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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.

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HISTORIC<br />

GUADALUPE<br />

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


CONTENTS<br />

4 PREFACE<br />

5 INTRODUCTION<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 />

93 RECOMMENDED READINGS<br />

95 SHARING THE HERITAGE<br />

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

C o n t e n t s ✦ 3


PREFACE<br />

❖ 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


INTRODUCTION<br />

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


CHAPTER ONE<br />

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 />

COURTESY OF THE MCKKEE SITE NATIVE AMERICAN COLLECTION.<br />

C h a p t e r O n e ✦ 7


CHAPTER TWO<br />

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 />

CHAPTER THREE<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


CHAPTER FOUR<br />

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


CHAPTER FIVE<br />

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 />

COURTESY OF THE INSTITUTE OF TEXAN CULTURES.<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 />

COURTESY OF THE INSTITUTE OF TEXAN CULTURES.<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 />

COURTESY OF THE INSTITUTE OF TEXAN CULTURES.<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 />

COURTESY OF THE INSTITUTE OF TEXAS CULTURES.<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


CHAPTER SIX<br />

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 />

CHAPTER SEVEN<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


CHAPTER EIGHT<br />

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 />

However