by Barbara J. Wood
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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