Talk of Wilson County TX Historic Towns

by Barbara J. Wood
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Dr. John Sutherland Ranch
The Dr. John Sutherland Ranch ...  in Sutherland Springs Texas consisted of 4,605 acres along the west bank of the Cibolo Creek nearly a mile from the springs.
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New Town map
HISTORY KEY: A map showing New Town's relics along with the "blue line" showing the Southern Pacific spur line.
Thomas Williams, owner of Hotel Sutherland, built an extension from the Southern Pacific Railtroad main line right to the pools. The line went right behind his hotel as well so there was virtual door to door service for the infirmed.
Exhibit honoring enslaved individuals in Wilson County
Did you stop by the Sutherland Springs Historical Museum Saturday to see the new exhibit honoring the enslaved individuals from the Polley plantation? 
This new exhibit was created, designed, and curated by Dr. Melinda Creech, independent scholar and Vice-Chair, Wilson County Historical Commission. Pictured with Dr. Creech are Bexar County Archivist, Dr. David Carlson and Anthony Delgado, Chair, Wilson County Historical Commission. 
If you have not yet visited the Sutherland Springs Historical Museum, you are missing out on a treasure. The museum has some great pictures, stories, and artifacts documenting the uniqueness that is Sutherland Springs. Kudos to Museum Chair Tambria Read for this little gem in our county.  ( Wilson County Historical Society ) ( Kat Creech Photos)
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1920s photo
This 1920's vintage black 'n white photograph features brothers Luther, Claude, & Walter Luttrell alongside Grandville Chaney. The serious- looking horsemen were posing in the resort area of Sutherland Springs, Wilson County Texas.
Enslaved People of J. H. Polley Plantation museum exhibit
Sutherland Springs Historical Museum ... Dr. Melinda Creech's new exhibit, The Enslaved People of J. H. Polley Plantation, Whitehall, Sutherland Springs, Texas 1836 - 1865", will open this Saturday, February 3rd at the Sutherland Springs Historical Museum. Feel free to share the flyer and this post with all of your friends and stop by the Sutherland Springs Historical Museum to see the new 30-panel exhibit honoring the enslaved of the Polley Plantation.
The museum's curator, Dr. Melinda Creech, researched the untold stories of theses people and created this lovely display. Each person is represented by a quilt square pattern; there are no known photographs of these folks. 
Sat. Feb. 3, 2024 10am - 2pm 
or by appointment call / text 210-289-3583.
Alexander H. Sutherland
ALEXANDER H. SUTHERLAND .... youngest son of Dr. John Sutherland, founder of Sutherland Springs Texas, organized the San Antonio Mexican Mission with just seven members led by pastor José María Casanova
Methodist Ministers ...  the Sutherland's and Rodriguez's served the Methodist Ministry together.. COURTESY /Ricardo Rodriguez , Administrator of Alamo Legacy & Missions Association.
I shared with you before, a story of a Alamo scout serving under William Barrett Travis, which later became a Methodist minister. After his death, his son Rev. Alexander H. Sutherland, continued his ministry and was responsible for converting and Supervising young Ministers, such as my Ggrandfather Rev. Cresencio Angel Rodriguez Coy. 
Reviewing the family archives, as well as our Methodist Church archives, l located one of the several churches Rev. Cresencio preached at and located Rev. Alexander, Rev., Cresencio and his missionary German wife, Maria Cristina Strasburger Rodz. in the pictures..
Forty years before the first preacher was appointed to what would become La Trinidad UMC, a Methodist doctor and settler serving as a physician to the troops at Bexar, Dr. John Sutherland, rode out as a scout from the Alamo to test reports of the approaching Mexican Army. Seeing the 1000-man army approaching, he returned in haste and was thrown from his horse into mud. His horse fell upon him and his rifle snapped in two. Injured and unarmed, he returned to give the grim news to Colonel Travis. Seeing his injury, Colonel Travis ordered him to leave, sparing him a sure and certain death.
After the massacre, Dr. Sutherland returned to the San Antonio area to found the community of Sutherland Springs near present-day Floresville. He also fathered eleven children and served as a lay delegate to the West Texas Conference.
Dr. John Sutherland died in 1867, and youngest child, Alexander Hamilton Sutherland, entered the itinerant ministry just one year later, around the same time that a new convert to Methodism, Alejo Hernandez, became the first Mexican to be ordained within the Methodist Episcopal Church, South.
Rev. Alexander. H. Sutherland was fluent and fully literate in Spanish, and like many Presiding Elders of his day, he traveled as a circuit-riding evangelist conducting open-air services, raising up new clergy, and organizing new churches.   
With the organization of the new district, evangelization began immediately in the area around San Antonio. In 1876, Rev. A.H. Sutherland organized the San Antonio Mexican Mission with just seven members led by pastor José María Casanova. The mission church met first in the homes of its constituents and then rented a hall on the corner of San Saba and Produce Row, where the famous "Mi Tierra" restaurant now stands in Market Square. The mission grew to over 100 members in just two years.
In 1886, the San Antonio Mexican Mission purchased land on the corner of San Fernando and Pecos Streets, where it has conducted ministry ever since. There, it constructed its first place of worship, known as the "Templo de Madera" or the "Wooden Temple." LTUM archives.
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This Day in Texas History: February 28, 1836

The Dr. John Sutherland mentioned here is the gentleman Sutherland Springs Wilson County Texas  is named after.
This Day in Texas History: February 28, 1836
Mexican army tries to cut off the Alamo's water supply again.
Seguin passes on Travis' oral message to another messenger after running into John Chenoweth and Francis L. DeSauque, who were the advance force for Fannin, tell Seguin that Fannin is on the way.
Juan Seguin rounds up 25 Tejanos to go to the Alamo and escort Fannin's men into the Alamo, 22 of these were men who had evacuated their families from Bexar before the Mexican Army arrived..  Several of the ranchers who had left the Alamo promised to return with help, this probably included Juan Ximenes the brother of Damacio Ximenes (Jimenez) he was also cousin to Juan Seguin, Gregorio Esparza and Toribio Losoya.     {{{Dr. John Sutherland and 12 others join them in waiting for Fannin and they head to the Cibolo Creek.}}}  
William C. Simmons, Thomas Mason Dennis, John Bate Berry, Andrew Jackson Berry, Logan Vandeveer enlist in the Texas Army in Mena, they will fight at San Jacinto.
Fannin to Joseph Mims- Tells him that the Alamo is under attack and a force is closing in on him after defeating Colonel Johnson.  
Fannin to Acting Governor Robinson-  tells them of Colonel Johnson's defeat.  The enemy is attacking Bexar and heading to Goliad
The bombardment continues on the Alamo but no more skirmishes.  
Green Jameson keeps on working on reinforcing the Alamo walls
Urrea prepares a trap for the rest of Johnson's men in Aqua Dulce.  Battle of Agua Dulce happens in three days.
Almonte Diary-  Sunday, "the weather abated somewhat.  .. News were received that a reinforcement to the enemy was coming by the road from La Bahia in number 200.  It was not true. The cannonading was continued."
The Alamo falls in seven days.
This Day in Texas History: February 29, 1836
Bonham reaches Goliad.  Fannin tells him that he is unable to march to the Alamo.  Bonham continues to Gonzales
The Gonzales volunteers reach the outskirts of Bexar
Sam Houston arrives at Washington-on-the-Brazos.
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ON THE CIBOLO IN A ROWBOAT ..... That's what Mary Herndon wrote under the photo in her 1909 scrapbook.   She's in the rowboat, but the others are unknown. There was a time Cibolo Creek at Sutherland Springs Wilson County Texas was not polluted but clean & used for recreational activities such as boating, swimming, fishing, & picnicking to name a few. My childhood was enjoyed spending many a summer day swimming & playing in the clean waters especially at the "Y" . ( 97 & 87 intersection area)
(Photo COURTESY/ Liz Wheeler Lester .... Mary Herndon ( lady in boat) is Liz's grandmother.


MINERAL WATERS in NEW TOWN SUTHERLAND SPRINGS,.... were reported to cure an exhaustive list of ailments, including but not limited to, alcoholism, arthritis, baldness, cancer, chapped hands, constipation, diabetes, "female complaints", gout, high and low blood pressure, insomnia, malaria, pneumonia, rheumatism, ringworm, scurvy, toothache, ulcers, and venereal diseases.   No wonder mineral springs were so valued by the Texas settlers.
The resort town of Sutherland Springs Texas was advertised as "Saratoga of the South" and had the largest sulphur bathing pool in the United States. One pool was white sulphur and the other was black sulphur.  The white sulphur pool was a milky white color.
The main pool was divided into two sections by a cement wall with drainage run-offs for the continuously flowing spring water.  The deeper pool was fed from springs from the bottom of the pool and the other side had a concrete bottom.  The whole pool was surrounded by a sidewalk and walls. 
Since mineral deposits floated to the top of the water, occasionally the top of the water had to be skimmed with a long board to remove the deposits.  
There was boating and fishing as well in the Cibolo River. There were bath houses for men and women.
[Courtesy of Sharon Sutherland who has written some stories involving Sutherland Springs in her blog "Sutherland Family History"] The Sutherland Springs Historical Museum has a nice display on the resort.
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Mrs. Annie Jahn Higgins related the history of the first River Oaks Baptist Church as:  "The people of New Town Sutherland Springs  told her they longed for a church on their side (the east side) of the Cibolo Creek. Annie spoke with her church, Baptist Temple on Gevers at E. Drexel in San Antonio,  and the River Oaks Church was established as a mission of the Baptist Temple. Possibly Pastor Yelvington was the minister at the time as he was the pastor at Baptist Temple. "
Annie and Pattillo Higgins funded the materials for the construction and locals such as Ed Frasier and Joe Wesley Tatum among many other New Town families put in their labor of love for the church. Gatherings such as picnics were held on the grounds.  
The alter was elevated about 6" from the concrete floor, complete with a tin baptismal reservoir. A Sunday School room was to the west side of the alter and one rest room to the east side. Baptisms were done in the church and or in the "Sand Hills" stock tank on Higgins Grass Farms up on the hill along CR 334. 
To the best recollection the church was built and began in 1948. The first pastor is not known yet River Oaks Church of New Town Sutherland Springs was the first church that Brother /Pastor Kenneth Wellmann pastored. 
He and his daughter Roxanne and family would be invited to lunch at various homes in the area. They often rested at the Anderson home (Fred and Eileen Anderson), which is one block from the original River Oaks Church, before the Sunday evening service.
Not sure when worship services ceased at the original River Oaks Church yet since the early 1960s the Higgins Family used the structure for storage. In the 1973 or was it '74 flood 6' of water swept into the structure.
Approximately 1994, or so,  Pastor Harley Johnson (son of former Wilson County Pct 3 Commissioner Ed Johnson) and his wife Joyce (Joyce is the Aunt of Christian singer Clifton Janskey) .
Harley and Joyce began a Bible Study group in their home. Then they approached Patricia Higgins Read, who owned the structure at the time, about using the structure and revitalized the River Oaks Church. 
After updates/remodeling of the structure church began with friends and family. In either 1997 or '98 Harley purchased the land where the new River Oaks Church is from Robert P. Higgins.  
When New Town Sutherland Springs was first plated (original map in courthouse) showed the far NE street boundary to be Olive St. which is the driveway into River Oaks Church which is where the Myrtle Fruit Tree Farm was. Before the 1998 flood the new River Oaks Church was built and the congregation moved in. Sadly the former piano, small organ, and church seats ( I do not remember if they were pews) were damaged by the 1998 flood.
When Harley retired, from full time preaching, he brought Paul and Martha Buford into the community. {Tambria Higgins Read  says that she is grateful that Paul and Martha have taken such great care of the ancient riparian Oaks on the River Oaks Church property. They were part of her childhood play area. Now there is a nest of owls with babies in one of the oaks. 
[Thank you Tambria Higgins Read for this great information][Barbara J. Wood]


A critical stage stop was abandoned by its namesake, D'Alanson (D. A.) Saltmarsh,when he was convicted of 'sedition'*.
*conduct or speech inciting people to rebel against the authority of a state or monarch.
D'Alanson (D. A.) Saltmarsh, a successful stagecoach operator, came to Texas to make his fortune on the Indianola to San Diego trail.  He was born on September 17, 1796 in Weston, Connecticut to John Saltmarsh and Rhoda Beach. His brother was Orlando Saltmarsh.
In 1820, D. A. and Orlando ran a light two-horse wagon with mail from Athens, Pennsylvania to Ithaca, New York. In 1824, D. A. Saltmarsh was appointed postmaster of Athens, Pennsylvania. In 1827, with his brother Orlando, D. A. began a stage line from Fayetteville to Raleigh, Louisburg, and Warrenton, North Carolina then to Lawrenceville, Petersburg, and City Point, Virginia (on the James River near Washington, D.C). They were also mail contractors on this route.
In one of the earliest appearances of Abraham Lincoln's name on a Federal document in the House of Representatives. A report by "Mr. Lincoln, from the Committee on the Post Office and Post Roads." Lincoln makes a report on the petition of Saltmarsh and Fuller. William Fuller and Orlando Saltmarsh: Jan. 19, 1848, 30 Congress-1st Session. Report #102 [To accompany bill H.R. 92].
Oct 4, 1837 the Washington Globe shows letters waiting for D.A. and Orlando Saltmarsh at the local post office. The 1840 Census recorded D. A. living in Columbus, Georgia. Saltmarsh ran a stage line from Augusta, Georgia to Milledgeville, Columbus and Mobile, Alabama. This route also carried mail. Orlando was also living in Georgia. By 1850, D. A. had moved to Texas and resided in Galveston where he had opened a stage stand.
In January 1851, D. A. and Orlando established the Saltmarsh Stage Line to carry mail and passengers from Indianola to San Antonio via Lavaca, Victoria, Yorktown, Sulphur Springs (Sutherland Springs), and Ecleto. In 1854 D.A. purchased property for a stage stand at Cottage Hill in east Bexar County.
On February 10, 1852 Orlando Saltmarsh died in Port Lavaca, Texas.
1860 Census records show D.A. living in Lavaca, TX.
In June of 1862, D. A. was found guilty of seditious language against the Confederacy States of America and sent to San Antonio. In San Antonio in July 1862 by Special Order 385, by Brig. General Hamilton P. Bee, Saltmarsh was found guilty of "seditious and disloyal language" and sentenced "to be confined for the space of twelve months, and at the expiration of that period to be sent beyond the limits of the Confederate States." During his incarceration, Saltmarsh was forced to participate in the dismantling and confiscation of his holdings.
The 1870 U. S. Census recorded D. A. as a stage contractor living in Troy, Pennsylvania.
D'Alanson (D. A.) Saltmarsh died 9 May 1871 in Troy, PA.
NOTE: D.A. Saltmarsh, his brother, Orlando, and his brother in law, William H. Overton, were all involved in the Saltmarsh stage and mail lines in the south.
COURTESY/ Lost Texas Roads

Sutherland Springs Development Corporation's first high-water bridge

SUTHERLAND SPRINGS TEXAS ... The Sutherland Springs Development Corporation built the first high water bridge over the Cibolo in 1892.
The bridge was of iron and wood construction. It's spanned the Cibolo at the foot of County Avenue to simplify trade from within the San Antonio River Valley. They say that during the well-remembered flood of 1913, the bathhouse knocked off the end of it. It was reconstructed.
There are many memories of the old high water bridge with its loud creaking boards as vehicles traveled over it.The beloved old wooden bridge was replaced in 1958 when the Texas Department of Transportation built the concrete low water crossing and the Farm to Market Road 539. A 25 foot high concrete Bridge completed in 1995, replaced the low water Bridge.
UPDATE:  Mark Johnson shares great new history information on the iron bridge in Sutherland Springs Texas. "This bridge was on hwy 539 just out of Sutherland Springs. It was built but WPA employees about the same time as the bridge at intersection of US 97 and US 87 known to us as the Y. also built by WPA. Ed Johnson worked on the one at the Y. I, Mark Johnson, drove a motor grader across the one in Sutherland Springs after it had been condemned by the state engineers. I would walk across it going to school when we lived up town. There was a kid we knew that used to dive head first off that bridge. I don't recall the years these bridges were built. This one was taken down by Tony Margraf for the metal about the mid '60s sometime after low water bridge had been constructed. Tony was a welder. They lived off hwy 123 in the Alum Creek area. Part of the old bridge is still in the Cibolo because when Tony cut it down it fell in the river and he couldn't get it all out. There were several old bridges built like that. Some are still in existence as historical sites because of their design. I can find out the dates when the bridge was built and taken down after this virus restrictions are lifted.  Hope this helped with the history of this bridge. Mark Johnson"

"Santa Anna's Treasure"

SUTHERLAND SPRINGS TEXAS ... There had long been rumors and speculation in Sutherland Springs that some Mexican gold was buried in the area. The story being that Santa's Army on retreat from their loss at the Battle of San Jacinto, which had ended the Texas Revolution, buried this treasure here on their return to Mexico. For years, a number of searchers had hunted unsuccessfully for its location.  One day a hard-working farmer plowing his field literally "hit gold"..... read about it straight from the "Austin Daily Statesman August 10, 1891". [Solving my curiosity Google says $17,000 in 1860 is equivalent in purchasing power to about $525,506.87 in 2019]

"Along the Line of the Galveston, Harrisburg, San Antonio Rail Yard."

COURTESY/ Southwest Texas "Along the Line of the Galveston, Harrisburg, San Antonio Rail Yard."

Telling the history of Sutherland Springs

Many years ago Rick McClasin sat at my dining room table and we began flipping through my acculated history pages on Sutherland Springs. Rick was a University student and was beginning a many year path down the road to his accomplished book, "Sutherland Springs: Saratoga on the Cibolo". [My contribution wasn't a drip in the bucket but love having been a part of the history of a place I dearly loved]
Rick was different than the many University students who had shared a glass of sweet tea in my home through out the many years. He had concerned interest in the folks who made up the history. This I liked.
Rick is now an endowed Professor of Texas History at the University of North Texas, and also the author of Tainted Breeze: The Great Hanging at Gainesville, Texas, October 1862; Lee in the Shadow of Washington; and Fighting Stock: John S. "Rip" Ford in Texas. 
"Sutherland Springs: Saratoga on the Cibolo" is great reading for those with a hunger for our history. {Available on Amazon}
"Beyond the story of resort spa aspirations lies a history of the community and its people itself. McCaslin provides a complete history of Sutherland Springs from early settlement through Civil War and into the twentieth century, its agricultural and oil-drilling exploits alongside its mineral water appeal, as well as a complete community history of the various settlers and owners of the springs/hotel."
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Bobcat in 1972

Sutherland Springs Wilson County......   In the summer of 1972,  Richard Cardenas & Eutimio Lerma Gonzales came by Barbara Wood's home to show off the bobcat.  Eutimio is the man  standing on the pickup truck's bumper holding the killed bobcat.  Richard Cardenas , good friend, is standing beside him.
Eutimio purchased the truck in Texas and the mud flaps on his Texas truck he purchased in Montana where he and his family worked the beet fields.  
Eutimio passed away when he was 48 due to heart trouble.
Richard Cardenas passed away April 22, 2023 at the age of 90 years.
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Popular clothing worn in 1922

Periwinkle, Henna and Rust .... among the beautiful colors of frocks and dresses worn in 1922. Surely many of these donned the resort grounds at New Town Sutherland Springs Texas in their prime.
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Sutherland Springs Business Hours

SUTHERLAND SPRINGS WILSON COUNTY TEXAS  1937 .... Information comes from a 1937 Wilson County Directory. (Photos/Info COURTESY/ Liz Wheeler Lester )
 I remember Miss Jennie Whitley so well... the typical telephone operator gray hair piled high upon her head. The office was on 5th Street somewhere between 14th & 13th. was a very small one room shed-like building. Many days I set on the threshold talking to Miss Jennie and watching her as she performed her duties.  As she plugged the cords into the different sockets on the switchboard connecting the parties, it was so intriguing! The community bought her gravestone as she was loved by so many.
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The Smiths of Old Sutherland Springs

Wilson County News 2016
By Columnist Lois Wauson
"Rainy Days and Starry Nights"
One day we were out driving on the old Sutherland Springs/Lodi Road and were intrigued by the Historical Marker of the Shiloh Cemetery. We stopped and I got out to read the marker and looked across the silent rolling hills and wondered about all the people buried there. Shirley and John Grammer have done so much research on the cemeteries in Wilson County, so I knew I could go to her to start my story. She has been very helpful.
Shirley and John were instrumental in getting a Historical Marker for the old Shiloh Cemetery and she sent me a bunch of pictures of the graves there and information she and John had found as they did their research. There are only 17 marked graves in the old cemetery. The last apparent burial is that of Thomas McDonald in 1939.
This is what Shirley wrote about the people in the Shiloh Community:
These early pioneers of Shiloh lived their lives struggling to survive on land they had chosen for themselves. They worked on farms near the church and school. They milked their cows, butchered their hogs, cured the meat, tended their chickens, weeded their vegetable gardens, and washed with lye soap. They most likely grew cotton as a cash crop. They worshiped their God in the Methodist Episcopal Church South and their children attended the Shiloh School. When their time on earth was over, they were buried in the Shiloh Cemetery.
Two of the graves were James Madison Smith and his wife Susan. James was a Confederate soldier in the Civil War. He was born in 1842 in Florida. James joined the 2nd Regiment Florida Cavalry. His wife stated on her application for a pension in 1914, nine years after he passed away in Sutherland Springs, "He entered the army soon after the commencement of hostilities and remained until the close."
James and Susan Bryant may have been neighbors in Gadsden, Fla. They were married on Jan. 14, 1869, after the war. James was 25 and Susan was 21. The census of 1870 said they were living in Gadsden, Fla. In 1880, according to the census, they were still living in Florida, and they had two children, Ellen, 8, and John, 5. He was farming.
In 1876, Texas still had about 56 million acres of unappropriated public domain and 20 million acres of public school land. Maybe James and Susan Smith heard the call to "Go West, young man."
So James and Susan Smith left Florida for Texas in 1882. They settled on some land on the road from Lodi to Sutherland Springs and farmed on the land there; they bought some land and started farming; in 1900 they were still living in the area, and had one child at home, named Spencer, age 15. I haven't found out what happened to their son, John, unless he passed away. In one census she said she had three children but only two were living.
Their daughter Ellen, who was 21, had married a man named William Thomas McDonald, age 25, on Jan. 14, 1891, in Sutherland Springs. The McDonald family were neighbors or maybe they all went to the same church, the Methodist Episcopal Church South. I have tried to do research on that church's history, but so far I have found nothing.
James Smith died in 1905 at the age of 62. His son, Spencer Smith, married Ola (maiden name unknown) around that same time, and they stayed on the farm with his mother Susan to continue farming. In 1910 they had three children. They lived with his mother on that farm. They probably mostly raised cotton. Susan died at the age of 85. She had outlived her husband for 29 years. She is buried in Shiloh Cemetery.
Ellen and Thomas McDonald farmed in the Sutherland Springs community also, and by 1910 they had four children. Ellen died in 1927 at the young age of 50. She is buried in the Shiloh Cemetery. So Thomas continued farming on the farm and after Ellen died, and in the 1930 census, his son Ollie Smith was still on the farm helping him. Thomas passed away in 1939 at the age of 70 and is also buried in the Shiloh Cemetery.
So what I found out was the Smith and McDonald families were related to each other. They probably attended church picnics and revivals at the Methodist church together.
So if you are out driving and you stop to listen, amid the quiet of the fields you will hear the faint sounds of voices laughing and talking amid the cows mooing in the distance. The spirits of the settlers will always be there, to remind you of a simpler life and time.
COURTESY/ Wilson County News  2016
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Old Sutherland Springs bridge

Old Sutherland Springs bridge over Cibolo Creek.
Photo Courtesy/ Sutherland Springs Historical Museum
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The Sutherland Hotel

A favorite photo of Sutherland Springs, Texas .... the Sutherland Hotel. As a child, I lived in New Town among the historic "ruins", spanish moss, and oh, the imaginary "cowboys & Indians" ....  of the "whishing, squealing" of the boxcars,  the  "rumbling" wooden slats on the old high water bridge spanning across the Sea Willow Creek, "ribbiting" frogs from the reservoirs, lightening bugs' "glow", & the most detailed stars in the night skies....  lying on top an old watermelon truck gazing at the night sky sprinkled with constellations serenaded by calming musical notes of mockingbirds, crickets, & an occasional owl..... Life in New Town was a blessing! written by Barbara J. Wood
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'Sutherland Springs Chronicle' 1877

A June 1877 "Sutherland Springs Chronicle" newspaper article mentions the Johnson & Staudt's gin at Lodi as well as Suttle's Bros. pottery ware manufactured by them near La Vernia. COURTESY/ Allen Kosub

History of the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs

A TIME TO SEEK THE LORD ...    History of the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs Wilson County Texas researched and written by Mrs. Barbara J. Wood, June 30, 1996.  
FOREWORD.... The occasion of this Historical Resume is the observance of seventy years of chronicles of those who labored toward the building of this body of baptized believers.
It is written for the pleasure and guidance of those who follow.  For no matter how rich the heritage, a church can be no better than the generation that holds it in trust.
In the early years of the church, records were kept at the homes of the officers.  Twice, homes of the Church Clerk burned destroying the Church Minutes.  Therefore, Church records are not available until the year of 1953 with years following being incomplete at times.
I researched and studied material from Church Records available, Annual Associational Minutes, information from church members and other historical passageways.
I am appreciative to my husband, Dewayne, The San Antonio Baptist Association staff, Linda Bright from The South Central Baptist Area Associational Office, The Historical Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, The Texas Baptist Historical Collection, The Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, The Sutherland Springs Historical Museum, Rev. Robert Miller of Calvary Baptist Church, Pastor Jeff Weems of The First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Mrs. Lora Adcock, Mrs. Beulah Wilson, Mrs. Virginia Baker, Mrs. Viva Lou Mills and many others who have helped in various ways.
I had hoped to include a biographical sketch of most of the pastors.  However, due to lack of information, this could not be.
Occasionally, words and phrases have been used which do not appear good form today.  These have been preserved because they are actual transcripts of the writing at the time.
This historical writing may include information of which some may not agree.  When there is a conflict in information, I have printed all versions so that the reader may decide.
I have done the best that I could with extensive research from many avenues.  It is my desire to have recorded a true history of the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs.
Mrs. Barbara J. Wood
Columnist and Historian
June 30, 1996
A TIME TO SEEK THE LORD ..... In the early 1900's, Sutherland Springs was a well-known place.  Newspapers, brochures, and folks from all around boasted about her renowned summer and winter resort.
The retreat was promoted foremostly for health reasons.  Nature had gloriously flaunted a healing potpourri of redeeming mineral springs, hot and cold.
Although, this is not where the spiritual image of Sutherland Springs begins.  One could say that the commencement was  with the faith-driven perseverance of religious pioneers in the 1700's.
From the beginning of time, human nature has had the desire to seek and has hoped for a better life.  Therefore, a great religious paradigm was introduced with the arrival of Franciscan missionaries and the building of Missions.  The Franciscan missionaries came to bring Christianity to the Native American tribes living here.  They came to convert them to God.
The Franciscans, the Order of Little Brothers, were picturesque with their bare feet and clothing of drab, gray wool.  This image was consummated with their strong will and persistent faith in this time of seeking the Lord.
The Franciscans built thirty-six missions in Texas.  They established Mission Concepcion in 1731 in this vicinity.  It covered approximately fifteen square leagues.
Mission Concepcion had its own ranch and grazing land for its livestock.  This ranch, Rancho del Paistle, was situated on the west bank of the Cibolo near the present Sutherland Springs.  Rancho del Paistle rephrased is Moss Ranch.  (One of the past traditional characterizations of Sutherland Springs is the silvery hued Spanish moss that so unendingly adorned the exquisite oaks.  The long strings of moss were used for blanket coverings, lived feed, packing material, decoration and the Native American women wove it for clothing such as skirts, shoes and shawls.)  The Moss Ranch was abandoned in 1767.
Partial secularization of Mission Concepcion began in 1794.  Then Mission San Jose served it.  The transmittal of the Mission from ecclesiastical to civil use was completed in 1824.
Ten years later, in 1834, the Moss Ranch became private property when Jose Maria Balmaceda assumed the ownership.
Doctor John Sutherland, founder of Sutherland Springs, settled in this area fifteen years later about 1849.  The fanfare of hot and cold springs, especially the bubbling steamy sulfur was possibly the enticement.  Doctor Sutherland was a practitioner who used a method of medicine that encouraged cures from the use of vegetable compounds and steam treatments.
The locality was given the name of "Sutherland Springs" in 1851.  Doctor Sutherland had received a certification for a Post Office that needed a townsite's name.  He gave his last name with validation of the mineral springs.  The actual town site was laid out in 1854 from two-hundred seventy-five acres of the Sutherland estate.
The Doctor John Sutherland home place was along the west bank nearly a mile from the springs.  (The limestone cistern on the north side of the First Baptist Church is the last remaining relic of the Doctor John Sutherland home place.  The large concrete block protecting the opening of the cistern is a slab of the sidewalk from Hotel Sutherland.)
It was perfectly natural for those who had known the fellowship of other Christians, when scattered out into other areas without a church of their faith and order, to have a time of seeking the Lord.  Doctor Sutherland, an austere Methodist, wanted a place of worship near his family.  Thus, he and Joseph Polley, of the Polley Mansion, co-sponsored the installation of the Sutherland Springs Circuit of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South.
In 1863, the Fifth Annual Convocation of the West Texas Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South was held in Sutherland Springs.  In 1876, they abolished the Sutherland Springs Circuit of the Methodist Episcopal Church.  The Methodist parishioners continued their worship with a circuit rider pastor who came twice a month to hold services.  The traveling pastor was usually paid with vegetables, fresh milk and butter, and freshly laid eggs from the hens.
A time of seeking the Lord for other faiths became apparent around 1877 with traveling pastors from the Protestant Episcopal and the Cumberland Presbyterian Churches.  As well at that time, there were regular Methodist services being held in Sutherland Springs.  The Union Church began to hold revivals in the summer down by the Cibolo outside town.
Beginning in the early 1900's, religion instruction did not seem as important.  In spite of the Legislature's 1875 Prohibition Enactment, two saloons were being operated in Sutherland Springs.
In the Forty-ninth Session of the San Antonio Baptist Association, they pledged the following:
The Liquor Traffic
For still another year our country has continued its human sacrifices, numbering tens of thousands of victims to this hideous monster.  Our civilization does not deserve the name of Christian while the infamous traffic, deadly to the body, mind and soul, is countenanced (supported) by our laws.  This Association stand for the complete extirpation (destruction) of the liquor business.  Signs are numerous that the days of the saloon are numbered in America.  Regulation has been everywhere a failure.  Annihilation (destruction) is the one alternative.  The saloon is always and everywhere a lawbreaker.  Public sentiment, especially in the South, is forming fast and strong to drive the whole business from the land.  Georgia and Oklahoma have already outlawed the saloon.  Tennessee, the Carolinas, Alabama, and Mississippi seem ready to follow at once, in Texas, Kentucky, Virginia, Arkansas and in fact, in the entire South, its years are few.  Wise saloon men already see the handwriting on the wall, and are lustily urging their comrades to obey the laws.  They are too late to avert the storm.  Their business is doomed.  The Anti-saloon league was never before so active and efficient as now.  This association pledges its prayers, and its every possible effort to the task of freeing our state forever of this arrogant, lawless, deadly enemy to society.
The glimpse into the spiritual past of Sutherland Springs has now inspired the time back to the early 1900's when she was so prevalently fashionable.  It seemingly was a time for Man assuredly to seek the Lord.
In a meeting January 12, 1908 held by the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Stockdale, Rev. John Poole assisted by Rev. S. C. Bailey, State Evangelist, the following action was adopted:
"We, the Baptist Church of Stockdale, Texas, hereby certify that we have in the surrounding country several important places that are entirely destitute of the Gospel by Baptists.  Sutherland Springs is a railroad town and they have a House of Worship, etc. located about six miles west of here.  Also Caddo about six miles northeast of here is an important place.  Several places without preaching should be worked up and get them to call pastors.  Therefore, we believe that the Board will do well to employ the Rev. John H. Poole for half time to work at the above mentioned places.
This endeavor was manifest at the Fiftieth Session of the San Antonio Baptist Association, as they received a petitionary letter from a Sutherland Springs Missionary Baptist Church.
This letter had general remarks about the church's spiritual condition, the general tone of the church life, and special features of the year's work.
The Sutherland Springs Missionary Baptist Church was unanimously welcomed October 1, 1908.  The pastor was Rev. John H. Poole, Clerk and Sunday School Superintendent was S. H. McIntire.  Preaching was every second Sunday.
The Sutherland Springs Missionary Baptist Church reported regularly to the San Antonio Baptist Association until 1925 when it appears it withdrew from the Association with no explanation about the reason.
Another engrossing season in the spiritual growth of Sutherland Springs begins to take place about 1909.
The San Antonio Baptist Associational Minutes of September 1909 recorded the ensuing revelation, "We have in our section an organization called The Southwest Texas Baptist Workers Conference.  It is composed of all the Baptists in Southwest Texas who desire to cooperate with it.  This conference is to meet annually."  The Baptist Ministers on the Executive Committee of the Southwest Texas Baptist Workers Conference were R. F. Stokes – Chairman, E. C. Routh – Secretary, Weston Bruner, J. V. Neal, J. Dickenson, B. A. Copas, Sid Williams, H. M. Cain and R. A Cobron.
This committee was appointed to select a site for a Southwest Texas Baptist Encampment.  One that would be involving more than three-hundred thousand Baptists in Texas from eleven Baptist Associations.
After mindful study and investigation of a diversity of locations, the Executive Committee unanimously decided upon Sutherland Springs.
The Sutherland Springs Development Company was formed in 1909.  It owned one-thousand acres in New Town that embraced twenty mineral springs along three miles of frontage on the Cibolo.
In an SSDC booklet, the reasons given for Sutherland Springs being chosen were for the most beautiful scenery and trees in Texas; the beautiful Cibolo; inspiring mineral waters and the high moral character of the Sutherland Springs Development Company.
The purposed for the Baptist Encampment, Chautauqua, etc. were for an annual Southwest Texas Baptist Workers Conference meeting place; meeting place of the Southwest Texas Baptist Sunday School; an annual evangelistic camp meeting of several weeks; a two or more week's annual Bible School; a Baptist Missionary Alliance; meeting place for the Baptist Woman's Missionary Workers Auxiliary; an auditorium with a two-thousand seating capacity; and a convalescent annex for the Baptist Sanitarium.  (Hospital to be built in San Antonio, Texas)
The Baptist Encampment never achieved the greatness planned by the Executive Committee of the Southwest Texas Baptist Workers Conference.  It has been speculated that the reason was the destructive flood that devastated Sutherland Springs October 11, 1913.
An interesting report appears in "A Baptist Century Around the Alamo 1858 – 1958".  A committee May 30, 1919 heartily endorsed the location and establishment of an encampment at Leakey, Texas known as Alto Frio Baptist Encampment.
The Encampment was for Baptists of the entire Southwest Texas area.  The beautiful, spirit-filled Alto Frio Baptist Encampment meets the criteria of the earlier designated Sutherland Springs Baptist Encampment.
With the genesis of the Sutherland Springs Missionary Baptist Church, they revived spiritual activity.  A Baptist Chautauqua Meeting Ground was laid out in the Sutherland Springs park by the mineral springs.  They built a permanent shelter (tall poles with only a roof) to house revival meetings and summer encampments.
Chautauqua is a Seneca (Western New York Native American) word meaning one has taken fish here.  It refers to Chautauqua Lake where a Literary and Scientific Circle was founded in 1898 by Bishop Vincent of the Methodist Episcopal Church.  The Senecas pronounced Chautauqua as if it were "Chaud-dauk-wa."
The Sutherland Springs Missionary Baptist Church and the Presbyterian Church had resident ministers in 1915.
Having no written organizational data on the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, information was recapitulated elsewhere.  Interviews in 1972 with Mrs. Madelyn Cowan, Mrs. Bob Baker, and Mrs. Pearl Adcock provided the following:
"The wanting for a place of worship of their faith and in their own community was natural for folks.  Wherefore, several members in Sutherland Springs covenanted together to organize a Baptist Church.  The church was officially organized October of 1926 in the home of Mr. and Mrs. Burl Chaney.  Some of the charter members were Mrs. Claude (Madelyn Prothro) Cowan, Mrs. Johnny (Ruby (Bob) McClanahan) Baker, Edith Elderidge, Lottie Elderidge Parrish, Mr. and Mrs. Burl Chaney, Liilie Joerck Gregory and Grace Joerck Grandstaff."
The San Antonio Associational Missionary, Bro. J. S. Henderson, led in the 1926 organization of the Sutherland Springs Central Baptist Church.  Bro. Chaffe, a former pastor of the First Baptist Church of Floresville, came Sunday afternoons and preached the Word of God.  The membership met in the old Sutherland Springs School building.
The minutes of the Sixty-ninth Session of the San Antonio Baptist Association records the official acceptance of the Sutherland Springs Central Baptist Church into the San Antonio Baptist Association Wednesday, September 7, 1927.
The Associational Minutes read, "Petitionary letters were called for and the letter from the new church at Sutherland Springs was presented.  A committee composed of W. A. Joyner, J. C. Long, and H. A. Seymour was appointed to consider the application of this church for membership in the Association.  The report was adopted."
The Minutes recorded the Church Clerk as Harry Craft, Sunday School Superintendent – B. B. Chaney and Secretary – Miss Edith Elderidge.
The fact that this new church was called the Sutherland Springs Central Church suggests that it wished to differentiate itself from another Baptist congregation in town, presumably the earlier Sutherland Springs Missionary Baptist Church.
They apparently organized or constituted the new church in 1926;  although, there are times (1947 thru 1951) when they gave the organization year as 1909.  For the past forty-five years, they have given the organization date as 1926.
It is not known what year the Sutherland Springs Central Baptist Church became known as the First Baptist Church.  The changing of the name could have been simply a matter of preference by the local congregation.  It may have been done interchangeably over a period of years, especially during a transition time.
As it seems, the Sutherland Springs Missionary Baptist Church did not make annual Associational reports after 1924.  The Sutherland Springs Central Baptist Church surfaced in 1925.  In the Gambrell Baptist Association's Fourth Annual Session (October 1925), it chronicled Rev. H. H. Chaffee as the pastor.  In a December 1988 historical summary of the First Baptist Church, the writer states "the church was organized in 1926", however, that "the preceding year (1925) a group had organized a Sunday School, Baptist Young Peoples Union, and Woman's Missionary Union."
The Sutherland Springs Baptist Church transferred from the San Antonio Baptist Association to the Gambrell Association October 7, 1941.  However, there is some confusion about its relationship for the next few years.  The church reported to the Gambrell Baptist Association in 1941 thru 1943 but to the San Antonio Baptist Association in 1944 thru 1946.  On September 23, 1947, the Sutherland Springs Baptist Church was again admitted into the Gambrell Baptist Association.  This is where the church has been affiliated for the past forty-nine years.
According to 1926 Associational records, Bro. Sam Zook is said to be the first pastor.  However, from remembrances of older members, they say that it was Bro. Hal Reddoch.  Bro. Zook's family verifies that he was pastor at one time.  It appears that both served at different times during 1926 to 1928.
No doubt many rich blessings came to the church membership as they stepped out on faith to buy their first church building.  The Sutherland Springs Central Baptist Church was the hub of the community.  Persons of all faiths and races with sincerity of purpose and grace in their hearts shared in raising the money.
The older church members say folks from all around came with contributions of chickens, pigs, and hand-cranked ice cream to vend.  As well, monetary donations supplemented the needed payment to buy an old store building.  They held worship services in the old building for several years.
It was during this period that the church surely was inspired for it was evidently growing in spirit and number.  The membership and community volunteers tore down the old building and built a more effective church building using most of the lumber.
The membership persevered in their labor of seeking the Lord.  In 1949, they found themselves in another building program.  Under the counsel of their pastor, Bro. W. C. Binford and the supervision of a church member, Johnny Baker, they tore down the old church building.  They met in the Old Town Sutherland Springs School Gymnasium for Worship Services until the new church was raised.
They held a Ground Breaking Ceremony on February 27, 1949.  Chosen members of the congregation turned spades of dirt from the new property purchased in 1948.
With most of the lumber from the old church and a grant from the Baptist General Convention of Texas, they built a beautiful House of Worship.  This new, present-day church was completed in September of 1949.
In the past seventy years, the church membership under the leadership of twenty-eight pastors, has remodeled, restored, and made additions to the church structure.
In Matthew 16:18, the Lord uttered these words, "...On this rock I will build my church..."  These were words of hope and meaning to the early Christians as they are to the Christians of today.
Today, June 30, 1996, these words take on an entirely new meaning to the congregation of the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs.
Because today, we look back to October 1926, when those few men and women in a time of seeking the lLord, came together to establish this House of Worship.  And as we, the membership of today, continue to see the Lord in all seasons of His church.
Researched, compiled and written by 
Mrs. Barbara Jane Wood
June 1996
UPDATE : In Matthew 16:18, the Lord uttered these words, "...On this rock (JESUS CHRIST) I will build my church..."  These were words of hope and meaning to the early Christians as they are to the Christians of today. (When the church building in 1996 was being remodeled, the floor under the pulpit was removed while I was present. There on the ground was a large rock .... no other rocks anywhere on the ground. I asked the pastor what they were going to do with it as we both understood it was the materialized rock the church building was built upon. I happily  took home that piece of history.)
Today, January 18, 2022, these words take on an entirely new meaning to the congregation of the First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs and to the Sutherland Springs Community as the congregation has voted to demolish the 96 year old building. A new church building was built in 2019 following the massacre in 2017.
The "first" Sutherland Springs First Baptist Church building's  photo is on the front cover of "A Time to Seek the Lord". It was located on 5th street. When the congregation tore down this building to build a larger church, they used the lumber in the new church building.
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Gunne Pasture

GUNNE... GUNNIE.... GUNN PASTURE ..... Have you ever heard of Gunne pasture???  Mary (Herndon) Wheeler is on the far left of the group. The area is supposedly in Wilson County Texas & we love to know location. (Photo shared by Liz Wheeler Lester )

New Town Sutherland Springs Resort

SWIM TIME AT THE POOL .... Liz Wheeler Lester shares these remarkable  vintage photos taken decades ago at the New Town Sutherland Springs Resort. (Thanks Liz!)

1908 explosion

In 1908, an explosion took place in New Town Sutherland Springs Wilson County Texas.  From Liz Wheeler Lester's 114 year old photo, it appears to be daylight & was a planned explosion as the photographer was set up to make the photo.  As far that, information on what was detonated is anyone's guess. However, the vintage capture is amazing & glad to have this photo in our collection.  (Thought about the first high water bridge over the Cibolo Creek, yet it was constructed by the Sutherland Springs Development Company in 1892. )

Folks enjoy the sandstone bluff

Sutherland  Springs  Wilson County Texas ... Folks posing in front of what Clinton Wyatt believes to be a sandstone bluff at the southwest bank of the Cibolo Creek that is visible from the swimming pool. Photos shared by Liz Wheeler Lester . No details.

First State Bank, 1909

SUTHERLAND SPRINGS TEXAS ... Among the more interesting businesses in New Sutherland Springs was a bank, which organized during the early fall of 1909, just five years after the Texas constitution was amended to allow state-chartered banks.
The New Sutherland Springs facility received a charter as the First State Bank in October and opened its doors in a rented building with Tom Morgan, the former city marshal of Ennis, as its president. Construction of a concrete building with proper bars began in December 1909 and was completed early the following year. 
The company only had $10,000 in capital, but its deposits, under a law adopted in 1909, were originally secured by both the West Texas Bank and Trust Company of San Antonio and Chase National Bank of New York. The Houston National Exchange Bank was added to that list as well by the end of October 1909, and in July 1910 the American Bank and Trust Company, whose president N. S. Graham also served as treasurer for the Sutherland Springs Town and Land Company, became a "reserve agent" for the First State Bank. 
At that time the president of the First State Bank was Charles F. Goodenough, a native of Britain. Finance was a difficult business in this period; the West Texas Bank and Trust Company became the largest state bank in Texas by early 1916, then within just a few months was shut down and its assets liquidated. Somehow the First State Bank survived into the 1920s, when it became one of many rural banks in Texas to close its doors after many failures ruined the state deposit security system. 
(Courtesy of Richard McClasin, author of "Sutherland Springs Texas: The Saratoga on the Cibolo")
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Office of former Wilson County Pct. 3 Justice of the Peace C. A. Nelson, 1957

Maria Maldonado LaRoche of Floresville Texas shared this photo of the one-room office of former Wilson County Pct. 3 Justice of the Peace C. A. Nelson, taken in 1957. 
Maria's sisters, Mary Helen Maldonado Mahler, now deceased, stands at the door, while another sister, Juanita Rosa Maldonado Benavides, now a resident of San Antonio, watches from the street. 
The office stood on the north corner of Fourth and 13th streets in Sutherland Springs, across from the location of the present-day Sutherland Springs Community Center. The sign outside the office states, "Get marriage license at county courthouse. Get married here. Two can't live as cheap as one, but its [sic] lots more fun."
COURTESY/ Wilson County News  2011

Sutherland Springs Cemetery group pursues historic designation in 2011

Shirley and John Grammer of La Vernia are working with Bertha Cardenas Lomas and Sharon Hays of the Sutherland Springs Cemetery Association to have the cemetery designated as a historic site. Once the historic designation application is approved, an application will be made for a Texas State historical marker for the cemetery.
In researching the deed records of Wilson County, Shirley found that the cemetery was established Oct. 31, 1860, when Dr. John Sutherland granted approximately 5 acres to the town of "Sutherland" for a graveyard.
The first interment was of Dr. Sutherland's wife, Ann Margaret Sutherland (1809-62).
On May 22, 1911, Jacob Hyder sold 2.09 acres for $75 to Margaret Curry, Mamie Sutherland, and Jennie Wiseman, trustees of the Oak Hill Cemetery Association, present-day Sutherland Springs Cemetery Association, bringing the total acreage to 7.09 acres. On May 1, 1956, Jennie Wiseman and Mamie Sutherland submitted their resignations as trustees of the Oak Hill Cemetery Association. Margaret Curry was deceased.
The cemetery became known as the Sutherland Springs Cemetery Association, with Basil Hoke, Claude Cowan, and Melvin Deagen elected as new trustees. Mrs. Hoke was the president.
On Sept. 19, 1997, the Billy Deagen family of Sutherland Springs deeded 0.59 acre to the Sutherland Springs Cemetery Association, bringing its total acreage to 7.68 acres.
Interred in this cemetery are Texas Rangers, judges, doctors, veterans, Masons, members of the Polley family, and many descendants of Dr. John Sutherland, for whom the town of Sutherland Springs is named.
Every gravestone in the cemetery now has been photographed and the information recorded, according to the Grammers. There remain a number of unmarked graves in the cemetery, some with temporary metal markers and a few concrete stones with no identification.
COURTESY/ Wilson County News  10-2011

Memories of Sutherland Springs Texas by Mildred Phillips

Memories by Mildred Phillips about Sutherland Springs and her Grandmother Mollie Sutherland are fascinating. 
"As a child I remember going down to Sutherland Springs to visit my Grandmother, Artie Odom Sutherland's brothers, Uncle Ed, Uncle MT, and Uncle Garvie and his wife Aunt Bess Odom. 
We would often camp down on the Cibolo Creek, which was called "Sea Willow" River by all of the old timers.  We think that name was derived from the Spanish pronunciation of Cibolo "See Bowe Lowe" which sounds a bit like Sea Willow.  There are also many willow trees all along the creek that could have contributed to the name. 
I learned to swim in that creek along with the catfish and alligator gar!  One time Uncle Ed took us in his rowboat as far as the creek would allow to show us where the old swimming pool was located.
 By this time in the 1960s there was nothing much to see.  However you could clearly smell the sulphur from the springs.  You could also taste it in the water from the local wells.
We would often camp in a little park not far from where Hwy 87 crosses the creek.  My brothers and I learned to swim in the Sea Willow River along with the catfish, the gar, and the muddy bottom.
I was always fascinated with stories about the springs and the swimming pools.  One time, Uncle MT took us upstream in an old row boat as far as we could get to see if we could reach the pools.   Unfortunately I never did get to see the area.
 However, I did however see everything through the eyes of my Grandmother Ethel Jane Pruett Grant who lived and went to school in Sutherland Springs.  She told stories about going to the springs in a wagon and camping on the banks for about a week to swim in the waters and visit with kin folks who also came.  
This was a family reunion of sorts for the Pruetts, the Bundicks, the Glovers, and the Grants.   She was there to see the grand swimming pools and bath houses as well as the dancing pavilion and Hotel Sutherland.   All we have today are the few pictures that remain and those memories."
[In the blog "Sutherland Family History" , Sharon Sutherland has written some stories involving Sutherland Springs. It is appreciated that Sharon has given her permission to post some on the "Talk of Wilson County TX Historic Towns

Sutherland Springs Cemetery

Sutherland Springs Cemetery .... Sutherland Springs, Wilson County, Texas .... by Shirley Grammer     3/12/2012
The community of Sutherland Springs was established ca. 1849   and named for Dr. John Sutherland (1792-1867).  Dr. Sutherland came to Texas in 1835 and is well known in the annals of Texas history as one of the survivors of the Alamo in 1836.   Dr. Sutherland would have been among the many casualties at the Alamo had he not been crippled when his horse fell on him. Not being able to fight, Col.  William Travis sent him to Gonzales to seek help.  While Dr. Sutherland was on this mission the Alamo fell to the Mexican forces. 3    Dr. Sutherland's nephew, William DePriest Sutherland, born 8/10/1818 died March 6, 1836 at the Alamo. He was the son of George Sutherland. 4  
     Dr. John Sutherland was born near Danville, Pittsylvania Co., Virginia May 11, 1792. 5  His parents were Capt. John Sutherland, Sr. and Agnes Shelton Sutherland.   Capt. Sutherland was an officer in the Revolutionary War. He was of sturdy Highland Scotch descent; his father, John Sutherland (or Sutherlin as it was originally spelled) having emigrated to America. 6    Capt. Sutherland moved from Virginia to Tennessee in 1805  and settled on Clinch River where he kept a ferry known as Sutherland's Ferry. 7                                                             
     Dr. John Sutherland became a merchant at Knoxville, Tennessee. 8   There he met and married his first wife. Afterwards he went to Decatur, Alabama where he served as president of a bank.  9  After a while he moved to Tuscumbia, Alabama and entered into the mercantile business with his brother George.  In 1825 George and John opened their store in a "new brick building" on the corner of Sixth and Main on "Mechanics Row." 10    It was here in Tuscumbia that Dr. Sutherland selected his second wife.  In 1829 Dr. Sutherland and George Sutherland closed their business.   In December 1835, Dr. Sutherland, Captain William Patton and several others visited Texas with a view to settling on lands which the Mexican government offered as an inducement to settlers to make homes in Texas. 11    Arriving at San Felipe they took the oath of allegiance to the new government.   Then they proceeded to San Antonio arriving there on the 18th of January, 1836. 12   After the fall of the Alamo Dr. Sutherland returned to his family in Tuscumbia, Alabama.  In the fall of 1837, having closed his business in Tuscumbia he brought his family to Texas, reaching the settlement known as Egypt, (Wharton County, Texas) in December of that year. 13     He built a home on the West side of the Colorado River, located 4 miles from Egypt where he lived until  the fall of 1849 when he moved to present day Wilson County , settling near the Sulphur Springs on the Cibolo River, present day Sutherland Springs, Texas. 14 
      Dr. Sutherland was married three times; first to Diana Kennedy in Knoxville, Knox County, Tennessee, December 31, 1816. 15  There were 3 children born to this union: David (1820-1852), Sarah Agnes (1822-1870) and John James Sutherland (1824-1845).  Diana died February 17, 1827 in Tuscumbia, Alabama.  Dr. Sutherland's  second marriage was to Ann Bryan Lane on November 17, 1827 in Alabama.  There were five children born to this union: George Quinn (1829-1869), Levin L. (b. 1832 - died in South America) 16  and Jack Sutherland (1838-1922) 17   Two daughters: Margaret Ann, (1834-1834) and Margaret Ann, II born 1/10/ 1840 - died 11/1840). 18   Ann died  January 10, 1840 in Egypt, Wharton County, Texas. 19   His third and final marriage was to Ann Margaret Lucas Dickson 1/21/1841 in Colorado County, Texas. 20   Ann Margaret Dickson was the widow of Abishai Dickson who was killed with Fannin at Goliad. 21  Margaret and Abishai Dickson had several children.  Dr. Sutherland and Ann Margaret had 3 children: Mary Elizabeth (1843-1901), 22 William T. (1845-1924) 23  &  Rev. Alexander Hamilton Sutherland (1848-1917). 24   Dr. Sutherland and Ann Margaret were separated in later years but remained friends.  They never divorced.  
 In 1849  Dr. Sutherland purchased the Trevino grant on Cibolo Creek, located some twenty miles east of San Antonio. 25     Dr. Sutherland boarded patients who came to the Sulphur Springs seeking cures for various ailments.  He gained a reputation for curing cholera and other maladies.  His house was soon a regular stop, known as Sutherland Springs, on the road to Port Lavaca from San Antonio.   January 27, 1851 Sutherland Springs obtained a post office.  Dr. Sutherland was the first postmaster.  He had the town platted and sold lots, sponsored the construction of a school and Methodist church and served as a justice of the peace and a member of the school board.  His town became the provisional seat of Wilson County in 1860. 
The Cemetery at Sutherland Springs was established October 31, 1860 when Dr. Sutherland granted approximately 5 acres to the town of "Sutherland" for a graveyard. 26    The first burial was that of his wife, Ann Margaret Sutherland, who died May 5, 1862.  Ann Margaret Sutherland was born in Savannah, Georgia August 5, 1809. 27   She ran a boarding house and became acquainted with many travelers traversing the old road from San Antonio to Port Lavaca & Indianola. 
On May 22, 1911, Jacob Hyder sold 2.09 acres for $75 to Margaret Curry, Mamie Sutherland and Jennie Wiseman, trustees of the Oak Hill Cemetery Association, 28  present day Sutherland Springs Cemetery Association, bringing the total acreage to 7.09 acres.  On May 1, 1956, Jennie Wiseman and Mamie Sutherland submitted their resignations as trustees of the Oak Hill Cemetery Association. Margaret Curry was deceased.   The cemetery became known as the Sutherland Springs Cemetery Association, with Basil Hoke, Claude Cowan, and Melvin Deagen elected as new trustees.  Mrs. Basil (Pearl) Hoke was the president. 29
On September 19, 1997, the Billy Deagen family of Sutherland Springs deeded 0.59 acre to the Sutherland Springs Cemetery Association, bringing its total acreage to approximately 7.69 acres. 30.   A plat of the cemetery is found in a General Warranty Deed  dated 11/21/1995 PP.895-367, Bill Deagen and sons, LTD to John J. Sturm & wife, Jo Ann Sturm, 51.47 acres of land out of the A. Trevino Grant.  The Sturm's own the surrounding  land around the cemetery.
Interred in this cemetery are  four Texas Rangers, a county judge,  a sheriff, doctors, veterans, Masons, members of Eastern Star,  descendants of the historic Polley and Sutherland families who were early pioneer settlers to the area. 31. 
There are many interesting characters interred in this cemetery.  To mention a few:                                    
     Mrs. Susan Walker Pickett, born ca. 1825 in Fredericksburg, Virginia.  She wrote letters to Andrew J. Hamilton 32  a noted Unionist and Texas Congressman in 1865. 33  Hamilton assumed the office of provisional governor (6/17/1865 - 8/9/1866) under an appointment  from President Andrew Johnson during the turmoil of reconstruction.  Susan expressed her differences with William Longworth, the local agent for the Freedmen's Bureau.  She was also recognized as a poet. 34  Susan was married to County Judge, Andrew Greer Pickett.  Susan died October 26, 1873 and is buried in the Sutherland Springs Cemetery.  Judge Pickett remarried Eleanor Adelia Polley in 1877. They are buried in the Floresville City Cemetery.
     Mary Augusta Polley-Polley Baylor (1827-1915) was born under the Republic of Texas flag at San Felipe de Austin.  Her father,  Joseph Henry Polley, was a veteran of the War of 1812.  He came to Texas with Stephen F. Austin and was a member of Austin's "Old 300".  Mary Augusta was married twice; first to her (1st) cousin, Joseph Egbert Polley in 1842.  After the death of her husband Mary Augusta came to the Cibolo in 1847 with her family and settled near Sutherland Springs.  She married Walker K. Baylor in 1852.  At one time Mary Augusta Baylor was believed to be the oldest native Texas woman and had the distinction of living under four flags. She has a "Citizen of the Republic of Texas" medallion on her gravestone that was placed in 2008.  Walker K. Baylor (1821-1891) was connected to the well-known Baylor family of Texas.  He served as a postmaster of Sutherland Springs in 1866 and county judge of Wilson County in 1867.  W.K. Baylor and Mary Augusta Polley-Polley Baylor are buried in the Sutherland Springs Cemetery. 
     Jonathan James Polley (1848-1925) was the son of pioneer settlers Joseph Henry Polley and Mary Bailey Polley.  He was born on the Cibolo near Sutherland Springs.  He was a brother to Mary Augusta Polley-Polley Baylor.  Jonathan never married.  He is buried in the Sutherland Springs Cemetery.
     Susan Rebecca Polley Henderson-Brooks (1835-1906) was the daughter of Joseph Henry Polley and Mary Bailey Polley.  She first married Connally F. Henderson in 1858. Connally was killed in the Civil War at the Battle of Gaines Mill. 35   Susan married (2nd) Josiah D. Brooks in 1876.  Susan and Josiah are buried in the Sutherland Springs Cemetery.
     John W. Lilly (1818-1883) appears to have arrived in Texas by 1838.  He conducted business in Matagorda and Wharton Counties, including a partnership under the name Wadsworth and Lilly.  He received a third class head right grant from the Republic of Texas in 1845, which was later patented in Maverick County.  Sometime prior to 1861, Lilly relocated to Sutherland Springs in Wilson County, where he entered into a partnership with W. K. Baylor in a mercantile business.  He had a daughter, Rowena, by his first wife, Mary Lilly, and another daughter, Alice Viola, from his (2nd) marriage to Eliza Temperance  Craighead 6/17/1873.  Eliza (1843-1877) was the daughter of James Patterson Craighead (1812-1854) and Sarah Agnes Sutherland Craighead (1822-1870).  Eliza was a granddaughter of Dr. John Sutherland.  John W. Lilley, Mary Lilly (1829-1866), Eliza T. Craighead Lilly, Rowena Lilly Killough (1865-1932) and Sarah Agnes Sutherland Craighead  are all buried in the Sutherland Springs Cemetery. 36 
     Mary Ann Cotton Mayes (1821-1875) was the wife of early settler, William D. Mayes.  W. D. Mayes came to present day Wilson County as early as 1847, purchasing land along the Cibolo south of Sutherland Springs.  His wife, Mary Ann Cotton Mayes, was born in Halifax, N.C. to Joseph Cotton and Eliza H. Harris Cotton.  Mary Ann married William D. Mayes (12/14/1837) in Memphis, Shelby Co., Tennessee.  William and Mary Ann became wealthy land owners in Wilson County.  Mary Ann was buried in the Sutherland Springs Cemetery. The burial place of W. D. Mayes is unknown. 37 
     John D. Murray (1836-1916) served in the Civil War as 1st Sgt. Co F 4th TX Inf.  He was a member of Hood's Texas Brigade and attended the Forty-fourth Hood's Texas Brigade Reunion in Floresville, Texas on October 14th & 15th, 1915. 38  He was born in North Carolina. His family came to the Cibolo  ca. 1858 and settled near La Vernia.  He was the son of  William Owen Murray and Sarah Ormsby Murray who are buried in the Historic Rector Chapel Cemetery in La Vernia.   John married Arabell May Stevenson (1849-1933) in 1869 and they were the parents of eleven children.  John and Arabell are buried in the Sutherland Springs Cemetery.
     John Frederick Perchard (1873-1920) was born on the Island of Jersey, England according to his obituary.  He was the son of a highly honored English family.  He came to America in 1892. He married Miss Edna Murray in 1903, daughter of John D. Murray and Arabell Stevenson Murray.  He ranched for awhile and then went to work for Waters-Pierce Oil Company.  John and Edna Perchard are buried in the Sutherland Springs Cemetery. 39  
     Sanford Brown (1830-1916), Texas Ranger, was born in Maury County, Tennessee and came to Texas when he was about 13 years old.  He married Miss Mary Reynolds (1840-1905).  They had eight children.  Sanford Brown often spoke of his Indian fighting days at Fort Davis.  Among his papers was a brief report stating: "Under the command of Major John S. Simonson, in Capt. W.R. Henry's Company, while trailing Indians we saw where they had a war dance, saw many moccasin tracks and a dead Indian Chief and a squaw." According to the Texas State Archives Records, Sanford Brown drew two pensions; one as an Indian fighter for the U.S. Government and another as a Confederate Veteran of the Civil War.  The government classified these men as Texas Rangers attached to the 8th US Infantry.  A Texas Ranger Cross was placed at his grave site in 2008 by the FTRA.  Sanford and Mary are buried in the Sutherland Springs Cemetery. 40  
     John Sutherland Craighead (1847-1935) Confederate Soldier, former Sheriff of Wilson County (1894-1899) and pioneer settler.  He died at the Confederate Home in Austin, Texas September 22, 1935.  John Craighead was born in Knoxville, Tennessee .  He came to Sutherland Springs in 1857.  He married Miss Mary Isabella McAlister (1846-1910), daughter of John M. McAlister and Isabella McClain McAlister, early pioneer settlers of La Vernia.  John was the son of James Patterson Nelson Craighead and Sarah Agnes Sutherland Craighead.  He was a grandson of Dr. John Sutherland.  John and Mary I. Craighead are buried in the Sutherland Springs Cemetery. 41  
   J. P. N. "Pat" Craighead (1875-1921) Texas Ranger, was born in Sutherland Springs.  Pat Craighead joined the Texas Rangers in 1906 and served in Captain John R. Hughes Company at Ysleta, Texas and later was stationed in the lower border country.  He was badly wounded by Mexican bandits in the San Benito ambush in 1910 at which time his partner Quirl Carnes was killed.  Due to the seriousness of his wounds his left leg had to be amputated.  After serving as a Texas Ranger for five years Pat resigned to become Sheriff of Jim Hogg County.  He was elected to that office in 1912 and served in that capacity until his death in 1921.  Pat Craighead is the son of John S. and Mary Isabella McAlister Craighead.  He is a great-grandson of Dr. John Sutherland.  Pat is buried in the Sutherland Springs Cemetery. 42  
          Mary Frances Sutherland Johnson (1843-1901) was a daughter of Dr. John Sutherland and his third wife, Ann Margaret Dickson Sutherland. She married Robert Johnson.  She is buried in the Sutherland Springs Cemetery along with a young child.  The burial place of Robert Johnson is unknown. 
     Jack Sutherland (1838-1922) son of Dr. John Sutherland and his second wife, Ann Bryan Lane.  Jack married Mary Elizabeth Sutherland, daughter of the first Chief Justice of Wilson County, Dr. William Sutherland.  Judge Sutherland and his wife are buried in the Evergreen Cemetery, Victoria, Texas.  As far as I know, no kinship has ever been established between the two Sutherland families.   Jack and Mary Elizabeth Sutherland-Sutherland (1848-1897) remained in Sutherland Springs.  Eleven children were born to this union.  43  Jack served in the 4th Regt Texas Infantry,  Hood's Brigade CSA.  He engaged in the mercantile business in Sutherland Springs.  Jack and Mary Elizabeth Sutherland are buried in the Sutherland Springs Cemetery. 44 
     William Thomas Sutherland (1845-1924) was the son of Dr. John Sutherland and his 3rd wife, Ann Margaret Dickson Sutherland.  He was born at Egypt, Texas.   William married Miss Eunice Sophia Will (1849-1936), born in Canada. William entered the Confederate Army in 1864 and served in Texas and Louisiana until the end of the war.  He became a surveyor in Wilson County which he learned without ever taking a course in school.  He was elected county surveyor in 1876. His compass, tripod, chain and ax have gone to the corners of practically every foot of land in Wilson County and his word was law in the field of surveying.  William and Eunice are buried in the Sutherland Springs Cemetery. 45 
     Sarah Agnes Sutherland Craighead (1822-1870), daughter of Dr. John Sutherland and his first wife, Diana Kennedy Sutherland.  Sarah married James Patterson Craighead (1812-1854) 1/5/1843 in Tennessee.  Her daughter, Eliza Temperance Craighead, was the second wife of John Lilly.  Sarah Agnes Craighead is buried in the Sutherland Springs Cemetery.  The burial place of James Patterson Craighead is unknown.
     Charles  P. Warren (1858-1924) Texas Ranger, (Private, Company F of the Frontier Battalion, mustered into state service June 1st, 1882 46 and honorably discharged August 1, 1882).   was one of the founders of the Methodist Church at Sutherland Springs.  He served as steward and trustee for many years.  He was revered and loved by the entire membership.  He was Postmaster in Sutherland Springs for twenty-four years, having been appointed March 16, 1886 and serving until the appointment of George B. Everts March 7, 1910. 47  He married Miss Zora Wright (1866-1897) of Yorktown 10/8/1885.  They are buried in the Sutherland Springs Cemetery. 48
     Dr. John McQuincy Weston (1833-1918) Born in Columbia, S. C..  He graduated from Charleston Medical College in the class of 1852.  He came to Texas and located at Richmond, Ft. Bend County as a practicing physician.  He married Miss Marie Louise Chambers (1840-1935) in 1856 who became his life companion.  Eight children were born to this union.  He enlisted in Terry's Rangers, 8th Texas Cavalry and was commissioned a surgeon.  He served four years .  He was badly wounded at the Battle of Shiloh.  He returned to Ft. Bend after the war but was forced to give up  the practice of medicine for a while  due to a heart problem.  He was elected County Judge of Ft. Bend County.  After retiring from this office he moved to West Texas.  In 1892 he moved to Marcelina in Wilson County where he resumed the practice of medicine, later moving to Sutherland Springs.  He retired in 1914.  Dr. and Mrs. John Weston are buried in the Sutherland Springs Cemetery. 49   
     Parker M. Weston (1882-1936) Texas Ranger.  He was known as one of the best fox hunters in the Sour Lake, Hardin County, Texas area where he lived at the time of his death.  He owned a pack of fox hounds which were the envy of hunters for miles around.  He married (1st) Zillah Short (d. 1916) & (2nd) Kate Standley.  Parker joined the Texas Rangers in 1906 and served under Captain John H. Rogers in Company "C".  He retired from the Rangers in 1917.  He went to work as a security guard for the then-fledgling Texas Oil Company, which later became Texaco.  He later worked as a pumper at Sour Lake, Texas.  Parker and his first wife are buried in the Sutherland Springs Cemetery. 50 
     Georgia Walker (1888-1950) is buried in the African-American section of the Sutherland Springs Cemetery.  Her obit states she was a well known colored woman of Floresville and wife of I. S. Walker, resident of Floresville for many years.  The body was taken to Sutherland Springs for burial .  Many friends attended the burial rites.  Services were held by the colored Methodist pastor from Seguin.    Her husband who survived her was a highly respected colored citizen of the community for years.  She left no children. 51 
     Jose Angel "Joe" Cardenas (1911-2001) was born in Mexico.  He came to Fredericksburg, Texas with his parents when he was seven years old.  The family came to Stockdale, Texas ca. 1926.  Joe married Refugia Guerra of New Berlin, Texas October 29, 1929.  They moved to Sutherland Springs .   Joe was a farmer and worked for Pat Higgins on the "Higgins Buffel Grass Farm" until he retired at the age of 87 years.  Pat Higgins was the son of Patillo Higgins of Spindletop fame.  Joe and Refugia had five children; three boys and two girls. 52 
     Dr. John Sutherland died on April 11, 1867.  Eulogized by Susan J. Pickett, he was buried in the "village cemetery" he had donated.  He left little to his heirs except the home in which he had lived and  188 town lots in Sutherland Springs, most of which his son Jack sold. 53  
      Charles B. Stevenson, County Judge of Wilson County (1925-1936) born 1854, described Dr. Sutherland as a courteous, portly gentleman, much interested in the development and progress of the community and welfare of its people. 54 
     Sutherland Springs Cemetery is probably the only cemetery in Wilson County that has African-American, Hispanic and Caucasian burials in the same cemetery.  The Sutherland Springs African-American Community had their own private cemetery adjacent to the Sutherland Springs Cemetery prior to 1977.  It was separated by a barbed wire fence and terribly overgrown.  Billy Deagen was elected commissioner in 1977.  Richard Cardenas, Commissioner Billy Deagen and others removed the fence, cleaned the cemetery and incorporated both cemeteries.  Old metal markers were removed.  There are approximately 60 graves in that section of the cemetery; many of these are unmarked.  It is kept clean by the Sutherland Springs Cemetery Association. 55 
 There are over 90 veterans interred in the Sutherland Springs Cemetery.  An annual Veterans Day Memorial Service is held in the cemetery every year on Memorial Day.  All local living veterans are invited.   A local minister is in charge of the service.  Nice Refreshments are always served.  The community looks forward to this event.
 The Sutherland Springs Cemetery Association holds annual meetings.  They elect officers every year.  The present officers are: 55 Bertha Cardenas Lomas, President; Chuck Allen, 1st Vice President; John Ferguson, 2nd Vice President and Sharon Hays, Secretary-Treasurer. They send an annual newsletter with notification of the meeting date. They have paid maintenance of the cemetery and a volunteer work day the third Saturday of October.   Gravestones have been placed on unmarked graves with the inscription "Unknown".  If an unmarked grave can be identified, a stone is placed by the cemetery association with the appropriate name and dates.  The cemetery has one wrought iron fence surrounding the Charles Hines family plot and one concrete enclosure around the John Lilly plot.  A number of graves are surrounded by cradles.  Crape Myrtles were planted in the cemetery; some by the association and others donated in memory of Jason Puryear.  Roberta Chesley donated Crape Myrtles in memory of Dr. John Weston.
 The entire cemetery is fenced. They have a flagpole.  They have two entrances that connect to FM 539; one entrance has an arched iron sign above the gate.  The road into the cemetery makes a huge circle and connects with both entrances.

Sutherland Springs own "Rosie the Riveter"

Sutherland Springs own "Rosie the Riveter" .... Some of us might only know about the cultural icon Rosie the Riveter from our U.S. history classes. Many have probably seen the poster often called by that name, which depicts a woman dressed in a blue uniform and a red bandana, flexing her bicep while declaring, "We can do it!"
Unfortunately, this poster, painted in 1942 by J. Howard Miller for the Westinghouse War Production Coordinating Committee, is often mistakenly called "Rosie the Riveter." Actually, Norman Rockwell gave the name taken from the 1942 song by Redd Evans to a different painting the following year. Rockwell's painting was for the cover of the May 29, 1943, issue of the Saturday Evening Post.
While both fictional characters came to embody the American women who answered the call to enter the work force during World War II, Sutherland Springs Wilson County Texas native Martha Kasprzyk, 83, was one of many real life "Rosies."
Martha, who now resides in Corsicana, is known by some as "Wilson County's Rosie the Riveter." She talked of this experience when she visited American Legion Post 38 in Floresville May 25, 2008, in honor of Memorial Day.
"What you see is what you get," Martha said with a smile. "I'm not a speechmaker. I'm just an old woman who likes to talk."
Martha is the only child born to Carrie and John Dawson. Like millions of women who remained at home while the men in their lives were fighting in World War II, Martha went to work. Shortly after she graduated from high school at age 17 in 1942, Martha received training as a sheet-metal worker through the National Youth Administration (NYA).
"We didn't go to work as Rosie the Riveter, we went to work as sheet-metal workers," Martha said.
While her NYA training was geared primarily toward shipbuilding, Martha eventually joined her mother in working at Duncan Field (which later became part of Kelly Air Force Base in San Antonio). There, she helped build and repair military airplanes.
"We patched bullet holes, and sometimes we had to weld some pieces on [the planes]," Martha said. "I could rivet. But I was often the one holding this small piece called a dolly on the backside of the rivet."
She added, "And we didn't have earplugs back then."
Working in the factory was grueling and dangerous. Martha and other females working there had to wear mesh snoods over their hair, in addition to their safety caps.
"One reason we started wearing [the snoods] was after this girl with really long hair who leaned over a drill and got a big section of her hair pulled out by the roots," Martha said.
But Martha said she actually liked the uniform, because of the freedom of wearing pants instead of dresses or skirts.
"I seldom wear dresses anymore," she said. "I haven't worn a dress in almost eight years. The last time was when my husband passed away."
The days were long, with the work shift running from 3:15 p.m. to 11:45 p.m. and her commute home not ending until 1:30 a.m.
"We rode a van with seats on either side, 28 miles from the edge of San Antonio to Sutherland Springs," Martha said.
Because no one in the family owned a car — nor could drive one — they wound up moving to San Antonio to be closer to work.
Regardless, the pay still seemed great at the time.
"I made $90 per month," Martha said. "That was good money in those days."
Factory work was short-lived for Martha, once superiors found out she could type. She went to work as a secretary in the woodworking department and eventually worked selling war bonds.
In August 1944, Martha settled into the role of a homemaker when she married her husband, Ernest. The couple were married 56 years, raising five children.
"I wanted to work but he told me, 'No, I didn't marry you for you to work,'" Martha said.
Ernest served in World War II as a first lieutenant in the U.S. Coast Guard, where he was stationed in the Panama Canal Zone.
"He didn't bomb anything and he didn't fight anybody, except maybe the mosquitoes," Martha chuckled.
Martha Lenora Dawson Kasprzyk left her earthly home to receive her eternal reward with her Heavenly Father on Sunday evening, Feb. 14, 2016. 
COURTESY/ Wilson County News

Mexican gold buried in Sutherland Springs

Beloved historian, Gene Maeckel, writes.......  In the month of August 1891, a young farmer named Edwards was plowing his field near Sutherland Springs Wilson County Texas. As he was going along, his plow hit a large solid object buried in the earth. On inspection of this object, it was found to be a large metal iron pot with its top protruding about one-half inch above the surrounding surface. On removal of the lid, it first appeared the pot was filled with dirt. However, when the object was lifted it weighed much more than just an earthen-filled vessel. On further investigation and after the removal of about an inch of the surface dirt, a large cache of gold coins was discovered. These coins were doubloons, a former gold coin of Spain and Spanish America. They were wrapped in leather which had rotted away, leaving a greenish mold on the coins, but had no effect on their condition.
There had long been rumors and speculation in this Sutherland Springs location that some Mexican gold was buried in the area. The story was that Santa Anna's army on retreat from their loss at the Battle of San Jacinto, which had ended the Texas Revolution, buried this treasure here on their return to Mexico. For years, a number of searchers had hunted unsuccessfully for its location. Originally, this pot was probably buried much deeper in the ground, but rains in the subsequent years after the revolution had slowly eroded the dirt covering and exposed the pot's metal lid.
Edwards loaded his newly found treasure into a wagon and in the dark of night, drove his findings to San Antonio and early the next morning deposited the coins in a bank. The appraised value of the gold coins was $17,000. He made no mention of his findings until after his return to Sutherland Springs.
Composed from three newspaper articles submitted to the Wilson County Historical Society Archives by Sara Reveley and Shirley Grammer. It was compiled by Gene Maeckel.
Gene Ernest Maeckel, of Poth Texas, passed away peacefully at home surrounded by family on November 18, 2021.
COURTESY/ Wilson County News 
COURTESY/ Austin Daily Statement that sent the newspaper copy
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SUTHERLAND SPRINGS TEXAS ...  in December 1907 talks were on about plans for development of a new town. Within weeks a grand scheme was announced that included the development of a new town site across the Cibolo from John Sutherland's original community as well as the construction of a 6,000-square-foot natatorium, 5,400-square-foot pavilion, and 2,800-square-foot dining hall.
Millikan would serve as the general manager for the ambitious project, while his company would provide all of the necessary engineering services.
By the time the Sutherland Springs Development Corporation received its charter in March 1908, plans had already expanded for the proposed resort and town. The new company, which had $70,000 in capital, listed Magill as its president, Kerr as vice president, and Russ as secretary and treasurer. Morton, Ruguley, Speer, and Worthington served with these three men on the board of directors, as well as a new face: Harry Redan, a well-known Houston magician who was a partner with Vann in a novelty company.
Millikan remained as onsite manager of the project. The members took care to make it clear that their "movement" was "not associated with the recent oil operations," and they declared that their "pleasure resort" would include multiple pavilions and improved streets.
An anonymous doctor from Mineral Wells, the location of yet another successful Texas resort, had submitted a bid for land on which to build a sanitarium as part of their development, and tests were underway to ascertain whether the natural gas found locally could be used for lighting. (Courtesy of Richard B. McClasin, author of Sutherland Springs Texas: Saratoga on the Cibolo)

Historic photos

The history that vintage photos encompass tell a story of a time that was so different than today. These photos from the Sutherland Springs Historical Museum show the old bank vault door to the Sutherland Springs State Bank.
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The Gourd

THE  GOURD ...   "The gourd was a very handy vegetable that grew on the frontier of Texas. Early settlers used them for various purposes, and to good advantage. When cut in the proper way they served as dippers, water jugs, spoons and dishes. 
My mother used a large gourd in which to keep sugar, another in which to keep lard, and still another in which to keep her coffee. The long-necked gourd made an ideal dipper. Ask any old timer how he would like to have a gourd full of cold spring water, and he'll tell you it is the most refreshing drink in the world.  The early Texas Rangers and Minute Men, while out on their scouts after Indians, carried water gourds, a dumbbell shaped affair, tied to the horn of their saddles.
 The method of cleaning out these gourds in preparing them for use, was to fill them with water, and put in a lot of sugar, letting them soak overnight, and then the next morning pour the water out. After drying for a few hours the gourd would be placed on a red ant hill, and the ants would soon remove all of the fibrous growth inside for the sugar that remained. It would then be ready for use, the "gourd taste" having entirely disappeared."  
 ----- J. Marvin Hunter, Frontier Times, August 1935
THE POLLEY FAMILY GOURD ...  Is on display at the Sutherland Springs Historical Museum"

1910 postcard

A vintage post card mailed in Sutherland Springs Wilson County Texas on October 18, 1910, at 6:00 p.m. The card was addressed to a member of the Corp of Cadets at Texas Agricultural  and Mechanical  College, Mr. George Huth. The scene on front of the card is Hotel Sutherland in New Town Sutherland Springs. Tambria Read, Sutherland  Springs  Historical Museum adds, " The SSHM thanks long time SS resident  Mary Hilbig Salazar for donating this vintage post card, that her sister purchased in a San Antonio antique shop. This gift is on display in the Post Office area of the museum. Come see it for yourself and others".
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Happy Sutherland Springs School group

Sutherland Springs Wilson County Texas..... A photo shows precious little girls in flour sack dresses and bobbed hair-dos while the straight standing young men wear overalls but most all students are barefoot. This was a happy Sutherland Springs School (Wilson County Texas) group and makes one wonder what the photographer said to get such grins. Sadly, though except for the Sutherland boys,  another group of unidentified individuals go down in history.


Dr. John Sutherland's house was located near the intersection of Camino del Cibolo and the Road to Chihuahua (today's 5th street and CR 539 seems about right).  The well in the picture is last remaining historic relic of his home.The slab of cement on top is from the old Sutherland Hotel sidewalk .
Robert E. Lee stopped at the Sutherland Springs boarding house kept by Dr. John Sutherland's wife Ann on his way to the Texas coast from San Antonio in February 1861. There he wrote a poignant letter to an associate, declaring that he was "unable to see a single good that will result" from the secession of Texas and the other southern states.
Ironically, by 1862 many men from Sutherland Springs served in Lee's Army of Northern Virginia. They were members of the Mustang Grays, which became Company F of the Fourth Texas Infantry, initially led by and forever associated with John Bell Hood, its first colonel and a West Point graduate who served under Lee in the Second United States Cavalry in Texas before the Civil War.
Joseph B. Polley graduated from Florence Wesleyan College in the spring of 1861 and joined a military company organized at Sutherland Springs, along with Sutherland's son Jack. The new unit called itself the Mustang Grays, probably in honor of a legendary Texas Ranger leader who was the subject of a popular song and at least one published biography before the Civil War. An older Sutherland sibling, George Quinn, allegedly also served in the Texas Brigade in Virginia, at least for a short time. Regardless, then, of when or if they supported the Confederacy, the families of Sutherland Springs sent their young men to fight for the South. 
Courtesy /Rick MacCaslin & Allen Kosub

Dr. John Sutherland and Old Town

Dr. JOHN SUTHERLAND & OLD TOWN..... Dr. Sutherland had moved to the Cibolo both to enhance his business opportunities and to provide a better quality of life for Ann, his third wife. He spent little to improve his house, much to her disgust. She complained to her stepdaughter Sarah that her grown children were building nice homes while nothing was being done to improve hers. She resented being left alone while her husband traveled on business, and she was appalled at the crude life of the Texas frontier.

Her mood did not improve when her stepson Levin stabbed and killed George Galbraith after a quarrel, even though Levin was tried and acquitted.

Sutherland's solution was to have Thomas Pooley, an English schoolteacher, plat a town site on his land in 1854 and offer the lots for sale, trying to develop a more settled community for his wife and, of course, make money. It worked.

Joseph B. Polley, Joseph H. Polley's son, later recalled that Sutherland Springs (OLD TOWN) by the mid-1850s boasted "half a dozen residences, one hotel, and two or three stores." The 1860 census listed about four dozen heads of households in the community. More than half were farmers or stock raisers, but there were four merchants, three carpenters, two brothers who were wagon drivers, a blacksmith, and a gunsmith.

Sutherland shared the medical business with R. Stevenson, from New York, and Thomas M. Batte, a Mississippian who actually settled on the Cibolo east of Sutherland Springs.

More important for Sutherland, thirteen people paid taxes on town lots they had purchased, while Columbus M. Reese was assessed for part of the Treviño grant, which he had apparently bought from Sutherland as well.

The springs on the Cibolo may have initially attracted Dr. Sutherland's attention in 1836, when he led reinforcements from Gonzales that failed to reach the Alamo, but he apparently was not financially able at that time to capitalize on his find.

He was also greatly concerned about the chance of Mexican raiders; after the attacks on San Antonio in 1842 he wrote to a friend that he was very concerned about the vulnerability of the "western settlements" and thought that it was "altogether probable" that Mexico would invade Texas in the spring of 1843. When that did not happen, Texas was annexed by the United States, and epidemics persisted in the new state, Sutherland decided to move.

He reported to his daughter Sarah in May 1849, just eight weeks after he settled on the Cibolo, that his new home site was "handsome," "healthy," and a "place of great resort." He added, "We have quite a variety of waters close at hand to wit—white & black sulphur, calibrate [sic], magnesia & alum springs within one hundred yards of my dwelling."

Dr. Sutherland located his home at the intersection of two important roads. The Chihuahua Road ran from the Gulf of Mexico at Indianola west to San Antonio. This was one of only a handful of principal roads in antebellum Texas, and two stages each week already traveled from San Antonio to the coast. The Goliad Road ran south through Sutherland's land, then east along the San Antonio River to Goliad before angling north to intersect the Chihuahua Road again at Victoria. Traffic moved regularly along both roads, so their intersection by the Cibolo was a great location for the ambitious Sutherland.

Sutherland tried to grow cotton like Polley, but wrote to his daughter Sarah, who had gone to Tennessee for school and there married James P. N. Craighead, that his crop in 1842 was "almost an entire failure" after a long drought was followed by fifty days of rain and then an infestation of pests.

Friends and relatives moved away, but he returned to land speculation, apparently focusing on planters moving into his region to plant sugar cane but also spending time marketing his western lands.

Dr. Sutherland did not become as prosperous as Polley, but in 1850, soon after moving to the Cibolo, he paid taxes on 4,500 acres, eight slaves, six horses, and 110 cattle, for a net worth of $10,000.


New Town Sutherland Springs

Sometimes, one simple picture can tell you more about history than any story you might read. These vintage photos of New Town Sutherland Springs  Wilson  County Texas tell stories about the historical years of 1912 to 1915. Enjoy!


Springs, Spas, Fountains of Youth

SUTHERLAND SPRINGS TEXAS ... " Taking in the Waters in Texas: Springs, Spas, and Fountains of Youth" by Janet Mace Valenza.

Sutherland Springs/La Vernia roadway

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SUTHERLAND SPRINGS/La VERNIA ... As early as 1907, plans had been laid for a roadway that could be more easily traversed by cars. In 1911, when "sandy stretches" on the unpaved road between Sutherland Springs and San Antonio still made it "almost impassible," local supporters of the national "Good Roads" movement gathered for a rally at the Hotel Sutherland.

When the legislature continued to leave the matter of improvements in the hands of county officials, another meeting was held at the Sutherland Springs Opera House in April 1912 to demand the sale of local bonds. These would fund a paved road to link the town to highways that would be built from San Antonio to the coast.

Ford called the meeting to order, and Thomas C. Richardson was elected as chair. A week later, Ford and Richardson became vice president and secretary, respectively, of the new Wilson County Good Roads League.

Another year passed without results, so in 1913 volunteers from Sutherland Springs and La Vernia, a total of 168 men, shoveled sand, clay, and gravel to resurface the 8.8-mile roadway between their towns.

Richardson chaired a local committee organized in April 1914 to ask state, not county, officials to pay for road improvements. That initiative must have failed because in December 1914 voters in Sutherland Springs returned a margin of more than three to one in favor of a bond issue to upgrade the road from San Antonio to Sutherland Springs by way of La Vernia.

Years of discussion and hard work finally bore fruit in 1916. Residents of Sutherland Springs welcomed a delegation from the Texas Good Roads Association during their tour of the state in September 1915. Women from the Civic League, led by Perdie Busby, hosted a banquet inside the Hotel Sutherland and then a meeting on the lawn after all of the 
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travelers inspected the local roads and enjoyed a brief swim. A writer for the San Antonio Express reported that the "meeting was snappy and filled with enthusiasm and applause." He added that the locals had a motto, "If energy counts, we've got it," and were interested in having a highway built to their town.
Specifically, they wanted a "southern route" to be chosen for a proposed San Antonio to Houston highway.

The residents of Sutherland Springs did not get a highway, but they held a big celebration in May 1916 for the opening of an improved road for automobiles from their community to San Antonio. Invitations were sent to many local motoring clubs, and a special train was scheduled to bring more visitors for barbecue, speeches, baseball games, footraces, swimming contests, horse races, music, and dancing (including a Maypole dance).

Everything was arranged by Williams, who also had the entire affair filmed. Anticipating a huge crowd, Williams proudly told a newspaper reporter that his "home" was at San Antonio, his "business" was in Houston, and his "playground" was in "Sutherland Springs, of whose franchise he [was] the owner."

(Courtesy of Richard B. McClasin, author of Sutherland Springs Texas: Saratoga on the Cibolo)

"The first picture shows volunteers from Sutherland Springs in action along the road between Sutherland Springs and LaVernia. The area was improved yesterday by citizens of both towns  and farmers along the way to give their time. The eight-mile stretch was put in first-class condition before the day was over."

"The second picture shows La Vernia workers taken at noon just after they had finished eating a big barbecue.  A force of 125 men and 78 teams represented La Vernia in the road building experiment." [Barbara Wood]

The Cemetery with No Name

THE CEMETERY WITH NO NAME ... In Wilson County one of the unnamed graveyards is located below Sutherland Springs Texas. Near the intersection of Highway 97 & Highway 87 there is a big brick house.  The graves are under the big oak tree to the west of the brick house.  They are on PRIVATE PROPERTY... STAY AWAY!

 Wilson County Historian, Mark Cameron, says, "The cemetery has no name. It is not known even who these people were. There is a white house there with a large Oak tree in the front yard. The graves are under the oak tree on the east side. Several years ago a Dowsing expert came in and dowsed around the tree and found 10 graves. 8 men and 2 women. Don't ask me how she could tell the difference but she was an expert. "

     Wilson County Historian, Shirley Grammer posts, "I only have about 8 pictures taken at the "Y" below Sutherland Springs underneath the big oak trees near the white brick house.  The people in the photos are Marjorie Burnett with the dowsing rods and Leon and Joyce Gorden looking on.  We visited this site in 2012.  Such a beautiful place under those trees.  If I remember correctly, Marjorie found at least 10 people buried here, 8 men and 2 women.  This grave dowsing is quite interesting.
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White Cliffs

Sutherland  Springs  Wilson County Texas ... This group is posing in front of the white cliffs across from the former New Town Sutherland Springs Park  (Photo Courtesy of Liz Lester) No details .
COURTESY / Wilson County Historical Society
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Cibolo Creek

Sutherland  Springs  Wilson County Texas ... This group of ladies are having fun posing on the Sheehy Rocks at Cibolo Creek  (Photo Courtesy of Liz Lester) No details. Notice the long strands of Spanish Moss hanging from the trees.
COURTESY / Wilson County Historical Society