by Barbara J. Wood
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LA VERNIA COMMUNITY

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.
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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.
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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.
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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."
 
Marker Text:  DURING THE MEXICAN ADMINISTRATION OF TEXAS, A ROAD CONNECTED THE SETTLEMENT OF GONZALES IN THE DEWITT COLONY TO SAN ANTONIO DE BEJAR, KNOWN AS THE GONZALES ROAD. APPROXIMATELY TWENTY TWO MILES EAST OF SAN ANTONIO, THE ROAD CROSSED THE CIBOLO CREEK, OR RIO CIBOLO. FROM ITS ORIGINS NEAR PRESENT DAY BOERNE TO ITS JUNCTION WITH THE SAN ANTONIO RIVER, THE CIBOLO ETCHED ITS COURSE THROUGH THE COUNTRYSIDE AND ALLOWED FOR A FEW NATURAL FORDS. THE GONZALES ROAD INCORPORATED ONE SUCH NATURAL FORD THROUGH THE FRANCISCO HERRERA LAND GRANT AND THE ERASTUS "DEAF" SMITH LAND GRANT. THIS NATURAL FORD WAS KNOWN AS THE CIBOLO CROSSING. DESCRIPTIONS OF THE CIBOLO CROSSING APPEAR IN LETTERS AND DIARIES OF PARTICIPANTS OF THE TEXAS REVOLUTION. IT IS DESCRIBED AS A RENDEZVOUS AND MARSHALING POINT FOR EARLY SETTLERS AND TROOPS, INCLUDING ATTEMPTS TO BRING REINFORCEMENTS TO THE DEFENSE OF THE ALAMO. ERASTUS "DEAF" SMITH, THE OWNER OF LAND ON THE EAST SIDE OF THE CROSSING, IS SAID TO HAVE SPIED ON THE MEXICAN TROOPS FROM A TREE NEAR THE CROSSING AS TROOPS PREPARED TO RETRIEVE A CANNON FROM THE GONZALES COLONY IN 1835. IN ADDITION, ON FEBRUARY 28, 1836, CAPTAIN J. J. TUMLINSON AND CAPTAINS ALBERT MARTIN, JOHN W. SMITH AND JUAN SEGUIN TOOK RELIEF FORCES TO THE CIBOLO CREEK CROSSING TO AWAIT FANNIN'S FORCES. WITH THE ANNEXATION OF TEXAS BY THE U. S. IN 1845 AND THE SIGNING OF THE TREATY OF GUADALUPE HIDALGO IN 1848, THE GONZALES ROAD WAS LATER INTEGRATED INTO A ROUTE THROUGH YORKTOWN. THE ORIGINAL CROSSING AT CIBOLO CREEK WAS ABANDONED. THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE CIBOLO CROSSING ON THE GONZALES ROAD REMAINS CRITICAL TO EVENTS SURROUNDING TEXAS INDEPENDENCE AND HISTORY.

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.
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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.)
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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.
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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, www.LaVerniaHistory.com. Appointments may be made by calling museum Director Susan Richter at 210-392-3281.
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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).
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COURTESY / Wilson County News