by Barbara J. Wood
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FAMILIES

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IN MEMORY OF OWEN MURRAY FAMILY

Owen Murray and his wife, Sarah Margaret (Ormsby) Murray, of Scottish descent,. were both born in New Hanover County, North Carolina, later moving to Missouri. In 1857 Owen Murray and his four sons came to ~exas to look it over. The next year they brought out their families and settled near LaVernia, Texas, in what later became Wilson County. The sons were: Asa William, John David, Robert Washington, and James Carr - all served as Confederate soldiers with Robert losing a leg at the Battle of the Wilderness but living to celebrate his l00th birthday, and James being killed at the Battle of Gettysburg. The daughters were Mary Catherine (Mrs. Chester Wentworth) and Margaret (Mrs. Will Barker), both of whom reared their families elsewhere in Texas. Asa William, who served as Sheriff of Wilson County in the early '80's brought up his family in Floresville - a son, William Owen was a member of the Texas House of Repl'esentatives and State Senate for 16 years and whose son, Judge W. O. Murray, is now Chief Justice of the 4th Court of Civil Appeals (which includes Wilson County) and whose grand�son, Clark Murray (son of DeWitt Murray, deceased, an attorney of FIOfesville) is now County Attorney of Wilson County; a daughter, Mary Susan (Mrs. O. L. Ezzell) and another son, Asa Benjamin, now reside in Floresville where Asa has been a successful Funeral Director. Also, living near Floresville is Mrs. Clifford Dennis (Bess) daughter of James Sidney Murray, another son of A. W. Murray. Two daughters, Margaret Annie (Mrs. Joseph Boehmer) and Bettie Annette (Mrs. O. A. McCracken) and another son, Albert Clarence lived away from Floresville, and Mrs. McCracken presently resides in San Antonio, Texas. 
 
Rem Murray, a son of John David Murray still lives at Sutherland Springs where his father and family lived for many years, and Mrs. G. M. Warren (Amelia) daughter of Robert Washington Murray still lives in LaVernia with her son, Murray Warren and his family. 
 
Other descendants are Roland and Glenn Murray (sons of Garrison and Thirza Wiseman Murray) both Presbyterian Ministers with Glenn serving as a Missionary in the Belgian Congo and Barbara Perkins (grand�daughter of Joe Murray) a Missionary in Costa Rica. Berta Murray (daughter of Garrison Murray) has had a fine record as a Home Missionary and teacher at the ~ex-Mex School. A Murray reunion has been held for the past two years and has become an annual affair with about 150 descendants of Owen and Margaret gathering to get better acquainted and to pay tribute to their fine Christian ancestors.
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COURTESY/ Wilson County Centennial Celebration Book 1860-1960

Henry Rabensburg

Henry Rabensburg ....... An Early Citizen of Floresville Wilson County, Texas
 
 (The following information was transmitted to Shirley Grammer by Neale Rabensburg)
 
 Henry Rabensburg was born in Bastrop, Bastrop County in 1864 and would have been on 26 years old at the time of his death.  He was married in 1886 in Fayette County to Wilhelmina Ehlinger.  Three children were born to this marriage. The first two died as infants. The third, Newton Joseph Rabensburg, was born August 22, 1889 in Floresville.  Henry moved to Floresville and set himself up in the leather and harness making business. He purchased two Floresville town tracts in 1886 with one of these fronting on the west side of the town square where it is assumed that he placed his business. Henry purchased three more land tracts in 1888 with one of these being another plot on the town square adjacent ot his shop.  In a Floresville business publication, Henry B. Rabensburg was listed among the leaders of the Floresville community for the years 1890-91. However, Henry was not able to see the year 1891 since he was killed on November 26, 1890.
 
Abruptly in the spring of 1890, Henry and his wife began to sell of their property in Floresville and indicated their new address on one of the deeds as Bexar County.  By October 7, 1890, Henry had sold all six tracts of land in Floresville. The following month he would be dead, but apparently killed in Wilson County and not, Bexar County.
 
The Bastrop Advertiser , follows: November 29, 1890, made note of Henry Rabensburg's death as "Henry Rabensburg Killed By a Boy" 
 
Telegrams from Floresville state that Henry B. Rabensburg, brother of Ed and George Rabensburg of Bastrop, was killed at Newton Brother's ranch, near Brockenridge, Wednesday evening, by Tom Cooper, a 17 year old boy.  Our account says that "Young Cooper had accidentally poured hot water on Rabensburg's head while they were cleaning hogs and Rabensburg threatened to kill Cooper with a knife, that he ran Cooper away from the house with a Winchester rifle. Cooper ventured back and Rabensburg again started for his gun, when Cooper picked up a shot gun and shot him down. Cooper went to Floresville and surrendered to the sheriff."  Another account says: "Cooper and Rabensburg engaged in a dispute Tuesday evening over the value of a saddle. Rabensburg became infuriated and would have killed Cooper with a butcher knife but for the interference of friends. Cooper then left the house, but Rabensburg swore he would kill the boy on sight. Wednesday evening about 4 o'clock, Cooper returned and the row was resumed, resulting in the shooting and instant killing of Rabensburg.  Cooper immediately went to Floresville and surrendered to sheriff Seale of the county.  Cooper is about sixteen years old, and eye witnesses say he was perfectly justifiable." 
 
The dispatch says that "there is a case pending in the district court in San Antonio, against Henry, for the killing of Dr. Fonts a year ago and another against him in Karnes County for assault with intent to kill Dr. Layton several months ago.
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Neale Rabensburg is researching his family history and is trying to find the grave of his ancestor Henry Rabensburg.  He has been communicating with Shirley Grammer and she is requesting help in attempting to locate his grave site or any additional information regarding the family.  Should anybody have any information regarding the Rabensburg family or the location of the Newton Brother's Ranch in Wilson County, please share it with Wilson County Historical Society .

Meet La Vernia’s Henry P. Seidemann
— ‘think tank’ member, public servant, government advisor

La Vernia News, March 10, 2021
By Allen and Regina Kosub
 
On Massachusetts Avenue N.W. in Washington D.C., clustered between Thomas Circle and Dupont Circle, is a group of unique institutions. Referred to as "think tanks," the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the Brookings Institution, the Peterson Institute for International Economics, the American Enterprise Institute, and the Center for Strategic and International Studies have advised Presidents, Congress and foreign governments on shaping policy during the 20th century. Think tanks are comprised of men and women with special expertise, education, or experience who spend their time advising governments on how to create policy and how to govern.
 
One might wonder, who are these thinkers; where do they come from? It seems one of them came from Lavernia (which is now La Vernia), Wilson County, Texas.
 
In 1880, William Seidemann and his wife Julia were living in Lavernia with two children. William made his living as a butcher and wheelwright; his neighbors were the potter George Suttles and Hugh Wiseman. On April 4, 1883, in Lavernia, a son, Henry Peter, was born to William and Julia.
Henry Peter Seidemann, son of a Lavernia butcher, traveled a path that led from Wilson County, Texas, to Washington, D.C., and along the way influenced Presidents, Congress, and nations and touched the life of many Americans.
 
The last half of the 1890s was a turbulent time for the U.S. and for young Henry. In 1895, his father William died in San Antonio. For the U.S., the brief Spanish American War began and ended in 1898 with the U.S. acquiring Cuba, the Philippines, and Puerto Rico. In 1900, 17-year-old Henry Seidemann began his work as a civil servant in Puerto Rico as a messenger for the paymaster of the Headquarters Department of Puerto Rico. By 1903, he was working for the Department of the Interior, in Bayamon County, Puerto Rico.
 
Between 1905 and 1907, he worked for the Department of the Interior as Chief Clerk and Accountant and Special Dispatch Agent, in Belle Fourche, South Dakota. The project created the Bell Fourche dam, reservoir, and canals northeast of the Black Hills.
 
From 1907 to Sept. 24, 1916, Henry Seidemann was headquartered in Washington, D.C., where he served successively as cost keeper, assistant chief accountant and fiscal inspector, chief accountant and assistant to the comptroller, and chief clerk and accountant in supervisory charge of fiscal and clerical matters. On Sept. 25, 1916, he was furloughed to join the staff of the Institute for Government Research (one of the earliest think tanks), an association cooperating with public officials in the scientific study of business methods with a view to promoting efficiency in government.
 
On July 1, 1917, he was granted an indefinite leave of absence by the institute to accept the position of assistant treasurer of the American Red Cross, with the duty of re-organizing the financial methods, procedures, and personnel of the treasurer's department. On Jan. 1, 1918, during the hostilities of World War I, Henry was designated by the Red Cross as the Specialist in Foreign Accounts. As the Special Representative of the Comptroller of the Red Cross, he was tasked to study the problems of accounting abroad and coordinate the accounting work of the Red Cross abroad with the methods of the Washington office. He traveled throughout Europe and was in Paris during its bombardment in 1918.
 
On Sept. 21, 1921, Henry married Mabel Lyman in Washington, D. C.
 
LA VERNIA HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION
World War II U.S. Draft Registration card of Henry Peter Seidemann, born in La Vernia. From the National Archives at St. Louis; St. Louis, Missouri; World War II Draft Cards (Fourth Registration) for the District of Columbia; Record Group Title: Records of the Selective Service System; Record Group Number: 147; Box or Roll Number: 061.
 
In 1924, he was Chief Consulting Accountant to the Bureau of Governmental Research, installing for the territory of Hawaii a budget system similar to that of the United States.
 
In 1932-33, he served as Treasurer and sat on the Advisory Council of the Brookings Institution, in Washington, D.C.
 
On Nov. 1, 1935, Henry was appointed Coordinator of the Social Security Board, Washington, D.C. On Sept. 5, 1936, newspapers reported: "Henry P. Seidemann of Lavernia, Texas was appointed today as director of the Bureau of Federal Old-Age Benefits of the Social Security Board, succeeding Murray W. Latimer ..."
 
After the attack on Pearl Harbor [Dec. 7, 1941], the U.S. Army required the direct enlistment of large numbers of experienced specialists, many whose age and physical fitness would not meet the standard Army requirements. To oversee the replacement of critical active-duty personnel with civilian specialists, H.P. Seidemann was appointed to the four-man leadership team of the Army Specialists Corps.
 
Throughout his life, H.P. Seidemann's advice and counsel regarding fiscal matters was sought by governments, businesses, and scholars. His thoughts and advice are recorded in the Congressional Record and in countless papers he authored.
 
His obituary on May 6, 1954, read: "Henry P. Seidemann, 71, who helped organize the federal Budget Bureau and set up national budget procedures and who began his government career in 1910 as chief fiscal inspector for the Reclamation Service, died yesterday."
 
Henry Peter Seidemann was buried in Falls Church, Fairfax County, Va.
 
The Kosubs have worked with communities and historical organizations to reveal important properties for designation by the Texas Historical Commission as "historic properties." Find more of their work at losttexasroads.com .

Olga Marie Alvarez

ANOTHER PILLAR ....of Wilson County Texas.....  is Olga Marie Alvarez. Shortly after her birth in 1932, Olga Marie Alvarez's father returned the family to Wilson County to raise Olga on her grandfather's ranch located between Calaveras and Saspamco. She attended Saspamco schools and graduated from Floresville High School in 1948. At the age of 15, she began college at Texas A&I in Kingsville. Olga emphasized the idea that we stand on the shoulders of giants. She never forgot how her Uncle George (Jorge) Mendoza sold a cow each semester to pay for her college tuition and that her grandfather, Tiburcio De Anda, provided weekly assistance for incidentals.
 
By the time she was 18, Olga had received her teaching certification for grades 1-8, but before stepping into the classroom, she worked at Lackland Air Force Base as a secretary. In 1955, she accepted a teaching position at Saspamco Elementary School, where she taught first grade for 17 years until it was consolidated with Floresville Elementary. In the meantime, she had completed her bachelor's degree at Trinity University while teaching full time and raising her family.
 
In the 1970s, Olga was one of the first teachers in Wilson County to be certified as a bilingual instructor, and consequently trained all teachers in the Floresville Independent School District seeking bilingual certification at that time. Being a lifelong learner, she continued her studies and received her master's degree in Bilingual-Bicultural Studies from the University of Texas at San Antonio in 1981. Olga embraced her own bicultural heritage and incorporated it into her teaching style with annual Cinco de Mayo and Dieciséis celebrations that included student dance performances, costumes, and oratory addresses. She appreciated the spoken word and often held historical presentations of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech. She maintained relationships with many of her former students and their families over the years. She was generous with her time in assisting and advising them with the college application process as well as providing encouragement and other mentoring to help them continue their studies. "Mrs. Álvarez wanted every child to succeed and her expectations were very high for all the children that she taught. She wanted them to become productive citizens," said former student Manuel Mermea. After 40 years of teaching, she retired from FISD. However, she continued to educate others by teaching citizenship classes for immigrants and GED classes at the county jail until the age of 75. She often stated that teaching was not work for her. Instead, it was her vocation.
 
Giving back to the community was something she strongly believed in. As a Brownie troop leader, she enjoyed watching young girls mature into confident leaders. She herself did not shy away from conflict, especially when it came to the safety of children. Olga played a critical role in petitioning the county to install a concrete bridge over the Calaveras Creek on County Road 128 to secure the safe passage of three school buses from Saspamco to the Floresville schools. She also served as secretary for the Oak Hills Water Board, in various officer roles for the Wilson County Teacher's Association, as Chair for the Wilson County Children's Service Board, as an elected member of the Wilson County Memorial Hospital District Board of Directors, and as historian for the Floresville Musical Club. In 2008, she was honored as the Parade Grand Marshall for the Floresville Peanut Festival. "I have always had nothing but the utmost respect for Mrs. Álvarez. She was such a wonderful teacher and leader!" said her former principal Jane Wiatrek.
 
Olga was proud of her roots in the Calaveras and Saspamco communities. She often remembered the words of her grandfather, Pomposo Mendoza, "nunca olivides que vengo del pantalón blanco y huaraches," and never wanted to overlook the struggles of the most vulnerable. She devoted her time to Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church (OLPH). She was a founding member of the OLPH Altar Society and served as its president for over half-a-century. She believed in quality religious education and tirelessly served as CCD director during that time. For over 60 years, she organized Christmas pageants, Easter plays, Mother of the Year celebrations, and First Communion receptions. Olga was also a founding member of the Catholic Daughters of the Americas at St. Anthony's Catholic Church, a member of the Guadalupana Society, and served as president of both the Floresville Deanery and the Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women in the 1990s. In 2013, she received the inaugural Lumen Gentium Award for her parish from the San Antonio Archdiocese. She believed in the power of prayer. Her family and friends often relied on her to pray for them and those in need as well as for those in the community. She always kept a lengthy list of prayer petitions for her family and friends on her home altar.
 
Olga was a bit of an amateur historian. She kept thorough records of the OLPH CCD program and other organizations to which she belonged and archived almost everything in her collection of over 100 scrapbooks and albums. In 2015, along with her son James, she was able to provide the necessary documentation to obtain a Historical Marker for her beloved OLPH.
 
Olga Alvarez entered into eternal rest surrounded by family in her home on Sunday, March 13, 2022, at the age of 89.
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COURTESY/ Wilson County News

Thad J. Rees Farmer, Rancher, Freighter, Trail Driver and Lawman

Thad Rees' father and mother came to Texas from Virginia in covered wagons in 1855, bringing a number of slaves with them. The wagons traveled into Texas until they arrived at a site seventeen miles east of Gilmer in Upshur County. Thad's father established a plantation here on 800 acres of densely treed piney woods. With the slaves and everyone else working everyday for a year only 200 acres were cleared for cultivation. But with discipline and determination cultivation of the cleared land began in addition to continuing the clearing of the other 600 acres. Then the Civil War started and changed the plantation style of operation. Thad's father enlisted in the Confederate Army immediately and was appointed Commissary Sergeant with the supply camp located in the uncleared portion of his plantation. Supplies came mainly from Galveston plus what could be supplied from the surrounding area. This camp served the military the entire duration of the war. 
 
The Union Forces being the victors over the Confederates Forces, the war came to an end in 1865. At the end of the American Civil War, the freedom of the Negro slaves created a difficult situation for the plantation owners. The former slaves refused to work and were also insolent to their former slave owners. At this stage the farm became a problem since there was a need to plow and plant the land plus caring for the livestock. There was also a need to clear up the supply acres which had been used by the Southern Army. It was not until Thad was big enough to help that the operation started to return to its former status.
 
Thad was born April 10, 1850, the oldest of three children. When he was ten years of age his father had him doing a man's work. Then the reconstruction era, also known as the "carpet bagging era", came to an end. Many of the former slaves, started to return to their former homes as they needed food and shelter to survive. The land owners had little money so they came back willing to work for enough compensation to survive. Thad continued working on the plantation until one day a man named Bill Griffin came to see if he would come along with him to do freighting, hauling cotton and supplies. Thad quickly agreed so as to break his current boring life style. He rigged a wagon for this type of operation. He and Bill Griffin worked well together. However, he still had to help his father out on the plantation. He would plow one day, then haul a load of freight, return and plow again the following day. Soon he felt he needed to change again. He rode to Sulphur Springs where he met with George Loving, one of the big cattle owners of East Texas. Thad asked Loving for a job. He obtained employment with Loving and was assigned to gathering cattle in the local brush country. In places this brush would be so thick it was impossible to ride through, so dogs were used to run the longhorns out. In herding the animals in this environment he would have to ride on one side of his horse and then on the other side. Otherwise he would ride with his head down behind the horse's ears. This was necessary to keep from being ripped to ribbons by the thorns or knocked off the horse by low hanging limbs. Thad stayed with Loving until he quit buying animals in that area. He still had a desire to work on a trail drive so he joined the Woods 
and Bushy group trail driving a herd to Caldwell Kansas. There were eight men in the outfit with John Coffey, the trail boss. Just after crossing the flooded Red River, Coffey's horse fell and injured Coffey's leg. None of the riders were willing to doctor the leg so Coffey called on Thad for help. When Thad determined that the leg was broken, he ripped off a board from the chuck wagon and whittled some splints. He obtained bandages from a gauze undershirt. He set the bones as best he could and proceeded to splint and bandaged the broken bones. For a pain reliever, he mashed some Irish potatoes and squeezed the juice into an empty can with punched holes in the bottom and let the juice drip on the splinted leg. This reduced the pain and the fever enough so that Coffee was finally able to get some sleep. Thad related that this was a home remedy he had observed his mother use. When the herd reached Caldwell, Kansas, Coffey visited a doctor and was advised the break was set a bit crooked. He wanted to break the leg bone again to reset it. Coffey resisted this advice and soon was able to ride his horse as well as ever.
 
After the herd had been delivered to Caldwell, Thad took in the town cowboy style. Then he returned to the Woods and Bushy Ranch with Coffey. At this time the ranch was fattening cattle not trailed with the original group because they were in too poor a condition to survive a drive. Everything was going well until the local Indians complained to Washington about this grazing being done on leased Indian land. Congress promptly ordered the herd of poorly conditioned cattle be moved out of the area. It was decided to slowly move the weakened herd to market and let them fatten on the way north. In less than a week thirty head of the cattle were killed within a mile of the leased ranch land.
 
Closely following the herd were Indians all dressed in their warpath gear. They did not attack but it appeared they were attempting a showdown. Any attack or shooting by the trail drivers in this area was strictly forbidden by the government. Finally this activity became too uncomfortable to the trail drivers and one of them shot a following Indian. The Indians then retreated but it was believed they would soon return to capture the individual who did the shooting. Not long after this the whole Indian village returned on horseback demanding the man who had killed their chief. Prior to their arrival the guilty cowboy was advised to ride north as fast as possible in an attempt to escape. The Indians wanted this person but were told he had ridden off to the south. After searching the area and not finding him, the Indians began cursing everyone very loudly in their Indian language hoping to cause the trail riders to initiate a conflict. Being unsuccessful, the Indians rode off and the trail drivers moved the herd off to Dodge City. Before arriving at Dodge City the cattle, still in poor condition for market, were turned out to graze again before being driven to market. It was necessary to have soldiers to stay alongside the herd to prevent the Indians from stealing them. The soldiers continued guarding the herd with Coffey and his trail riders until they crossed the Cimarron. Here, Mr. Coffey turned the herd over to his trail drivers and appointed Thad Rees as trail boss to continue the drive to Dodge City.
 
The rest of the trail drive to Dodge City from the Cimarron River Crossing was uneventful but on this drive the boys in the outfit nicknamed Thad "Texas", "Mr. Texas" or sometimes the new name was changed to "Texas Kid". After two days in Dodge City Thad learned that it was a place where they would kill you first and then relate the reason for your death afterwards. The law enforcement in the town didn't waste any time getting rid of individuals they thought cluttered up the landscape in a dance hall or saloon. Learning this, he decided it was time to return to Texas. On returning back to the camp at the Woods and Bushy Ranch he was asked to take charge of another herd of cattle located on their W. C. Bar Ranch on the Arkansas River. He readily accepted but once he arrived at the ranch he was sorry he had taken the position. The ranch was at a lonesome, forsaken place. However, at this time it was the only job available to him. He needed work and decided to stay.
 
The coming winter was brutal and according to "Mr. Texas" the weather he encountered made a Texas norther' feel like a spring breeze. In one large storm snow began falling at a rate so thick you could barely see a yard ahead of you and the cattle began to stampede heading south. Thad raced ahead and after crossing the river, he was able to turn the herd back toward camp but not until they had traveled some six miles. Going into the wind visibility was almost zero and being wet from crossing the river his feet were frozen to the stirrups and he had the reins wrapped around his wrists as his fingers were so numb. He was able to guide his horse only by moving his frozen arms. He was almost frozen to death until he encountered a dugout one of his trail hands had established to care for the remuda of their horses about four miles from their camp.  Smoke was coming from its chimney stack which was sticking through the snow. Thad hollered for help for someone to pull him off his horse. Inside the dugout hot coffee was available and after removing his frozen clothing he thawed out. By morning the wind and snow had stopped. The trail foreman thought that Thad had probably frozen to death. He gathered all the riders in camp to search for Thad.  On reaching the dugout and finding Thad alive, everyone rejoiced, hollered and cried. By three o'clock in the afternoon everyone had made it back to camp. They had traveled some fourteen miles in the snow and ice.
 
When the herd and remuda were fattened enough to trail north, Woods and Bushy sold cattle and the W. C. Bar Ranch together as a package deal and at a good price. When everything was closed out, Woods tried to persuade Thad to go to one of their other Texas ranches. After a bit of negotiation, Thad agreed to go to the Turkey Trot Ranch. It was fine country to work in and with a good group of cowboys who had things well in hand. It was much better than the conditions at the W.C. Bar Ranch. One of his unusual duties at the ranch was to deliver to Colonel Goodnight, originator of the Goodnight Trail, two buffalo calves. Colonel Goodnight wanted to experiment by crossing them with cattle. 
 
The experiment was successful but not practical. The new cross he named "cattlo" but it was not continued because of the difficulty in handling the animals. Another exciting experience during his time at the Turkey Trot Ranch occurred in 1887. During a roundup at the present site of Amarillo, while gathering a herd to trail to Canadian, a new railroad town, a group of wild mustangs tried to mix with the gathered cattle. Such a mixture of cattle and mustangs would cause the cattle to start running wild. To prevent such an event the herd was monitored 24 hours a day except one very dark night a terrific rain storm occurred causing the mustangs and cattle to mix and create a stampede. It was an inky dark night and with Thad in the lead the herd was directed toward the brush but it was almost daylight before the herd sort of quieted down. By morning the herd was under control but the trail drivers were soaking wet and cold. After reaching camp, drinking a lot of hot coffee and changing to dry clothing, the herd was gathered together to continue its drive to Canadian.
 
In 1889 Thad left the ranch of Woods and Bushy and relocated to Floresville. Here he purchased 168 acres of land six miles east of Floresville in the Marcelina Community. The property had a small house on it and he lived there alone for about six months. Then in 1892 he married Miss Kate sample. To this marriage three children were born, two girls and a boy. His son, the youngest child, was four months and 20 days old when his mother died. Thad raised his family on his own for the next fifteen years until he married Miss Annie Williamson.  No children were born to this union. However, they did adopt a son, Manuel Rees. He was a very devoted child and continued to live with his adopted parents in their declining years. He and his parents developed a lasting relationship creating a joyous bond in their passing years.
 
Thad Rees was a charter member of the Old Trail Drivers Association and became known as one of the best members of the organization.  He was a familiar figure at all its meetings and activities. In 1928, in a simulation of the earlier pony express rides, Thad helped promote the annual convention of the Old Trail Drivers Association. Thad rode his horses named "Jim Hogg" and "Reno Joe" non stop continuously from Dallas by way of Fort Worth to San Antonio in sixtytwo hours. He insisted he could have shortened this time by at least four hours if all the "gas buggies" had given him the right of way along the road. He was 66 years old when he made this ride and arrived in San Antonio a stiff man but not feeling a day older or less fit. This reenactment attracted state wide attention as he was racing in competition with his friend Hiram Craig. Craig was running a similar route but from Galveston to San Antonio. Craig also rode his route non-stop but came in second.  This pony express ride reenactment was a gala affair and the men were met in towns they were passing through by cheering crowds and in many places by the local school bands. Some of the communities even held local functions in their honor.
 
Thad also served fourteen years as a Wilson County Deputy Sheriff under Sheriff Will L. Wright. Later, Will L. Wright became a well known Texas Ranger Captain and is in the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame. Thad next served two years as a deputy under Sheriff A. B. Carnes. He was a very proficient officer, being entirely fearless, honest and loyal. During this time period in Wilson County, it took a man of strong courage to handle the law enforcement conditions.
 
All of the time he spent in Wilson County he continued to develop his ranch and farm property. His pleasant and agreeable attitude earned him the respect of his neighbors.  Mr. Rees took great pride in improving the breeding of his cattle herd, the raising of registered Poland China hogs and farming peanuts.
 
He was a very devout member of the Marcelina Baptist Church. Thad Rees died at the age of 79 years of pneumonia. He was widely known throughout Southwest Texas and an honored citizen of Wilson County. His Funeral services brought out a great number of friends filling the church to overflowing. Thad and both of his wives are buried in the Marcelina Cemetery. 
 
His life's legacy as he spoke of it many times was, "I have done everything on a ranch or farm that anybody else has ever did and with all my bronco-busting and cowboy adventures I had but one bone broken. Never did I get so smashed that I could not keep going, though I have struck through some pretty hard jolts. One thing I am glad to say about the old-time cowboys is they never turned down a friend or a needy person and they never insulted a lady". Thad Rees was an open range cowboy of the 1870s known by longhorn cattlemen from the breaks of East Texas, west to the Palo Duro Canyon and north to the open plains. He was a colorful character and always willing to talk about his many thrilling experiences. 
 
Compiled by Gene Maeckel from the files of the Wilson County Historical Commission Archives. P. O. Box 101, Floresville, Texas 78114.  Web site: www.wilsoncountyhistory.org . 2/2011

Old Stockdale, Wilson County, Texas family

Laura Swiess shares her written family history of Nathaniel & Annie Luker.  Read how the family began their married lives in Stockdale in 1898 with their roots surviving today .... 124 years later. Laura has shared old family photos as well. (Thank you, Laura)
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Family honors fallen WW II soldier with a memorial service held 61 years after sniper's death

By Bill O'Connell
Wilson County News 2005
 
FLORESVILLE Wilson County Texas — The narrow, dirt path that leads to the gravesite of John and Cecilia Pavliska brings one to a corner of the municipal cemetery, not far from one of the large oak trees that grow there.
 
Born in the 19th century, the Pavliskas were among the thousands of Americans who saw a son leave during World War II, and never return home.
 
John Pavliska Jr., and his brother, Jerry, signed up to fight. At a time when Merrill Connally was serving as a sharpshooter against the Japanese, John Pavliska was an Army sniper sent to France in the fight against the German invasion.
 
While crossing the English Channel from England to France, a troop carrier John was riding on hit a mine and began sinking. Another ship came alongside and a net was thrown to the damaged vessel. John and other soldiers climbed across, losing much of their equipment along the way.
 
This and other stories about John's military service were recounted last week at a memorial service at the municipal cemetery in Floresville. Area resident Jim Lamberth, who is the brother-in-law to John's brother, Billy, shared anecdotes about American military history and John's place in it.
 
John survived the mine blast, as well as the landing on Normandy Beach during the American offensive that led to victory. His skills with a rifle made him something of a "gypsy" within the Army, as he was shifted from one squad to another and tasked with the same mission: protect soldiers by serving as a sniper.
 
John earned the rank of sergeant by the time D-Day — June 6, 1944 — ultimately changed the course of the war. On July 25 of that year, he wrote a letter to a cousin and sent it home. The next day, July 26, 1944, John was traveling with a platoon on a road when German artillery came crashing down on them.
 
John ran into a ditch, but an artillery shell ended his life. His fellow troops inserted his rifle, barrel first, into the ground and placed his helmet on top of it.
 
Rather than welcoming their son home from the war, John's parents received a telegram informing them of his death. He was buried in France at the age of 34.
 
Cecilia Pavliska died the following year. Her son's Purple Heart medal was pinned to her dress.
 
Today, the resting place of John and Cecilia Pavliska has a new marker that lies at the foot of the Floresville couple. During last week's memorial service, those who gathered read the inscription on the marker:
 
Sgt. John Pavliska, Jr.
Born Oct. 12 1909
K.I.A. July 26, 1944
W.W. II
Buried Normandy France
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 Cecilia Manak Pavliska passed away June 26, 1945 at the age of 54 years and John Pavliska passed away January 12, 1976. at the age 91 years.

Banking

BANKING .... Hugo Kott, the son of Richard and Johanna Allerkamp Kott was born in Gillespie County, Texas on February 2, 1874.  His father was born in Gotha, Germany, the son of Ernst and Louise Kott who settled in Gillespie County in 1854. Richard served with Company B, Gillespie Co., 3rd Frontier District of Texas State Troops during the Civil War. He was a Kerr County minuteman during the Indian Wars.  Richard married Johanne Allerkamp Heinen on Dec 20, 1869 in Gillespie County. The couple moved to Comfort where Richard farmed and in 1887 opened the Comfort Hotel.
 
Life in Lavernia
Hugo Kott grew up on the family farm in Comfort in Kerr County, where he attended school.  Hugo moved to the Lavernia area, and on August 6, 1895 he married Marie Linne of New Berlin. Marie was the daughter of Ernest and Anna Loeffler Linne.  Hugo and Marie had four daughters: Clara (1895-1964), Helena (1899-1980), Frieda (1901-1988), and Alma (1907-1966).  Marie and Hugo made Lavernia their home. Hugo began his business career, establishing a successful mercantile business in Lavernia, Kott-Linne and Kott-Linne-Reich. Over the next few years he developed new business partnerships in association with his various business activities. Kott was postmaster of La Vernia from 1897 until 1913. He was elected school trustee in Lavernia, in 1907. 
 
Kott served as a Wilson County Commissioner after an interesting election in 1912.  In the 1912 Democratic Primary in Wilson County, Kott, a Republican, won the Democratic primary as the nominee for Wilson County Commissioner for Precinct #3.  The turmoil led to a lawsuit: J.E. Dewees vs. E.A. Stevens, et al. The case went before the Texas Supreme Court.  The Court ruled in October of 1912 that Kott's name must appear on the official ballot as the Democratic nominee for the position of Wilson County Commissioner for Precinct #3.  Kott won the election, and on November 14, 1912 he was declared the new County Commissioner for the precinct.
 
The Move to San Antonio
Kott and Marie moved to a home on San Pedro Street in San Antonio in 1914. On May 14, 1919, the 37th District Court in San Antonio granted Hugo and Marie a divorce.  Marie remarried, and left the state. Marie Linne Kott Rose died in Los Angeles in 1974. Their daughters continued to live with Hugo in San Antonio. Clara married Jesse Saunders Mitchell, Helena married Gustave Guenther, Frieda  married Charles Heieck, Jr., and Alma married Ben E. Harlos.
 
Hugo Kott married Eleanor Steimel the daughter of Joseph and Ellen Clements Steimel in 1923.  They had a lovely home on Park Avenue, where they often entertained friends, family, and business associates. They had no children.
 
Banking
Hugo Kott became involved in banking with W.R. and other Wiseman family members. Kott and W.R. Wiseman were directors and President and Vice President of the City National Bank of Floresville. Kott and W.R. Wiseman were directors of the La Vernia State Bank.  When Commonwealth Bank and Trust of San Antonio opened for business June 1, 1916, Hugo Kott and W.R. Wiseman were directors of the bank.  Kott was also vice president of the bank. Commonwealth weathered the banking crash of 1929. However, on October 6, 1931 the directors of the bank voted not to open the doors for business after heavy withdrawals following the collapse of Central Bank and Trust.  The state banking commission took over Commonwealth and brought in their liquidating agent. After reorganizing, Commonwealth reopened with the same officers on December 23, 1931.  With continuing financial problems, the Commonwealth Bank and Trust officially closed on July 2, 1934.
 
Kott-Wiseman Partnership
Kott and W. R. Wiseman worked together in banking in La Vernia, Floresville, and at Commonwealth Bank and Trust in San Antonio. As a partner with W.R. and other Wiseman family members, Kott invested in real estate, cotton gins, and other business ventures.  They had gins in the La Vernia area, Carpenter, Adkins, Martinez, and elsewhere. They leased their ginning equipment from the Anderson Clayton Co. of Houston, Texas.  Their gins were very successful.  However, to avoid what they considered excessive prices at the Kott Wiseman gins, farmers consolidated to form their own ginning companies, such as the Lavernia Farmers' Ginning Company and the Farmers Gin Company of Sutherland Springs. 
 
In 1919, Kott and W. M. Wiseman became involved in the oil boom in the Lavernia/St. Hedwig area. They sold stock in their company, Mutual Oil & Developing Company of LaVernia, Texas. They also leased land in the St. Hedwig area for drilling.  
 
Kott and the Wisemans were always seeking new investment opportunities. In 1931, as Commonwealth Bank and Trust was failing, Kott, S. P. Wiseman, and Maggie Wiseman were the incorporators of the Lavernia Lumber and Trading Company.  The company was chartered with capital stock of $16,000. 
 
Farming
Kott owned a large farm near the current I10 and 410 interchange on the eastside of San Antonio.  There, Kott promoted conservation of soil and water on farmlands by use of terracing, and other new farming techniques. 
 
The End of an Exceptional Career
In 1960, Eleanor and Hugo sold their home on Park Ave. and moved to a smaller home on East Quincey that Eleanor had inherited from her parents. Eleanor died on September 21, 1963. Her funeral was held at St. Mary's Catholic Church with the burial in San Fernando Cemetery #2.
 
After an interesting life in the business world, with its successes and failures, Hugo Kott died May 12, 1968 at his home in San Antonio. He was buried in Sunset Memorial Park in San Antonio. His obituary in the local newspaper said simply, "Hugo Kott, 94 year old retired merchant, 807 E. Quincy St. died Sunday."  He had five grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. 
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COURTESY/ Lost Texas Roads by Texas historians Allen and Regina Kosub. The Kosub's launched the Lost Texas Roads website as a free online tool intended to be a resource for individuals who have an interest in the history of old Bexar County and the area east of San Antonio. This includes East Bexar County, Wilson County, and parts of Guadalupe and Karnes counties.

James W. Gray

James W. Gray was a Texas Revolutionary veteran ...... Spain had ruled Texas for over 200 years and Texans attempted to break the Spanish yoke several times. Once was in 1811 with the Las Casas Uprising and again in 1812 with the Gutierrez-McGee expedition, which culminated in the Battle of Medina. Both were failed attempts. In 1821, Mexico took the reins of power over the people of Texas. Soon, Anglo settlers began migrating to Texas. Texas was already populated by settlers of mostly Spanish descent, some of whom had large ranches and managed large herds of cattle. By the early 1830s Mexico was concerned with the number of Anglo settlers coming to Texas and placed some restrictions on these migrants. Santa Anna was becoming a force to reckon with. He was a dictator and called himself "Napoleon of the West." Texans liked independence but had no love for dictators. These issues must have been on the minds of Texans and men who came to Texas from other states and countries and volunteered to fight for Texas independence. Whatever the reason, they fought and Texas won her independence from Mexico. In the beginning, the Texans opposing Santa Anna and Mexico were volunteers until Sam Houston began to organize a regular army. James W. Gray came to Texas and entered into this fray.
 
James Gray was born Nov. 29, 1814, in Edinburgh, Scotland. It is unknown when he arrived in Texas, but he arrived in time to fight in the Texas Revolution. Records show that he made application to the Republic Claims for service rendered during the Revolution. He received a pension from the state of Texas in the 1870s. When he applied for the pension, it was stated that he was in the war when it started in Gonzales. He was 21 years old but even at this young age, he was older than some of the men who entered this fight for Texas independence from Mexico. He fought under the command of Edward Burleson at San Jacinto.
 
While the men were fighting for Texas independence, the hostile Indians were raiding Texas settlements and killing the citizens. After the Texans won victory at San Jacinto, the Indian hostility continued. Many of the men who fought in the war for Texas independence remained in the army of the Republic of Texas to defend the citizens. James W. Gray enlisted in the Republic of Texas Army on Oct. 10, 1836, and remained in that service until November 1837. The records show he received a pension through the Republic Claims for service as a soldier in the Republic of Texas Army. He also received a land bounty consisting of 1,280 acres for services rendered as a Texas soldier.
 
By 1837, the Republic of Texas had little money and the military had to be cut back. Yet, hostile Indians were still raiding farms and ranches. Texas citizens were brutally killed. Some of the men who fought in the Texas Revolution and became soldiers in the Republic Army were again called upon to defend the citizens of Texas. James W. Gray was no exception. Men, now private citizens of the Republic, rode with groups of men who were ranging the countryside chasing hostile Indians. These ranging groups did a similar job to that of the Texas Rangers. Today, some historians recognize men of these early ranging companies — Mounted Volunteers, Minutemen, and others as Texas Rangers. James Gray was a Mounted Volunteer. In 1839 he rode as a Mounted Volunteer in Capt. S.B. Franks' Company, which was under the command of Col. Henry Wax Karnes in a campaign against hostile Indians made from San Antonio in the summer of 1839. In another campaign, he rode under the command of Col. Juan Seguin. He also did service in later campaigns in defense of Texas Citizens.
 
James Gray married Simona Hernandez in 1841 in San Antonio. She was the daughter of Margarita Seguin and stepdaughter of Mariano Seguin, who received a large land grant near San Antonio. The 1850 census record shows that James Gray was a tinsmith and a merchant in San Antonio. At this time, he was 35 years old. His wife, Simona, was also 35. They had three children at this time. James was 8, Mary was 6, and William was 4 years old.
 
James Gray and his family moved to some of the land his wife had inherited from her mother. Gray established a home near the San Antonio River. He encouraged laborers and renters to move to the area. Ranchers and cowboys began to trade in the community and James Gray began the process of founding Graytown. Gray and his wife gave land for a Catholic church and Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church was built there. It was the religious center for Catholics within a 30-mile radius of Graytown. A mercantile store, blacksmith shop, and some bars opened for business and he operated a ferry. A post office was established in 1860. Graytown was a part of Bexar County until 1869, and then it became a part of Wilson County.
 
The 1860 census shows James Gray and his family were living in San Antonio where he was a merchant.
 
The Civil War started in 1861. Texas was now a part of the United States and Texans voted to become a Confederate state. James Gray enlisted as a Confederate soldier. His name was on a document at the Texas Ranger Hall of Fame Museum titled: Partial list of Texas Ranger Co. and unit commanders. The list was compiled by Christina Stopka, a researcher at the museum. In 1862-63, Gray was a captain of Bexar County 30th Brigade TST.
 
In 1873, James Gray purchased some land in Lodi from Nemencio de la Zerda. Nemencio de la Zerda had established the Lodi ferry at a crossing on the San Antonio River in 1872 and it had made a crossroads community of Lodi. Gray's land was located at the corner of Goliad Road (the San Antonio and La Bahia roads) and the road to the Lodi Ferry. It was here at this busy crossroads that James Gray started a blacksmith shop, a tin shop, operated a store, and a bar. He continued to operate a business here until his death Sept. 12, 1884. He is buried in the Floresville City Cemetery with "Texas Veteran" engraved on his tombstone.
 
Many of the men who fought in the Texas Revolution, served in the Republic of Texas Army, fought hostile Indians, and engaged in other campaigns in defense of Texas had to wait until the 1870s before they could collect their service pay. Not all lived to realize any compensation. Without these courageous men who had a hunger for independence, and saw a need to win independence from Mexico, who generously donated their time, their gear, and in some cases their lives — the Republic of Texas may not have been established. Again and again, they stood up for Texas. If James Gray was alive today, and was called on again to fight for Texas, he may well answer the call.
 
[Compiled by Maurine Liles, on behalf of the Wilson County Historical Society.]
 
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COURTESY / Wilson County News
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Well may have historic significance

By Nannette Kilbey-Smith
Wilson County News (2007)
 
 A designated Texas historical trail along the former Sutherland Springs to Lodi Road may be a step closer to reality, with the discovery of a well and possible travelers' campsite on the once-well-traveled road.
 
Andrew and Berta Coldewey contacted the Wilson County News after reading an article about the potential for a historical trail ("Researchers take steps to found Wilson County Historical Trail," Aug. 1). The proposed trail would run along F.M. 539 from the Guadalupe County line to C.R. 329 in Wilson County, and along C.R. 329 into Floresville near the Canary Islanders Cemetery, finishing in the area once known as Lodi in northern Floresville.
 
On the Coldeweys' property on C.R. 329 is a well with a pump that still works and produces drinking water. According to family history, the pasture around the well once served as a campsite for travelers between La Vernia, Sutherland Springs, and beyond on their way to Lodi or Floresville during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
 
According to Berta's mother, Willene (Leigh) Smith, Smith's great-aunt, Ruth Leigh McGuffin, who was born in 1875, recalled her family making camp there when they traveled from La Vernia to pay their taxes at the county seat. McGuffin told Smith many others would make camp there also, staying overnight to rest and water their animals, then continuing their journeys the next day. They would use the stop on the return journey also.
 
Smith and her husband, Bert, bought the property around 1949. The pump was already installed at that time.
 
"It's always worked," Andrew Coldewey said. "At some point, someone installed casing and a pipe. But ever since the family has owned the property, the well's never been pulled or serviced, and it still brings up good water in quantity."
 
The Coldeweys estimate the well to be approximately 65 feet deep.
 
Over the years, many artifacts have been found in the well's vicinity, including a miniscule child's tea set, parts of china dolls, pieces of pottery and china, old clay marbles, shells, and more.
 
Wilson County Historical Society members Gene Maeckel and Maurine Liles visited the Coldeweys recently, along with John and Shirley Grammer. The Grammers are researching possible sites along the trail, in addition to collecting local family history to document local cemeteries.
 
Based on their extensive local knowledge, historical maps, and other resources, Maeckel and Liles are fairly confident McGuffin's story as recalled by Smith is accurate and a travelers' campsite probably did exist at the well site.
 
Further research must be done to date the well and document the original property owners and the well's significance in local history. The researchers think the chances are good for obtaining a historical marker for the well as part of the proposed historical trail.
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Photo: John Grammer (from left), Gene Maeckel, Willene (Leigh) Smith, and Maurine Liles locate the well's site on a historical map of Wilson County. Andrew Coldewey is just visible behind Liles.

Recalling house dances, hard work......

This is the second part of Valera Coldewey's story. Lois Wauson talked to her one day in her little house in Poth. She was 89 years old.
 
When she was 15 years old, Valera Meyer quit Kasper School to work. She worked keeping house for people and also waiting tables. When asked what the young people did back then for entertainment, she said the favorite thing to do was go to dances.
 
House dances were very popular during the 1920s and '30s. She remembers her parents, Arthur and Angela, having many house dances at their house near the Three Oaks Community. They would move the furniture out of one room, and the Stobb brothers, Oscar and Robert, would play the guitar and accordion. There would be a house dance somewhere every weekend. Besides going to Sokol, Three Oaks, and Poth Hermann Sons Hall, you always could find a dance somewhere in Wilson County.
 
In the 1940s, Valera worked as a waitress at Schneider's Café in Poth. During the war, the Greyhound bus stopped there, and she said the thing she remembers the most is when soldiers would get off the bus to come in to get something to drink and go to the restroom.
 
The black soldiers had to go to the attached meat market next door for drinks. They weren't allowed in the café. They had a separate restroom, too. She said she always felt so bad for them that it "broke her heart that they could go to war and get killed for America, but they couldn't come in with the other soldiers."
 
Later on, when segregation in the United States ended, she was one happy woman.
 
After she got married, and was living in Poth, Valera always worked. She liked people and she liked working. She was a hard worker all her life. She always worked at cafés, either cooking or waiting tables. She worked at Schneider's Café, Reiningers Café, the Dewees Store at Dewees, and the Cotton Club, where she cooked and waited tables, and where she worked the longest. She said she worked seven days a week, sometimes, like at the Cotton Club, for 14 to 16 hours a day. She very seldom had a day off.
 
Valera was working at the Dewees Store seven days a week, and remembers the time she even had to miss her family reunion, and her husband and boys went without her that Sunday, and she felt so bad knowing they were there without her.
 
How much do you think she got paid for all that work during those years? Her salary was usually about $100 a month, and after taxes, maybe $80 or $85, that after working 80 or 90 hours a week. Valera Coldewey knows what hard work was like.
 
Valera and her husband, Albert, bought their house in Poth in 1944. It was built from the lumber taken from the old Tardia School, which was torn down that year. When I talked to Valera and was looking at the walls and floors of the house, I thought about stories those walls could tell from the days gone by, from the time they were the lumber in Tardia School — to the 65 years Valera and Albert and her sons lived in the house in Poth. There is a lot of history in that house!
 
Schneider's Café, Reininger's Café, and the Cotton Club are no more in the little town of Poth, but Valera Meyer Coldewey still has lots of memories of the years she worked there. She wouldn't have done things any differently, because she liked to work and liked people. She would have maybe liked having a day off every once in a while, to spend with her family.
 
I will venture to say, she has passed a strong work heritage on to her sons.
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COURTESY/ Wilson County News written by Lois Zook Wauson who was the oldest of eight children who grew up on a farm in Wilson County in the mid-20th century.
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A personal account of Valera Meyer Coldewey

WILSON COUNTY TEXAS SCHOOL ... a personal account of Valera Meyer Coldewey attending school back in the 1930's & the difference in Wilson County Texas life.
 
Valera Meyer Coldewey went to Kasper School. She had to walk three miles each way to school. And that was when she was only 8 years old!
 
She started to Kasper School in 1928. When Valera got older, after walking the three miles to school, it was her job at school in the winter, every morning, to start the fire in the wood heater and to draw water for drinking from the underground cistern to fill the water cooler.
 
Valera was born in Wilson County to Arthur Meyer and Angela Raabe in 1920. They were farmers. She was the oldest of six children, who included Nola, Earlene, Delbert Ray, James, and Newton. She walked to school with lots of kids, among them the kids of Anton Raabe, Otto Raabe, Rehfeld, Hosek, and other families.
 
She said she always walked to school barefooted in warm weather, even until she was a teenager. Then when she was about 13, some girl told her she was too old to go barefooted, and she began wearing shoes. She said they didn't wear shoes because they didn't have any. She doesn't remember where she got the shoes to wear at that time.
 
Her first teachers were Miss Lena and Evelyn Donaho. They drove from Floresville each day to teach. Then she had a teacher named Mrs. Kizzie Kale. Mrs. Kale and her husband and little boy moved into the house called the "teacherage," which was built for the teacher beside the school.
 
There were three creeks crossing the road the children had to walk on the way to school. One time it rained so hard all day, that when it came time for the kids to walk home, the creeks had risen and they couldn't cross. All the kids that lived east of the school across the creeks had to spend the night with the teacher, Mrs. Kale. There were about 10 or 12 kids sleeping on the floor of the little house.
 
Valera liked school, especially arithmetic, and she was a good reader. She said she has read all her life. She liked reading until her eyesight got too bad to read. But she didn't like recess like everyone else did, and that was because she said she was "too fat" to play games. I can't imagine that now, because she is a very petite little woman.
 
Tilly and Ellie Mann were her close friends.
 
Asked whether the teachers were strict back then, she said they were, and she remembers everyone wearing their coats inside the schoolroom, because the teachers always spanked them with a ruler. The coats cushioned the spanking and even when spring would come, and it was too warm inside, she still wore her coat for that reason.
 
After walking the three miles home after school, they had to spend the remaining daylight in the early fall and spring working in the fields, then had to do chores before supper: feeding the chickens, gathering the eggs, feeding the hogs, milking the cows, then helping with supper, and afterwards doing homework by the light of a kerosene lamp.
 
One time all the kids were walking home from school, and a Model-A Ford came along, and the man didn't see Floyd Raabe. The car knocked Floyd down, Floyd rolled under the car and came out on the other side, and the car went on. They thought Floyd was dead, but they all ran over to him and he sat up and he was OK!
 
Valera says she didn't know why she never told anyone. She wonders if Floyd told his folks, or the other kids ever told anyone. She said they never talked about it again.
 
Then Mr. Leissner Poth came to teach, and his wife, Alfreda, taught at Dewees School. Later, Mrs. Poth taught at Kasper. Mr. Poth was Valera's last teacher, because as many young people did those days, during the Depression, she quit school when she was 15 to go to work.
 
When she was 15 years old, Valera Meyer quit Kasper School to work. She worked keeping house for people and also waiting tables. When asked what the young people did back then for entertainment, she said the favorite thing to do was go to dances.
 
House dances were very popular during the 1920s and '30s. She remembers her parents, Arthur and Angela, having many house dances at their house near the Three Oaks Community. They would move the furniture out of one room, and the Stobb brothers, Oscar and Robert, would play the guitar and accordion. There would be a house dance somewhere every weekend. Besides going to Sokol, Three Oaks, and Poth Hermann Sons Hall, you always could find a dance somewhere in Wilson County.
 
In the 1940s, Valera worked as a waitress at Schneider's Café in Poth. During the war, the Greyhound bus stopped there, and she said the thing she remembers the most is when soldiers would get off the bus to come in to get something to drink and go to the restroom.
 
The black soldiers had to go to the attached meat market next door for drinks. They weren't allowed in the café. They had a separate restroom, too. She said she always felt so bad for them that it "broke her heart that they could go to war and get killed for America, but they couldn't come in with the other soldiers."
 
Later on, when segregation in the United States ended, she was one happy woman.
 
After she got married, and was living in Poth, Valera always worked. She liked people and she liked working. She was a hard worker all her life. She always worked at cafés, either cooking or waiting tables. She worked at Schneider's Café, Reiningers Café, the Dewees Store at Dewees, and the Cotton Club, where she cooked and waited tables, and where she worked the longest. She said she worked seven days a week, sometimes, like at the Cotton Club, for 14 to 16 hours a day. She very seldom had a day off.
 
Valera was working at the Dewees Store seven days a week, and remembers the time she even had to miss her family reunion, and her husband and boys went without her that Sunday, and she felt so bad knowing they were there without her.
 
How much do you think she got paid for all that work during those years? Her salary was usually about $100 a month, and after taxes, maybe $80 or $85, that after working 80 or 90 hours a week. Valera Coldewey knows what hard work was like.
 
Valera and her husband, Albert, bought their house in Poth in 1944. It was built from the lumber taken from the old Tardia School, which was torn down that year. When I talked to Valera and was looking at the walls and floors of the house, I thought about stories those walls could tell from the days gone by, from the time they were the lumber in Tardia School — to the 65 years Valera and Albert and her sons lived in the house in Poth. There is a lot of history in that house!
 
Schneider's Café, Reininger's Café, and the Cotton Club are no more in the little town of Poth, but Valera Meyer Coldewey still has lots of memories of the years she worked there. She wouldn't have done things any differently, because she liked to work and liked people. She would have maybe liked having a day off every once in a while, to spend with her family.
 
I will venture to say, she has passed a strong work heritage on to her sons.😀
 
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COURTESY /Lois Wauson who interviewed 89 years old Mrs. Poth one 2010 day in her little house in Poth Texas. Author of " Growing Up in the South Texas Brush Country" and "Looking for a Silver Lining". These books are available at Wilson County News.

Theo Boening – original Boening homestead – part 1

Viola Henke shares a 1996 newspaper article on Theo Boening who at the time was residing on his family's original homestead off Highway 97 West on FM1344. Mr. Boening was 87 years old at press time & was active on the ranch working often with his nephew, Poth Mayor, Gene Maeckel at various ranching & maintenance tasks.  The article appeared in the Wilson County News  and researched & written by Teresa L. Benns.  ( Please click on photos to enlarge for interesting reading)

Theo Boening – original Boening homestead – part 2

Viola Henke shares a 1996 newspaper article on Theo Boening who at the time was residing on his family's original homestead off Highway 97 West on FM1344. Mr. Boening was 87 years old at press time & was active on the ranch working often with his nephew, Poth Mayor, Gene Maeckel at various ranching & maintenance tasks.  The article appeared in the Wilson County News  and researched & written by Teresa L. Benns.  ( Please click on photos to enlarge for interesting reading)
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Sunday afternoon activities, then and now

By Julia Castro | June 30, 2010 | Wilson County News

What do people do these days on a Sunday afternoon? If the weather permits, some may do yardwork which they may not have time to do on weekdays. (We were brought up to not do work on Sundays, unless absolutely necessary.)
 
Others may spend the afternoon barbecuing and having family or friends over. Nowadays, more people have pools, so they may spend the afternoon cooling off in the pool. Some may just become couch potatoes and watch television and nap off and on. Or maybe they go to one of the amusement parks in San Antonio.
 
Anyway, things have changed. Time was when Sunday afternoons were spent visiting relatives, usually the patriarchs of the family. That was what we did in my family. Sunday afternoons, we would gather at Papá's and Mamá's house on Second Street. My sisters Jovita and Rebecca and Rebecca's husband, Henry, and Henry Jr. would come from San Antonio at least every other week, as did my brother Tito and his wife, Emma.
 
Papá's house had a large living room so it could accommodate a large group. If it got kind of cloudy, we would move outside and sit on the porch, some on chairs and some on the cement.
 
One such Sunday, I took my reliable Brownie Kodak camera and took the accompanying snapshot. Notice that we were all women and girls, except for Papá, who was standing just inside the door, and my two young sons, Louie and Larry, who was asleep on Mamá's lap.
 
The "cast" included my sisters Jovita, Rebecca, and Dalila, sisters-in-law Emma and Beatrice, and nieces Lola with her young daughter Debbie on her lap, Lillie, and young Angela and Grace. (I can't remember who was sitting behind the pillar on the right.)
 
The older kids had gone to the Sunday matinee at the Arcadia Theatre. And the rest of the men in the family? Why, they were doing what they like to do on Sunday afternoons — in town drinking a couple of beers (it was always just a couple, according to them). Their choice of cantinas was Castro's Place, although there were plenty of other beer joints in town. Back then, Floresville had a real downtown, but all the other businesses were closed on Sunday, as was the custom back then.
 
When Papá still went with the others, before he gave up drinking, my brother-in-law Henry liked to take him to "Don" Johnny Lopez's cantinita. It was a small, quiet, out-of-the-way place.
 
Even after Papá passed away, and Dalila moved Mamá and my brother Rufo in with her on F Street, I continued taking the younger kids to see Mamá on Sunday afternoons. The kids liked that because Mamá would give them change to go to Squeak's to buy something.
 
Yes, times have changed. Henry and I spend our Sunday afternoons by ourselves. He takes his usual daily long nap. I take a short nap, then read the Sunday paper and the church bulletin.
 
Sometimes I go to visit Rufo or friends at the different nursing homes. I guess this is the way it should be. I don't think we could surround ourselves with all our family every single Sunday. We would need to rent the new Floresville Community Center.
 
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COURTESY/Julia Castro from her former column, "Apple Pie & Salsa". https://www.wilsoncountynews.com/articles/sunday-afternoon-activities-then-and-now/ 
 
Members of the D.P. Muñiz family (Julia Castro's Papá) on a Sunday afternoon in the summer of 1958.

Old Stockdale, Wilson County, Texas family

OLD STOCKDALE WILSON COUNTY TEXAS FAMILY..... Laura Swiess shares her written family history of Nathaniel & Annie Luker.  Read how the family began their married lives in Stockdale in 1898 with their roots surviving today .... 124 years later. Laura has shared old family photos as well. (Thank you, Laura)
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Celebrating the Zook family legacy with El Mesias

By Lois Wauson | June 18, 2014 | "Rainy Days and Starry Nights" | Wilson County News

It was a beautiful sunny day in Floresville. On June 7, 2014 El Mesias Methodist Church celebrated their 100-year anniversary in the Floresville Event Center. My family and I were excited to be there. My grandfather, Rev. Samuel Zook, was the founder of the church. He and my grandmother were missionaries who came from the Rio Grande Valley, originally from Topeka, Kansas.
 
There were 16 of our Zook family there. The congregation had planned for a year for this important day. We walked into the room an hour before the service and there was already a crowd of people gathered around the exhibits, which included hundreds of pictures on posters, which were from decades ago, showing the historical events and the people of El Mesias. Elizabeth Lopez, the historian of the church and longtime member, and Lillie Ortiz, also a longtime member, were the ones who worked mostly on this project throughout this last year. They are two dedicated and hard-working women.
The first collections of pictures were from the original time, and there were portraits of my grandpa and grandma. And also a picture was of the house on the land that my grandpa bought, which was on the corner of Trail and Second streets. It made me connected to this church and the people. When El Mesias Methodist Church was born, when the church was at the corner of B and Second Street, they moved later to the property on Trail and Second, which I think my grandfather sold to them, and they moved out to the farm in the Camp Ranch community.
I was so proud to be sitting there with all my family and to think my grandfather started it all. I felt so much love from the people in El Mesias Church.
Around 200 people were in the service, which was led by Rev. Briones and lay leader Daniel Tejada. Elizabeth Lopez read the history of the church, which was more than 100 years, including the years before 1914, when my grandfather came to Floresville in 1905, and in 1908 started going among the people in the Lodi community and across the river to the Picosa community and preaching to the people under a big oak tree. Bishop Dorff was the speaker, and he encouraged us to go out like Grandpa Zook did, and tell the people about Jesus.
After the service, about 150 people gathered for dinner and my family of 16 Zooks had to sit at two big round tables, because they only seated 10. So like we do at home, the "old" folks sat at one table and the "young" folks sat at a table in the corner away from us, just like we do at home.
After dinner, Rev. Briones brought Bishop Dorff over to meet the grandchildren of Rev. Samuel Zook. That anniversary was the highlight of my year. Every time I drive by El Mesias Methodist Church, I can imagine I see the old brick two-story home that my grandparents lived in with my daddy and his brothers and sisters. I am glad that Christians are still on that land, carrying the legacy on for another 100 years.
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COURTESY/ Wilson County News
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Regina Caroline Lange Wagenfuehr

Regina Caroline Lange Wagenfuehr has ties into Wilson County Texas history in a round about way as she was the strength behind the man.  Regina stayed behind the scenes while her husband, Heinrich Andrew "Henry" Wagenfuehr played in his bands, the Teltschik Family Band and then the Wagenfuehr Band and ran three saloons. Her sister, Lenora Anna Lange Teltschik.was married to Frank Hugo Teltschik of the White House Cafe and Saloon. Loop 181 was named the Hugo Lange Loop after her brother. Regina's nephew was the infamous Fritz Teltschik of Wilson County.

(The photo made in late 1953 was in Floresville Texas.  The grandma of Kevin Wagenfuehr passed away only months later in January 1954.)
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Jansky's celebrates 40 years in 2012

By Nannette Kilbey-Smith and Pam Smith |  Wilson County News | 2012
 
POTH — Sometimes, your life's work finds you early in life.
 
Lawrence Jansky pumped his first tank of gas when he was only 6 years old — for Melvin Reinhard's 1956 Ford, with the gas tank behind the license plate. That was 1957, and Jansky has been filling tanks almost ever since. On June 1, he will celebrate 40 years in business.
 
The owner of L. Jansky's Service Center on North Storts in Poth started working every day after school when he was 13 at Warnken Motors. His love and passion for customer service, care, and community involvement have been a lifelong influence, standing him in good stead with his own business, established in 1972.
 
"This is a family business," said Angela Alexander, Lawrence's daughter. She manages the office at Jansky's, where everyone knows everyone, and customer service is a priority. "Lawrence is dedicated to providing the community with high-quality customer service. We make every attempt to treat each of our customers like family — being honest, respectful, and helpful when it comes to car care, maintenance, service, and support.
 
Lawrence was born in Floresville in 1951. A 1969 graduate of Poth High School, he is married to the former Mary Ann Zimmerman. They have four children: Jacqueline "Jackie," Lawrence Jr. "Larry," Angela, and Tiffany. Lawrence and Mary Ann are the proud grandparents of Tenley, Kate, Magdalyn, Isabella, and Dominik.
 
His dedication to service comes from years of experience. Lawrence worked for his dad, Joe Jansky, at Warnken Motors after school as a teenager, then worked for LeeRoy Reininger Texaco for six years, until he was 21. In 1972, he bought the service station from Reininger, and began his own business history.
 
Of course, he's seen many changes since 1972. Gas isn't what it used to be, and neither are the prices. No one had ever heard of unleaded gas in the '70s, and a gallon of regular gas at Jansky's then sold for 28.9 cents, with premium going for 32.9 cents per gallon. The most a gallon of regular unleaded has sold for at Jansky's was $4.58 in 2008; premium unleaded was selling for $4.99 at the time. Current prices are about $3.46 for regular unleaded.
 
Lawrence carries a range of products, including Shamrock branded gasoline and diesel, new and used tires, Interstate and Continental batteries, and a variety of automotive products. He offers tire repairs, rotation, and balancing; oil and filter changes; and grease jobs. Prices vary by service and product.
 
What makes L. Jansky's Service Center different, the family says, is the atmosphere. Each customer is greeted as they come through the door. And Lawrence has a great ability to deal with people.
 
"I love dealing with and meeting people," he said, speaking about what he enjoys most about being in business. "It's second nature to us."
 
The most difficult part of running the business, he said, is finding dedicated employees.
 
It's apparent he's done something right, because customers keep coming back.
 
Felix Biela of Floresville and his wife are lifelong customers, and Bill Millikin of Floresville has been taking his business to Jansky's "... as long as he's been in business," Millikin said on a recent visit.
 
In addition to running his business, Lawrence has found time to serve as the Poth Volunteer Fire Department chief, belong to the Knights of Columbus, and help maintain the cemetery.
 
He found his niche early. Lawrence's brand of down-home, high-quality, respectful, honest service has kept him in business for 40 years. It seems folks like taking their business where everybody knows your name.
 
"Thank you for the past 40 years," Lawrence said. "We've appreciated your support with sticking with us through the years."

DEWEES WILSON COUNTY TEXAS

The Schneider store looks as it always has. Helen Schneider sold it in 1997 to Alene Pawelek, who has kept the spirit of this local gathering place, selling gas, a few groceries, coffee anytime, and beer in the afternoon and evening. It's a place to catch up on local gossip, and to arrange events, like a fund-raiser for the volunteer fire department.
 
The old gas pump with a clear glass cylinder on the top has been replaced with a modern pump. The cotton gin and weighing scale have been dismantled. A microwave has been added to the kitchen accoutrements, but the glass cabinet holding candy bars is still there just like when Helen owned the store. And little children can still hope for a special treat.
 
Helen and Alfred Schneider had no children of their own, so they "adopted" their nieces and nephews and all the children in the neighborhood. "Our Aunt Helen had beautiful red hair, a twinkle in her bright blue eyes, and a smile for everyone," N ell Lyssy said, in a eulogy delivered at Helen's funeral. She was Helen's great-niece.
 
The Schneiders ranched and operated the store and a cotton gin next to it in Dewees since the 1930s. Helen continued their Hereford ranching operation after Alfred died in 1967. She enjoyed hosting birthday parties, family reunions, and get-togethers for her family, friends, and customers.
 
She supported many youth activities and community projects. "If you asked, she gave," Nell said. "She cared for and supported farm hands as if they were her own family and asked nothing in return. That was just her nature."
 
When Helen's sister, Annie Orts, died as a young mother, Helen took over the job of raising her sister's five daughters.
 
Being an aunt instead of a mother, gave Helen a chance to spoil her nieces and nephews, but "not with expensive presents and money, but with love and attention," Nell said
 
Children knew that a trip to the store meant a scoop of ice cream or a treat from the candy counter. "We could run, play, explore the barns and the cotton gin and gather hens eggs," Nell said.
 
The nieces enjoyed visiting Aunt Helen and Uncle Alfred at their home. The Schneiders had one of the first color televisions in Poth. The children would sit on the floor in front of the television, and Aunt Helen would bring them ice-cold Seven-Up with a cherry in it. "And she would let us drive her huge, green Chrysler Imperial when we were about 12 years old," Nell said.
 
"You could get in trouble and not get fussed at," Nell said. She remembered the chickens, sheep, goats, and pigeons that Aunt Helen kept near the store. Dog and cats, too — "People would leave them there and Aunt Helen would just take care of them," Nell said.
 
Parishioners from Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church in Poth often came to Schneider's Store to drink beer after Mass on Saturday evening. Helen had a poodle named Duffy who would start barking if the people didn't leave in time for Helen to close the store. People still come after Mass on Saturday, but Duffy is long gone.
 
One day Helen decided she wanted to live in a log cabin, and so she had one built next to the store. That was her home until a terrible day in 1994 when robbers knocked on her door and forced her, at gun point, to open the store and give them the money in the cash register. After that, she was afraid to live there by herself, so she moved back to Poth and her niece, Maxine Albrecht, shared the house with her. In recent years, her great-niece, Ann Moore, moved back to Poth from San Antonio and cared for Aunt Helen.
 
Helen Schneider sold her historic Schneider's Store in Dewees in 1997, after running it for 65 years. Betty Ortmann helped care for Helen until her passing three years later on December 1,  2006 at the age of 95.
 
[ Ed Schneider built the building in 1929 and ran the restaurant named Schneider's until 1946 when Ed Zolkosky and his inlaws purchased it.  Ed's wife, Marilyn, was a Reinhard and her father helped Ed with the down payment and helped run the place----then named Ed's.  They paid $26,000 for in 1946 and sold it in 1962 for $26,000 to a fellow from "up north" ..  
named it Pop's.  The State took over the property to make the turn lane in 2000.]
 
  
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COURTESY / Wilson County News  December 20, 2006 written by Fred Owens.
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Robert Cone of Stockdale

A GOOD OLE WILSON COUNTY TEXAS FARMER   ...   Robert Cone of Stockdale Texas grew some mighty good looking Black Diamonds in his time. James Davenport proudly says, " His grandfather was Robert Cone and he grew watermelons until the day he died."  Robert was a hard working man and as a farmer worked sunrise to sundown. Ronald Wiatrek says that he probably had very strong arms, because he waved at every car or truck that went by while selling his watermelons on Hwy 87.

HISTORY OF A FAMILY ..... from France to Wilson County Texas

Do you recognize the family? "My wife's mother's  family lived in Wilson County on FM 537 five miles south of Floresville. They migrated from Alsace-Loraine France in 1890. Her great grand father brought his mother and 9 children on the ship into Ellis Island New York. He had secured a job with the Camp Ranch in Wilson County as a leather repairman for saddles and tack. He had been a cobbler in France . He worked for several years and bought 3 sections of land. Part of which is in present day Floresville. After the purchase was final he gave each child 176 acres. Mary Lea's grandfather had the 176 acres just east of the first curve on 537. Next to him was his brother Louie . Then his two sisters Bertha and Mary who lived on the homestead Augustus originally settled that was 706 acres. With Charlie  another brother's 176 acres east of the home place. Mary.s grandfather and grandmother married in 1900 and lived in a covered wagon until their first child Albert George was born in 1904 . They built a small framed two bedroom house shortly after the birth. But they added on to it when some of the other five children were born. Her grandmother's father was a cattle drover and went to Dodge City on one of the cattle drives in the 1870s . Before his children were born. Mary's father Raymond W Sutherland was from Sutherland Springs and Stockdale but lived on County road 537 two miles east of her mother's family.  Ansel Jack Sutherland owned 8 mules and plowed acreage  for other land owners in Wilson County and his wife Annie raised chickens and turkey's and sold eggs. Raymond and Anna Lea married in 1935 and lived just east of Cibolo Creek on what is now CR537. He plowed and planted for others just like his dad. But in 1937 he also started raising watermelons for sale in San Antonio. In 1938 he bought a 1936 Chevrolet pickup truck to haul Wilson County watermelons to the Farmers Market in San Antonio."
 
"In 1966 Raymond Sutherland and Monty Noles leased 1265 acres between Pandora and Union Valley for cattle raising. Kept the lease until 1985. He raised Hi-gear hay several years to feed the cattle in winter and when they needed penning. I hunted deer and quail many years and fished the two large cattle tanks on the property. After Monte Noles death he subleased the Union Valley pasture to Raymond Wright of Floresville for partnered cattle raising." (posted by Jim Lee)
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COURTESY/ Texas History Groups and Pages

Camp Ranch Gal has fingers in many varied pies

Wilson County News   
Written by Lois Wauson, May 02, 2012
"Starry Nights & Rainy Days"

Viola Guenther Henke's parents were peanut farmers in the 1940s in the Camp Ranch community of Floresville. She knew what hard work was when she was still in grammar school. She was introduced to hoeing peanuts and driving a tractor at an early age. Like all kids in those days, she did it with no pay. My brothers and sisters did too. It was hard work. But everyone worked hard. In those days, especially in Wilson County, all children worked hard.
 
Viola Henke is the daughter of Walter and Edna Guenther of Camp Ranch. Besides working in the fields, when she was in fifth grade, she worked for her lunch in the school cafeteria in Floresville. She would clean the lunch tables under the guidance of Mrs. Marsh, the supervisor.
 
When she was 12 years old, she worked for Raul Trevino, who had the Floresville Bakery and Coffee Shop. The bakery was right across from the courthouse. Merrill Connally, the Wilson County Judge, and others would walk across the street for their coffee break. Viola recalls receiving a quarter from Mr. Connally for serving a 5-cent cup of coffee! She never forgot that!
 
Viola was a responsible youngster, so Mr. Trevino gave her the job to open and close the bakery when he and his wife made a trip to Mexico. He told her to close up as soon as the donuts were gone. One day they weren't selling so fast, so she and her cousin Jeanette decided to do something to make them sell. They went to Merchants Grocery Store and bought powdered sugar and cocoa. They made some icing and iced the donuts. The donuts sold quickly then, so they closed the bakery for the day. What an entrepreneur she was at such a young age! Imagine letting a 12-year-old girl run a bakery when you went out of the country! These days someone would call Child Protective Services.
 
Also she worked during the Christmas holidays at the C&C Variety Store, which was on Third Street in Floresville. Janie Zook, who was my aunt, was the owner. Viola's job was Christmas gift-wrapping. Sounds like a fun job to me.
 
When Viola was 14 years old, Robert Spruce, the manager of Floresville Light & Power System (FELPS) called Maida Cooper, the Floresville High School bookkeeping teacher, for a recommendation for a part-time employee. Viola was the one Lillian Chamberlain, office manager of FELPS, chose for the job. Viola worked there with on-the-job training and became manager of financial services.
 
So this high school girl, 14 years old, began working at FELPS, with on-the-job training and worked there for 51 years. She still works for them part time, being a trustee of the FELPS Pension Trust. FELPS knew a good employee and appreciated her. She must have been a hard worker.
 
But Viola didn't stop working when she retired. After retiring in 2006, she and her husband, Otto Henke, started a business named Henke Creations. Viola started picking up rocks. But Viola doesn't just collect rocks. She purchased lapidary equipment, and has turned those rocks into polished slabs, design angels, and things like wooden crosses. You can find them at Finders Keepers, the antique outlet store at the old Baumann's Grocery on C Street.
 
Not only keeping busy with her Henke Creations, Viola also has been a volunteer at the Regency Manor, where her parents were for four years before they passed away. She is still a part-time employee, assisting in the activity department. Those residents are so blessed to have Viola there these days!
 
Despite being a woman in her 70s, with all these jobs, she is also a vibrant member of the Wilson County Historical Society, and has taken on the job of directing and producing the Floresville Opry, a benefit for the organization, which is held every three months in the Floresville Event Center. The first two Oprys were a huge success, and I am looking forward to the one on May 3.
 
Despite being a working woman, Viola Henke has always been a devoted wife and mother. I can vouch for the fact she is an awesome cook and baker. She makes wonderful kolaches, which she is teaching her grandchildren how to make.
 
Viola and Otto's three sons, Kevin, Douglas, and Clifton, began working at early ages by mowing lawns, being helpers to carpenters and electrical and plumbing contractors. They learned to do a day's work plus! The good work ethic has been passed down through both Viola and Otto's families for generations.
 
Otto and Viola have been married for 52 years. They stay busy with their business, part-time jobs, volunteer work, and many activities. They have fun visiting Lakehills, where they built a cabin on Medina Lake many years ago. The whole family, including grandchildren, enjoys swimming, fishing, and waterskiing. They go to Fashing, where they have a ranch, to go deer hunting. They also love to go to Rockport, where they have a time-share condo, to enjoy the beach, the Gulf breezes, and fishing with the family.
 
Viola is a good example of the Texas women I love to write about. I call these stories "Strong Texas Women," who have worked hard all their life, but then they take time for family, fun, and relaxation.
 
 

AN EARLY PIONEER OF WILSON COUNTY TEXAS..... Robert Carter Houston

Death has called to "The Great Beyond" another one of the pioneers who have helped build up Texas and Wilson County in the person of Mr. Robert Carter Houston (1/5/1842 - 
11/29/1916). He came to Wilson County with his parents, Ross (1805-1862) and Martha Anville Bumpass Houston (1806-1866) in 1851, but although then but a lad of twelve or 
thirteen, he has a just claim to the title of a pioneer, for he endured the hardships and trials of the long overland journey in wagons from Lauderdale County, Alabama and of the 
settlement of his family in what was then a practical wilderness. 
 
The parents of the subject of these memoirs were not only earnest believers in the dignity of labor, but they also maintained that boys should be taught to cook, sweep, sew, wash clothes and iron them. As the good mother said, "A boy may never have to do such things, but if they ever do have them to do, it will help them wonderfully to know how to do them." 
 
For the first year or two after the arrival of the Houston family on the Cibolo in this county, there was much work to do. Houses were to be built, land fenced and cleared for cultivation and cattle and horses to be cared for.
 
Robert, fondly called "Bob" by family and friends, did his part in all this industry, and when not at work in the field or woods, he was going to school. In 1859, he and his brother, Samuel Ross Houston, went back to Florence, Alabama and entered the Wesleyan University at that place, entering the Freshman class.
 
The War between the States came in 1861 and caused a general cessation of study among the students. Samuel Ross Houston came back to Texas before his sophomore year was ended, but Bob stayed in Alabama until a company of its citizens organized a cavalry company to serve in the Confederate Army. This he joined and remained a member of, until the Eighth Texas or Terry Rangers, came under command of General Albert Sydney Johnston, when he sought and obtained a transfer to Company G of the regiment, then commanded by his elder brother, Captain William Yandall Houston.
 
Thence forward till the close of the war his career was like that of other cavalrymen in active service. That he was brave and gallant and did his duty as a soldier, is amply attested by the esteem in which he was held by the survivors of the regiment. When hostilities ceased, he returned to Texas to find his father had died on December 22, 1862, his mother a widow, the family slaves free, and the country in the so-called process of reconstruction. All that was left was the land and small stocks of cattle and horses, and to these the young man at once turned his attention.
 
On November 6, 1866, his mother died, and in the division of the estate Bob got the home place and a fair pro rata of the land.
 
November 22, 1866, Robert Houston won the heart and hand of Miss Ellen Brahan, (daughter of Major Robert Weekly Brahan for whom the Masonic Lodge of La Vernia is named.) To the couple were born eight children; Mattie Anville Houston (1867-1876); Mary H. "Mamie" (1869-1958), wife of T. C. McDaniel, Floresville; Roberta B., wife of W. E. Smith, San Antonio; William Sledge Houston (1875-1942) married Miss Annie Brooks and lived at Somerville; Ross W. Houston (1877-1906) married Miss Ossie Trawek; Nell C. Houston (1882-1913); Hal Brahan Houston (1884-1958) married Miss Ella Taylor; and Alma Gertrude (1887-1978) wife of Henry Montgomery, residing in Houston. 
 
Mr. Houston continued to farm and raise cattle and horses until his children got to an age when they must have the advantage of the best schools and then he moved to Floresville, and in the same or following year, was elected sheriff of the county. The fact that he held that office for three or more terms, is evidence that he was a most efficient officer. Indeed, without disparagement to his predecessors and successors, it may be said that he was the most thoroughly efficient sheriff that Wilson County has ever had. 
 
While performing his official duties well and faithfully, he yet found time to aid all with his money, influence and labor in the betterment of the schools of Floresville. To him we are indebted more than to any other person for the Academy which was the nucleus for the magnificent high school 
building of which we are now so proud.
 
Not only this , but he lent his aid and influence and gave encouragement to every enterprise that would benefit his town, county and state, and was usually a leader in every project of general interest. In short, he was public-spirited 
and progressive, always ready and willing to do his part and bear his share of the burden of building up the county; liberal in his charities, and they were many, including his contributions to the various churches. 
 
Following his retirement from civil office, Mr. Houston moved back to his farm and again engaged in farming and stock-raising. How many years he gave to that is not remembered, 
but he finally sold out his holdings in Wilson County and went to Lufkin to live. After staying there a few years, he removed to Somerville, where, as has been announced, he died on 
the 29th day of November, 1916 after long suffering from a cancer on the face.
 
Thence his body was brought to Floresville and interred by the side of his deceased daughter, Nell, in the Floresville City Cemetery. His request that funeral and burial should be according to the Confederate ritual could not be granted, there being no U.C.V. Camp in Wilson County, but in honor of his memory he was followed to the grave by every ex-Confederate in the town and by many from the county.Not one of these but had some story to tell which showed their appreciation and administration of their departed comrade, and from the heart 
of each came the tribute, "Honor to his memory; peace to his ashes." J. B. Polley 
 
NOTE: An interesting item from the Floresville Chronicle-Journal, August 8, 1930:Titled "Old Landmark Burns". LA VERNIA, TEXAS July 26, Fire of unknown origin destroyed the 
Burt Farmhouse, formerly the old Bob Houston home, aboutthree miles east of here. This marked the passing of one of the old land marks, as it was one of the oldest houses here. 
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Compiled by Shirley Grammer from information in her files. Wilson County Historical Society 10/08

A PIONEER WILSON COUNTY RESIDENT — Thomas Swift

A pioneer Wilson County Resident .... Thomas Swift was born in Henry County, Missouri on December 28, 1852. When he was eight years old, he moved with the Swift family to Fannin County, Texas. The family lived in Fannin County for only three months. They moved to Erath County, Texas and
remained there until 1873. Then they moved to Fairview, Wilson County, Texas.
 
On March 12, 1874, Thomas Swift married a local Fairview Citizen, Miss Maggie Carver. She was just fifteen years of age on her wedding day, but it was a joyous celebration with seventy five people attending the ceremony.
 
Mr. and Mrs. Swift's first home was a log cabin with no windows and only one door. Mrs. Swift began housekeeping without a stove and very few kitchen utensils. All meals were cooked in a Dutch oven over coals of fire in front of the fireplace in cold or inclement weather.
 
During the summer time and on pleasant days, the Dutch oven was moved outside and meals were cooked over an open fire. Only basic groceries such as coffee, flour, salt and sugar were purchased. Wild game or wild cattle roamed the surrounding prairies, and Mr. Swift could kill the animals for meat.
On a monthly basis, Mr. Swift would travel by wagon to San Antonio to purchase supplies including groceries. At this time crossing the country by road to Lodi was not practical and the route to San Antonio was the most feasible.
 
On one of his trips to purchase provisions, Mrs. Swift was left alone in the cabin with her four little children. One evening after the children had gone to bed, Mrs. Swift heard an 
unusual noise at the door. It sounded as if someone was attempting to break in the house. Mrs. Swift did not have a firearm, so she armed herself with a hatchet. She boldly 
informed the intended intruder that she would end his life if he entered the house. The intruder did not reply, but left the premises without causing any further problems. Later it was determined that this intruder was a wandering individual who thought he could steal some money which was presumed to be hidden in the house. 
 
During his time in Erath County, Mr. Swift learned farming while plowing with a wooden moldboard plow pulled by a yoke of oxen. He believed this was the first attempt at farming in the area as ranching was the principal business in the region.
Indians were a constant concern in the area and since there was no law on the frontier, individuals went about armed with pistols and carbines. In 1865, Comanche Indians were the greatest menace, killing many men, women and children. With ranch homes so far apart, the settlers had to leave their homes and gather together for mutual protection.
 
In the time frame of 1866 – 67, New Orleans was the best market for cattle. The sale of cattle was the major source of cash for the ranchers of Erath County. Mr. Swift was one 
of the local trail drivers who drove the herds of cattle to this market. Cattle trailing during this period, would consume almost six months of his time during the year. A saddle blanket would be his only bed and his roof was the blue sky or a slicker during inclement weather. Mr. Swift enjoyed the great outdoors. These were happy days for him, free of problems and instilling a broad outlook on life. Nothing was more exciting, after bedding down a herd of cattle, than to sleep out under a clear sky and observe the stars on a bright, still night. 
 
For more than thirty years he served as Justice of the Peace in the Fairview Community and at one time was a county Commissioner of Wilson County. For more than a quarter 
of a century, he was secretary of the Fairview Jeptha Masonic Lodge. He also served three times as Past Master of the Lodge of which he was an honored member.
 
Mr. Swift and his wife raised a family of stalwart sons and daughters. Thirteen children were born to this marriage. One son, J. E. swift served for many years as county superintendent of the schools in Wilson County.
 
On Tuesday, December 29, 1942, Mr. Swift passed away at his home just a day after he had celebrated his 90th birthday. He had been in failing health for some time. His funeral services were conducted in his Fairview country home by the Reverend J. W. Black, pastor of the Floresville Methodist Church. The Floresville Masonic Lodge concluded the burial services with the rites of the order at the old Rock Church Cemetery. He was buried beside his wife, who preceded him in death in September of 1935.
 
Compiled by Gene Maeckel from information in the Wilson County Historical Society Archives. 9/2008

A LIFE SHAPED BY HARD WORK & HUNTING

Glenn Lothringer will be 90 years young Sept. 10; he shared these memories with his daughter, Linda Lothringer, who wrote this down for her family and Wilson County News readers in 2016.
 
I was born in Marlow, Okla., in 1926, the first of two sons of Melvin and Myrtle Lothringer. Sometime before 1935, my family moved to Fairview in Wilson County, Texas, where I've lived ever since.
 
Fairview School
 
I rode a gray horse named Sam 5 miles to the Fairview School. I'd tie him to a tree for the day with his bridle and saddle still on. I was small and the horse was large, so I couldn't make him go anywhere else. If I had to go to the store past the school, Sam would to go to the school and stand in his usual place.
 
I went to Floresville School for two years and then quit. We drove to the Floresville School each day and occasionally carpooled with the Ray brothers. There were no paved roads at that time, so it was rough driving from Fairview to Floresville. You could easily get stuck on the dirt roads.
 
Making do
 
I grew up during the Depression. We had one pair of shoes all winter and had to make them last. Hand-me-down clothes and shoes went from the older kids to the younger siblings.
 
We had chickens, turkeys, cows, and pigs, and grew corn and peanuts. My mother also maintained a large garden. I had to milk the cows twice a day and shuck corn to feed the hogs. We never had to buy meat; we would butcher our own hogs and cattle to eat.
 
My mother canned the meat in jars. She also made great homemade tamales. What food the family couldn't eat, we canned. We never threw anything away and no one wasted food. If you put it on your plate, you ate it.
 
Saturdays were special
 
We went to town on Saturday, taking our corn to the mill on the way in. We paid cash for it to be ground into cornmeal or the miller kept part of the corn for payment. We'd proceed to town to sell our cream and eggs. Once we sold our goods, we went to the grocery store to buy sugar, coffee, and flour. On the way home, we picked up the corn meal from the mill.
 
Occasionally, we would go to picture shows.
 
The family used to listen to soap operas on the radio at my Uncle Jess Bruce's home. The Grand Old Opry was a favorite.
 
People had morals in those days; they had a hard life, but a good life. You never heard of drugs in school, but we did have moonshine, which was tough stuff; it could kill you.
 
Going hunting
 
I used to hoe peanuts with my Grandpa Bob, working from noon to dark sacking the peanuts, earning 50 cents a day. I was happy then, because I could buy shells for my .22 rifle — 15 cents for 100 rounds.
 
I hunted varmints at night, especially coons, and sold the skins. We also hunted coyotes to keep them away from the chickens.
 
I started deer and hog hunting when I was 16 or 17. We'd hunt on a friend's ranch in Frio County and cook the deer meat in Dutch ovens.
 
After many years of hunting with a rifle, I started hunting with a camera. I regret not picking up a camera earlier in life, because I really enjoy photography.
 
I also taught myself how to play the accordion.
 
Plane crash
 
One significant event during my youth was the crash of a military airplane one night in the 1940s.
 
We were at home playing dominoes with our visitors around 10 p.m. when we heard a plane stall out and crash.
 
Our house at the time was less than half a mile from the intersection of what today are F.M. 536 and F.M. 2505.
 
My parents and I went to the crash site in our car and were the first to arrive at the scene.
 
We saw something moving that was large and white, with eyes that were glowing from the reflection of the car headlights. We thought it was a cow. It was the pilot. He had ejected from the plane and was still attached to his parachute.
 
This was scary, and every time a plane came over after that, I was nervous that it would crash.
 
1942 hurricane
 
I also remember when a Category 3 hurricane hit Matagorda on Aug. 30, 1942. It tracked right over San Antonio, leaving $26 million of damage in its path. It seemed like we were in the eye of the storm. Everything that was picked up by the strong winds came down in a different direction. (See box for more on the storm.)
 
Not a windmill was left standing for miles around. Grandpa Lothringer was a fanatic about his windmill; he would only run it for a short period of time and then go cut it off. When the storm knocked all the windmills over, he was first to go to San Antonio to buy another windmill, because they were scarce and he knew it would be hard to find one if he waited too long.
 
Category 3 storm
 
According to the National Weather Service, the unnamed Aug. 30, 1942, Category 3 hurricane Glenn Lothringer remembers made landfall about midnight Aug. 30 and plowed inland, wreaking a destructive path. By noon Aug. 30, it had weakened to a tropical storm in the San Marcos area, with sustained winds of 50 mph. It continued northwestward, steadily weakening, until dissipating near Sweetwater on Aug. 31.
 
"The destruction and devastation brought to South Central Texas by this hurricane is the worst in the 20th century," the NWS said. Victoria County reported "every house damaged to some extent."
 
Wind damaged all but five of the 75 aircraft at the San Antonio municipal airport, in spite of stakes being driven 8 feet into the ground to hold them. Buildings and trees were damaged all along the storm's path.
 
 
Married life
 
I met Toney through my best friend, John Beakly "Beak" Swift. Beak was dating Toney's sister, Elenora, and would take me along when he went to visit.
 
Beak married Elenora in September 1947 and Toney and I married the following July.
 
We lived in the doctor's house where I had lived with my parents before. We were the first family to have electricity — even before my parents did — because of the location of the home.
 
Sage advice
 
If there was any advice I would give someone today raising kids, ensure they learn to speak Spanish. It will take them far.
 
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COURTESY / Wilson County News 
 
Clifford Glenn Lothringer entered into rest on Thursday, March 21, 2019, at the age of 92. At the age of 4, his family moved to the Fairview community in Wilson County. There he grew to manhood and spent his entire adult life. He attended schools in Fairview and Floresville, Texas.
 
In 1948, he married Toney Richter, and together they had four children, Jimmie, Jeffrey, Linda, and Cindy. Glenn was a farmer and rancher and worked up until the end of his life. He was an avid hunter and fisherman for most of his life. In later years, he hunted for the best wildlife picture with his camera.
 
He is survived by his wife of 70 years.
Vivian luker cradle roll certificate first baptist church

Vivian Luker 1917 Cradle Roll Certificate

Vivian Luker 1917 Cradle Roll Certificate....... issued by the First Baptist Church Stockdale Wilson County Texas during Sunday School.  Certificate reads " Stockdale Baptist Bible School  This Certifies that Vivian Luker is a member of the Cradle Roll Department. Born June 27th 1917 Entered September 29th 1917 ". The vintage certificate for the three month old infant was signed by: Mrs. John McIntire, J.H. Bain, &  R.T. Deel?
 
Wording from Texas Historical Commission Marker:
Stockdale Baptists organized their church in 1874 in a picket building. They met there or in a mill house or schoolhouse for years. The Rev. L. S. Cox was the first pastor. In 1885, under Pastor E. Norwood. The congregation erected its first church building, but this soon (1886) was damaged in a storm. Services were held in a cotton warehouse while the church was being rebuilt. In 1910, while The Rev. J. A. Morse was pastor, present site was bought and the third sanctuary built. Under leadership of The Rev. Charles Bowes, the present building was completed in 1953. The Rev. Charles Young was pastor (1966) when current parsonage was erected on site of the 1885 church.
 
Stewardship and enrolment have grown during the century. The congregation began in 1916 to sponsor a Mexican mission, erecting a mission hall in 1919. Present mission church was built in 1964, during the pastorate of The Rev. Kenneth Wellman.
 
The congregation has ordained several ministers: The Rev. Marshall Smith (1918), the Rev. Celestino Grasciotti (1924), the Rev. Bryan Teague (1928), the Rev. Jesse Jasso (in the mission, 1962), the Rev. Antonio Del Carmen (1970), and the Rev. Crus Casarez (1973). The Rev. John Hallum is the present pastor.
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Charlie Hild and Maude Yvonne Hild

An 85 year old photo..... is shared by Debbie Steenken.  The farmer proudly holding his baby daughter is Charlie Hild. The baby is Maude Yvonne Hild. She is more interested in the working mules. The photo was taken in 1937 about 1.5 miles past the Y  (Highways 87 & 97 intersection) going from Stockdale Wilson County Tx to Floresville Wilson County Tx. [Debbie thanks for sharing such a great photo]
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Joseph Daniel Odom

A young lad back in the late 1920's or early 1930's posing with his bicycle in a vintage photo shared by reader, Gay Lynn Olsovsky. The lad is Joseph Daniel Odom. " JD "  appears dressed-up in his attire with the Buster Brown cap. The scenery appears to be the old Odom homeplace in Wilson County Texas . (Thanks Gay!)
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The Flores Land

THE FLORES LAND .... A newspaper article (Wilson County News) dated Wednesday June 23, 1993 was shared by Kevin Stanush The writer of the article was Earl Gilley and Kevin's cousin. Mr. Gilley was a lovely gentleman respected & loved by many.... he and Mildred, his wife.

History of African American Families

HISTORY OF AFRICAN AMERICAN FAMILIES .... living in Sutherland Springs Wilson County Texas written by Vera Williams Watson. (COURTESY / Sutherland Springs Historical Museum )

Elliott Tanner Garner

A gentleman who touched many lives in Wilson County Texas with his compassion & kindness .... Who remembers him? Pop Garner ( Elliott Tanner Garner) was the Janitor for many years at the Floresville Junior High.  (Thank you Patty Flora Sitchler  for sharing pictures of your uncle)
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Rex McCloskey

It didn't take long for this Wilson County Texas farmer to get his varmints for the day! Who is this sharp shooter? Kevin Wagenfuehr  guessed " Rex McCloskey" right off!  On the back of the picture is written, "One morning's catch". Thanks Alan Peschke for sharing this photo.

Elder & Derum family

Anyone gathering family ancestral lines of Wilson County Texas residents Elder & Derum?   The Portal to Texas History photograph of five children posing together made in Wilson County, Texas. The three in the back row are identified as Fay, James, and Sidell Elder, and the baby and girl in the front row are Roberta and Annie Derum.  There is no date nor additional information.

Johann Richter

JOHANN RICHTER OF WILSON COUNTY TEXAS .... Johann Richter and his family immigrated to Texas in 1855 from Prussia. This region is now in Poland, called Silesia. They settled in Yorktown after landing in Indianola. Johann lost his wife en route to America and three years later married for the second time and had a large family.  
 
Sometime in the 1870s, the family moved to Wilson County and settled three miles west of Stockdale, where he purchased large tracts of land on either side of the Cibolo Creek. The sons of Johann purchased more land in the area to the north. The family was heavily involved in agricultural pursuits. 
 
After a storm destroyed the Catholic Church in Stockdale in 1886, Johann donated three acres of land for the second St. Mary's Church on his property. Vincent Richter donated one acre for the Richter Cemetery. The church remained here until 1951 when it was moved to Stockdale. A community school was built across the railroad track from the school. This little area early on was known as Prairie Lea, but later changed to the Richter Community. 
 
There are many descendants of Johann Richter living in Wilson County and in other parts of the United States in many varied professions.
 
...... taken from the Wilson County Sesquicentennial 1860-2010
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James Hemby Sr. Family

JAMES HEMBY SR. FAMILY .... 1897 portrait 
 
(Wilson County Sesquicentennial 1860-2010)

Circle C Band – Carrol Sammons

CIRCLE C BAND  ...  good old country-western music where one tapped their foot, twirled the girls, as they two-stepped across the saw-dusted dance floor.  
 
Carrol Sammons 87 years old began playing the guitar when he was about 13 years old when his Uncle Garvie Odom gave him his first guitar. His uncle had shown him the chords and Carrol would go home practicing on his uncle's guitar which was given to him.
 
"Carrol Sammons formed the Circle "C" Band, and played for countless local musicians and national celebrities. Though he retired, Sammons' band as of recently still plays locally. They used variations on the name Circle "C" Band; Circle "C" Boys, Circle "C" Gang; the Bunkhouse Boys or Bunkhouse Band. About 1949, "Lee Harmon" Boazeman heard Sammons play at a dance, then called to ask Carrol to play guitar with his Bunk House Boys. Sammons said Harmon was his best friend, the best singer he'd ever heard.
 
The early Circle "C" Band had a musical theatrical show in Dallas theaters, initially called "Hayloft Hoedown."
 
"About 1952, in addition to playing dances locally, Carrol played guitar for Texas Top Hands band Leader "Easy" Adams on a daily live Western Swing and Country music show on San Antonio radio station KONO. Sammons preferred to play lead guitar, but says "Easy" Adams made him sing one or two songs on air every week. In those days, the band performed live, on the radio. On occasion, they were taped to play later, just as when the band recorded, the entire band played and recorded all at once."
 
"Also in the early '50's, popular San Antonio radio personality KMAC disc jockey Charlie Walker heard Carrol's band play and hired them to perform live on his radio show. The band also played on a weekly television show, "Ranch House Party" on Channel 5 KEYL, performing in the studio next to Channel 4's Red River Dave's show. They also played on a radio show at KGNB in New Braunfels, TX. Walker had a dancehall in San Antonio called The Barn where he arranged to showcase celebrity guest artists. The performers were backed with Walker's band of young local musicians. As Walker's protégé, and over the years, Sammons worked for an impressive list of celebrity country music entertainers."
{Bio written by JoDee Doyle}
 
Carrol Sammons was awarded the CMA of Texas Hall of Fame Awards 2014 South Texas Opry & the Texas Swing Hall of Fame 2017.
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A.J. Dunn

A.J. Dunn still remembers Pearl Harbor after 65 years .... Elaine Mazurek Stephens authored this great article for the Wilson County News in 2006.
 
Sixty-five years ago, Seaman A. J. Dunn was stationed at Pearl Harbor in the beautiful territory of Hawaii. Now 84, Dunn lives in the central part of a different kind of beauty, Wilson County, Texas.
 
He grew up in balmy Corpus Christi. At the age of almost 19, he had been a volunteer in the U. S. Navy for about a year, assigned to the USS Oglala, once a transport and now a minelayer, since World War I. When the ship was at sea laying mines, Dunn was a helmsman. On dock, he was a bow hook on a motor launch used to check mine fields.
 
On the morning of Dec. 7, 1941, Dunn had been in Honolulu on a five-day pass. He had just mailed Christmas presents to his mother and father, sister, and brother and was headed back to the harbor in a taxi with other sailors. He was planning to meet up with a friend, W.J. Sherrill, who was on the USS Arizona, and go back to Honolulu. Just as the cab got near the gate to the docks, "Everything started," he said. "The taxi driver was so shook up that he didn't even stop or get his money. We just jumped out and started running to our ships. As we ran, the Japanese planes were firing at us. We were wearing our whites and were easy to see. I saw this plane make a bank and I knew what he was after. I saw that big rising sun. We jumped into a ditch. Shells were flying everywhere. Then someone told us, 'Follow me, the ship's on fire!' and they wanted us down at the dock with fire hoses. We were fighting fires on the destroyers Cassin and Downes."
 
The Oglala already had rolled over on its side. A torpedo had gone under his ship and hit the Helena, docked next to the Oglala. The blast ripped open plates on the Oglala. The watertight doors on the Helena saved her from going down, but the Oglala was older.
 
"It sat there and sank like a rock," Dunn said, "but the men had time to get off and no one died on the Oglala."
 
"I wasn't at the dock 15 minutes and somebody said, 'We better get outta here — they're gonna blow up!' I ran and had just cleared a building when a blast blew me face down, but I wasn't scratched. About 10 feet away, something fell on a car and mashed it right down. After that, I saw a destroyer pulling away from the dock and I thought, 'My ship's gone, so I'm gettin' outta here,' so I ran and jumped aboard the USS Mugsford.
 
"We went to sea during the attack," he said, "looking for the Japanese. Luckily, we didn't find them because we couldn't have handled it, no better equipped and armed than we were, but we stayed for seven days and nights. I was assigned to a lower ammunition station, but we were in general quarters all the time. We did sink a sub while we were at sea."
 
"We came back in and they held a muster on everybody that was in there. Most of the people on the ship didn't belong there. A lot of us were transferred to the cruiser New Orleans," Dunn said.
 
"When we went back into Pearl, it was in shambles. Ships were sunk and there was a lot of confusion. The night before we came in, some of our own planes came in from somewhere and got shot at in the harbor," Dunn said, shaking his head sadly.
 
He soon found out that his friend, Sherrill, did not survive the attack. He is among the almost 1,000 men now considered "Lost at Sea" and entombed in the Arizona in Pearl Harbor.
 
"I grew up with him in Corpus. He was a twin and I kind of followed them and joined the Navy about a year after they did. Now we have a park named after him in Corpus. His brother had just been transferred to a fleet in the Asiatic before the attack. I understand he passed away recently."
Dunn's family was confident he was more fortunate. The letters he mailed on Dec. 7 were delivered a few weeks later, which was reassuring to his family.
"They figured I was okay when they got the presents and letters. I didn't see them, though, for four more years. I was put on the New Orleans and then transferred to the new battleship, the Indiana, just before her commissioning." He went on to say, "All of the armor and gunner magazines were under our care. We took readings every day to test the ammo. If it was old, it was too sensitive to keep."
 
Dunn fought as a gunner's mate in the Marshall, Gilbert and Philippine island campaigns. "I had no experience on gunners and had to learn that as I went. That was an experience. We later transferred a load of troops from Tokyo to Oregon. We also went to Korea and Manila. We were in the Philippines when the atomic bombs were dropped. We passed right alongside the Missouri when they were signing all the papers."
 
Dunn has lived in the Wilson County area for eight years, having spent his life after the Navy back in his hometown of Corpus Christi, where he was a homebuilder. He has built several homes in this area, including the beautiful home he enjoys with his wife, Claudine. His daughter, Geneva Thorne, and granddaughters, Jennifer Parker and Kimberly Thorne, live nearby. His great-grandchildren are Joshua Thorne, 14, and Matthew Thorne, 5, and Mary Parker, 10, Ryan Parker, 8, and Bradley Parker, 6. They visit almost every day. It is obvious they adore him.
 
His photo albums are filled with perfectly arranged mementos and good quality photos of his Navy life, including that five-day pass and the letter he mailed home, dated Dec. 7, 1941.
 
"I lost a lot of photos when the Oglala went down," he said. But Dunn has spent the last 65 years refilling his photo albums, with photos of his family and the long life he has enjoyed since surviving the attack on Pearl Harbor.
 
Dunn's story also has been recorded in a now out-of-print book, Remembering Pearl Harbor, Eyewitness Accounts by U.S. Military Men and Women, edited by Robert S. La Forte and Ronald E. Marcello.
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COURTESY / Wilson County News 2006

Mrs. Inez Jackson

Mrs. Inez Jackson .... was the first Wilson County Texas Librarian. She not only gave birth to the Library idea but she put forth countless hours seeing the idea was carried out for Wilson County Texas.
 
"The Story of Helen Keller" book was bought by reader Elaine West from Mrs. Jackson at the bookmobile at Stockdale Elementary in the 1960's. The book is a 7th printing dated Nov. 1962.  It cost 35 cents.  Elaine West learned sign language from the manual alphabet printed at the back of the book.
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A visit with Elenora  Talley

Her house is like a historic home, full of memories .... Writer, Lois Wauson, typed this appealing story for her " Rainy Days  & Starry Nights" column in the Wilson County News in 2010.
 
I had met her two years ago at her brother Charlie Svoboda's house. I remember her then, despite being 90 years old, she appeared young, pretty, and a lady who had an amazing memory. I planned to talk to her some day and get her story.
 
A few weeks ago, I visited Elenora Talley in her old farmhouse that was built in 1911, nearly 100 years ago.
 
The house is well-kept and full of beautiful treasures like handmade furniture, hundreds of pictures from the past, and wonderful needlepoint in almost every room. It was like going back in time.
 
She showed me around the home, which she and her husband, Troy Talley, bought in 1942.
 
Through the years, they did a lot of work on the house, adding rooms like a family room and sun room, but restoring the original rooms, and keeping the beautiful old fireplace, floors, doors, etc. It is a beautiful home full of beautiful things. She is so proud of her home. She hopes to live out the remaining days of her life in her home, which has so many memories of her husband and three children.
 
Elenora remembers her Grandmother Jasek as a wonderful lady. She was born in Moravia. Albina Jasek's mother died when she was 6 years old. Her father was a woodcutter and shoemaker. The story told to Elenora by Albina was this: Times were hard, and she and her little brother often went hungry. When her father was away cutting wood, Albina would go to the neighbors and beg for bread or something to eat.
 
Albina came to America when she was 21 years old. Elenora remembers that her Grandmother Jasek was always kind and loving and never said an ugly word about anyone. Her grandfather was also of Czech heritage. But he had a temper and was mean to Albina. He treated her ugly, but she never complained. He came from a big family — nine sisters and a brother.
 
Elenora and her brothers always remembered how they loved their Grandmother Albina, who never was unkind to anyone. But when she got old and lived in Houston, no one wanted to take care of her.
 
Elenora's grandparents, the Jaseks and Svobodas, lived across the river in the Camp Ranch community.
 
After Emil Svoboda and Albina Jasek got married, they lived in Floresville. Elenora was born there in 1918 "two blocks from the courthouse." She later had two brothers, Edwin and Charlie. When she was 5 years old, her family moved 12 miles out west on Hwy. 97 near her grandparents. Her father built a five-room house with a bathroom for only $700. He did all the work. Elenora says it maybe was from Sears and you had to build it yourself. It was a nice house. It is still standing today! It is on the Boening place. Her father became well-known for the houses and furniture he built in Wilson County.
 
When she first started to school in 1925, she had to go to the Darilek School because it was the nearest school. Her father dropped her off that day. She didn't speak English, only Czech. But some other children spoke Czech and she got through that day. Her teacher was Fannie Lee Barnes. Later, her father provided a horse and buggy for the neighbor boy, who also went to Darilek School, and he took them to school. Elenora still has the paper on which the teacher wrote a poem for her to memorize for the Christmas Play that year.
 
The next year, the Borrego School was built. Elenora went there until the 10th grade. But the prior year, which was in 1934, she had to go to Webbville School because they only had eight grades at Borrego School.
 
The next year, she came back to Borrego, because they had a teacher to teach the 9th and 10th. His name was Victor Miculka, who had graduated from Floresville High in 1931. Later, Victor Miculka taught in Poth. Elenora remembers him as a good musician whose family had a band that played for dances around the county –Mac's Orchestra. But more about that next time when I write about Elenora's young adult years!
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COURTESY / Wilson County News 2010
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Charlie Hild and daughter Maude Yvonne Hild 1937

Wilson County Texas farmer CHARLIE HILD .... and his baby daughter, Maude Yvonne Hild in 1937.    Debbie Steenken shares this photo of her mother-in -law, and her father Charlie Hild. The priceless photo was taken  about 1.5 miles past the Y going from Stockdale to Floresville. This was their tractor .... awesome photo!

The Karnei Farm

The Karnei Farm ... is located on C.R. 140 near F.M. 1344, southwest of Floresville Wilson County Texas.

The original owner, Fred Muelschen, purchased 300 acres from William Green and S.V. Houston on June 24, 1904. Fred and his wife, Anna, had three children: Willie, Louisa (Muelschen) Fahning and Ida (Muelschen) Karnei.

The family raised cattle, and in 1912 they built a two-story house. Fred sold 200 acres outside the family.

In 1932, Ida acquired the remaining 100 acres of her parents’ land. Ida married August Karnei and they had four children: Edmond, Welton, Herman, and Lenard. The family raised cattle, cotton, corn, and milo.

In 1945, Ida and August remodeled the original family home by removing its top story.

The older boys, Edmond, Welton, and Herman, found careers and moved off the farm. Lenard stayed on the farm the rest of his life, joined by his wife, Nona, in 1960.

Nona Baker grew up in Port O’Connor. When she graduated from high school, she moved to San Antonio and got a job. “My sister was dating a boy who lived across the road from the Karneis. That’s how I met Lenard,” she said.

Lenard and Nona purchased the land in 1963 and raised cattle and hay. They also were able to purchase an additional 200 acres of land, bringing the property back up to 300 acres again.

Lenard and Nona had three children:
Clifton, Donna (Karnei) Bowers, and Glenn.

Clifton lives in Waco, Glenn lives in Magnolia, near Houston, and Donna lives in Oregon.

The original family home was remodeled a second time in 1973. It was enlarged, and rock siding and a new composition roof were added.

After Lenard passed away in 1996, the land passed to Nona.

Nona Karnei remains on the farm and manages the cattle by herself.

“We don’t raise crops anymore, since my husband died in 1996,” she said. The cattle she raises are Beefmaster. She sold half of her herd this year because of the drought. “We have three tanks, but two of them are dried up, and the third tank is almost dry, too,” she said.

A water trough near the house holds water for the cattle. The water comes from the same well that serves the house.

Beautiful fields

The Karneis’ fields are cleared to the fences of all brush and prickly pears, although young mesquite trees, 1- and 2-feet tall, are popping up here and there. “I’ll go out and spray them again. It never ends,” she said.

The long driveway has a nice crown. It would take a heavy rain to form a puddle on it, and it is graded better than the county road that it joins.

Nona remembers, however, when the county road was only dirt. “When my children were in school, the bus wouldn’t come out here after a rain because it got too muddy.”
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The fields are a brown and gray color, with no sight of green. “You can find some green sprouts near the ground, if you look closely,” she said. “This is the driest it’s been since I moved on to the farm in 1960.”

The farm has several fruit trees — pear, plum, persimmon, and mulberry. “We used to have peach trees and strawberries,” she said.

“We don’t have any sand on the property. I hear that sand is good for watermelon and peanuts, but our soil is mixed,” she said. “We used to grow milo, corn, and wheat, but my favorite crop was flax. When the flax blooms, it has blue blossoms, and it looks very pretty blowing in the wind.”
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COURTESY / Wilson County News  written by Fred Owens 2006

JOHN PETER LORENZ

JOHN PETER LORENZ  ...  registered his brand in Bexar County Texas in November 1856 Book, p 230B.  Wilson County was made in 1860.  He first had cattle 15 miles from San Antonio Texas.  In 1878 he bought land in Wilson County five miles northeast of Stockdale on FM 1107.

Mr. Lorenz came to Texas in 1852 ( some papers say 1854) but I believe 1852 is correct because I have a copy of his brother's journal that says they left Germany early spring of 1852. His parents and siblings (there were 6 boys & 1 girl). 
One girl died before they left Germany.  One of the 6 boys died in Liverpool.  They lived in Heinzenbach .

From there the journal says they went to Bubert on the Rhine, took a steamboat down the Rhine and landed in Rotterdam.  Layed over there five week and took a steamer to Hull, England.  From Hull took a railroad car to Liverpool, England where they stayed 6 weeks waiting for a ship.  It states that it 44 days to land at New Orleans, LA.  They waited about 3 days to catch a steamer to Indianola.

Before landing at the wharf both parents died  leaving John Peter the oldest at age 21  to look out for his siblings.  The youngest was only 6.  From Indianola they started for Federicksburg, they father's destination.  When they got to New Braunfels, one of the boys got sick.

While there a man from San Antonio persuaded John Peter to come to San Antonio where there was plenty of work. John Peter married Wilhelmina K Shell Dec 1856 in Bexar Co. Texas  John Peter lived in Panna Maria, Karnes County Texas.  They had eight children.

John Peter and his brother Adam acquired land in Wilson county in 1878.  John Peter eventually bought out his brother.  His sons Adolph and Will were sent ahead of the rest of the family to cultivate the land for a year, where they began raising corn, cotton and beef cattle (I think hereford).

The Lorenz ranch was one of the first to use wire fencing in the area and the  sons spent many hours riding the fences at night to protect them from wire cutters.

Once John Peter joined his sons in the operation, he established a cotton gin, grist mill and lumber mill on the banks of the Ecleto Creek on the ranch.  He also operated a freight business between Cuero and San Antonio with wagon and team.

The land is still owned by his great grandchildren and great great grandchildren.     

{Courtesy of great grandaughter Laura Swiess}
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Melvin & Johnie Deagen

A wonderful vintage photo of Melvin Deagen and his older brother Johnie Deagen in Sutherland Springs Wilson County Texas.  Probably snapped around 1932 or 1933 at the old Bill and Alice Deagen homestead in Old Town. The FM 539 house stood high on a hill overlooking the west bank of the Cibolo Creek. These young boys are cute as a button with their bare feet. Melvin is the daddy of Mitchell Deagen. Johnie never married.  [Shared by Mitchell's wife, Susan-Mitchell Deagen ]
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FOUR GENERATIONS OF TALLEYS

.... James Elfred "Fred" Talley, James Coleman Talley, James Coleman Talley II and in the background James Coleman III Talley. The two senior Talleys owned the Red and White Grocery Store in Old Town Sutherland Springs Wilson County Texas. COURTESY /Leola Scales Jordan who worked 8 years for the Talleys in the grocery store .

Bar from the old Koepp Saloon

A reader, JoDee Doyle, was talking about the antique bars at Wittes BBQ being the "Koepp Saloon" drinking bars. We were trying to figure out if one of the La Vernia Saloon photos could be one of the Koepp bars. What do believe? {Thanks JoDee for this side trip}
 
Reader Susan Duelm Richter shared this jewel of info on the two bars at Wittes. " We know that the bar at Witte's is from the old Koepp Saloon location located in a wood building at the east end of Chihuahua Street in LaVernia. Sonny Witte worked there for Zip Koepp when he got out of the service and when they closed, Sonny (Elton) got the bar that was in that location and put it in Witte's Barbecue." {Thanks Susan}

Duelm sisters recall 'old La Vernia'  Wilson County Texas

"I can just close my eyes and see how La Vernia was back then!" said Louise Duelm Farris, who will be 102 in October.
 
Louise, born in 1917, and her sister, Evelyn Duelm Belk, born in 1921, are a couple of local "girls" from "way back when." They toured the La Vernia Heritage Museum this summer. Susan Duelm Richter says, " It was my honor as their niece, and the museum director, to be their guide."
 
Their museum visit sparked memories of their life on their farm on F.M. 539 near La Vernia with their parents, Emil and Erna, and five brothers.
 
"We had to pick a lot of cotton every day when [we] were young," said Evelyn, who was born in 1921. They would have been 6 or 7 in the late 1920s.
 
"We would walk with our parents with our own little sacks and when we got older, we had to fill a larger sack," recalled Louise, as both tried on the cotton sacks from the museum's display. Everyone worked hard, they remembered. Louise said her sack would get very heavy; it held 105 pounds of cotton.
 
In addition to picking cotton, the children helped in the fields with other crops and milked the cows. As well as cotton, the family grew sweet potatoes, sugar cane, corn, and other crops.
 
The Duelms were the first La Vernia family to have molasses-making equipment. Other local families would arrive at their farm early in the evening with their sugar cane, pitch their tents, and get up early to make their own molasses.
 
The older Duelm children helped make molasses, putting the sugar cane in the hole, turning the machinery to produce juice, and watching so the molasses didn't burn as it cooked down. The Duelms later sold the machinery to the Frimels next door.
 
Life wasn't all hard work, however. The children would roll an old tire up the hill, jump inside, and roll back down together. Evelyn, now 98, and Dora Witte Wyatt were best friends and played this way a lot.
 
They also went swimming in a stock tank lined with caliche. Louise remembered the Willie Witte children visiting and all the children went swimming. They stirred up the water so much that they came out "white" with caliche from head to toe. Their parents were so mad, but later laughed at how the kids looked, covered with the mud!
 
They also enjoyed going to local dances.
 
"If we were not finished with our chores, we would not be able to go to the dance!" Evelyn said, of the dances held at County Line Dance Hall, and in New Berlin and St. Hedwig.
 
In the evenings, their dad — they called him Papa — would play his accordion on the porch and some of them sang. It was so quiet out in the country at that time of day, Louise and Evelyn said all the neighbors could hear the music and would go out on their porches to listen.
 
The sisters attended the one-room Pleasant Hill School near their home on F.M. 539. Louise attended until the fifth grade. The museum has a photo of the school, showing the girls sitting on the steps.
 
The museum's "Holy History" exhibit also brought back memories. Evelyn spotted her 1933 confirmation photo at Immanuel Lutheran Church in La Vernia. Both sisters named many familiar faces in the photos. Their father, Emil, made his confirmation at the same church in 1922.
 
Louise recognized the train and depot in a photo in the museum, and remembered riding the train to La Vernia from San Antonio one day, just to go to Mary Mattke's Beauty Shop to get her hair "fixed."
 
The Dr. Martin exhibit reminded Louise and Evelyn that the renowned La Vernia doctor had delivered both of them. When Louise was 10 years old in 1927, she and her brother, Fritz, had diphtheria. Louise said she almost died; it was Dr. Martin who took care of them.
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COURTESY / La Vernia News   writer Susan Richter