by Barbara J. Wood
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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