by Barbara J. Wood
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Lifting the veil on the Sanders home ..... Meet Andrew and Amelia Sanders and family

La Vernia News,  April 13, 2022
By Elaine Mazurek Stephens and Susan Duelm Richter
Have you driven along U.S. 87 in La Vernia and noticed the two-story house near the intersection of U.S. 87 and F.M. 1346 across from St. Ann Catholic Church and wondered who lived there, or if anyone ever did live there? Let's go back a few years ...
Andrew Newell Sanders was born on June 22, 1862, in Seguin, Guadalupe County, Texas, as the fourth child of Leander A. Sanders and Malvina D. Alexander Burnside. He had six siblings: W.L., James, Minnie K, Henry, Malvina, and Adam. In 1870, he was living in Precinct 1 of Guadalupe County.
In 1880, Andrew lived with his mother and his brothers, James and Henry, in Guadalupe County, according to the U.S. Census.
By 1889, he owned businesses and land in La Vernia, according to a binder of letters written to his fiancée, Amelia. Several notes from those letters were graciously shared with the La Vernia Historical Association by Andrew's great-granddaughter, Melissa Doyle.
On June 22, 1892, at the age of 30, he married Amelia Trainer, daughter of Capt. James Martin Trainer and Martha Alice McGee, in Bexar County, Texas. Martha was the daughter of Rev. John S. McGee, a circuit-rider pastor who served the Methodist church in La Vernia. The witnesses listed on the marriage record were P. G. Scull and J. McGee.
Amelia's father, Capt. Trainer, had arrived in Texas in 1840 and initially settled on the Cibolo, later moving to Mount Olive in Bexar County. During the Civil War, he served as captain of Company I, 3rd Texas Infantry and was in the Cibolo Guards. An overseer for the opening of the road to St. Hedwig, Trainer also served from 1886 to 1908 as justice of the peace for Bexar County Precinct 4, which included Mount Olive, Cottage Hill, St. Hedwig, and Adkins. He was a school trustee for St. Hedwig and Mount Olive schools and was chosen by the Bexar County Democratic Party as a delegate to the Democratic State Convention in Fort Worth on May 23, 1888. He was a member of the Lavernia Masonic Lodge for 42 years.
Family life
Sanders was obviously quite in love with Amelia, as evidenced in a letter he wrote, "if 'twas not for that 'Trainer Girl' seems to me life would not be worth the living, and for me to have to look into the future without you would simply be a blank." Another letter said, "I am so glad you were pleased with the birthday remembrance for I've reached the height of my ambition when I've pleased you ... ."
Andrew and Amelia had seven children:
•Alice Dunreath Sanders, born Oct. 4, 1893, in La Vernia. She died Aug. 4, 1958, in Austin, Texas.
•James Leander Sanders, born March 7, 1895, in Wilson County, Texas. He died Feb. 20, 1971, in San Antonio, and is buried in Concrete Cemetery in Guadalupe County.
•Andrew Newell Sanders Jr., born May 30, 1897, in Texas. He died July 12, 1953, in Los Angeles, Calif. He married Sadie Woodbury in 1929.
•Blanche Irene Sanders, born Feb. 3, 1899, in La Vernia. She died Jan. 6, 1986, in Baytown, Texas.
•Horace Murdock "Jack" Sanders, born Nov. 28, 1900, in La Vernia. He died April 19, 1973, in Burnet, Texas.
•Alton Bailey Sanders, born Aug. 17, 1904, in Texas. He died Aug. 7, 1964, in Los Angeles County, Calif.
•Russell Reuben Sanders, born May 1, 1906, shortly after the death of his father. He died Nov. 18, 1940, in Baytown.
Business interests
In 1894, Andrew Newell Sanders is recorded as the owner of property in Guadalupe County. On May 14, 1898, he was appointed postmaster at O'Daniel in Guadalupe County. He had other business endeavors, indicated by a letter he wrote to his wife during that same time period, on the letterhead of Elm Creek Co-Operative Association, A. N. Sanders, Manager.
In 1898, he paid occupation tax in La Vernia under the names Sanders & Canfield, Sanders McGee & Wiseman, and Sanders & Kott, indicating his associations with other businessmen in La Vernia.
In 1900, he was listed as a merchant in La Vernia, living in Precinct 6. He was also a member of La Vernia's Brahan Masonic Lodge. His wife, Amelia, remained active in the La Vernia Chapter of the Eastern Star as late as 1939.
In the early 1900s, Andrew built a home on Highway 87 in La Vernia.
On Feb. 15, 1906, while serving his second term as a Guadalupe County commissioner, Andrew died at age 43 in San Antonio. Shortly after his death, on May 1, his son, Russell Reuben Sanders, was born.
Andrew was buried in Concrete Cemetery near La Vernia, in Guadalupe County.
Sanders legacy
According to Melissa Doyle, Blanche Irene Sanders' granddaughter, Amelia's father, Capt. Trainer, came to live with her family in La Vernia until he moved to San Antonio with two of his other daughters who were widowed and had no children. He enjoyed taking Blanche to St. Hedwig to buy her "candy ginger snaps." Trainer spent much of his time in his daughter's La Vernia home, helping to rear and train his grandsons and granddaughters. The captain died Jan. 17, 1920, in San Antonio and is buried in the Mount Olive Cemetery.
Amelia lived in the Sanders' La Vernia home on U.S. 87 until her health deteriorated. She then went to live with her daughter, Blanche, in Baytown, where she died in 1954.
Andrew and Amelia's oldest son, James Leander Sanders, a graduate of Texas A&M University and a teacher in the La Vernia schools, lived in the family home until his death in 1971. He is buried in Concrete Cemetery, along with his parents and brother, Russell.
Shortly after James' death, his siblings, Blanche and Jack, sold the home — along with all its substantial land — to Fred and Cherry Pierdolla of La Vernia.
In later years, the house was home to other residents and businesses, including Mr. Tim's Country Kitchen.
Recording history
This narrative was written to record the history of the Sanders family and its significant role in La Vernia's history. The Sanders homesite on U.S. 87 across from St. Ann Catholic Church is now owned by The Texan Stores for development. As Andrew Newell Sanders' great-granddaughter Melissa Doyle said, "the hearts there can never be moved. It will always be the Sanders homeplace."

Chihuahua Street

On quiet evenings in La Vernia, under the branches of the old post oaks, one can easily imagine the time before railroads came to the area. It was a time when teams of mules and oxen strained to pull huge wagons along the rutted road from Indianola on the Texas Coast to Chihuahua in Mexico and San Diego in California.
Trains of wagons, sometimes numbering in the hundreds, lumbered along as their drivers expertly drove their teams with the crack of their whips. Trade goods from Indianola as well as silver bullion from Chihuahua passed through La Vernia in the mid 19th century.
In the ancient world it was often said, "all roads lead to Rome". During the 19th century in the southwestern United States "all roads led to Chihuahua". Like ancient Rome, Chihuahua was a center of economic power and commerce. It was a place from which the legendary riches of Spanish Mexico could be exploited.
The earliest routes used to open Chihuahua to American trade came from Missouri through Santa Fe. In 1848 explorers and scouts proved that a southern, less mountainous route through Texas, to the port of Indianola was faster and more reliable. However, along this southern route countless skirmishes were fought between the U. S. Army, bandits and Indians.
Forts, way stations and villages were built along its length to service and protect the travelers. The story of the Chihuahua Trail is a part of the making of the American West. It includes such legendary characters as John Jacob Astor, Stephen F. Austin, and Captain John Coffee Hays. La Vernia was a part of this great legend.
In 1977 Brownson Malsch wrote in Indianola: The Mother of Western Texas "Departing from the wharf area at Indianola after loading, the wagons headed due west to Green Lake, then past McGrew's and on to Victoria, where they crossed the Guadalupe River. From Victoria they followed the new military road through Pierpont, Yorktown and Sutherland Springs to San Antonio." The Sulphur Springs (Sutherland Springs) Road passed through La Vernia and on it traveled the huge wagon trains that carried goods to and from Chihuahua.
A description of the roads in and around La Vernia (Post Oak) in the mid 19th century is helpful to understanding the development of the area and traffic pattern for travelers of the day. The Gonzales Road from San Antonio, first laid out by the Spanish administration in the 1820s, was the most important road to the area through the 1840s. Its track was broad and variable; it incorporated time worn Indian trails and cow paths. Crossings at creeks and rivers were selected for their favorable character and usually were at a relatively fixed position.
The Gonzales Road, as it left San Antonio and approached La Vernia from the west, passed through the way station at Cottage Hill near present day St. Hedwig. It continued on to Twenty-Mile House, an Inn, operated by the Bower Family. It crossed the Cibolo near Claiborne Rector's home and then continued in a straight direction to Gonzales.
In 1848 Bexar County (including the part that became Wilson county) began to undertake numerous road-building projects. On September 4, 1848 a petition was presented Bexar County Commissioner's Court by landholders in east Bexar county for a road from San Antonio to Sulphur Springs (Sutherland Springs). M. R. Evans, Wm. B. Jaques, Wm. Lytle, and Richard Meade were appointed as reviewers of the new road.
On November 20, 1848 the reviewers presented their findings to Commissioner's Court. Bexar County, Road Precinct three was created and a surveyor was appointed "to run out said road". On August 14, 1852 another review committee was appointed and delivered their report January 8, 1853.
This time the road was given specific reference; it started at the Powder House in San Antonio (near the city cemeteries on present day East Commerce Street) and ran in a fairly straight course to the Cibolo and the house of Claiborne Rector. To the Rector house the Sulphur Springs road followed the track of the Old Gonzales Road. However, at Claiborne Rector's house it turned south to the McAlister house, on to the house of Ross Houston, and then to the valley above Dr. Sutherland's house. Near the Sulphur Springs it crossed the Cibolo and continued on to the DeWitt County line and Yorktown (Karnes County had not yet been formed).
On August 21, 1855, J. W. McAlister, H. Yelvington, Thomas Applewhite, Claiborne Rector and Pendleton Rector petitioned Bexar County Commissioner's court for a "new road to be laid out commencing on the West bank of the Cibolo, near the mouth of Elm Creek, at a place known as Wiseman's Crossing where the New Braunfels Road crosses said Cibolo—-running thence the nearest and best route so as to intersect the stage road near Yelvington's." This short road may have provided the access for present day downtown La Vernia to Seguin.
The Saltmarsh Stage Line and The Western Texas Stage Company provided stagecoach service from San Antonio to Indianola via Sulphur Springs (Sutherland Springs), Yorktown, Victoria and Lavaca. An ad in the San Antonio Daily Herald on March 25, 1857 announced departures "every Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday at 10 PM". This route would have traveled through Post Oak (La Vernia).
As more roads were opened during the 1850s, 60s, and 70's the portion if the Chihuahua Trail heading south and east from San Antonio may be best described as a network of roads. These roads connected communities along the way to the port of Indianola on the Texas coast, Chihuahua in Mexico and San Diego on the Pacific Ocean.
East of San Antonio numerous watersheds brought the element of unpredictability to wagon travel. During the random rainy seasons of Texas, the San Antonio River and Salado, Rosillo, Calaveras, Chupaderas, Dry Hollow, Cibolo and numerous other creeks created a maze for teamsters to navigate on their way to the Texas coast.
Conversation with on-coming teamsters, livery stables owners and other travelers along the roads would constantly focus on the condition of the routes ahead. If bandits were operating in an area, it would be avoided. If rains had flooded crossings, another route would be taken. Dray animals had to be fed and watered so drought stricken or overgrazed areas would be avoided. This constant change in wagon travel gave many communities their place on the Chihuahua Trail.
The Chihuahua Trail came to an end with the completion of the railroad from California to New Orleans in the early 1880s. Today, La Vernia's Chihuahua Street tracks in the direction of legendary old Chihuahua, a memorial to those who passed this way.
COURTESY / Lost Texas Roads    ( celebrates local history.  It connects old Bexar County east of San Antonio to the important events that define Texas and the United States of America.)

New bridge over Cibolo Crreek

La VERNIA WILSON COUNTY TEXAS .... has a  new bridge over the Cibolo Creek.  The newspaper article shared by Allen & Regina Kosub, Authors of Lost Texas Roads, reads that it cost about $10,000 in 1893.
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Bernie Ramzinski donates items to La Vernia museum

Bernie Ramzinski, a lifelong resident of La Vernia, recently donated several significant pieces of La Vernia's history to the La Vernia Historical Association, operators of the La Vernia Heritage Museum. Included were numerous receipts and documents, some dated as early as 1900, referencing early businesses and citizens of La Vernia Wilson County Texas.
Also donated by Ramzinski was an out-of-print 1959 edition of A Century of Light – History of Brahan Lodge No. 226, A.F. & A. M., La Vernia, Texas. The book by Professor Deed L. Vest contains priceless historical information about the settlement of La Vernia, the establishment of the Brahan Lodge, the Brahan Lodge in the Civil War and the La Vernia men who served, the Reconstruction Period from 1865-1880, World War I to Pearl Harbor, and events in and around La Vernia and Wilson County. The book is included in the association's collection of material available to the public at the museum.
"We are grateful for this donation and hope to include many of the receipts and documents in a future exhibit," said Museum Director Susan Richter. "Even an old receipt — the date, place, and a signature — can hold valuable information about La Vernia's history. Photos are always welcomed, too."
If you would like to loan or donate La Vernia-related items to the museum, call 210-392-3281.
COURTESY/ Wilson County News 2014
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La Vernia museum receives donations

By Elaine M. Stephens
Wilson County News 2013

The La Vernia Heritage Museum is honored to be the recipient of several recent donations from their supporters. The San Antonio River Authority (SARA) made a generous donation earmarked for the new exhibit, "Cibolo Crossing on the Gonzales Road at La Vernia," a donation which made it possible to order the beautiful new mural on the museum façade, created by graphic artist D'mitri Kosub, and the interpretive wall timeline which is one of the focal points of the exhibit. Additionally, SARA provided large aerial maps for the exhibit, which help museum visitors locate the Cibolo Crossing, and for many, their own local home.
"It's exciting to see where my home is now and how close it is to where the old Gonzales Road was," said one visitor.
The Gonzales Road, which was a vital roadway during the Texas Revolution era, no longer exists. It traversed the Cibolo just above La Vernia at the Cibolo Crossing, located on private property, connecting San Antonio and Gonzales. Many heroes of the 1850s era crossed and camped at the site, including Susanna Dickinson, Sam Houston, Davy Crockett, Erastus "Deaf" Smith, William B. Travis, Mexican General Santa Anna, and many more. Later, as La Vernia began to be settled, other local crossings also became prominent.
Another valuable donation to the museum's permanent collections is from Ollie Shrank, a professional collector of early Texas pottery. Shrank donated several pieces of utilitarian pottery made by George and Isaac Suttles, Civil War Union veterans who came to La Vernia from Ohio in the 1870s, producing thousands of vessels of useful household pottery. A historical marker for the Suttles Pottery is located near the site of one of their kilns, facing U.S. 87, near the museum. The exhibit includes crocks and jugs on loan from private collections along with artifacts from archeological digs conducted by the La Vernia Historical Association at the kiln site in La Vernia.
An 1850s buckle medallion found in a field near the Cibolo Crossing in the La Vernia area is on loan from the anonymous owner. The U.S. medallion, which has been authenticated, will be on display for a short time only. Museum Director Susan Richter said, "We are honored that this patron has allowed us to showcase his important find, which reminds us that many significant moments in early Texas history occurred right here, in our own back yards."
Even small donations are important to the museum, such as a book which was recently found at a garage sale by Charlie Ploch and his grandson, John Goodwin, a student at La Vernia Middle School. The book, On the Watershed of Ecleto and the Clear Fork of Sandies, by Karon Mac Smith, includes stories, genealogical information, burial, and marriage information about Wilson County and other nearby counties. John said, "I like history and so does my grandfather. I thought the museum might like to have this book."
The La Vernia Heritage Museum is open on the first and third Sunday of the month from noon to 3 p.m., and by appointment. Admission is free.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 210-392-3281 or visit
Elaine M. Stephens is president of the La Vernia Historical Association.
COURTESY/ Wilson County News  May 29, 2013
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Bud's Service Station

Taken from "Remember La Vernia when . . . ?"   with permission to post by Susan Duelm Richter  of the La Vernia Historical Association. Thank you for sharing!
This is what Buffalo Joe's in La Vernia Wilson County Texas used to look like when it was "Bud's Service Station".  Pablo Rangel owned the blue panel truck that is shown filling up. Bud owned the brown pickup. The man standing is Bud Linder, co-owner of Bud's.   The station was  "Copeland's Service Station"  before it was Bud's. Does anyone know the year of the Panel truck?
********* Sheryl Jones adds , "John Wesley "Bud" Linder was named after his grandfather. I'm proud to call him my (great) Uncle."
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La Vernia Bears Basketball 1974-48

Taken from Remember La Vernia when . . . ? with permission to post by Susan Duelm Richter of the La Vernia Historical Association. Thank you for sharing!
It's basketball season! Introducing the 1947-48 LA VERNIA BEARS Boys Basketball Team. They are: BACK ROW: L TO R-Fred Pierdolla Jr., Donald Mihalski, Tommy Kravitz, Willfloyd Strey. FRONT ROW: L to R-Jack Spear, Wallace Sendemer. (Mrs. Richter added that these players played outdoors on a clay "court" where the tennis courts used to be!)
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Taken from Remember La Vernia when . . . ? with permission to post by Susan Duelm Richter  of the La Vernia Historical Association. Thank you for sharing!
1948 Cub Yearbook - La Vernia Cheerleaders - Back Row-L-R: Shirley Allen, Dolores Fowler, Lorraine Adams. Front Row-L-R: Wanda Pierdolla (Von Minden), Bonnie Schievelbein (Kravitz), Vernelle Schraub (Richter).
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La Vernia Bears Basketball team, 1946

Taken from Remember La Vernia when . . . ?  with permission to post by Susan Duelm Richter of the La Vernia Historical Association. Thank you for sharing!
1946 LA VERNIA BEARS BASKETBALL TEAM- Please click on the photo to see all the names of the players.
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Taken from Remember La Vernia when . . . ?   with permission to post by Susan Duelm Richter  of the La Vernia Historical Association. Thank you for sharing!
This photo is from the La Vernia Historic Association archives.  It is on display at the La Vernia Heritage Museum in the La Vernia Fire Dept. exhibit.  The girls had a team which competed with other pumper teams around the region to see who could get the truck ready the fastest.  The girls are: Back - Billie Zuehl, Judy Migl, Sandra Landgrebe Keylich
Front - Darlene Tanneberger Irwin, Sandra Strey Mattke, Ann Freeman Makris.


... La Vernia is located at the junction of U.S. Highway 87 and FM 775 in northwest Wilson County. It is 24 miles southeast of San Antonio. La Vernia's neighboring communities are Sutherland Springs seven miles to the southeast, St. Hedwig seven miles to the northwest, and Kicaster eight miles to the southwest.
La Vernia, Wilson County's fastest growing city was incorporated on May 21, 1966. From 1990 to 2000, within its two square mile corporate limits, the population increased by 62% from 576 to 931 residents. However, the community serves a large number of rural subdivisions adjacent to its corporate boundaries. Within a five mile radius of the city the population has grown from 3483 in 1990 to 7712 in 2006, an increase of 104%. Historically, this is the largest population to reside in this area.
Community life in La Vernia celebrates the family, schools, and churches. The first school in La Vernia was organized in the 1850s by its earliest settlers; its first teacher was Robert McCoy. The Lavernia Male and Female Academy, organized in 1871, occupied the first floor of the historic Brahan Masonic Lodge.
La Vernia's pioneers of education include V. L. Grubbs, Charles E. Wright, Miss W. Allensworth, Deed L. Vest, and A. N. McCallum. La Vernia High School, home of the La Vernia Bears, established in 1890, is a source of community pride and spirit. Today, La Vernia Independent School District serves over 3000 students from the greater La Vernia area.
During the earliest days, circuit riding preachers and missionary priests attended to the spiritual needs of the settlers on the Cibolo. Congregations that formed in 19th century exist to this day. First Baptist Church of La Vernia, Immanuel Lutheran Church, La Vernia United Methodist Church, La Vernia Primitive Baptist Church, St. Ann's Catholic Church, and Zion Fair Baptist Church are legacies from the 19th century.
Rector Chapel Presbyterian Church, one of the oldest, disbanded in the late 1800s. Its chapel building was moved to downtown La Vernia in 1891 where it is now used by the La Vernia Primitive Baptist Church. Today the greater La Vernia area is served by over a dozen churches.
La Vernia's Blue Bonnet Festival and Hammerfest bicycle rally are popular regional events. The La Vernia Historical Association, The La Vernia Heritage Museum, and its Veterans Memorial Park (currently under construction) attest to the community's understanding of its place in history.
Fraternal organizations such as the Masons, Knights of Columbus, Lions Club, La Vernia Garden Club, and Hermann Sons are an important part of community life. La Vernia's active Chamber of Commerce promotes a robust business environment.
Texas Revolution
By the late 1820s, Spain and Mexico had governed the area along the Cibolo for over two hundred years. San Antonio de Bexar, the seat of government for the state of Coahuila recognized the need to open a road to the DeWitt Colony in Gonzales. It authorized the creation of the San Antonio to Gonzales Road, which crossed the Cibolo twenty-three miles east of San Antonio.
Along this road, on October 2, 1835 near Gonzales, the first shots of the Texas Revolution were fired. In 1836, the last reinforcements for the beleaguered Alamo traveled this route from Gonzales. A few weeks later, the victorious army of General Antonio López de Santa Anna, marched along this route to find Gonzales burned to the ground by Sam Houston and his retreating army in the legendary "Runaway Scrape."
Early Settlers
As hostilities with Mexico concluded in the new state of Texas, settlers used the Gonzales Road to establish farms and ranches in the Cibolo valley. The earliest settlers came from other parts of Texas and the United States. After 1848, they were joined by immigrants from the Prussian states including Germany and Poland.
J. B. Polley, the son of J. H. Polley, one of Austin's original 300, was a witness to the settling of the Cibolo valley. He chronicled the arrival of the first settlers in the La Vernia area. According to his chronology, the first to arrive were the Bristers who came in July of 1847. Claiborne Rector, who had performed valuable services in the revolution of 1836, came to the area in the fall of 1848. In the fall of 1849, bachelor brothers from Nova Scotia, Dick and Henry James, established themselves on a farm and ranch in the immediate location of the community.
In 1851 what Polley described as a deluge, began and continued until 1857. Among those arriving in 1851 were G. H. McDaniel, D. C. Robinson, J. J. Hankinson, Ross Houston, J. M. McAlister, T. D. James, W. K. Baylor, W. R. Wiseman, W. D. Scull, J. T. Montgomery, J. F. Tiner, Levi Humphreys, James Ripley, J. A. Burnside, and E. F. Potts. Of those coming later than 1851 were Maj. James L. Dial, Henry Yelvington, Lem Perkins, Dorsett Harmon, Maj. R. W. Brahan, Colonel Frazier, Rev. R. M. Currie, Edmund Barker, the Elams, the Floyds, the Gordons, S. W. McClain, James Newton, T. T. Collier, C. F. Henderson, Henry Morgan, Jesse Applewhite, Dr. William Sutherland, Rudolph Helman and a brother, Colonel Saunders, R. T. Spivey, James T. McKee, Dr. R. Stevenson, W. F. Hughes, Rev. Robert McCoy, Owen and Asa Murray, Dr. Owens, J. R. Plummer, J. G. Kilgore, the Barclays, Thomas G. and Levi Maddox, and Tignal Jones. Census and other records confirm the arrival of these settlers and add the names of others such as Thomas Camp.
Many of these settlers were planters from the Old South who brought with them African slaves. These Africans were enumerated as a part of the population in the Federal Census of 1860. According to this census, near Post Oak, the population of white settlers numbered about 475; the African slaves numbered about 416.
European immigrants from the Prussian states are usually associated with the German and Polish-Silesian communities in the area. However, as early as the 1850s many families moved out of those communities, bought land along the Cibolo, and became associated with the community of La Vernia. Immigrants from Prussia, who were in the area, are the Bauers, the Sellingslohs, the Gelvins, the Tewes, the Nauraths, the Dornstins, and the Maughs.
Gulf of Mexico to California
The region east of San Antonio along the Gonzales Road was widely know as the "post oaks," the common name for the species of oak tree (quercus stellata) that covered the landscape. Small communities that provided the elements of civilization developed among the scattered farms and ranches in the valley; Post Oak, on the Gonzales Road, was one of such communities.
In 1846, as Texas came into the Union, Washington was keen to protect its newly acquired western route through San Antonio to Chihuahua, Mexico and San Diego, California. The U.S. Army established a massive depot in San Antonio to supply it forts west of San Antonio.
In 1848, Bexar County Commissioners supported this effort by authorizing a network of roads to connect with roads from the port of Indianola on the Texas coast. It ordered that the Gonzales Road traveling east from San Antonio be improved to the western bank of the Cibolo to Claiborne Rector's house. From Rector's house, a new road would be created coursing south, following old Indian trails and cow paths along the western bank of the Cibolo to a point below the Sulphur Springs (Sutherland Springs) where it crossed the Cibolo and continued to Yorktown and Indianola.
When the Western and Saltmarsh Stage lines established routes through the area in the early 1850s, two communities were beginning to form on the banks of the Cibolo: Bethesda on the east side of the Cibolo in Guadalupe County and Post Oak on the west side in Bexar County. Regular stage service allowed a post office to opened at the junction of the Old Gonzales Road and the Cibolo. In 1853, Post Oak, on the western bank, was chosen for its location. Joseph Brown was the first postmaster. The community of Bethesda gradually receded in importance.
Post Oak becomes Lavernia
The name "Post Oak" was used for the community until 1859 when confusion with other communities named Post Oak caused the Post Office Department to recommend a change. The community postmaster at that time, Connally F. Henderson, submitted an application for the name "Lavernia." The choice was deliberate and well documented in governmental records, correspondence, and newspapers of the day.
The name has been a unique choice, no other community named Lavernia, has ever existed in the United States. Unfortunately, within three years after choosing the name "Lavernia," Connally F. Henderson, its postmaster, was buried with other Civil War casualties of the Battle of Gaines Mill in Virginia, taking with him the secret of the name "Lavernia."
The origin of the name La Vernia is elusive. Its association with the community comes from two separate legends; the most popular is the speculation that the original "Lavernia" was derived from "La Verde" Spanish for the "the green." This understanding led to the community changing the original spelling of its name from "Lavernia" to "La Vernia" in 1937.
The second legend attributes the origin to the original founders of the community who were university-educated men, readers of the classics, who chose the name "Lavernia" for its spiritual inspiration. Lavernia was the village in the Italian Apennines where on September 14, 1224 tradition has it that St. Francis of Assisi received the stigmata, the marks of Christ's wounds; an event described by Dante in the "Divine Comedy."
The Plantation
The earliest settlers were planters from the southern states who brought with them the plantation model for growing cotton using African slaves. For the first few years the settlers experienced good rainfall and harvested large yields. However, the drought of 1857 emphasized the erratic and sparse average rainfall that made farming unpredictable. The unpredictability of the climate coupled with the high cost of slaves in Texas and the ease with which slaves could escape to freedom in Mexico caused many planters to abandon the plantation model and explore other opportunities.
Rounding up and branding the wild cattle in the area became the focus of many in the community, as evidenced by the registration of brands and marks with the Bexar County Clerk. Some families, like the Bristers and Bealls, move west, establishing vast cattle ranches in what would become Live Oak and Atascosa counties.
The early settlers endured the hardships of the frontier: droughts that withered crops, floods that inundated the Cibolo Valley, washing away homes, livestock, and dreams. The most terrifying hardship for the settlers was the return of Indian tribes to their traditional hunting grounds along the Cibolo. Indian incursions were reported in 1848, 1849, and 1850.
Not until 1855, and after the valley was settled, was there another raid. Lucy, an African slave girl for the Elam plantation, was attacked and killed by a mounted party of Indians as she carried water to field hands. About a mile above Post Oak on Dry Hollow Creek a boy, Jewett McGee, the son of a local pastor, and Pendleton Rector were caught in the open by the same group, Rector escaped, young McGee was killed. Men from the community chased the raiders deep into the post oaks with no success.
Civil War
The Civil War came to Texas at daybreak, on Feb. 16, 1861 when Ben McCulloch with about 1,000 Texan militiamen demanded the surrender of U.S. Troops stationed in San Antonio. This would become a watershed event in the history of La Vernia. The American Civil War although fought on faraway battlefields changed the course of La Vernia's history.
The leaders of La Vernia were active and influential in Texas State politics and supporters of secession. Claiborne Rector and R. W. Brahan were delegates to the Secessionist Convention of 1861. The community rallied to the cause and men immediately volunteered for service with the Confederate States of America. The men of this community joined the ranks of units mustered all over Texas. They may be found in Terry's Texas Rangers, Parson's Texas Cavalry, Luckett' Brigade, Walkers Division, Irelands Company, and the Cibolo Guards.
However, Company F, 4th Texas Infantry, called the "Mustang Grays" was formed and led by Captain Edward H. Cunningham. Under the command of General John Bell Hood's Texas Brigade, it stands as a singular legend of the Civil War. Cunningham and his men reported to Richmond Virginia in late September 1861. Hood's Brigade participated in every major engagement of General Lee's army except Chancellorsville. It was present at thirty-eight engagements from Eltham's Landing May 7, 1862 to Appomattox Court House May 7, 1865.
Captain Cunningham served on the headquarters staff of General John Bell Hood. The casualties suffered by this heroic unit were devastating to the community of La Vernia. At Gaines Mill, Virginia John F. Brooks, Charles McAlister, T. J. McCann, and Augustus Dial were wounded; L. P. Lyons, Daniel McAlister, Thomas Cunningham, C. F. Henderson, and M. Pickett were killed. At Sharpsburg, Maryland L. P. Hughes and R. H. Skinner were wounded; B. G. Henderson was killed. At the Wilderness Campaign, Virginia R. W. Murray was wounded; Charles Brown and A. T. Cohea were killed. Haywood Brahan was wounded at Appomattox, Virginia. Eli Park was killed at New Market Heights, Virginia. Jack Sutherland was wounded at Darbytown, Virginia. W. F. Floyd and J.C. Murray were killed at Gettysbury, Pennsylvania. John D. Murray was wounded at several engagements. J. B. Currie was wounded at Chickamauga, Tennessee/Georgia. Recorded with no injuries were W. A. Bennett, E. T. Kindred, T. P. Camp, Calvin and William Goodloe, William Morris, James O. Wiseman, John Maddox and M. Crenshaw.
After the war, the presence of an occupying United States Army created tensions throughout Texas and the Cibolo Valley was no exception. A wave of violence threatened the community when in early June of 1867 members of the Taylor family from DeWitt County, murdered a freed slave in La Vernia. Federal troops were dispatched to investigated the incident and suppress the violence. Slave patrols, established by the planters before the War, were re-organized as minutemen militias that began policing the surrounding area.
Confrontation with outlaw bands persisted throughout the 1870s and culminated on July 2, 1880 when Dr. James McMahon was murdered at his home. The local surgeon and postmaster was mortally wounded by Richard Newsom a member of an outlaw gang operating from Cottage Hill, a community across the Bexar County line, about six miles west of La Vernia.
Within days after the murder, Guadalupe, Bexar, and Wilson County officials met at Midway School near La Vernia to end the activity of these outlaws. A petition was gathered and sent to Governor Oran M. Roberts seeking his help. This request brought the attention of state and federal authorities to the area. The gang was brought to justice by the end of 1881, allowing the law-abiding citizens of La Vernia to live without the constant threat of organized violence.
Economic and Social Change
After the War, the population of La Vernia declined. The community changed as it sought economic opportunities without the plantation model. With the loss of slaves, some plantation operators moved from the area; A.G. Goodloe move back to Alabama, R. W. Floyd moved to Los Angeles, California, John S. McGee moved back to Kentucky.
Those that remained, sought opportunities in cattle raising, the names Morgan, Newton, Humphries, Tiner, Beall, Wiseman, and McAlister were known from Texas to Kansas for the large herds they sent up the trails.
Haywood Brahan and his brother-in-law Captain Ed Cunningham created and organized the prisoner leasing system for the state of Texas and used convicts to operate Cunningham's sugar operation in Sugarland, Texas and his ranch on the Cibolo.
Family farms delivered cotton to the gins in La Vernia. Large herds of cattle were organized for drives up the trails to Kansas and beyond. Hotels and liveries serviced the ever-present wagon convoys that passed through on their way to the U.S. Army Depot in San Antonio, and mines of Chihuahua in Mexico. Chihuahua Street, La Vernia's main street, is a reminder of that time.
With emancipation, the large population of African freedmen dispersed throughout the area creating small communities in Wilson and adjacent counties. The Dosiedo community was formed in the sandy hills, immediately west of La Vernia. In the 1870 Federal Census the families of African descent in the La Vernia area included the surnames Applewhite, Brahan, Brown, Brooks, Buffert, Bulger, Crews, Curtis, Davis, Dosiedo, Dudley, Floyd, Fields, Fortune, Gibson, Green, Griffin, Graves, Hartfield, Jackson, James, Johns, Johnson, Kendrick, Lotte, McAlister, Miller, Minus, Mitchell, McSimmons, Morgan, Reece, Roach, Robertson, Stevenson, Walker, Williams, and Wilson.
The Family Farm
Many of the vast tracts of land owned by the planters were purchased and divided by German and Polish settlers and operated as family farms. The surnames Achterberg, Beyer, Brietcke, Frederick, Gutz, Kosub, Koepp, Linne, Mattke, Sacherer, Pierdolla, Ploch, Stanush, Sczech, Schuwirth, Schievelbein, Suhre, Stoltz, Strey, Vorpahl, Wolfe, Winkler, Witte, Wostal, and Wunderlich are associated with these families. The influx of these industrious settlers brought a modest prosperity to La Vernia.
Commerce and Industry
The 1870 Federal Census enumerated individuals in occupations, other than farming, that revealed a vibrant community. Enumerated were one physician, three merchants, one dry goods clerk, two carpenters, two blacksmiths, several wagonners, teamsters, and wagon makers, a cook, a washerwoman, a nurse, and an innkeeper.
Ten year later, the 1880 census revealed dramatic growth; those claiming an occupation other than farming included three physicians, four carpenters, five merchants, two magistrates, five ministers, three teachers, two saddlers, a well borer, seven potters, a miller, two broom manufacturers, one blacksmith, one bookkeeper, a law student, a butcher, and two shoemakers.
Cotton gins were important to the farmers of the area. H. J. Suhre, J. T. Wolfe, William Wiseman, Hugo Kott, W. E. Tewes, T. H. Abbott, and Henry Linne operated the earliest and most successful cotton gins in La Vernia.
The rich alluvial soils of the Cibolo Valley attracted the farmers to the area, the deposits of clay attracted potters and brick makers. Brothers and Union civil war veterans, Isaac and George Washington Suttles found the clay was ideal for manufacturing superior pottery and bricks in La Vernia. While their presses created bricks for local use, their artisans created salt-glazed pottery that was shipped to customers as faraway as Denver, Colorado. La Vernia's Suttles pottery is now treasured by pottery collectors.
Innkeepers were an important feature of this community. The first mention of a stage stop and livery was at the house of Claiborne Rector in the early 1850s. Thomas Applewhite operated a stage stop from his homestead for a brief period. Henry and wife Georgiana Morgan were farmers during the 1850s. After Henry's death in 1867, Georgiana maintained an inn that was considered a reliable place for room and board. Another notable La Vernia inn was the Lay Hotel operated by Judge Francis Marion Lay from 1899 to the early 1900s.
Remembered by residents of the early 20th century as the "Racket Store," Samuel Pressley Wiseman operated one of the earliest dry goods stores in La Vernia. Mr. Wiseman, as early as 1877, demonstrated his wares for the Sutherland Springs newspaper the Western Chronicle.
Herman Suhre was a well-known merchant and postmaster during the 1870s and 1880s. Brahan and Erskine, Gersdorff and Company operated stores during the 1870s; Kott and Linne, Tewes and Abbott operated stores and Emil Lenz and Emil Koepp operated the popular Two Emils Saloon when Wilson County celebrated its fiftieth anniversary in 1909.
The Innovators
Agriculture was the main preoccupation of the community. Patents registered with the U. S. Patent Office reveal the inventive nature of La Vernia's farmers. In 1859, T. T. Collier registered a patent for an attachment that increased the efficiency of a cultivator. In 1892, John F. Tiner registered a patent for a Spring Draft Attachment to replace the doubletree used to attach draft animals to wagons.
In 1908, Otto H. Marx registered a patent for Improvements to the Sulky Plow. In 1917, C. W. Neblett registered a patent for a Supporting Structure used to suspend a scale for weighing cotton in the field.
In the 1870s, Major John Montgomery recognized the need for improved grasses for pasturage. He imported and sold a new grass from Africa, Sorghum halapense, commonly known as "Johnson grass," a legacy that grows in Wilson County to this day.
150 Years of Freemasonry
Freemasonry has been an important part of La Vernia's history. Brahan Lodge No. 226, Ancient Free and Accepted Masons was first established in Bethesda across the Cibolo in 1859 by John Rhodes King. The Lodge was named after Robert Weakley Brahan a local physician and planter. After the original building burned, the lodge was moved to La Vernia in 1867. Brahan Lodge, a red sandstone structure, constructed in 1871 is still a meeting place for Masons. At times, this registered Historic Texas Landmark has served as a school for the community.
Road and Bridges
After the Civil War, through the 1870s, the business of the community slowly expanded. Roads connecting La Vernia with outlying communities and farms were laid out and their rights-of-way formalized by the Commissioners of Wilson County. Built on the Cibolo, the community's access to reliable crossings was essential to commerce and travel.
At times crossings were moved due to flood damage and maintenance requirements. Scull's Crossing, Wiseman's Crossing, McAlister's Crossing, Montgomery's Crossing, and Rector's Crossing were the names and locations of crossings. Until the installation of steel bridges after 1900, the steep banks of the Cibolo made maintenance difficult and crossing treacherous. In 1915, the Mueller steel bridge was constructed at McAlister's crossing and today stands as a Historic Texas Landmark.
Railroad Comes To La Vernia
The settlers of the Cibolo Valley understood and embraced the need for connecting their community to centers of commerce. In 1853, landowners like James McAllister and Claiborne Rector in La Vernia donated land for a railroad connecting the community to shipping on the Texas coast.
The Texas legislature chartered the San Antonio River Navigation Company in 1856 that would allow navigation up the San Antonio River to Goliad and points beyond. A navigable San Antonio River has been a dream of south Texas ever since. Members of the Canfield family of La Vernia and the Cibolo valley were named as charter members in the legislation.
The Civil War ended the efforts to realize these dreams. However, the railroad finally did arrived in 1895 when the San Antonio and Gulf Shore Railroad was built from San Antonio to Victoria with a stop in La Vernia. The railroad served the community as its connection to the greater world until 1957 when service was discontinued and the tracks removed.
Historic Notables
La Vernia is proud of Jane Yelvington McCallum (1877-1957), suffragist leader and Texas Secretary of State (1927 – 1933), born to Alvaro Leonard and Mary Fullerton (LeGette) Yelvington in La Vernia, Texas, on December 30, 1877.
La Vernia's growing list of historical markers includes: The Cibolo Crossing on the Gonzales Road, Thomas Applewhite Homestead, Brahan Masonic Lodge, Chihuahua Road, The City of La Vernia, Concrete Cemetery, Beall Cemetery, Immanuel Lutheran Church, Immanuel Lutheran Cemetery, La Vernia United Methodist Church, Rector Chapel Cemetery, Suttles Pottery, Mueller Bridge, Grave of Claiborne Rector, and the Deaf Smith Oak Tree.
The legacy of the founders of Wilson County thrives in La Vernia; where the Old South met the Wild West.

Sandstone plays important role in building Wilson County

(This article was written by the La Vernia Historical Association and published by the Wilson County News on Sept. 5, 2020.)
Sandstone plays important role in building Wilson County Texas .... We asked local historians, Allen and Regina Kosub, about the sandstone structures found in Wilson County, particularly Sutherland Springs, La Vernia, and the "bathhouse" structures built by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) near Stockdale.
 This is their reply:
Until the Suttles on the Cibolo and others like Nelson Mackey on the San Antonio River began making bricks, the main building materials in the area were native sandstone and post oak timbers. There are few post oak timber buildings left, due to rot and insects. Native sandstone structures have disappeared as people recycled their attractive stones.
In Wilson County Texas, we have identified three types of sandstone: red sandstone (Brahan Lodge), yellow sandstone (Applewhite ruins by the Finch Funeral Chapel in La Vernia), and white sandstone (Beauregard Ranch compound in far southeast Wilson County). Most old water wells in the area are lined with sandstone. Sandstone has good compressive strength and is great for building walls and other structures.
Joseph B. Polley, in the early 1900s, wrote this about Rancho Paistle across the Cibolo from the Polley homestead:
"About 1850 the walls tumbled down, and the rock of which they were composed was hauled away and put into chimneys. Today two or three piles of pulverized sandstone are all that is left to identify the exact site of the old mission."
From this, we know that the sandstone structures were recycled in later forms. Gray Jones Houston's home at the intersection of C.R. 342 (the original road to Chihuahua and Indianola) and Highway 87, just above Sutherland Springs, was a two-story structure made of sandstone; it burned down in the early 1900s.
Both the Polley house and the Houston house were built in the mid-1800s near the site of Rancho Paistle and probably contain the rancho's recycled stone. Mary Maverick, in her memoir, wrote about Dr. Houston's house, related to an Indian raid in 1855 — the same attack that killed the slave girl Lucy, and Jewet McGee in Lavernia:
"Dr. Houston's house was a large and substantial stone building, and the people from miles around crowded there. We fortified the house, and most of us kept awake the whole night. We dubbed the place in its fortified condition Sebastapol, which indicated our intention to defend ourselves to the last."
From early Spanish maps, it is clear there were several ranchos along the Cibolo from Sutherland Springs down to the San Antonio River; the structures, if any, were likely recycled.
The yellow sandstone that we have encountered seems to occur in scattered fields from east Bexar County into Wilson County. We have diaries from the settlers of East Bexar County recording that they collected these stones from their fields to build structures.
The red and white sandstone appears in formations that may be quarried. The Beauregard Ranch has its own quarry. Ewald Koepp Jr., a few weeks before he passed, mentioned that he believed the sandstone used for La Vernia's Brahan Lodge was quarried in the vicinity of his property.
Regarding Stockdale's WPA structures, former Wilson County Judge Marvin Quinney expressed a desire to research bathhouse structures built by the WPA on the Cibolo near Stockdale. We contacted the National Archives for information regarding WPA structures in Wilson County. The response indicated structures in Stockdale were likely authorized on the local level with no specific records on file with the National Archives. Those bathhouses (which we have never seen) could be historical treasures.
Another question arises when discussing stone building materials: "What was the source of the lime used in the mortar?"
The best we can tell, the earliest builders burned the shells of mussels and other shellfish from local waterways to create lime. After the Civil War, the soft limestone quarry in San Antonio (now the Japanese Sunken Gardens) was the main source of lime.
The La Vernia Historical Association and the Sutherland Springs Historical Museum appreciate the information shared with us by Allen and Regina Kosub. We continue to add information to our archives about this topic and many more.
Respect property rights: All properties mentioned in this narrative are located on private property. Trespassing is strictly prohibited.
COURTESY/ Wilson County News Contributed Compiled Sept. 6, 2020, by the La Vernia Historical Association, the Sutherland Springs Historical Museum, and Allen and Regina Kosub.
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Museum opens new exhibit – 'The History of La Vernia Schools'

Thank you to everyone who visited on Sunday, May 15, 2022, for the Grand Opening of our new exhibit, "The History of La Vernia Schools, featuring Spirit & Sports from 1870 through 1999."  The exhibit will be open through December. The museum is open on the 1st & 3rd Sunday of each month from noon to 3:00 p.m.  Admission is free.  We also welcome groups, by appointment. Call 210-392-3281 to arrange a tour.  We hope YOU can visit soon!! Bring your family, club, business, organization, class, friends, and LV Alumni!!

The La Vernia Heritage Museum

The La Vernia Heritage Museum was honored in 2013  to be the recipient of several donations from their supporters. The San Antonio River Authority (SARA) made a generous donation earmarked for the new exhibit, "Cibolo Crossing on the Gonzales Road at La Vernia," a donation which made it possible to order the beautiful new mural on the museum façade, created by graphic artist D'mitri Kosub, and the interpretive wall timeline which is one of the focal points of the exhibit. Additionally, SARA provided large aerial maps for the exhibit, which help museum visitors locate the Cibolo Crossing, and for many, their own local home.
"It's exciting to see where my home is now and how close it is to where the old Gonzales Road was," said one visitor.
The Gonzales Road, which was a vital roadway during the Texas Revolution era, no longer exists. It traversed the Cibolo just above La Vernia at the Cibolo Crossing, located on private property, connecting San Antonio and Gonzales. Many heroes of the 1850s era crossed and camped at the site, including Susanna Dickinson, Sam Houston, Davy Crockett, Erastus "Deaf" Smith, William B. Travis, Mexican General Santa Anna, and many more. Later, as La Vernia began to be settled, other local crossings also became prominent.
Another valuable donation to the museum's permanent collections is from Ollie Shrank, a professional collector of early Texas pottery. Shrank donated several pieces of utilitarian pottery made by George and Isaac Suttles, Civil War Union veterans who came to La Vernia from Ohio in the 1870s, producing thousands of vessels of useful household pottery. A historical marker for the Suttles Pottery is located near the site of one of their kilns, facing U.S. 87, near the museum. The exhibit includes crocks and jugs on loan from private collections along with artifacts from archeological digs conducted by the La Vernia Historical Association at the kiln site in La Vernia.
An 1850s buckle medallion found in a field near the Cibolo Crossing in the La Vernia area is on loan from the anonymous owner. The U.S. medallion, which has been authenticated, will be on display for a short time only. Museum Director Susan Richter said, "We are honored that this patron has allowed us to showcase his important find, which reminds us that many significant moments in early Texas history occurred right here, in our own back yards."
Even small donations are important to the museum, such as a book which was recently found at a garage sale by Charlie Ploch and his grandson, John Goodwin, a student at La Vernia Middle School. The book, On the Watershed of Ecleto and the Clear Fork of Sandies, by Karon Mac Smith, includes stories, genealogical information, burial, and marriage information about Wilson County and other nearby counties. John said, "I like history and so does my grandfather. I thought the museum might like to have this book."
The La Vernia Heritage Museum is open on the first and third Sunday of the month from noon to 3 p.m., and by appointment. Admission is free.
COURTESY/ Wilson County News  Article/Photos written by the 2013  LVHM President Elaine Mazurek Stephens .

Ghost fingerprints in the clay

Ghost fingerprints in the clay .... Pottery pieces made by Civil War veterans George and Isaac Suttles were recently (2004) unearthed in La Vernia Wilson County Texas by students from Coach Blackburn's history classes at La Vernia High School.
On Dec. 18, 2004, nine students participated in a half-day "dig" on property at La Vernia City Hall. Sponsored by the La Vernia Historical Association, the project was in cooperation with the city of La Vernia and the Texas Historical Commission to excavate pieces of pottery from the site of the Suttles Pottery "waster pile."
According to a previous archaeological dig, conducted in 2001 by the Suttles Pottery Project, which is a project of the La Vernia Historical Association and the La Vernia Garden Club, the artifacts found on city property are the discarded pieces tossed onto the "waster pile" by Suttles Pottery. The pottery was in operation from the 1870s to the early 1900s. The first archaeological dig and the actual kiln were on the adjoining private property now owned by restaurateur Otto Santos. The 2001 archaeological dig was supervised by archaeologist David Nickels, owner of Tierras Antiquas, a professional archaeological consulting firm in San Antonio.
Students from Floresville High School's Junior Historians club, sponsored by Tambria Read, assisted in the first dig.
In October of this year, construction began on the parking lot at La Vernia City Hall. When pottery pieces were found, Mayor Brad Beck notified the La Vernia Historical Association, offering them an opportunity to recover pottery pieces for a Suttles exhibit.
According to Texas antiquities laws, it was necessary to report the findings to the Texas Historical Commission. The commission granted permission to the city of La Vernia to proceed with the parking lot, with the agreement that only 6 to 8 inches of topsoil be disturbed. Hale Paving Co. of La Vernia and La Vernia city crews, following THC instructions, assisted the historical association by carefully saving pottery pieces uncovered during construction of the parking lot.
"Preserving La Vernia's history is extremely important. We're glad the students had the opportunity to be a part of this special project," Beck said.
The students, all juniors, carefully sectioned off dig locations into four "sites." Each site was excavated to a depth of 8 inches, with all dirt being placed into buckets and sifted, using sifters custom-made and donated by Richter Drywall of La Vernia. Bags of artifacts were numbered according to the site from which they were excavated. Each site required two students digging, two sifting, and one carrying buckets.
Students Valerie Polasek and Chelsea Spain said, "It was interesting to learn about the Suttles brothers and to see their actual fingerprints in the clay."
From the four historical sites, the students unearthed approximately 100 pieces of artifacts and broken pottery, including bricks and "furniture," which is a fist-sized clump of roughly squeezed and shaped clay used to prop up pottery in the kiln, keeping pieces from touching during firing. Fingerprints are often visible on pottery furniture.
All excavated pieces and artifacts belong to the state of Texas and will be on exhibit at the dedication ceremony for the Suttles Pottery Texas State Historical Marker, which is expected in early 2005.
Students participating in the historical work included T.J. Bundy, Julie Bukowski, Robin Banis, Mechella Lara, Andrew Wagner, Chelsea Spain, Valerie Polasek, Lauren Rakowitz, and Destinee Montgomery. Each student received extra credit for their participation.
"This is a great learning opportunity for the students. I hope this opens the door for more projects like this," Coach Blackburn said.
Written by Elaine Mazurek Stephens of the La Vernia Historical Association for the December 29, 2004 Wilson County News .

Cibolo Crossing on the Gonzales Road

Cibolo Crossing on the Gonzales Road — Wilson County
Historical Marker — 5507016912    Marker Location  On the west side of FM 775, .5 miles north of FM 2772   ( Allen Kosub adds, "This marker was supported and funded by the La Vernia Historical Association. It is just one of many projects LVHA has supported during its now 20 years of existence."

Immanuel Lutheran Church

Immanuel Lutheran Church La Vernia Wilson County Texas .... German immigrants settled in the nearby New Berlin community on Elm Creek in the 1870s and founded a congregation known as Christ Lutheran Church. After the arrival of the San Antonio and Gulf Railroad in 1893. Many church members moved to l:a Vernia, and for a time they made the weekly journey back to New Berlin for worship services. In 1901, however, 20 families gathered to form a local congregation to serve german Lutherans in La Vernia, and they called the rev. H. W. Schmidt as their first pastor. Immanuel Lutheran Church members worshiped at the Presbyterian church until their own building was completed on this site on Cibolo Creek in october 1901. An associated cemetery (2.1 mi. Nw) began on donated land the following year. After pastor Schmidt left in 1903, the church issued a joint call for a new pastor with Christ Lutheran Church, and this shared pastorate continued for many years. The congregation grew steadily under the leadership of the rev. Nic Frueh, who served as pastor from 1911 until 1943. In 1932, due to deterioration and a violent storm, a new church building was erected to replace the original. During pastor Frueh's tenure, english language services were added and one member was ordained into the Lutheran ministry.
Although damaging floods in 1913, 1973 and 1998 have proved challenging for the congregation, the members have sustained their various ministries and programs, including education and outreach. Immanuel Lutheran Church remains an important part of the ethnic and religious heritage of Wilson county.
COURTESY/ Immanuel Lutheran Church

Immanuel Lutheran Church of La Vernia, Texas

A Treasure Trove of History in Family Names ..... In the winter of 1901 twenty family members of Christ Lutheran Church, Elm Creek, formed a nucleus to organize Immanuel Lutheran Church of La Vernia, Texas. In the communion records for Christmas, 1901, the following are mentioned as members:
Julius Boeck
Albert BuIgerin
Ludwig Barkmeyer
Wilhelm Boeck
Albert Buider
Mrs. Martha Gutz
Carl Haese
Mrs. Marie Hormuth
Samuel Jachade
E. W. Koepp
Franz Koepp
August Klatt
Hugo Kott
Mrs. Marie Lenz
Heinrich Schwartz
Gustav Schroeder
Mrs. Louise Zunker
Mrs. Lena Zittl
The first council (Vorsteher) included: E· W. Koepp, Carl Haese, Wilhelm Boeck, Gus Schroeder and Heinrich Schwartz.
At first a Pastor Hummel and a Pastor Heinrich Schmidt from Marion held services on Alternate Sundays. Then Pastor Schmidt was called. The congregation purchased two acres of land in La Vernia, on which to build a church. By October 8,1901, by the help of God, the building was completed and dedicated by the local pastor and by President W. Steinmann and Pastor Nad. The first child to be baptized was Franz Wilhelm Julius Schroeder, son of Gustav and Bertha Bulgerin Schroeder. He was born on Dec. 9, 1901, and baptized on March 2, 1902. The first confirmation recorded as an adult, Mrs. Hermine Zunker, on March 31, 1902, then followed a class on April 19, 1902:
Mrs. Anna Klatt
Lothar Schievelbein
Edward Koepp
Felix Duelm
Lee Hormuth
Lillie Brause
Louise Stabenow
Auguste Schroeder
Martha Stabenow
Thekla Schievelbein
Meta Klatt
Gustav Schroeder donated two acres of land for a cemetery. The congregation placed a fence around the land and dedicated it for its designated purpose. The first funeral was held on October 22, 1902. Hedwig Gabriele Koepp, infant daughter of Franz Koepp and Augusta Schmidt Koepp was born October 14, 1902. She died October 21, 1902.
On October 14, 1903, when Pastor Schmidt accepted a call to Des Moines, Iowa, Immanuel Lutheran united with Christ Lutheran at Elm Creek to call a pastor for the dual parish. From 1904 to 1911 Pastor Christian Volk served the parish until he accepted a call to a congregation in Colorado.
In August, 1911, Pastor Nic Frueh of Beitel Memorial Lutheran of San Antonio accepted the call from both congregations. The family resided in Elm Creek until 1917 when they moved to the new parsonage in La Vernia. The building cost $1,550. By 1925 the membership had grown to 104 families and a budget of $1,437.
On December 12, 1926, the congregation observed the 25th Anniversary of the church's dedication Dr. W. Steirnann delivered the morning sermon, Dr. Wl. Goerner of Seguin addressed the Confirmand Reunion in the afternoon. Over 400 people attended the dinner at noon.
In 1931, because the 30-year-old church edifice had deteriorated badly, the congregation decided to build a brick building, but the depression forced postponement of this project. The project was very quickly revived, however, after a strong wind during the 1932 Easter Service caused the building to sway dangerously. On April 13,1932, the congregation voted to build immediately and to use the old church's materials in a new frame building. Cost, exclusive of the donated stained-glass windows, should not exceed $3,500. The dimensions were 80′ X 32′ with an addition of 36, X 13′. (This is the building we are in today, excepting the annex.)
Building Committee members were:
Paul Dieckow
Alfred Linne, Sr.
Ewald Koepp
Julius H. Lenz
Louis Lenz
Fritz Mueller
Frido Rawe
Herman Rauch
​The contractor August Fuessel, who built the parsonage in 1917, supervised the building for $6 a day. Members of the congregation, working as carpenter helpers received $3 a day and others worked for $1.50 a day.
On May 13,1932, the first shovel of concrete was put into the ground in the name of the Triune God for the building of the new church. This was done in place of laying a cornerstone. The church was dedicated on July 24,1932 with the local minister officiating, assisted by President E. A. Sagebiel, Dr. Wm. Steinmann and Pastor Wm. Durkop. The morning, afternoon and night services were well attended.
Cost of the church edifice was a little over $4,500. The stained-glass windows, the pulpit, carpet, pulpit Bible and 10 benches were donated by individuals and organizations.
In August of 1936 the Elm Creek and La Vernia congregations surprised and honored Pastor Frueh with a special service and presented the pastor with gifts on the occasion of his 25th year of service in the parish.
Another unusual service was held in 1938 when Milton S. Frueh, son of Pastor and Mrs. Nic Frueh, was ordained into the Holy Ministry here in Immanuel Lutheran Church. Pastor Paul Geiger served as assistant pastor from 1943 to 1948, when he accepted a call to San Marcos.
Pastor E.G. Knaak of Immanuel Lutheran in Pflugerville succeeded Pastor Geiger and was installed on December 1, 1948. In 1950 the present Parish Hall was added to the church's facilities. Pastor Knaak died on May 4, 1957.
Pastor Kurt C. Hartmann was installed on September 1, 1957 by Dr. Vernon Mohr. He and his family moved into the new three bedroom parsonage on Labor Day, September 2,1957. During his ministry with "Immanuel, the Annex was added, expanding the worship and adding additional classrooms. Also, new pews and church furniture, a heating/air conditioning system, and a public address system were installed. Also, added to the Parish Hall were a Study and office for the pastor and two additional classrooms, in memory of Wilson and Dora Perry.
On August 12 1962, the Church Annex was dedicated. Dr. George W. Krueger of San Antonio spoke at the dedication service in the morning and Dr. Otto Schawe of Poth spoke at the service of Thanksgiving in the afternoon. Pastor C. N. Roth was the architect, and the Oscar Mattke Lumber company of La Vernia was the general contractor. The annex includes overflow space for worship, four classrooms and restrooms. The cost of the addition was $12,838.
On Sunday, December 5,1966 the new church pews were dedicated. The total cost of the 28 pews plus three screens and a sedile for the chancel was $3,525. Most of the money for the pews came from memorials.
Pastor Hartmann, active in church and community, was honored, along with his wife Frances by the church and community when he retired in the summer of 1977.
Pastor Herbert E. Palmer was installed to serve with the people of Immanuel, in September, 1977. Since then the people of Immanuel have paved the parking lot, and have enhanced their worship with the Baldwin Pipe organ. The organ was dedicated June 28, 1981 in memory and honor of many members and friends of Immanuel. The pipes were given by Mr. & Mrs. O. W. Linne.
Also, there have been improvements on the parsonage with the installation of the central heat/central air conditioning system and the addition of a second bathroom, a patio, and carport. Also created was the Cemetery Association and the Perpetual Care of the cemetery for the more efficient care of this responsibility of the congregation.
In January of 1980, Immanuel expanded to two worship services, and began celebrating Holy communion twice a month. At the time of the 80th Anniversary Celebration, Immanuel had nearly 600 baptized members with a budget of $63,000.
In 1982 Pastor Palmer accepted a call to Brenham, and on October 3,1982 Pastor Gary Goodson was installed as Pastor of Immanuel. Pastor David Feller, Jr. officiated at the installation service.
In December of 1983 the Carillon Bells were installed in the Church, and were dedicated by Pastor Goodson on April 29,1984.
In September of 1985 the first Sunday of the month Potluck fellowship began, and to this day we continue to enjoy this fellowship at the beginning of each month.
During Pastor Goodson's years here, there was much more cooperation in and among the different churches in the community. In 1986 a Good Samaritan Fund and Food Pantry were established, later to be renamed the Rev. Kurt Hartmann Good Samaritan Fund, in honor and memory of Pastor Hartmann. In 1988 the Christian Service Center opened its doors. It is open every Saturday morning and provides food and clothing for those persons in need in our community. A local Ministerial Alliance was also formed during this time, and they have shared in Thanksgiving services, community choirs, and in 1990 and '91, brought the community together for several nights at the Gospel Celebration.
In January of 1987, Immanuel voted to approve of the upcoming merger of three National Lutheran Church bodies, the American Lutheran Church, the Lutheran Church in America, and the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches. The merger officially took place on January 1, 1988, when we became a part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America; the fourth largest protestant Church body in the United States.
In August of 1987, the Lutheran Social Service of Texas opened a satellite office in Seguin, with the support of the area Lutheran Churches. Pastor Goodson was a member of the board of the LLST office in Seguin.
In September of 1988, the Confirmation/Sr. Youth group reorganized, with a very strong core group of youth. This group worked hard on many projects, and took a trip to Sky Ranch Camp in Colorado in June of 1989.
In August of 1989 Saturday Evening Worship services were begun. These services were to be held on the first and third Saturday of the month. Holy Communion is offered at these services, and they are more informal in nature. The Saturday services dropped off for awhile in the first half of 1991 between pastors, but has picked up once again in September of 1991.
On November 18,1990 the Ground Breaking for the Parish Hall addition took place at the close of the 10:30 worship service that morning.
Pastor Goodson left in December of 1990, and took a call to serve as a Chaplain in the U.S. Army. Pastor David Priem accepted a call to serve Immanuel, and was installed on July 7, 1991. The Rev. Lawrence Bade, assistant to the Bishop of the Southwestern Texas Synod of the ELCA, presided at the installation service.
In 1992, Immanuel Lutheran purchased a computer for the church office. Additional office space was added in 1993. The builder was E. L. Kinsey.
September 16, 1997, Immanuel Lutheran Church purchased 1.27 acres of land from Bernie E. Ramzinski and wife, Laura F. Ramzinski and located on FM 1346 on the easterly corner of the Immanuel Lutheran Cemetery.
In the summer of 1997, during the time the church was being painted, a beautiful painting was found by one of the painters, stored in a closet behind the altar, rolled, wrapped in tissue paper, secured with metal bands and packed in a wooden box. It is the theory of the church that Pastor Nic Frueh may have brought this painting from Germany during a visit there in which he played the organ at one of the many beautiful churches. The painting is believed to be a turn of the century piece of art with over-lays of intensive colors. The art has a religious theme and the inscription on the bottom of the picture, written in the German language is taken from Luke 2:14 "glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men". The parishioners agreed that this gorgeous piece of work should be framed and hung in the sanctuary. The picture was beautifully framed and sealed so that the glass does not touch the painting. It hangs on the east wall of the church sanctuary and is truly a beautiful masterpiece.
In October of 1998, another flood wreaked havoc on Immanuel Lutheran Church. Water had been two and one-half to three and one-half feet deep in all the buildings on the church grounds. The damage was extensive. Pews and chairs and office equipment and desks, along with hymnals, historic bibles and songbooks from the founding of the church were all damaged beyond use. Floors and walls were damaged in all buildings along with other furniture, as well as altar cloths and choir music.
All seemed hopeless for awhile, but by God's grace and mercy, help arrived from all corners as we began the immediate task of clean-up. During the long process of rebuilding, members came forward to lend a hand and people we never knew stopped by to offer help, supplies and food for the weary workers.
Mr. Troy Finch, owner of our local funeral home, was kind enough to lend us use of his facilities for the following Sunday and extended the offer of continued use for as long as we needed the chapel. A couple of weeks after the flood, we were back in the church building, worshiping on folding chairs on top of the bare, ugly, wooden floor. It was a sign of determination for us as we set our sights on restoring this historic church to its former beauty. God was still with us, strengthening our faith and our resolve through this tragedy and making us better people because of it.
The building process began as we prioritized and set goals for rebuilding. Our obvious first choice was the church itself so that we could get our worship life back together. Our second priority was on classrooms so that we could get our Christian education back on line, and our final goal was the old parsonage, now also being used for classroom space because of our growth. All but a few minor things were completed within a years time and we had a re-dedication service on October 31, 1999 (Reformation Sunday) to give thanks and glory to God for everything.
In early 1997, the church council began to discuss the upcoming "100th Anniversary" of the church. Several comments were made to the effect of saying "how nice it would be to have beautiful wooden doors on the front of the church". After much discussion among the church council, Rick Morgan, a member of the council, volunteered to help design the doors and to find a craftsman who would be willing to build the doors. A plan was presented to the church council for the construction of two heavy wooden doors with an emblem of a cross in the middle of each door, designed to match the stained glass windows already on the church, along with some clear beveled glass in the center of each cross so that ushers could see through the glass and open the doors for parishioners. It was decided to replace the arch above the doors with a stained glass design to match the stained glass pattern on the church windows and incorporate Martin Luther's Seal (a black cross placed in a red heart upon a white rose in a sky-blue field surrounded by a golden ring).
The doors were to be installed by Easter of 1998. There were so many delays that we began to wonder about the reliability of the craftsman. The doors actually did not get installed until just before Christmas of 1998. Looking back, the whole situation almost seems a bit humbling as the "big flood of 1998" would have destroyed the doors along with the many other things which were lost in the flood. Even though we grumbled about the slowness of the craftsman, somehow God was watching over us from above and the beautiful doors became one of the first pieces of restoration in the church following the flood. Their beauty attests to the fact that God is indeed a very present help in time of need.
The summer of 2000 marked a first for the youth of Immanuel. 17 youth and 4 sponsors traveled to St. Louis to participate in the 2000 ELCA National Youth Convention. This was the first time Immanuel had been accepted to participate at the National Convention. The youth brought back a new perspective on Lutheran teachings and the beliefs of ELCA.
After ten wonderful years, Pastor David Priem left in June of 2001, and took a call to serve at Holy Ghost Lutheran Church in Fredericksburg, Texas.
In September of 2001 the State of Texas awarded the Immanuel Lutheran Church and Cemetery a State Historical Marker and Cemetery Medallion. The Historical marker is located in front of the Immanuel Lutheran Church Sanctuary Building. The cemetery medallion will be placed at the cemetery after it is manufactured.
After 100 faithful years of service, much more could be said of this congregation and its people. There have been many dedicated council members, organists, Sunday School teachers, choir members, and officers of organizations who have served the Lord over these many years.
The growth and love and dedication of all those people throughout the years is made evident by the fact that in 1901, fifty devoted Christians struggled with a budget of $225 for salary and benevolences. In 2001 Immanuel has a membership of over 600, and an annual budget of over $100,000.
May God, who has called these faithful members together over the past 100 years continue to call us to serve him in this congregation, this community, and throughout the world where people stand in need of hearing and seeing the Gospel of Jesus Christ in action.
(History translated from German minutes of this congregation and compiled by Mrs. Ursala Koepp, and Mrs. Kurt C Hartmann, 1976, and updated by Pastor Herbert E. Palmer, in 1981, updated again by Mrs. Adeline Linne and Pastor David Priem in 1991, and further updated in by Dora Wyatt and David Freeman in 2001.)
COURTESY/ Immanuel Lutheran Church  
Administrator Note: The Immanuel Lutheran Church is applauded for the upkeep in detailed nature the history of their beloved church.
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La Vernia 1948 Senior Class

The La Vernia Wilson County Texas .... 1948 Senior Class had 14 students: Cecilia Zaiontz, Rose Wyrwich, Jack Speer, Bernice Adams, Ida Lattka, Donald Mialski, Allen Kosub, Mary Lou Anderson, Dorothy Gembler, Fred Pierdolla, Wallace Sendemer, Leona Schroeder, Kathryn Sczech,  & Wilfloyd Strey. (Information and picture from the blue and gold "The Cub 48" Annual)
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Museum mural transports viewers back in time

The photo turned mural depicting La Vernia life in 1909, graces the front of the La Vernia Heritage Museum.
Let yourself go back in time to a clear day in 1909 when Chihuahua Street was bustling with activity. Life was busy with people, buggies, horses, Model T's, and at least one dog on the old main street of La Vernia.
The detailed photo by Candelario Alegria is now the attention-grabbing mural on the front of the La Vernia Heritage Museum on U.S. 87 at Bluebonnet Street The printing and installation of the mural was made possible by a generous donation from the San Antonio River Authority to the La Vernia Historical Association, which operates the museum.
Details in the image include buildings which are still standing and many which are not. The fashions and modes of transportation have changed and the pedestrians are fewer, but the scene is certain to make your imagination drift back to a very different era in La Vernia's history.
COURTESY/Wilson County News 2017
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The La Vernia Heritage Museum

The La Vernia Heritage Museum was the recipient of three area family heirlooms. Doris Ann Adams Rosendahl donated the items in memory of her mother, Dora Louise Schievelbein Adams, who was born near New Berlin in 1918 and passed away there in 1990.

One item, a framed diploma commemorating her mother's graduation from Concrete School, is dated May 5, 1933. The highest grade level at the school was eighth grade, which her mother completed. The school, which Dora attended during the 1920s and 1930s, was located between La Vernia and New Berlin but no longer exists.

The second item is an original photo taken of a 1929 class at Concrete School with the names of each class member clearly recorded on the back. A small metal lunch pail, which belonged to Dora Schievelbein, also was donated to the museum.

Dora was one of seven children born to Willie and Antonette Mittlesteadt Schievelbein, whose farm was located on the Scull Crossing Road and was bordered on one end by the Cibolo Creek. Dora was raised in the Christ Lutheran Church of Elm Creek, where she was baptized and confirmed. Dora Schievelbein's family extends to many other families in the La Vernia area, including the Hartwicks, the Esparzas, the Gutzes, the Pulhmanns, the Haeses, the Hartmanns, the Streys, and the Youngs.

The items are on exhibit at the museum in an exhibit about La Vernia area schools. The La Vernia Historical Association is seeking items about area schools on loan or by gift.

The La Vernia Heritage Museum is open on the first and third Sunday of the month from noon until 3 p.m. and by appointment.

The museum is operated by the La Vernia Historical Association, Appointments may be made by calling museum Director Susan Richter at 210-392-3281.
COURTESY / Wilson County News  2017

A brief history of the La Vernia schools .... LA VERNIA HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION

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This clipping from the Jan. 25, 1931, morning edition of the San Antonio Express describes the first brick building for the La Vernia Public School. "'The first brick building for the La Vernia Public School was ... "brick and hollow tile construction, all modern, with eight rooms and auditorium, indoor toilets and electric lights. J. C. Driskill is the superintendent of the school, which has six teachers."'
— San Antonio Express morning edition, Jan. 25, 1931

The structure is still in use, as part of the La Vernia Junior High School campus.

As a new school year gets into full swing, the La Vernia Historical Association gives us a glimpse into public education through the years in our community.

In 1853, our community was originally named Post Oak. In 1859, the U.S. Post Office discovered that a town already had that name, so it was changed to Lavernia. The spelling is traditionally accepted as Lavernia, LaVernia, or La Vernia. In 1860, Wilson County was established.

The early settlers of La Vernia were very well educated. According to local historians Allen and Regina Kosub, a school referred to as the Cibolo School existed near La Vernia in the 1850s. Also in the 1850s, the original Concrete School was built, but it was not in La Vernia. It was two miles north of La Vernia on F.M. 775 in the area of Concrete Cemetery, across from what is now the Ross and Mary Scull Circle N Dairy. The area was referred to first as Bethesda and later, Concrete. In 1858, an old concrete building on the site was used as a school and meeting hall for the Baptists, Methodists, and Presbyterians, as stated in the Deed Records of Guadalupe County. Around 1867, the original Concrete School building burned down. It was rebuilt some time later in a nearby location and was in use until the 1950s, according to Bobby Brietzke, who attended the school.

In 1870, a "Lavernia Male and Female Academy" was mentioned in the San Antonio Herald and probably referred to the Brahan Masonic Lodge in La Vernia, where classes were often held on the first floor.

Two wooden buildings on River Street in La Vernia housed schools in the 1920s. The single-story building housed the first and second grades, while students in the third through 11th grades had classes in a two-story building.

In later years, there were several small schools in the La Vernia area, such as New Hope, Elm Creek, Pleasant Hill, Sutherland Springs, and Wannamaker. As these small schools closed, many of their students then attended school in La Vernia.
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In the 1920s, there were two wooden school buildings located on River Street in La Vernia. One was a single-story building for grades 1 and 2. The other was a two-story building for grades 3 thru 11.

The story of the La Vernia schools continued as the Great Depression was beginning in 1929.

The late E.O. "Junior" Koepp, in a conversation with La Vernia Heritage Museum Director Susan Duelm Richter, spoke of how his father, E.O. Koepp Sr., strongly urged the La Vernia community to hold a bond election and build a new school. The Great Depression had just begun. This bond issue was in the amount of $30,000 and split the community dramatically. Business owners reportedly lost income when customers disagreed with their support of the new school plans. Nevertheless, the bond issue for $30,000 passed, and in 1930 the first brick building for the La Vernia Public School was built. The school was described in a San Antonio Express morning edition article of January 25, 1931, as a "brick and hollow tile construction, all modern, with eight rooms and auditorium, indoor toilets and electric lights. J. C. Driskill is superintendent of the school, which has six teachers."

Junior Koepp further stated that the architect for the La Vernia School building was the same one who had designed both the Stockdale School and the Koepp Chevrolet building that was located at that time on Chihuahua Street in La Vernia.

In a 1937 booklet published in Wilson County titled The Combine Directory of Wilson County, Texas (pages 19–23), it states that the "Lavernia School is a nice brick building. The faculty numbers 10 teachers."

La Vernia's very own local legend, Elsie Witte Ferry, the popular cashier at Witte's Restaurant, was among the first students to attend the brand-new La Vernia school when it was completed in 1931. She graduated in 1942. An enlarged photo of the building from that first year with all the students standing in front of it, including Elsie Witte Ferry as a young student, is on display at the La Vernia Heritage Museum, along with much more information about the schools.

Today, this brick-and-tile school building, constructed in 1930, is still in use by the La Vernia Independent School District. It is located on the La Vernia Junior High campus across from the historic Brahan Masonic Lodge on D.L. Vest Street. The school is one of the few remaining historical structures in La Vernia today.

The La Vernia Independent School District today caters to students from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade, on four campuses:
•La Vernia Primary School, pre-k through second grade, on F.M. 1346
•La Vernia Intermediate School, grades 3-5, on F.M. 1346
•La Vernia Junior High School, sixth through eighth grades, on Bluebonnet Road (F.M. 775)
•La Vernia High School, grades 9-12, on Bluebonnet Road (F.M. 775).
COURTESY / Wilson County News