuest’s store.<br />

Wuest bought the General Store….”<br />

Downtown McQueeney has since been the<br />

home of the Wuest family’s grocery and<br />

related businesses headquarters. It has<br />

moved to a different location, but not far,<br />

maybe two hundred feet. Eventually the<br />

General Store was sold and today it is the<br />

McQueeney Hall. Regardless the Wuest<br />

family has since been continuously<br />

involved in retail grocery businesses<br />

throughout the region and just a few years<br />

ago evolved into increasing the Pic n Pac<br />

Convenience Chain throughout Guadalupe<br />

<strong>County</strong>. If one looks at the length of<br />

continuous businesses in the same field<br />

they will note that Ed Wuest began his<br />

career in 1910 and the family is still<br />

continuing his legacy in the same region<br />

and business, now over 105 years later.<br />

<strong>An</strong>d McQueeney also spawned a<br />

number of other legacies in the business<br />

world from the cotton gins and ferries to<br />

mercantilism and farming and ranching to<br />

downtown businesses to that of Louis<br />

Koepsel and Willie Koehler’s Simplex<br />

Dusters, which, according to Williams<br />

and Coggin, became not only<br />

internationally known but, by the mid<br />

1950s, was also the largest employer in<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>. Which leads to the<br />

arrival of Marvin Selig to Seguin after<br />

World War II. Although there is a brief<br />

6 6 ✦ H I S T O R I C G U A D A L U P E C O U N T Y

❖ The new Wuest’s store.<br />

biography in an earlier chapter, Selig’s<br />

location of the Steel Mill was located near<br />

what today is called Upper Lake Placid,<br />

on some of the former cotton and corn<br />

growing land. Indeed, his contributions to<br />

the local area, combined with the business<br />

culture of McQueeney and Seguin and<br />

surrounding communities, led to a<br />

remarkable business and economic<br />

history of central Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>.<br />

Not only were schools being built, such<br />

as the Guadalupe Valley School in the early<br />

1900s, but so too were others being built<br />

which later evolved into the McQueeney<br />

School and then becoming a part of the<br />

Seguin School System. Today, the current<br />

elementary school is called McQueeney<br />

Elementary School. The Middle and High<br />

School students attend the Seguin Middle<br />

School and the Seguin High School.<br />

There was something else that was<br />

happening that brought excitement to the<br />

blossoming McQueeney Community. A<br />

dam. <strong>An</strong>d this dam changed central<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>’s history in a very<br />

positive way, especially along the<br />

Guadalupe River. It also played a major<br />

role in 20th and 21st century McQueeney<br />

and Seguin history.<br />

As Henry Troell’s work, following in<br />

the footsteps of Jose Flores in the 1840s<br />

to William Saffold in the 1850s and<br />

1860s, led to the Seguin Power Plant in<br />

the very early 1900s, so too would<br />

McQueeney have its moment in the<br />

changing of the Guadalupe River’s history<br />

in Central Texas.<br />

Where Henry Troell’s work ended with<br />

the harnassing of the river’s currents for<br />

creating electricity near the Saffold Dam<br />

at present day Starcke Park, and then his<br />

construction of the Power Plant, all of<br />

which the City of Seguin purchased<br />

and began producing lighting and<br />

electricity to its people, the evolution in<br />

McQueeney’s history paralleled all of this<br />

and took it to even greater heights, much<br />

of it led by some of the same people who<br />

were a part of the Seguin effort.<br />

For example, Alvin Wirtz, who went on<br />

to become one of this region’s major<br />

business leaders and politicians, having<br />

been elected to the Texas Senate, and with<br />

his multiple business and political relations,<br />

including Lyndon B. Johnson, teamed up<br />

with a host of Seguin and Guadalupe<br />

<strong>County</strong> businessmen and businesses which<br />

led to the McQueeney project.<br />

The person who was to the<br />

McQueeney Dam as Troell was to the<br />

Saffold Dam and today’s Power Plant<br />

Restaurant, was Julius M. Abbott. This<br />

movement forward to harnassing the<br />

Guadalupe River’s power potential swung<br />

into full force. With the discovery of oil in<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> east of Seguin, all a<br />

part of the Luling Oil Fields, and with the<br />

advent of water-generated electricity the<br />

future indeed looked exciting not only for<br />

the risk taking and creative businessmen<br />

but also their investors and the citizens of<br />

this region.<br />

Thus it was that Abbott, curious,<br />

innovative, and a proven businessman,<br />

found a possible site for further<br />

exploration some two miles south of<br />

Young’s Ford. From that, and with the<br />

keen stewardship of Wirtz and others, the<br />

exploration and construction of a dam<br />

spanned some three years — roughly<br />

from 1925 to 1928 — when it was<br />

dedicated and became known as TP-3 in<br />

its infancy and so remains to this day.<br />

At first the dam was named in honor<br />

of Abbott, and rightly so, but was later<br />

changed to McQueeney. Perhaps, at least<br />

to this writer, the details of the building<br />

of this dam are skillfully explained for the<br />

readers in Williams and Coggins work. As<br />

a point of interest, Canyon Lake Dam, in<br />

the 1960s, following the Great Drought of<br />

the 1950s, was to be the last major dam<br />

built on the Guadalupe River.<br />

<strong>An</strong>d, as both the dam and Lake<br />

McQueeney came to become one in many<br />

respects, and evolve into a remarkable<br />

attraction for water sports, competitions,<br />

and a comfortable life, the original site of<br />

McQueeney itself remains much the same<br />

today as it did when C. F. Blumberg built<br />

his general store and tried to get the Hilda<br />

Switch moved to his location. McQueeney<br />

remains a small town with the Wuest<br />

stores and its headquarters founded less<br />

than a block away from its origins. The<br />

road still snakes into and onto FM 725,<br />

and the Blumberg Cemetery is still<br />

accepting and honoring its descendents,<br />

currently awaiting recognition by the state<br />

for its historical marker.<br />

The last and most evolutionary<br />

development within the McQueeney area<br />

was the lake itself and what it spawned<br />

and became.<br />

Not only was the lake a fishing<br />

paradise, and actually it still is even<br />

though the marina has now become a<br />

residential area and the fishing<br />

tournaments have somewhat faded. So<br />

too has the Holiday Inn Resort gone, and<br />

Hot Shots is no longer in business but its<br />

spirit was resurrected about five years ago<br />

when the Seguin Area Chamber of<br />

Commerce created the annual Hot Shots<br />

Reunion with the family’s permission.<br />

C h a p t e r S e v e n ✦ 6 7

Once again great fried fish and servings<br />

with the original recipe is served every<br />

year at Starcke Park’s Pavilion with Mrs.<br />

Eileen Silvia supervising everything from<br />

the cooking to the servers dishing out<br />

helpings and talking with the customers.<br />

<strong>An</strong>other event began to occur with<br />

great fervor in the 1950s which brought<br />

national and international fame to Lake<br />

McQueeney that remains to this day –<br />

competitive and recreational water skiing.<br />

Competitive water skiing became<br />

exceptionally popular in the 1950s. <strong>An</strong>d<br />

perhaps it was through the stewardship of<br />

Charles and Claire Mueller, when they<br />

were finally able to purchase the Lake<br />

Breeze Camp and converted it into the<br />

Lake Breeze Lodge.<br />

Led by Buzz Mueller and his friends,<br />

water skiing became a recreational<br />

passion for young people and even some<br />

oldsters. Competitions began to evolve<br />

out of all of this and soon there were ski<br />

jumps and local competitions that<br />

fascinated parents and children alike. It<br />

was not long before the Lake Breeze Ski<br />

Lodge took off and Claire Mueller<br />

established what the Club Lodge and<br />

restaurant eventually became. This<br />

remarkable venue has since brought<br />

people to McQueeney from all over<br />

Central Texas and beyond.<br />

❖ A round-up at the depot.<br />

Perhaps it was during the 1950s-<br />

1970s that the greatest excitement came<br />

with Buzz Mueller establishing the Ski<br />

Bees. The list of competitions they<br />

participated in ranged from Ardmore,<br />

Oklahoma to Cyprus Gardens in Florida to<br />

Wisconsin to international competitions in<br />

Mexico and Canada. Joe Mueller won the<br />

championship in the men’s competition<br />

in 1957 and even appeared on the USA<br />

Today show. <strong>An</strong>d there were the skiing<br />

ballerinas who skied in groups and<br />

as individuals.<br />

Although these exciting venues and<br />

competitions are not as extensive today<br />

their spirits still live for the Ski Bees are<br />

just as alive today as they were fifty years<br />

ago and they can be seen still, today, at<br />

Lake McQueeney. The third generation of<br />

the Mueller’s are continuing the tradition<br />

of the Lake Breeze Ski Lodge and all that it<br />

has brought to Lake McQueeney, Central<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>, and Central Texas.<br />

It is doubtful Joshua Young, a visionary<br />

and a doer, dreamed the Guadalupe River<br />

would have the journey it did in the 20th<br />

and 21st centuries. But he did have a<br />

vision upon which others built upon<br />

through the generations. His legacies were<br />

the foundations upon which others built<br />

their dreams and McQueeney has become<br />

an indelible foot print on not just the land<br />

of Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> and its environs but<br />

on the peoples who “discovered” the<br />

sweet secrets of the Guadalupe River, its<br />

dams, which provide more to its peoples<br />

than just recreation, and the lands the<br />

river nourishes. Indeed, McQueeney is a<br />

crown jewel of the many jewels in<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>.<br />

K I N G S B U R Y<br />

Kingsbury has a remarkable history<br />

and is, as this manuscript is being<br />

written, on the cusp of a new and<br />

historical era that may alter its<br />

geopolitical landscape as the 21st century<br />

continues into its tomorrows. These few<br />

pages will share what others have<br />

provided and hopefully can be expanded<br />

and shared with more readers and<br />

researchers as the future continues<br />

unveiling the past.<br />

Kingsbury was founded on June 22,<br />

1875, some 37 years later than Seguin. It<br />

was not an accident nor what preceded<br />

the founding of Kingsbury was an<br />

accident. By this time in the 19th century,<br />

Kingsbury was already a farming and<br />

ranching community.<br />

Even though there were more than just<br />

a few people in the area of what was to<br />

become Kingsbury, there was no formal<br />

town or townsite established until the<br />

early 1870s. Some of the earliest recorded<br />

settlers of where Kingsbury would<br />

someday be established were J. Hampton<br />

Kuykendall who bought 1/3 of a league<br />

from the Republic of Texas in 1845; John<br />

B. Johnson bought 1/3 of a league from J.<br />

Hampton Kuykendall in 1848, and soon<br />

others began filing for land such as<br />

Phineas R. Oliver, John C. Sheffield, John<br />

B. Johnson, Simeon Sanders, and the<br />

list goes on during this early period of<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>, following its<br />

incorporation by the State of Texas. All of<br />

these filings are taken from the Guadalupe<br />

<strong>County</strong> Records and Gonzales, as well.<br />

The point of this is that even from the<br />

time of Seguin’s establishment through<br />

the period of the Texas Revolution, the<br />

6 8 ✦ H I S T O R I C G U A D A L U P E C O U N T Y

Republic, and Statehood, individuals<br />

filed for lands and began making their<br />

lives in a bold new era. The eventual<br />

Kingsbury area was no exception<br />

anymore than the smaller communities of<br />

York’s Creek, Highsmith, Darst Creek,<br />

and many other sites.<br />

However, as mentioned in the chapter<br />

on Seguin and Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>, John<br />

Ireland and the railroad era was<br />

presented and that was where Kingsbury<br />

was going to have one of its booming<br />

moments as a new community born in<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>. Granted, Governor<br />

Ireland did not start the railroad era but it<br />

was indeed during his Governorship that<br />

some very important business decisions<br />

were based upon the policies he,<br />

his predecessors and successors,<br />

implemented that affected the beginnings<br />

of the railroad era.<br />

Two major personalities brought this<br />

era to Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>: Thomas W.<br />

Peirce and William G. Kingsbury. Of the<br />

two, it was Peirce who brought the<br />

railroad to Texas and it was Kingsbury<br />

who did much of the groundwork in<br />

purchasing lands and determining the<br />

general routes of the railroad through<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>.<br />

Thomas Wentworth Peirce was born in<br />

Dover, New Hampshire, on August 16,<br />

1818, and had a successful political and<br />

business career as a member of the New<br />

Hampshire State Senate for three years as<br />

well as owning and operating two packet<br />

ships between Boston, Massachusetts,<br />

and Dover, New Hampshire. According to<br />

the <strong>History</strong> of Ontario <strong>County</strong>, New York,<br />

1893, he became a stockholder of the<br />

“Cocheco Railroad Company” and<br />

eventually became the supervisor of the<br />

operating department. From there he<br />

moved to Boston and began trading with<br />

many of the southern states, including<br />

Texas, in textiles, farm produce, and<br />

shipping where he built a fleet of ten to<br />

twelve ships that had ports in Galveston<br />

and New York. He also traded with<br />

foreign countries. Later he became an<br />

attorney for the Houston and Texas<br />

❖ World War I servicemen from Kingsbury.<br />

Central Railway Company and began<br />

acquiring lands for the eventual building<br />

of railroad tracks.<br />

Following the Civil War, Peirce<br />

continued his ventures into Texas and<br />

began acquiring independent railroads,<br />

according to Margaret Donsbach’s Early<br />

<strong>History</strong> of the Railroads in Texas and the<br />

Founding of Kingsbury (unpublished).<br />

Peirce, as a result of numerous transactions<br />

with Texas, its counties and its peoples<br />

through his agents, began the legend of the<br />

Galveston Houston & San <strong>An</strong>tonio<br />

Railroad (GH&SA) after having purchased<br />

the Buffao Bayou, Brazos and Colorado<br />

Railway, in 1873, and subsequently<br />

renaming it the GH&SA Railroad.<br />

According to Reed, A <strong>History</strong> of the Texas<br />

Railroads, the GH&SA reached Luling in<br />

the fall of 1874. That was the last switch<br />

before going into and through Guadalupe<br />

<strong>County</strong>. By that time everything was in<br />

order, thanks to William G. Kingsbury,<br />

who served Peirce’s efforts in many ways<br />

— one of which was the acquiring of lands<br />

with one of the switches eventually being<br />

named in his honor.<br />

Peirce chose his negotiator, researcher,<br />

land man, and arbitrator very well.<br />

William G. Kingsbury was the man for the<br />

seasons for this portion of his very full<br />

and sometimes exciting business life. But,<br />

he got the job done and never went to jail.<br />

He knew how to negotiate land deals and<br />

with Peirce and his investors, was always<br />

able to resell formerly bought parcels of<br />

land for the railroad, its tracks, and<br />

related lands such as for the building of<br />

Kingsbury and later, what became Marion<br />

just west of Seguin and McQueeney.<br />

He was thorough with the laying out of<br />

Kingsbury. According to an early<br />

unidentified map entitled Kingsbury,<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> on the G.H.&.S.A.R.R.,<br />

there is a statement signed by the Chief<br />

Engineer of the Rail Road (sic) in Luling<br />

dated December 20, 1876, James (last name<br />

unreadable). He stated that “I hereby certify<br />

that this map is a ___ of the original on file<br />

in my office.” Running from East to West<br />

there was to be a passenger depot in<br />

Kingsbury on the south side of the tracks<br />

and a freight depot on the north of the<br />

tracks. Blocks were evenly laid out from<br />

south to north beginning with Geronimo<br />

Street with Caldwell to the North followed<br />

by San Marcos Street, Summit Street and<br />

then Guadalupe Street. Crockett street was<br />

the western most street running from North<br />

to South as were East, McNutt, Center,<br />

Market and West, all east of Crockett. From<br />

this sprang what today is Kingsbury.<br />

C h a p t e r S e v e n ✦ 6 9

None of this could be done without the<br />

private owners of the land on both sides<br />

of what were to be the railroad tracks to<br />

and through and past Kingsbury from<br />

Luling. Some of those names listed are<br />

from the research of Margaret Donsbach’s<br />

unpublished works on Kingsbury’s<br />

history: J. Hampton Kuykendall who<br />

owned one third of a league conveyed by<br />

the Republic of Texas, April 17, 1845; M.<br />

W. Izard, conveyed by Susan Smith<br />

et al, …“for the purpose of establishing a<br />

Depot on the line of the G.H. & S.A. R.R.”<br />

on June 23, 1875; and eight others<br />

conveying their rights.<br />

Since that time Kingsbury’s citizens<br />

and those from this part of Central<br />

Eastern Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> never looked<br />

back. The layout of early Kingsbury<br />

remains practically the same to this day.<br />

But it is the people who are important for<br />

without them or their progeny or soon to<br />

come new settlers would not have<br />

contributed their lives and history for<br />

those of us today.<br />

By 1874, William G. Kingsbury<br />

completed his survey for the GH&SA’s<br />

route through much of Guadalupe<br />

<strong>County</strong>. The Sullivan Switch, east of<br />

Kingsbury, probably named for Jim<br />

Sullivan who was the engineer of the first<br />

passenger train, in 1877, from Houston<br />

to San <strong>An</strong>tonio. In 1922, when the Luling<br />

Oil Field gushed in this area, it was<br />

named Gander Slu and grew to a<br />

population of about 100 until production<br />

began slowing down by the 1940s.<br />

Six miles to the west of Sullivan<br />

this plot of land was named for William<br />

G. Kingsbury for all of his surveyings<br />

and coordination. Kingsbury had<br />

arranged for Peirce to buy the land and<br />

his dealings with the local landowners<br />

were considered very businesslike.<br />

On June 26, 1875, Thomas W. Peirce,<br />

according to Margaret Donsbach’s<br />

unpublished manuscript, “Railroad Town<br />

to Ghost Town: The Saga of Kingsbury,<br />

Texas,” Peirce and local land speculator<br />

Mark W. Izard marked the beginning of<br />

the town of Kingsbury, named after the<br />

❖ Ferd and Henry Imhoff at the Imhoff Saloon.<br />

❖ The Kingsbury baseball team.<br />

railroad’s immigration agent, William G.<br />

Kingsbury. Izard donated the land for the<br />

depot and gave Peirce a half-interest in<br />

the surrounding land in exchange for<br />

$1.00 and the establishment of the depot<br />

and townsite.”<br />

Aileen Jones Sramek also wrote that<br />

the Flynois Hotel was built north of the<br />

railroad for the railroad workers. Later<br />

the two story building became a general<br />

merchandise store owned by Bill Powers<br />

which in 1911, burned down. However,<br />

another hotel was built south of the<br />

Depot in 1889 and then sold to Daniel<br />

Wolfshohl and used until 1924, and was<br />

followed by a newer hotel built on the<br />

north side of the depot and named the<br />

Lynch Hote,l run by Mrs. Carrie Jones.<br />

7 0 ✦ H I S T O R I C G U A D A L U P E C O U N T Y

In terms of land ownership for what<br />

became land for the railroad and the town<br />

of Kingsbury, all was settled through the<br />

disposition of the land once the railroad<br />

was established. According to the<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> Property Records,<br />

between July 15, 1875 and January, 1916,<br />

Thomas W. Pearce, his heirs, or his Estate,<br />

became the Grantor for 181 local<br />

purchases of land for the GH&SA’s route<br />

given back to the area citizens for a<br />

school in Kingsbury or that enabled the<br />

town of Kingsbury to be laid out not only<br />

to individuals but also to the African<br />

Methodist Episcopal Church, the<br />

Grangers and Kingsbury Co-Operative<br />

Association, the Methodist Episcopal<br />

Church of Kingsbury, the Baptist Church<br />

of Kingsbury, and the German Lutheran<br />

Evangelical Church, the Shiloh Baptist<br />

Church, and the Kingsbury School. From<br />

that time to the present Kingsbury<br />

became its own determinant, once again,<br />

of where it was and where it was going.<br />

<strong>An</strong>d going it did. The Depot itself had<br />

a Negro waiting room as well as a white<br />

waiting room, a large office and<br />

warehouse, a 500 bale cotton platform,<br />

and stock pens that could hold up to 300<br />

head of cattle. These indeed were the<br />

building years, the exciting years. Since<br />

this period the town has never looked<br />

back, even with the bad times sometimes<br />

over powering the good times. In<br />

between these times the Kingsbury<br />

citizens had a town to put together.<br />

As the twentieth century dawned not<br />

only were ranchers and farmers, for cotton<br />

was a huge crop from the Highsmith<br />

Community to York’s Creek to between<br />

Kingsbury and Luling and up to Mill<br />

Creek, these times were good for those<br />

who were directly in the agricultural<br />

businesses or were in business in<br />

Kingsbury. So perhaps a quick journey to<br />

this period will help put the dynamics of<br />

Kingsbury into some perspective.<br />

Although Cotton remained King, so<br />

too were livestock, farming, and keeping<br />

the land alive and well. Kingsbury, in this<br />

region, was the support center. Already<br />

mentioned were the early hotels. Perhaps<br />

one of the more remarkable creative<br />

keepers of records was Daniel Wolfshohl<br />

who was an entrepreneur himself. His<br />

diaries have helped many researchers over<br />

the years not to mention his many own<br />

personal contributions to Kingsbury. <strong>An</strong>d<br />

there were others as well. Following are<br />

some of theirs and others remembrances<br />

of twentieth century Kingsbury.<br />

In terms of the Post Office there are<br />

listed some 27 Postmasters for Kingsbury<br />

from 1876 (the Post Office opened in<br />

1875 by William J. Avriett, who also<br />

served as a Justice of the Peace at one<br />

time) with M. W. Izard as the first on<br />

August 13, 1875 and the last was Delores<br />

Martinez on January 1, 2012. In between<br />

were such names as Hermann Schmidt,<br />

Eugene Wolfshohl, Alvin Fricke, Lloyd F.<br />

Hurt, Mrs. Ruby Hurt, Patricia A. Driver<br />

and certainly each were a wealth of<br />

information and stories.<br />

According to the diary of Albert<br />

Wolfshohl, the first post office was<br />

opened on August 13, 1875. Mark A.<br />

Izard was its first postmaster. The post<br />

office was in the Lynch Building until<br />

November 1911 and then was moved to<br />

the old Schmidt building. The seventh<br />

Postmaster was Herman Schmidt who, by<br />

❖ <strong>An</strong> early mail carrier.<br />

then, enjoyed fellow Post Offices in<br />

Wade, some seven miles north, and<br />

Acona, eight miles south of Kingsbury. By<br />

1904 Rural Free Delivery or R.F.D.<br />

deliveries were put into effect for<br />

Kingsbury with Jim Flowers being<br />

appointed the first carrier for R.F.D #1.<br />

He sold six mail boxes one week and a<br />

week later he sold eight more. However,<br />

a number of rural folks built their<br />

own wooden mail boxes and put them<br />

up on posts.<br />

By 1904 there were two rural routes<br />

with John M. Knapp (or Mapp) as<br />

the carrier for R.F.D. 2. By 1908 Albert<br />

Wolfshohl began using a covered<br />

mail cart.<br />

Unfortunately, on February 3, 1910,<br />

the Kingsbury Post Office was robbed of<br />

$382 worth of stamps and money. The<br />

robber was found in Sullivan with $14 in<br />

stamps, $25 in cash, plus another $300<br />

cash, and another $250 in stamps he<br />

had hidden. In this same year a political<br />

rally was also held encouraging the<br />

citizens to vote.<br />

On January 1, 1913, parcel post<br />

delivery was begun and the post office<br />

was moved to the J. A..Lynch building.<br />

But that’s not all that was going on in<br />

blossoming Kingsbury.<br />

C h a p t e r S e v e n ✦ 7 1

The Rural Carriers Association of<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> was organized on<br />

February 12, 1910, in the Seguin Post<br />

Office. Albert Wolfshohl served as vice<br />

president of the association.<br />

Perhaps one of the best known early<br />

and local records of who lived and<br />

worked in Kingsbury and did business<br />

are the records of Halm’s Store in 1904<br />

and 1906. Several of the customers will<br />

be mentioned here and then schools,<br />

churches, and social activities will be<br />

shared with the readers.<br />

These ledgers actually served as a listing<br />

of who lived in Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>’s 7th<br />

precinct in the first decade of the twentieth<br />

century. This was a convenience to<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>’s accountability and<br />

verification of what was needed in this<br />

precinct and its other precincts with<br />

whom they stayed in close contact.<br />

It also was a good way for the Halms to<br />

stay in touch with their rural customers<br />

and friends so they could provide the<br />

inventory needed for their daily rural<br />

lives from groceries and produce to<br />

hardware and household needs. In a<br />

sense Halm’s was to Kingsbury and its<br />

area as Vivroux’s was to Seguin and its<br />

rural areas. For descendants of those who<br />

once lived in the eastern part of<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> it is a remarkable<br />

homemade record of its peoples. Some<br />

who were listed were Gus Adam, W. A.<br />

Appling, F. S. Alfaro, Henry Banks, J. W.<br />

Brawner, Henry Gonzales, Henry Imhoff,<br />

John Schmidt, to Gus Zonker. He also<br />

listed his business accounts with a brief<br />

description of their specialties such as<br />

Armour Packing Company in Kansas City,<br />

and Jackson Woolen Mills from Madison<br />

<strong>County</strong>, Kentucky, which manufactured<br />

“jeans, linseys, blankets, wool rolls and<br />

yarns.” Other stores included Miss<br />

Maggie White’s Millenery Store and<br />

Maurer’s Lumber and Hardware store.<br />

Interestingly Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>’s<br />

records of the <strong>County</strong> Tax Payers included<br />

all of its communities and towns including<br />

Kingsbury which reflected the economic<br />

vitality of the <strong>County</strong>. For example, in<br />

Kingsbury, between 1900 and 1902 ,J. E.<br />

Allen sold liquor; D. J. Couplan was a<br />

merchant, A. D. Halm and O. J. & Co.<br />

were merchants, as was J. A. Lynch. All in<br />

all there were ten taxable merchants in<br />

Kingsbury between 1900-1902. There<br />

were listings of Marion (also founded by T.<br />

W. Peirce), Staples, Martindale, Geronimo,<br />

and others. Those that ran businesses but<br />

not near a town were listed as “Country”<br />

such as C. Fromme or Otto Galle.<br />

Although no medical doctors may have<br />

lived in early Kingsbury the residents<br />

were visited and attended to and one was<br />

from Luling while the other, Dr. P. W.<br />

Mickle could not be located. However<br />

those from Seguin were certainly well<br />

received such as : Doctors E. A. Benbow,<br />

G. B. Friday, Monroe Stamps, Hugh Davis,<br />

R. L. Knolle, <strong>An</strong>drew and Carl Raetzsch,<br />

Allen Heinen and a host of others. All of<br />

these played critical roles for the<br />

betterment of Kingsbury and its<br />

surrounding communities.<br />

<strong>An</strong>d then there were those who worked<br />

the land around Kingsbury and its environs.<br />

This is well evidenced by the number of<br />

registered cattle brands (over 80) in the<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> Courthouse. One sees<br />

names of ranchers that stand out because of<br />

their many achievements and others who<br />

worked hard too but kept to their work and<br />

toiled the soils, engaging the earth for all<br />

they could in order to survive.<br />

Alleen J. Sramek wrote a brief history<br />

of Kingsbury entitled Kingsbury, Texas,<br />

1876-1976. It was not published but it<br />

captured the essence of early twentiethcentury<br />

Kingsbury, part of which is now<br />

shared. Much of what has already been<br />

shared from many other sources are<br />

not included in this synopsis, but her<br />

work is indeed supported by what others<br />

have written.<br />

She stated that there was a one<br />

hundred acre gravel pit created north of<br />

Kingsbury by the railroad and managed<br />

by John C. Burt who also served as a<br />

Justice of the Peace at one time. There<br />

were about two miles of track laid through<br />

the pit and convict labor was used for<br />

more than a few years. A barn was built<br />

from the old crossties and mules were also<br />

brought in for their labor. About the<br />

churches she stated the following:<br />

The first Methodist Church was<br />

organized in 1876 by pastor A.F.Cox. The<br />

first church building was a log cabin with<br />

a dirt floor and stood on Caldwell Street.<br />

The present church is located in the first<br />

old school building. It also shared itself<br />

with the Baptist Church for many years.<br />

The Lutheran Church was organized<br />

on April 24, 1887, by Pastor Franz<br />

❖ The Lutheran Church in Kingsbury, 1887.<br />

Weisskopff. The members of the church<br />

built the church building. Among them<br />

were the Wolfshohls, Donsback(sic),<br />

Busse, Hargenrath, Fricke and many<br />

more. (Author’s Note: All of the churches<br />

received, from T. W. Peirce, a free lot for<br />

their respective denominations.)<br />

The Negro Baptist Church was also<br />

one of the oldest churches built in<br />

Kingsbury and held their association<br />

every year with big crowds. It is still used<br />

as a church (1976).<br />

The first school became a reality in<br />

1887. Nathonial (sic) Benton was the first<br />

teacher. The second school building was:<br />

a red brick built ca. 1913. The third<br />

7 2 ✦ H I S T O R I C G U A D A L U P E C O U N T Y

school building was erected in 1939, for<br />

a number of years a twelfth grade school.<br />

In 1962 it became a part of the Seguin<br />

Independent School District with all<br />

children being bussed today.<br />

By 1906, Kingsbury had grown to<br />

three hundred twenty five residents.<br />

Some of the businesses were J. Allen’s<br />

Saloon, a grocery store run by Allen and<br />

Wiley; A. T. Coates had a cotton gin and<br />

A. A. Bading had a saloon. Donahooe<br />

(sic) and Duke ran a blacksmith shop<br />

while Martin Flynn and Company had a<br />

grocery store as did A. D. Halm and<br />

Brothers. Daniel Wolfshohl had the hotel.<br />

The First National Bank was<br />

constructed in 1912 but closed in 1929<br />

due to financial difficulties. Although the<br />

bank did not burn down, the rest of the<br />

block did including the drug store, and the<br />

Lynch Store Meat Market and Garage.<br />

Interestingly, the bank, after it closed,<br />

continued to be used as a temporary school<br />

while the new school was being built.<br />

There was even a story by the San<br />

<strong>An</strong>tonio Express:<br />

…that some 100 men, women, and<br />

children helped in keeping the fire in<br />

check. Recent rains had helped in<br />

preventing the entire town going up in<br />

flames. The worst damage was J. A.<br />

Lynch’s general merchandise store. He did<br />

have insurance but not enough to cover<br />

the $15,000.00 loss. Six other buildings<br />

were lost including Williams and Louis<br />

Merriwether’s (sic). He had no insurance.<br />

The Southwestern Telephone Company<br />

also had some minor loss. Martin Flynn’s<br />

saloon was also a total loss. Basically the<br />

fire spread to right and left and by 6:00 in<br />

the morning everything was burned to<br />

ground (sic) from Hill’s shop to the Powers<br />

corner. Seven buildings in all.<br />

In 1906 there was mention of a<br />

chicken fight which was good for the<br />

local economy for it brought numerous<br />

outsiders who stayed in the hotels and<br />

shopped with their winnings and<br />

❖ The First Natioanl Bank was open from 1912 to 1929.<br />

attended the saloons. As to how many<br />

times or for how many years these fights<br />

lasted is unknown although this writer<br />

heard of them as recently as the 1990s<br />

somewhere in Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>.<br />

In 1915 the first car of ice arrived and<br />

was placed in an ice house. A petition was<br />

also placed to bring a calaboose to<br />

Kingsbury. In 1916, the calaboose was<br />

completely built. Interestingly a harbinger<br />

of the future occurred in July 1916 when an<br />

oil derrick had an oil well test at Potato Hill<br />

and the Kingsbury Oil Company began<br />

selling stock. Drilling started in October.<br />

The year 1918 saw the Lutheran<br />

Church converting from German language<br />

services to English in order to “keep down<br />

friction…war conditions.” This was<br />

common throughout Guadalupe <strong>County</strong><br />

and it essentially became the beginning of<br />

the loss of the language, all due to World<br />

War I with Germany.<br />

Sadly, the Wolfshal Diary ended on<br />

November 1922, but not before it entered<br />

C h a p t e r S e v e n ✦ 7 3

that “Oil was struck at Prairie Lea. It is<br />

claimed in paying quantities” It wasn’t<br />

long before local citizens began<br />

speculations on what was soon to become<br />

a major change in Kingsbury’s history, the<br />

likes of which it has never seen since. In<br />

closing for 1922, it was noted that<br />

Charles Wright, a Negro preacher, bought<br />

the old ice house so he could turn it into<br />

his home, which he successfully did.<br />

Slavery was not practiced as much in<br />

the eastern parts of Guadalupe <strong>County</strong><br />

although there were areas of lands for<br />

cotton and produce growing. But, for the<br />

most part it was ranching country. Slaves<br />

were used in the ranching business and<br />

many became excellent horsemen,<br />

cattlemen, and engaged and helped with all<br />

sorts of husbandry. Those who could had<br />

chickens, hogs, and ways of growing what<br />

was needed to survive during the era of<br />

slavery. By 1880, there were former Black<br />

Slave Landowners in the Kingsbury area.<br />

Documents reflect that in 1880 there were<br />

counted twenty eight Black landowners in<br />

the Kingsbury area of whom three were<br />

women. This is not to say the men were not<br />

married but it does show that land was<br />

passed down to the women as well and<br />

they either owned a house free of debt, or<br />

a farm or both. Descendants of these men<br />

and women remain in Guadalupe <strong>County</strong><br />

today such as the Meriwether family, the<br />

Garcias and a number of other Black<br />

families. Their Churches included the<br />

Mount Pleasant Church, East of Seguin but<br />

south of Kingsbury, the Negro Baptist<br />

Church in Kingsbury, and New Salem near<br />

the middle Mill Creek area and the Old<br />

Seguin-Luling Road, and Sweet Canaan<br />

to the north.<br />

According to the 1900 status of early<br />

black landowners in Kingsbury these same<br />

families either owned but had mortgages<br />

or owned their land and homes free of<br />

debt. The common measure is that they<br />

did own their own property and a number<br />

of these remain to this day. But regardless,<br />

at that time in the South, there was still<br />

segregation, not only in the schools, but<br />

also in the churches.<br />

Those youngsters who could go to<br />

school could do so in Kingsbury for there<br />

was a school for them, but it was<br />

segregated. There were also black rural<br />

schools in Eastern Guadalupe <strong>County</strong><br />

such as at York Creek, Roosevelt, and<br />

Mount Pleasant.<br />

<strong>An</strong>d there were Mexican or Hispanic<br />

families also living in Kingsbury. They<br />

performed a great deal of the field labor<br />

along with the Black community. All in<br />

all, at the turn of the 19th-20th centuries<br />

there were some 56 Hispanic families<br />

living in Kingsbury and their families<br />

totaled 213 people which included<br />

spouses and children.<br />

From these Census statistics it is<br />

clearly evident that Kingsbury, as well as<br />

the rest of Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>, was a hard<br />

working, labor intensive community,<br />

focused mostly on agrarian work.<br />

Yet, in spite of all of this, the people<br />

worked hard and together. Nothing was<br />

easy, but then who knew the difference<br />

when everyone was working to get the<br />

land and commerce to produce. But, as<br />

Kingsbury was called by the July 30,<br />

1896 Seguin Enterprise, “The Little City of<br />

Kingsbury,” there was still business to<br />

tend to and indeed from the 1920s to the<br />

1950s and a bit more, were the twentieth<br />

century’s prosperous years for Kingsbury<br />

and Seguin and for much of the eastern<br />

and central parts of Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>.<br />

It was the oil era that changed lives for<br />

almost a full generation in eastern<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>. Kingsbury was the<br />

focal point in its rise, decline, and<br />

readjustment periods. Actually it was in<br />

neighboring Caldwell <strong>County</strong>, and more<br />

specifically Luling in 1922, just across the<br />

San Marcos River, that oil was discovered.<br />

Needless to say the thought process in<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> was that if there is<br />

oil there then oil had to be here too.<br />

<strong>An</strong>d it was. By 1929 the Darst Oil Field<br />

was pumping and Kingsbury grew, and<br />

so too did jobs. Some writers claim that<br />

at one point, in the 1920s to the 1940s,<br />

the population was larger than that of<br />

Seguin. In reality, Kingsbury was not a<br />

❖ A derrick on the Luling oil field.<br />

city at that time. The population claim<br />

was in all probability due to the number<br />

of oil field workers and executives with<br />

their families.<br />

Kingsbury prospered as it became the<br />

focal point for the <strong>County</strong>’s growth in<br />

revenues, jobs, schools, and a way of life<br />

many dreamed of but never believed could<br />

happen. There was no way Kingsbury<br />

would ever return to what it once was<br />

prior to discovery. New elementary and<br />

high schools were built such as the Dowdy<br />

School in between Highways 90A and 90,<br />

complete with academics and sports for<br />

girls and boys. This was needed for the<br />

outlying rural oil field communities<br />

around Kingsbury because of the huge<br />

work forces and their childrens’ needs.<br />

Kingsbury built its new school which<br />

eventually was shuttered in the 1960s due<br />

to the mandated changes by the state. But<br />

what a great era it was for many who<br />

invested or were in need of work and<br />

wanted to make as much as they could.<br />

One of the successful oil camps,<br />

located near the Sullivan Switch and on<br />

the north side of the railroad tracks was<br />

the Magnolia Oil Field, complete with a<br />

country club and golf course. The small<br />

oil town that emerged was called Gander<br />

Slu and although it is no longer there its<br />

7 4 ✦ H I S T O R I C G U A D A L U P E C O U N T Y

memories remain among the old timers<br />

of Kingsbury.<br />

Downtown was the First National Bank<br />

of Kingsbury, but perhaps due to some<br />

mismanagement and the Great Depression<br />

it failed and many lost their money. But<br />

even that did not deter the boom nor the<br />

excitement of the era. Fortunately, many of<br />

the men who fought in World War I and II,<br />

found that jobs were available for its<br />

returning soldiers although the 1940s oil<br />

production decline had already begun.<br />

But even then life continued and many<br />

investors or landholders were fortunate<br />

for the payments they received and the<br />

royalties continued well into the early<br />

twenty-first century. But as many did not<br />

fare as well as those who did and the<br />

decline began to evidence itself.<br />

Although many of Kingsbury’s and<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>’s men and women<br />

returned from the War many did not make<br />

it and were interred in their community<br />

and/or family cemeteries. World War II<br />

took its toll on the rural areas but<br />

Kingsbury continued to move forward<br />

even though it was sometimes hard to find<br />

jobs. Little by little things began to change.<br />

For instance, in agriculture there was a<br />

remarkable shifting from cotton to grains,<br />

livestock, and poultry. As well, Kingsbury<br />

was and remains on Highway 90 which<br />

extends from Florida to California thus<br />

ensuring traffic, although today’s IH-10,<br />

begun in the early 1960s, has removed a lot<br />

of the traffic from the highway. But the turn<br />

offs to Highways 90 and 90A still bring<br />

people to and through Kingsbury. The<br />

town is not going to disappear, and, in all<br />

probability has a very positive future<br />

awaiting it. <strong>An</strong>d the churches? They too are<br />

still there and the Baptists have their own<br />

church today and remain in Kingsbury.<br />

Kingsbury has a solidly built community.<br />

Ray’s Café may no longer be there,<br />

nor the Bank, or the early Post Office, or the<br />

schools, but the churches remain, main<br />

street remains, and so does a newer Post<br />

Office just to the west of <strong>County</strong> Road 2438<br />

and Highway 90, but not the Kingsbury<br />

Station or the holding pens for livestock.<br />

❖ Players on the Kingsbury High School girl’s baskbetball team.<br />

But the businesses of Pat Baker’s decades<br />

long railroad services and other heavy jobs<br />

continues. So too are the restaurants and<br />

the old business district. Legends such as<br />

“Doc” Schmidt, who was the Guadalupe<br />

<strong>County</strong> Clerk for forty-four years, is not<br />

forgotten nor are Kingsbury’s former county<br />

commissioners and county judge. Nor is<br />

the Blue Bird Inn or the Hurt Brothers<br />

Garage or Adolph Knobloch’s Garage or<br />

Tire Business and Service Station, nor is the<br />

Log Cabin any more.<br />

There are also the memories of other<br />

treasures that remain in Kingsbury’s lore<br />

such as Dierks Bentley when he filmed his<br />

music video for the song “What Was I<br />

Thinking.” <strong>An</strong>d then there were what was<br />

possibly the first born triplets in<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> in 1948 in Kingsbury.<br />

Has this even been equaled is a wonder in<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>? <strong>An</strong>d, the question is<br />

still asked to this day.<br />

But, none of these are forgotten. <strong>An</strong>d<br />

there is something else that will probably<br />

affect Kingsbury’s next era of growth in<br />

the twenty-first century: The possible<br />

changing of its political boundaries.<br />

In recent years the City of Seguin<br />

has been extending its extraterritorial<br />

jurisdiction (ETJ) so that it may expand its<br />

boundaries for the increased businesses<br />

on the horizon and probably for many<br />

years to come. The ETJ has been extended<br />

northwards and southwards along<br />

Highways 46 and 123 as well as 90 and<br />

90A, including IH 10 East and West. Most<br />

recently Kingsbury was included in the<br />

ETJ, but a group of citizens formed a study<br />

group and may well be claiming a part of<br />

the eastern bounds of Kingsbury and<br />

establishing “new” limits of Kingsbury and<br />

seeking its independence. No one is sure,<br />

but by the end of the first week in May,<br />

2015, the citizens of Kingsbury voted for<br />

its right to form a governed city.<br />

Regardless, as well known 1960s Folk<br />

Singer Bob Dylan named a song of his, “The<br />

Times They Are A Changin,” this may be<br />

true not only for Kingsbury but for all<br />

of Seguin and Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> as the<br />

21st century comes closer to establishing its<br />

new branding of commerce, businesses,<br />

and trade. After all, it was, is, and will<br />

continue to be the people who carry on the<br />

spirit of competition and businesses, not to<br />

mention the churches, schools, libraries,<br />

and social amenities common to successful<br />

communities, towns, and cities.<br />

C h a p t e r S e v e n ✦ 7 5


R U R A L C O M M U N I T I E S O F W E S T E R N A N D C E N T R A L G U A D A L U P E C O U N T Y<br />

In this chapter, four existing rural<br />

communities will be visited. They are<br />

New Berlin, Zuehl, Santa Clara, and<br />

Geronimo. Three are on the western side<br />

of Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> and one is in the<br />

central part of Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>. Each<br />

traces their roots to the 1800s and<br />

although they are small does not mean<br />

they are not active. Some are<br />

incorporated and some are not<br />

incorporated. But this does not mean<br />

they don’t have a story to share and are<br />

proud of their respective heritages.<br />

The histories of each will be in the<br />

order they are listed due to their<br />

geographies. New Berlin, Zuehl, and<br />

Santa Clara are in the western part of<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> while Staples is in the<br />

eastern part of Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>, along<br />

the San Marcos River. Each has a story to<br />

tell. None are boring either.<br />

N E W<br />

B E R L I N<br />

Although New Berlin is incorporated as<br />

a municipality it remains very rural, even<br />

❖ The New Berlin Community Center.<br />

with the changes taking place, at an<br />

increasing rate, along IH 10-East between<br />

San <strong>An</strong>tonio and Seguin. Since the middle<br />

1880s, New Berlin has always been a<br />

stalwart agrarian community. It has had<br />

historic ties with such communities in the<br />

western part of Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> such as<br />

Zuehl, Santa Clara, Elm Creek, Post Oak,<br />

Concrete, Olmos, Sweet Home, and a host<br />

of other communities.<br />

Families, people, work, community<br />

events, gathering places such as saloons,<br />

barber shops, and small stores, churches<br />

and schools, are the focal points of small<br />

towns and small communities. Small<br />

communities are not places to become a<br />

part of if you want to get away from<br />

someone. That just does not happen,<br />

which actually makes small rural<br />

communites really important in one’s life.<br />

Perhaps one of the major leaders to<br />

come forward and help create what<br />

became New Berlin was a German<br />

immigrant. His name was and remains<br />

Carl August Edward “Ed” Tewes who came<br />

from Hessen, Germany. Born on March 16,<br />

1842 in Hessen, he migrated, in 1854,<br />

with his family to Louisiana and then<br />

boarded a smaller ship to go to Galveston<br />

and Indianola. His father and older<br />

brother had migrated earlier and when the<br />

mother and the rest of the children arrived<br />

they then traveled to New Braunfels and<br />

were reunited in Prince Solms Colony,<br />

now New Braunfels. Frontier life was not<br />

overly kind to the Tewes’. His father was<br />

scalped by a Comanche Band and died,<br />

along the Cibolo Creek. Ed Tewes and his<br />

brother became orphans.<br />

Ed Tewes served in the Civil War as a<br />

Confederate and was in a number of West<br />

Texas areas before being sent to Arkansas<br />

and later Louisiana, where he originally<br />

entered the United States. When the war<br />

was over he returned to New Berlin to<br />

begin his lucrative and successful<br />

business life.<br />

He started his free enterprise career by<br />

constructing a small building which the<br />

local neighbors nicknamed the Spectbox<br />

because it was so tiny. He later built a<br />

larger store which still stands across the<br />

road from his still-lived-in house. It has<br />

served as a store, the local school, and<br />

dance hall. Today it serves as perfect<br />

place for special events and gatherings.<br />

Regardless, with its construction young<br />

Ed Tewes was off and running towards a<br />

successful adult life.<br />

At about the same time, in 1868, he<br />

and others founded the town of New<br />

Berlin. During the next 15 years or so he<br />

put together over 1,300 acres of land in<br />

and around New Berlin and opened<br />

businesses there, in La Vernia, Karnes<br />

City, and later Marion. Not only did he<br />

serve as New Berlin’s first postmaster for<br />

26 years, he also helped organize and was<br />

granted permission to use his building<br />

across from his house, for New Berlin’s,<br />

first and only school (New Berlin School<br />

Community #53) and served as a trustee<br />

7 6 ✦ H I S T O R I C G U A D A L U P E C O U N T Y

❖ New Berlin’s Christ Lutheran Church.<br />

until moving to San <strong>An</strong>tonio. One of the<br />

earliest teachers at the New Berlin school<br />

was Enid Zuehl who was married to<br />

Edgar Zuehl, Sr. Although Tewes never<br />

moved back to New Berlin he kept his<br />

properties until he passed at which time<br />

his son Walter and his wife kept the<br />

house which is now on the National<br />

Register of <strong>Historic</strong> Places and is under<br />

the stewardship of a couple dedicated to<br />

historic preservation.<br />

Families are the ones who make up the<br />

body and soul of small communities.<br />

There are too many to mention here, but<br />

several will be presented. First, however,<br />

there is another pillar of communities,<br />

large or small, that brings its members<br />

together: The Church. First there was a<br />

town named New Berlin and then a<br />

school. <strong>An</strong>d then, on February 14, 1886,<br />

Chirst Lutheran Church was founded.<br />

In 2015, Christ Lutheran Church<br />

became 125 years old. It all began with<br />

Mr. and Mrs. August Lynch donating four<br />

acres of land for the church and cemetery.<br />

The first of the three Churches built on<br />

this site was on May 2, 1886, but it<br />

collapsed during a severe lightning storm<br />

in June. A new church was quickly built.<br />

Yet, it too was destroyed in August of<br />

that same year due to a vicious hurricane<br />

that devastated Indianola to the point<br />

that it was never rebuilt. But, the third<br />

church was rebuilt through their faith and<br />

hard work. It is still used today and<br />

their faith saw them through those most<br />

difficult times. There are many<br />

descendants who are not only residents<br />

of New Berlin today, but also carry on the<br />

family’s religious traditions. Some of their<br />

names reflect their German heritage<br />

such as the Lenzes, Mattkes, Helmkes,<br />

Radtkes, Schievelbeins, Schultzes, Warnkes,<br />

Markgrafes, Hartmanns, Schraub, and<br />

many more.<br />

The families, the church, the school,<br />

and the community began to establish<br />

its identity as a truly hard working<br />

agrarian community with a strong<br />

German culture whose language would<br />

not go away but would rather be honored<br />

by speaking it. Many youngsters, upon<br />

later going to the Seguin schools, did not<br />

speak English until their first grade and<br />

consequently had a bit of a German and<br />

Texas accent mixed together that further<br />

enriched their heritage.<br />

By the end of the nineteenth and<br />

beginnings of the twentieth century New<br />

Berlin experienced an increase in their<br />

businesses. The Herman George Muelder<br />

family with the Luedger Koehler and H.<br />

E. Kalies families joined to put together<br />

what became the H. G. Muelder General<br />

Merchandising Store in 1898. It lasted<br />

until the mid 20th century when it<br />

was destroyed by a fire. Nothing was<br />

salvageable. But there was salvation.<br />

The 1898 saloon was close by and it<br />

had been spared from the fire. Muelder’s<br />

mother, Blanche, set up a new business.<br />

They lost 4,000 square feet from the fire<br />

but the business that they set up with its<br />

1,000 square feet became a success with<br />

lots of hard work. The store, like its<br />

predecessors, became a place where the<br />

locals and visitors came and bought<br />

merchandise or supplies as well as visited<br />

and discussed the goings on in New<br />

Berlin and the local area. George Muelder<br />

was not only a sociable and lively person<br />

but also a good, honest business man and<br />

rancher who was oil savvy. When he<br />

passed in 1995, his father’s and family’s<br />

work as well as George’s family, left a rich<br />

legacy for New Berlin: Muelder’s Store.<br />

<strong>An</strong>d there was and is another similar<br />

story in downtown New Berlin’s history:<br />

the Brietzke Café.<br />

Young George Muelder and Betty May<br />

Duggan married in 1928 after having<br />

attended the University of Texas. George,<br />

in working with his mother and family,<br />

was able to get the store, but its history<br />

began ten years earlier when, according<br />

to an essay , entitled Brietzke Café, by<br />

Kathy Hale, reflected that Arthur<br />

Schurbert, in 1919, bought two acres in<br />

New Berlin from Otto J. Muelder, right on<br />

the Marion to La Vernia Road, and next to<br />

the Muelder Store, Cotton Gin and<br />

Saloon. It was here that his original thirty<br />

two foot wide and forty eight foot long<br />

building was constructed. It was an early<br />

Ford dealership. True to the ways of<br />

country business life, the garage area had<br />

a dirt floor and it was there that repairs<br />

were made.<br />

Mr. Schubert sold the property, in<br />

1939, to Walter and Edith Brietzke. It was<br />

from this time on that the building<br />

became, almost immediately, an informal<br />

gathering place for the locals: Its<br />

beginnings saw men about the tables,<br />

visiting, playing dominoes and/or cards,<br />

and drinking beer. As time advanced a<br />

television was bought for watching<br />

wrestling, boxing, and if people didn’t<br />

have a home television they came to<br />

Brietzke’s. It indeed had become Brietzke<br />

Station. The Bohannon’s, Johnnie and<br />

Mutsie, bought Brietzke Station in 1975,<br />

and they moved back home from San<br />

<strong>An</strong>tonio to New Berlin.<br />

After thirty five years (at the time of<br />

this writing) the saloon is still there and<br />

serving beer and condiments and good<br />

food, some of which was learned when<br />

Johnnie worked at the Butter Crust<br />

Bakery on Broadway in San <strong>An</strong>tonio.<br />

It remains a welcoming place today<br />

and, as Kathy Hale so well pointed out,<br />

that “Stepping through the door is like<br />

stepping into your own past, as well as a<br />

shared community past.” Mutsie is still<br />

C h a p t e r E i g h t ✦ 7 7

there nourishing the ways food was<br />

cooked for its customers in the traditional<br />

ways of the past. What a delight.<br />

Today New Berlin is an incorporated<br />

community. This does not mean it has<br />

lost its rural identity. Not in the least. Ed<br />

Tewes’ house is alive and is well taken<br />

care of by its present owners as are the<br />

saloon and the Community Building<br />

which once housed the school, and<br />

Muelder’s Store and Brietzke’s. Christ’s<br />

Lutheran Church still stands elegantly on<br />

its knoll and its Congregational members<br />

continue nourishing and caring for it as<br />

did their forebearers.<br />

Z U E H L<br />

Like so many of the early Germans who<br />

came to Texas in the 1840s and 1850s<br />

through the 1880s, there were hardships,<br />

family deaths, and multitudes of<br />

adjustments to the toughness of the Texas<br />

climate. In a document entitled The Zuehl<br />

Family, their immigration and resettlement<br />

in Texas was written for the New Braunfels<br />

New Braunfelser Zietung by Wilhelm Zuehl.<br />

Thus, when the Zuehl, Santa Clara, and<br />

New Berlin histories are shared readers<br />

will see that the three communities were<br />

interconnected via blood lines and shared<br />

family histories. But before turning to<br />

Zuehl and Santa Clara there is one last<br />

item to share about New Berlin.<br />

Today New Berlin’s City Government<br />

is one of incorporation in order for it to<br />

continue well into the future as a<br />

dynamic of part of Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>’s<br />

evolution into the future. <strong>An</strong>d indeed,<br />

this evolution is now coming quickly.<br />

Serving as Mayor today is Gilbert<br />

R. Merkle and the Mayor Pro Tem is<br />

Joyce Wolfe. The Alderpersons are<br />

Barbara Collins-Gerhart, Chris<br />

Davenport, Nick Milanovich, and Claire<br />

Waters. Serving as Treasurer is Ruth<br />

Zwicke and the City Secretary is Joan<br />

Milanovich. The Marshal is Wayne<br />

Zwicke and the City Attorney is the<br />

Law Firm of Denton, Navarro, Rocha,<br />

and Bernal.<br />

❖ Zuehl Post Office.<br />

Zuehl is not an incorporated<br />

community., but it does have a history<br />

as one of Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>’s distinct<br />

rural areas.<br />

The origins of this community actually<br />

can be traced to before the founding of<br />

Seguin and Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>. From San<br />

<strong>An</strong>tonio to Gonzales there was a road that<br />

connected the two towns. It was called<br />

Perryman’s Crossing or the Wood Road<br />

and crossed the Cibolo Creek in the area<br />

where Zuehl was eventually created.<br />

Interestingly, this road could have been<br />

one that eventually crossed the<br />

Guadalupe River and entered what<br />

became the original 1846 Guadalupe<br />

<strong>County</strong>. It is possible this road was the<br />

one that “The Babe of The Alamo” (Mrs.<br />

Almaron Dickenson) took upon the fall of<br />

the Alamo in 1836, and it also could have<br />

become a spin off of the road that Santa<br />

<strong>An</strong>na took to attack Gonzales after the<br />

Battle of the Alamo.<br />

For example, this road, upon crossing<br />

the Cibolo Creek, continued to Gonzales.<br />

For it to get there it would have followed<br />

the Guadalupe River. In order to do this<br />

the road would have essentially run from<br />

the Cibolo Crossing and continued<br />

southeastward towards Gonzales, and<br />

paralleled the Guadalupe River and the<br />

Sand Hills or Capote Hills to Gonzales.<br />

<strong>An</strong>d this is the route Santa <strong>An</strong>na would<br />

have taken to pursue the continued<br />

attack on the Texas Revolutionary fighters<br />

after the fall of the Alamo.<br />

Upon the coming of the German<br />

Immigrants, many years later, they too<br />

took this route until reaching Seguin in the<br />

1840s-1880s and then they turned North<br />

from Seguin towards New Braunfels.<br />

There were members of the Zuehl Clan<br />

who selected New Berlin in which to<br />

settle. Some, like Ferdinand Zuehl,<br />

bought property south and west of New<br />

Berlin, and in the 1870s he built a store.<br />

A few years later, circa the 1880s, the<br />

Clemens School was built. <strong>An</strong> early 20th<br />

century photograph revealed that there<br />

were even stables for the students’ horses<br />

and mules.<br />

In 1888 the first Post Office was opened<br />

and it was called the School Post Office. Its<br />

postmaster was Wilhelm Zuehl. In 1906<br />

its name was changed to the Zuehl Post<br />

Office but, in 1910 it was closed. Wilhelm<br />

Zuehl, a family member, also had other<br />

businesses in the Zuehl area and<br />

eventually retired. However, another<br />

family member, Fritz Zuehl and his wife,<br />

Hermine, according to the Family <strong>History</strong>,<br />

settled down on a farm about three miles<br />

7 8 ✦ H I S T O R I C G U A D A L U P E C O U N T Y

❖ The water tank at Zuehl.<br />

west of New Berlin and in all probability<br />

visited not only Zuehl but its neighbor to<br />

the west, Santa Clara where there were<br />

also Zuehls, who were property owners.<br />

By 1945 it was estimated that the Zuehl<br />

community had seven stores and a<br />

population of 175 residents. But, by 1990<br />

there were only forty-nine residents. This<br />

mid 20th century population boom could<br />

have been due to the placement of an air<br />

field in the Zuehl Community by Randolph<br />

Field to train young pilots in cross country<br />

navigation, take offs and landings, and a<br />

number of other actions they would be<br />

needing during World War II. By the same<br />

token, the decline in population to this day<br />

could well have been due to the end of<br />

World War II. Even during those boom<br />

years there was a German Bowling Club in<br />

Zuehl, but it too has gone. However, the<br />

cemetery remains and is well maintained.<br />

There are a number of pleasant homes in<br />

this area as well as its beautiful German<br />

Methodist Church and the old school, all of<br />

which are an appreciated recognition of<br />

those who once lived in or near Zuehl and<br />

its current citizens.<br />

<strong>County</strong>’s truly rural areas, Santa Clara.<br />

However, due to the same changes New<br />

Berlin experienced, it too is now an<br />

incorporated city. The incorporation was<br />

effected in May 1999 and by 2000 it was<br />

in a position to put its municipal<br />

government together.<br />

As a rural area it indeed had and still has<br />

neighbors. There were Zuehl, Marion, and<br />

New Berlin who offered outlets for buying<br />

supplies, taking care of their harvests and<br />

livestock operations. In 1904 Santa Clara<br />

enjoyed a school for 32 students and by<br />

1946 there were rural homes. However,<br />

like Zuehl, these began disappearing but<br />

the church remained as did the cemetery.<br />

By 2000 the population had risen to 889.<br />

<strong>An</strong>d that was when the citizens of that area<br />

of Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> decided to take<br />

matters into their own hands. They had<br />

seen what had happened in Zuehl, and<br />

talked with their neighbors in Marion and<br />

New Berlin and decided they wanted to be<br />

in a position where Santa Clara could<br />

continue as a community well into the new<br />

century and beyond.<br />

The first city council and mayor were<br />

elected in August 1999 with the first order<br />

of business being to enact a subdivision<br />

ordinance. Home lots had to be no less<br />

than five acres and support was needed<br />

for a City Hall, taking care of providing<br />

water for the increased demands for the<br />

population, and addressing educational<br />

needs for a growing population. It also<br />

needed to address public safety which it<br />

did as it now works with the Marion Fire<br />

Department and the Schertz EMS as well<br />

as Sheriff Arnold Zwicke, who is the<br />

Guadalupe <strong>County</strong> Sheriff. <strong>An</strong>imal<br />

Control is coordinated with New<br />

Braunfels and their utility needs are<br />

coordinated with the Green Valley Special<br />

Utility District.<br />

For their first meetings Goerke’s<br />

Country Tavern provided ample space<br />

until the City Hall could be completed.<br />

Occupying the current City Hall today is<br />

Jeff Hunt as Mayor: the City Secretary is<br />

Donna White; City Council Members are:<br />

Marian Carry, Ernest Schoenfeldt, Steve<br />

Beisser, Robert Courtne, and Phil Sierer.<br />

There is also a Planning Commission<br />

chaired by David Mueller, David Cale,<br />

Lloyd Fairley, Jim Folbre, Don Johnson,<br />

Ernst Kropp, and Barbara Trammell. The<br />

other committees are the Emergency<br />

Services Committee, City Development<br />

Committee, and the Communication<br />

Committee with each serving under the<br />

Planning Committee.<br />

In terms of demographics, Santa Clara<br />

has 297 households and a population of<br />

889 citizens. Already there are 310<br />

housing units. In its short history as a<br />

political entity Santa Clara is doing very<br />

S A N T A<br />

C L A R A<br />

Just to the west, and north of I-10 is<br />

the last of the western end of Guadalupe<br />

C h a p t e r E i g h t ✦ 7 9

well with its future looking bright as<br />

economic trends in this twenty-first<br />

century appear to be increasing along the<br />

I-10 corridor towards and beyond Seguin.<br />

As for ranching and farming in the Santa<br />

Clara area, like Zuehl and New Berlin and<br />

Marion, it continues to be rural and<br />

agricultural. Each of these communities<br />

has a proud history in education, religion,<br />

fostering agriculture and related businesses,<br />

and just plain good hard work and a sense<br />

of community.<br />

The last of the western towns is<br />

Marion which lies along SH 78 just<br />

southeast of Cibolo and northwest of<br />

McQueeney. As Marion has already been<br />

presented among the switches, the story<br />

will continue to two unincorporated<br />

towns in Central Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>.<br />

To the east of Marion and along SH<br />

123 north of Seguin are two present day<br />

communities: Geronimo and Zorn. In a<br />

metaphorical sense their locations serve<br />

somewhat as a midsection or dividing<br />

line between the eastern and western<br />

sections of Guadalupe <strong>County</strong>.<br />

G E R O N I M O<br />

Like Seguin, Geronimo traces its roots<br />

to the era of the Indians and Spanish<br />

explorers. There is one creek that runs<br />

through Geronimo, with its springs just to<br />

the northwest of present day Geronimo,<br />

and it empties into the Guadalupe River<br />

just south of Seguin. It was not named<br />

❖ The old Gerth Market.<br />

❖ Santa Clara City Hall.<br />

anything until Jose <strong>An</strong>tonio Navarro, one<br />

of three Mexicans who signed the Texas<br />

Declaration of Independence, and was a<br />

land commissioner for Green De Witt’s<br />

Colony, gave the creek its name which was<br />

for the Catholic priest who later was<br />

canonized by the Pope as Saint Jerome.<br />

Navarro, who was from an established<br />

family in early San <strong>An</strong>tonio and was<br />

related, by marriage, to Juan Seguin,<br />

enjoyed ranching and established a ranch<br />

house just east of present day SH 123<br />

North or about five miles north of present<br />

day Seguin. Unconfirmed stories still<br />

circulate that it was also a place for family<br />

and extended family “get-togethers”<br />

including Juan Seguin’s family who also<br />

had a family home near Floresville, Texas,<br />

south of Seguin. Today, Navarro’s Ranch<br />

and family are honored by a Texas<br />

<strong>Historic</strong>al Marker located along SH 123<br />

North from Seguin.<br />

Not many years later, after Texas<br />

Independence was gained and during the<br />

end of the Texas Republic period in 1845,<br />

Prince Carl Solms of Germany established<br />

New Braunfels for German immigrants. As<br />

these immigrations continued several<br />

families with German surnames came to<br />

this area, passing through present day Clear<br />

Springs, now along Highway 46, just north<br />

of New Braunfels, and eventually migrated<br />

to where Geronimo is situated today.<br />

Farming, along with ranching, raising<br />

pigs, and chickens, and gardening<br />

became the main occupations as they so<br />

remain to this day. Like many of the<br />

settlers throughout the agricultural<br />

productive communities in Guadalupe<br />

<strong>County</strong>, horse driven gins were built with<br />

the first being by C. B. Schramm in the<br />

late 1850s, according to Monica Mueck’s<br />

paper, Geronimo, Texas. Through good<br />

sound business practices he was able to<br />

pool together a number of cotton farmers<br />

who steadily brought their cotton to<br />

be ginned.<br />

There was also Heinrich Timmermann,<br />

during the same general period who<br />

purchased large tracts of land for farming.<br />

He, Timmermann, teamed with Von<br />

8 0 ✦ H I S T O R I C G U A D A L U P E C O U N T Y

❖ The old Geronimo Post Office.<br />

Boeckman and others and bought the<br />

original gin and replaced it with a new<br />

gin, naming it the von Boeckmann Gin,<br />

which was powered by steam.<br />

From that point on the people who<br />

settled early Geronimo have never looked<br />

back. Their fields along the Black Land<br />

Prairie are meticulously husbanded and<br />

although cotton production was halted<br />

during the 1970s due to root rot, it has<br />

since returned in the late twentieth<br />

century and has continued as a staple<br />

crop. Today, cotton, sorghum, milo,<br />

wheat, corn, and hay, to name just a few<br />

of the crops, enjoy continued husbandry.<br />

Their rows can be seen for miles as one<br />

drives the county farm roads between<br />

Highways 123 and 46, now well into the<br />

twenty first century.<br />

One particular modern day farmer and<br />

rancher, Wilfred Bartoskowitz, was<br />

concerned that someday the science and<br />

art of agriculture might be overcome by<br />

urbanization. He was able to put together<br />

what today is called the Big Red Barn<br />

which is an extensive agricultural museum<br />

at the intersection of Cordova Road and SH<br />

123 North, and just south of Geronimo. He<br />

was also able to acquire the Puls farm just<br />

to the north which is now used by the<br />

Geronimo 4-H Club and agricultural<br />

students for learning how to carry on the<br />

proud profession of agriculture.<br />

In terms of education, a country school<br />

was purchased, in 1888, from<br />

F. C. Weinert and Clara Bading Weinert,<br />

and was placed on the east side of present<br />

day Highway 123 North which runs<br />

through the center of Geronimo. It<br />

was named in honor of Jose <strong>An</strong>tonio<br />

Navarro. Today all the schools in Geronimo<br />

are named Navarro. On the founding<br />

Navarro School Board of Directors were<br />

von Boeckmann, Heinemeyer, Harrmann,<br />

F. Engelke, Schriewer, Glenewinkel, S.<br />

Specht, A. Glenewinkel, and Bading. As the<br />

primary language in Geronimo was<br />

German the minutes were so written.<br />

❖ The Cordova School.<br />

The school had to be moved because of<br />

new road construction and it would have<br />

been destroyed. By 1918, the new Navarro<br />

Agricultural High School accepted more<br />

than a few of the county schools—the<br />

Specht School in Barbarossa, the Cordova<br />

School on Cordova Road, the Laubach<br />

School, the Harborth School at<br />

Schmoekel, the San Geronimo School and<br />

the Galle School near the Galle<br />

Community on the east side of the new<br />

road that was being built towards San<br />

Marcos. In 1957, the Dietert School in<br />

Zorn also consolidated with the Navarro<br />

School due to a dwindling rural<br />

population and increasingly available<br />

school transportation over wider ranges.<br />

All of the communities associated with<br />

the above mentioned schools that<br />

consolidated with the Navarro School<br />

District were connected to Highway 123<br />

North and close enough to Geronimo to be<br />

adequately transported by bus or car.<br />

Today, Navarro School District has an<br />

elementary school, a middle school, and a<br />

3A high School and is one of the top ranked<br />

3A school districts within Central Texas.<br />

Its academic performances are at the<br />

top in University Interscholastic League<br />

competitons as well as in Band and<br />

athletics. Perhaps it is in athletics where<br />

one particular family stands out—the<br />

Allen Dreibrodt family.<br />

C h a p t e r E i g h t ✦ 8 1

Allen was on the first football team for<br />

Navarro High School. He went on to get<br />

his college degree from Texas A&M<br />

University in agriculture and returned<br />

home where he became a teacher. While<br />

he was teaching he was diagnosed with<br />

Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Although he had to<br />

leave teaching he was able to go into<br />

banking with the Nolte Bank and<br />

eventually the Wells Fargo Bank in Seguin.<br />

Today he still works at the bank and is<br />

believed to be one of the longest living<br />

survivors of Lou Gehrig’s Disease. In large<br />

part this is due to the community’s<br />

support, his family’s continuous support,<br />

and strong family values.<br />

It is not a mistake to suggest that these<br />

values are found throughout many school<br />

systems and this was again exhibited<br />

when it announced in the Seguin Gazette’s<br />

June 12, 2015, edition that Navarro Alum<br />

John Bormann was drafted by Major<br />

League Baseball’s Pittsburgh Pirates. Yes,<br />

the values of the Navarro School District<br />

remain high well into the twenty-first<br />

century. <strong>An</strong>d the Dreibrodt Family is<br />

there cheering everyone on.<br />

Friedens Church was the first church<br />

established near Geronimo in 1896 under<br />

❖ Allen and Janyse Deibrodt.<br />

❖ Koebig Store.<br />

the guidance of Reverend J. G. Muelder.<br />