Talk of Wilson County TX Historic Towns

by Barbara J. Wood
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WRITINGS

My Early Recollections of Floresville ...  and Wilson County 
(As remembered by J. Harvey Black and printed in the April 
15, 1949 issue of The Floresville Chronicle – Journal) 
 
I was born in Wilson County on the Cibolo River some three or four miles from Stockdale, in the year A. D. 1871. I recall many people and events that occurred as early as 1875. I shall write entirely from memory and not from hearsay. 
 
The territory along the Cibolo River was settled some years before the interior because of the abundance of water and the productive soil of the Cibolo Valley. Some of these settlers whom I recall by name around La Vernia and Sutherland Springs are the Houstons, Murrays, McAllisters, Newtons, Polleys, Sutherlands and Dr. Messengers. Others 
that lived on down the river included the Hankinsons, Col. Mays, Dr. Batt, the Wheelers, Butlers, John McDaniel, Dr. Grey, Col. Peacock and others. 
 
My first recollection of a store was one owned and operated at Stockdale by a man named Bunker. Dave Wheeler ran a saw mill, grist mill and cotton gin on the Cibolo. 
 
Along in the middle 70's people began settling out in the post oaks. My father was one of those, settling on a small tract at the edge of the Rocky Hills north of Floresville in 1876. The open country was fenced and wild stock ranged everywhere. 
 
The settlers had to build houses and clear the land of timber which was plentiful. Houses were built mainly out of logs. Their fences were made of rails split out of the timber, logs, and brush. Think of a brush fence around your field. 
 
It is my purpose to tell you some of the problems and hardships of the sturdy and determined settlers. Among those besides my father, W. W. Black were T. S. Simpson, Isaac Sims, the Richardsons, Ferd Robinson, Mrs. Mima West, a widow; Jack Rawls, the Donahos, Fosters, Franklins, Criers and others. 
 
The settlers were all poor and were very poorly equipped.
They had to do everything the strong-arm way. Their first great problem was water. There was no inland permanent water supply, only natural ponds here and there. So water had to be hauled from the Cibolo River. It would take a man nearly a day to go to the Cibolo with a wagon or ox cart and get a couple of barrels of water! How they would skimp and save that precious water! Everyone had their rain barrels, and when it rained they put a plank up beside the house to run the 
water into the barrel. They also would put tubs, buckets, pans and other vessels under eaves to catch water. But soon everyone had his own water tank. 
 
They would dig a tank in the ground in a low place with ditches to run the rain water from the slope into the tank. Then they build a rail fence around the tank to keep the stock out. As soon as it rained enough to fill the tank, the water problem was solved temporarily.
 
Later they began putting down wells. As soon as one man would complete a well, several of his neighbors would start hauling water from his well. The first of these wells as I remember was at Isaac Sims and another at Wylie Franklins. The water was drawn from the well with buckets and ropes, wound around a windlass. At times there would be several men to come for water at the same time. They would stand in line and take their turns to get water. When a young 
boy would come for water, the men would often fill his barrel for him. Those pioneers were the "salt of the earth". 
 
Another problem was bread. Everyone had to buy corn for bread until they could raise a crop of their own. The earlier settlers along the Cibolo had corn which they would sell to settlers for bread only. The corn had to be shelled and carried to Wheeler's Mill to be ground. Many a small boy could not handle a sack of corn, so they would have the corn placed on a horse by some member of the family. Then he would get on top of the sack and ride to the mill. Uncle Dave, as he was familiarly known, would take the sack off the horse, grind the corn into meal, and put it back on the horse for the boy.
 
This new meal had the bran in it and had to be sifted at home in a sifter made in the shape of a pan. This sifter had a fine mesh wire bottom and was shaken between the hands to separate the bran from the meal. This bran was also saved by some and roasted nice and brown to be used as a coffee stretcher. 
 
Then, there was the soap problem, for everyone had to make their own soap. Each family had an ash hopper which was made by cutting down a hollow tree and cutting a trench in one side of it. Then they would clean it out and place it with the open side up, having one end slightly higher than the other. Then boards were put up end wise in this trough, leaning outward and forming a hopper. This was then filled 
with wood ashes and water was added. As the water seeped down through the ashes, it would drain out through the side of the trough, and it was then lye. The women would take this lye, put it in an iron kettle over a fire, and add grease of any kind that was at hand and made a crude sort of soap. This was used for washing clothes and scrubbing floors. 
 
Another problem was that of fire. Every fall or winter by some means, fire would get started in the tall grass that covered the range. The fire would sweep across the country like an avalanche of destruction. The settlers had to fight it to save their fences and homes, but sometimes the fire would get to a man's fence in spite of all they could do. Then the fence had to be rebuilt, and the neighbors would all help with this work. 
 
Sometimes, they were unable to get kerosene for their lamps. They would make what they called a grease lamp. This was made by twisting a cotton string very tight for a wick, placing it in a saucer or other shallow vessel, and submerging the wick in melted tallow. This would make a fairly good substitute for a lamp. 
 
There were great herds of cattle driven up the trail to the Indian Territory and Kansas, sometimes as many as three thousand in a herd. Trains of freight wagons hauled cotton to Port Lavaca and Indianola and returned loaded with freight for the stores. It would take three to six weeks to make a round trip in ox wagons, depending on the weather. If they were caught in a rainy spell, they would have to wait until the ground dried out enough to hold up the wagons, for the road 
beds were just plain dirt. Many a wagon bogged down and had to remain for days before it could be moved. 
 
There was a little school house built in the woods called Post Oaks School. All the children had to walk to school, some as far as three miles. The Marcelina Baptist Church was organized. Marketing was done in San Antonio. It would take from four to five days to make a trip to market and back. 
All the clothing was made at home except for hats and shoes. The women would spin yarn on the old spinning wheel and knit socks and stockings for the entire family. Floresville was an infant. There was a store run by John Griffith and 
Oscar Rhodes. A drug store was operated by W. C. Agee. A hotel was owned by A. G. Thomas. The old courthouse was a wooden structure and stood in the rear of the present bank building. The jail stood across the street from the present office of the Chronicle-Journal. 
 
Sometimes a severe drought would dry up all the stock water and a great many stock would die on the range. The settlers would have to drive their milk cows to the Cibolo River for 
water. Floresville was growing and some of the residents had to buy fire wood. We, out in the sticks, would cut and haul in wood to sell to them. A "two horse load", as they called it, would be cut up ready for the stove or fireplace and would sell for a dollar. 
 
Then, in 1886 came the railroad and Floresville got a boom. They built a new courthouse. On August 20, 1886, the great storm swept over the town with destruction to crops and timber. 
 
Before I close, I must mention another man who did a lot for 
Floresville. He was Professor Washburn, who built the Floresville Academy.There was a man named Anderson, who published a little newspaper at Sutherland Springs called the Western Texas Chronicle. That little paper played a great deal in helping me learn to read. Mr. Anderson moved the paper to Floresville and the name was subsequently changed to Floresville Chronicle. 
 
I have written this entirely from memory. If there are any mistakes found in the record, please blame them to lapse of memory. 
J. HARVEY BLACK
 
[Transcribed from an article in the Floresville Chronicle – Journal, April 15, 1949.Compiled by Gene Maeckel 
from information in the Wilson County Historical Society Archives. P.O. Box 190, Poth, Tx. 78147. Web 
site: www: wilsoncountyhistory.com 12/08]

At Schneider’s Store you can go home again

Published in the Wilson County News, 2013
By Lois Wauson, Rainy Days and Starry Nights
 
Something keeps drawing me back to Schneider's Store, the little filling station on FM 541 at Dewees in the southwest part of Wilson County. It has been there for over 80 years.
 
I think I feel attached to the store because it is the only business or school left in that part of the county that I remember from 75 years ago. Before television and Internet came in, it was the era of small farmers living out there, and small schools that were the meeting places for all the families in that part of the county. Now the small farmer is a thing of the past.
 
I read a book called "You Can't Go Home Again". Thomas Wolfe wrote that you can't go home again, but he also wrote: "Some things will never change. Some things will always be the same. Lean down your ear upon the earth and listen. The voice of forest water in the night, a woman's laughter in the dark, the clean, hard rattle of raked gravel, the cricketing stitch of midday in hot meadows, the delicate web of children's voices in bright air--these things will never change." He is right - some things never change.
 
Schneider's store is the only link to my past when we lived on a 100-acre farm by Kasper School west of Poth on the road, and that store is still standing and in business today! All the schools have been torn down and mesquite brush and cactus is all that is there on the site of Kasper School. You can't even see the old cistern that sat near the school. Eight years ago, I was out there and the cistern was still there. And a barren field is all than remains on the site of Dewees School across the road from Schneider's Store.
 
I visited with Alene Pawelek, the owner, who bought the store and land around it, from Helen Schneider in 1997. She first met Miss Helen when she would come with a group of friends from the Catholic Church in Poth, after mass on Saturday night. Miss Helen was going to sell the place, so Alene put her name in the hat with three other persons who wanted to buy it too. They had more money than she did, so she didn't think she would get it. Alene Pawelek was the one Miss Helen chose to buy the store. But Miss Helen owned and operated Schneider's Store for over 65 years.
 
During cotton ginning season the old cotton gin was a busy place with wagons pulled up and in line with their loads of cotton waiting to be ginned and baled. Miss Helen would begin in the early morning cooking up big pots of stew or chili. The farmers could come in the store all day long to get a bowl of stew or chili for 50 cents and a bottle of soda pop for 5 cents. Also she would cut up cheese and sausage and weigh it on a scale and sell it with soda crackers for $1. It was a full meal! I am sure the old timers still around that part of county remembers those days!
 
But John Steinbeck wrote, "Thomas Wolfe said you can't go home again, because home has ceased to exist except in the mothballs of memories".
 
Schneiders is still open for business today. Oil field workers come there to get gas and eat lunch. Alene serves hamburgers and sandwiches to the workers sitting at the counter or the tables.
 
I sat there that day and the store was the same. Same old floor, same counter, still the same size, except Miss Helen enlarged the back room and put in a few more tables. The front part still feels the same as it was in the 40's when Daddy brought us in and while he drank a beer and talked to old friends, we were treated to an ice cream cone. Alene still serves ice cream cones. So that day, my brother and I got two chocolate cones as we left.
 
Thomas Wolfe was right about one thing: Some things never change and I felt like I had come home again.
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Postcard from 1916
Kevin Wagenfuehr found this postcard in an old book of his Fathers. The post card was from 1916...from his great grandmother to his grandfather.  Grandpa was 40. In lovely cursive it reads, "Twin Sisters Texas, July 3th, 1916. Hello Henry, How are you getting alone still well. Hope you all's had plenty of good rain. We had some good rain up here these last few days. We are leaving for Blanco City after July 4th. With many regards to yours and all from Papa and Mama. [Notice the address]
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'The' rock wall: Searching for answers
Wilson County News
August 05, 2015
By Julia Castro – Apple Pie & Salsa
 
This is the story of the wall that bordered part of the grounds of my old grammar school here in Floresville. It is not my story alone. I had a lot of help piecing it together, as best I could. The school was built in 1912 and torn down in 1955 to make room for newer, more modern school buildings, and the rock wall was still there. It was there when I started school in September of 1940 at the age of 7.
 
Then some months ago I was driving down on Third Street and to my horror I saw that most of the wall was gone! They had torn it down and dug up the dirt up to the edge of the buildings. (I hear that the space will be used for parking.) I thought to myself, "How could they do that? It's historical, it's a relic!" I was relieved to find out later that the piece that I had seen still standing was going to be left alone. I believed it when I saw that they had erected a cement wall next to it as a retainer.
 
I started asking around if anyone knew what they were doing with the broken-up wall. On Railroad Street, there were chunks of it by the side of the road. Part of the wall had extended around the corner of Third and Railroad streets. I asked if I could have a piece of it for my front yard as memorabilia from my youth, but never got a reply. I even had my son-in-law, Gilbert, take Henry and me in his pickup to see if we could pick up a piece. But we saw that it was impossible. They were just too heavy. So I resigned myself to the fact that it was not meant to be.
 
By then my curiosity got the best of me. I wanted to know when and by whom it had been built and where the remains were going. I knew that they were piling up some of the debris on the vacant lot across the street.
 
As to when it was built, no one really remembered. But most of them remembered dusting erasers on it. And as kids we could walk on it. It was wide enough. After 1944 that we moved to Railroad Street (it didn't have a name then except on the city map) close to the depot, I would walk through an opening that was close to Railroad Street. It had steps going up and down. I kept asking questions about the origin of the wall. Some said it could have been the work of the WPA, a program started by President Franklin Roosevelt for men during the Depression. Most others said it had been done by men from the CCC Camp. This was also a work program created by President Roosevelt for young men to give them employment. There was a camp here in Floresville named Camp Richard M. Kleberg. The three C's stood for Civilian Conservation Corps. It was located where the present-day Floresville school campuses are now. Before then the land was home to the Wilson County Fair Grounds.
 
Then I was told by Martha Eschenburg to contact Bobby Clay because he was a "history buff." I did and he gave me more information than I had hoped for! He gave me a CD with photos from his family's files. One photo shows his older brother Billy on a tricycle near the edge of the school grounds. It shows an embankment of dirt. Another one shows Billy in a little car in the yard of their home that shows a completed wall in the background. Bobby says that his family moved here into the house across the street from the school in 1934, when Billy was 3 years old. In the second photo Billy doesn't look much older than in the first one. Now we can pinpoint more or less when the wall was built — either in 1934 or 1935, at the latest. The CD also contains two photos of men working at El Rancho de Las Cabras, where supposedly they removed rocks for that wall and most likely other projects.
 
I wanted to share this information with historians Gene Maeckel and Maurine Liles. Well, it turns out that they already had pictures of the men working, in the archives. Earlier historians had attached a note on the back stating that they were Boy Scouts. They look too old to be Boy Scouts, except for one. But we have to remember that the CCC Camp boys could be as young as 16. So Gene, Maurine, and I came to the conclusion that they were from the CCC Camp. Bobby insists that they were. The Boy Scouts would not have had the time for a project like that.
 
Now, as to where the remains of the wall are. There were rumors that they were being taken to the Remschel House, which belongs to the Historical Society. Then others said they were being hauled to the site of El Rancho de Las Cabras. I made some telephone calls to people I thought might really know. I was told that they had not been hauled away. They were too heavy and it was impossible to separate the rocks from the cement. So everything is in a pile on that lot.
 
And stubborn me, I believe that there has to be something in the old files from the Floresville Chronicle-Journal about the building of that wall. Surely Mr. Sam Fore would have deemed it worthy enough to publish something about it. So with the help of the Wilson County News staff, I will continue the search.
 
And to quote Bobby Clay, "Having grown up at our home across the street from the wall, it has a special place in my heart for all the memories I have of it." He explains about the dusting of the erasers. "In those days teachers used black boards and chalk for teaching. The erasers would get full and need dusting. We would take the erasers and pound them on the wall to get them as clean as possible. Great fun for young boys."
 
For girls too. I got to do that also. For me it felt like a break from the classroom.
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COURTESY/ Wilson County News

Business as usual in makeshift courthouse

Wilson County News
January 27, 2016
By Mrs. E.P. Wallace
 
We moved to Stockdale in 1879. In a few years we moved to Marcelina. Floresville then had only three houses, a store, blacksmith shop, and a saloon owned by John Wallace, a cousin of my husband. The courthouse was a two-room wooden building. Later this burned and the present courthouse was erected.

I remember distinctly a trial which was to take place, that of a young boy accused of theft of a widow’s money. The night before the trial was to begin, the courthouse burned. A tent was erected and court was held in that.

The plaintiff in the case swore the defendant stole the money, as she saw the brass buttons on his coat in the moonlight. It looked as if the boy would surely be convicted when his lawyer, Jap Williams, got on the stand with an almanac in his hands. By this little book he proved that there was no moon on that night. The crowd was pleased when the young man was freed and started for home with his mother.

This article was submitted by Shirley Grammer for Historic Moments in Wilson County, Texas, from the files of Mrs. Olga Fitzgerald Blakeney.

The Wilson County Historical Society meets on third Tuesdays at 7 p.m. in the American Legion Hall in Floresville, 1412 Fourth St. Dues are $20 for individuals, or $30 for couples. Call LaJuana Newnam-Leus at 830-393-2166 or visit wilsoncountyhistory.org.
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A great love story, of love at first sight in 1941

Wilson County News, 2013
By Lois Wauson, Rainy Days and Starry Nights
 
I have been thinking about Eddie's brother, Richard, a lot lately. He has been gone for more than 20 years. I miss him these days. I bet he and Eddie are having a good time in heaven. It got me to looking for a story I wrote about his and Lessie's courtship. Lessie has always been one of my favorite sisters-in-law. She was my best friend for many years before Eddie and I got married and afterward. Here is the story again. It is a great love story, of love at first sight.
 
It was Dec. 3, 1941, on a cold Wednesday night in Floresville at the Full Gospel Church. The Sawyer family went to church that night as always. Their youngest daughter, Lessie, was with them. They were very devout Christians.
 
Twenty-year-old Richard Wauson was a visitor that night. He lived in San Antonio and was visiting at the request of the preacher, Rev. Cantrell, who had invited Richard, telling him he wanted him to meet a nice young woman in the church. He asked Richard to sing in the choir that night.
 
The girl didn't show up, but Richard couldn't get his eyes off another girl coming in the door, as she swung her long blond hair over her shoulders and sat down with her parents, pulling her skirt demurely over her knees. Lessie Sawyer, age 16, kept glancing at the good-looking tall stranger in the choir, who kept staring at her.
 
After the service, as usual, the Sawyers invited the preacher and his wife home for coffee and dessert. Since Richard was a guest of the preacher, he was invited too.
 
Richard and Lessie met that night after church and talked late into the night. Before Richard left to go back to San Antonio, he asked Lessie if he could come to Floresville to court her beginning the next Sunday. She eagerly said yes and her parents agreed.
 
That Sunday was Dec. 7, and Pearl Harbor was attacked. Richard was at Lessie's house that Sunday night after church and everyone was discussing the possibility of war.
 
Richard turned to Lessie and said, "You know what this means, don't you? I am going to enlist."
 
Lessie nodded her head, holding back the tears. It had only been four days and she was already in love with him. With his enlistment looming, Richard went to Floresville every night in December to see Lessie. He was working at Kelly Field during the day. After work he drove to Floresville and then back late at night.
 
Their courtship was intense and every night the date consisted of just talking as they sat in the living room and listened to the radio. If the weather was warm enough, they went for short walks, but her parents, who liked Richard, were always nearby.
 
Lessie had her 17th birthday on the 14th of December. Richard asked her to go to Pleasanton to meet his family at Christmas.
 
The Wauson family lived in a small house with five boys and one girl. Eddie, 16, was Lessie's favorite of the brothers.Lessie said, "Eddie was so friendly, but the whole family was friendly and fun and welcomed me, and I really liked them."
 
Christmas came and in January, Richard was still coming to Floresville every night to see Lessie. He still talked about joining the Coast Guard.
 
One night he said, "We should get married so we can be together before I have to leave for the Coast Guard."
 
On Feb. 22, 1942, they were married in the Full Gospel Church in Floresville. They lived in a small apartment on St. Mary's Street in San Antonio, across from The Pig Stand. On paydays they walked across the street and treated themselves to a hamburger and a milk shake. Their honeymoon lasted seven months.
 
In September, Richard left to go in the Coast Guard, and was stationed in New Orleans. Lessie went home to stay with her parents in Floresville.
 
One day a telegram came to Lessie from Richard telling her to come. Her father wouldn't let her go, afraid for a 17-year-old girl to travel alone.
 
Her mother intervened, saying, "Listen here, Barney Sawyer, if she is old enough to be married, she is old enough to travel alone!"
 
She took the train to New Orleans, and Richard, along with many other sailors meeting their wives or girlfriends, met Lessie. At first she could not see him, because in that sea of sailors, they all looked alike. But finally he spotted her.
 
He was in the Coast Guard for three years and they lived on the naval base in New Orleans. During that time their son, Richard Jr., was born. Their romance lasted 47 years. They had four children. Richard passed away in 1990. Lessie is 89 and lives in San Antonio with her husband Arlen, whom she married in 1995. She is still a beautiful woman.

The bridges of Wilson County

Wilson County News, July 15, 2015
By Lois Wauson
"Rainy Days and Starry Nights"
 
The bridge was a wooden rickety one that crossed a creek in Wilson County. It had wide wooden boards that had about an inch between them. There was a wooden rail on both sides at one time, but part of it had broken off. It was so scary for a 3-year-old to walk over that bridge, and look down at the creek below. Sometimes it had water in it, sometimes it didn't. But it was a long way down! Our footsteps sounded hollow and loud on the bridge and if it wasn't for the fact that my daddy's huge hand was holding my little one tightly, as I walked by his side, I would have been very scared. But the comfort of holding on to his hand has stayed with me all these years. I knew, as long as he held my hand, I would be okay. That memory is still there. It's strong and the first memory I have of my life in Wilson County.
 
As I thought of that episode that happened when I was young, for some reason, I got to thinking about bridges and the importance of bridges. And how there are so many bridges that help us to cross over a river to the other side of something! All these bridges take us from one side of the water to another.
 
A few years ago I was thinking about all the bridges I have crossed over in my life. These are called Lifetime Bridges. In Wilson County, my family "crossed the bridge," so to speak, from the old Zook farm near the San Antonio River, to near Kasper School even farther west in Wilson Country.
 
Then I crossed the river, actually, the San Antonio River, each day, twice a day, to go to Poth High School in September of 1946. That was a big bridge to cross, in more ways than one. Crossing a bridge from a little three-room schoolhouse to a bigger high school that had more students than the whole school at Kasper. Fifty-two students!
 
When they were building the new bridge across the river in the 1940s the school bus couldn't cross sometimes so we had to cross it on foot, to the bus across the river. I was so scared as I walked across the river and I could see the river down below through the wide cracks in the boards. I am scared of heights anyway.
 
When I first moved back to Floresville eight years ago, one day I went exploring in the county. I wanted to see where 775 West went. I crossed the San Antonio River, on a nice new bridge, but I looked over to my left and saw this old bridge that used to be over the river. It was still over the river, but it was only the steel frame, and the boards were few and far between. I got out and took many pictures of the old bridge. I thought what stories the bridge could tell. I wonder when it was built. I have not been out there recently so I don't know if the old bridge is still there.
 
Most of the bridges in Wilson County have a history behind them. I love old bridges like I love old houses and barns. Even though I am 89, I have many more mountains to climb and rivers and bridges to cross.
 
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Lois Zook Wauson was the oldest of eight children who grew up on a farm in Wilson County in the mid-20th century. (Lois Eva Zook Wauson passed away May 17, 2022).
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Green School in Camp Ranch Remembered

By Lois Wauson for "Remember Floresville When ... "
 
  Green School was a one room schoolhouse that was located on Farm Road 1344, which is west of Floresville in the Camp Ranch community. It started out as a one-room schoolhouse. Martha Bartek was one of the first teachers. Theo Boenning told me more about the school than anyone else when I talked to him one time. They first built it on a sandy hill, but when the wind blew it was so much sand, the kids could not go out for recess. So they moved down the hill close to road. 
    When it was time for "books", the teacher would always come out and ring and bell and they knew it was time for "books". Recess was over! He loved recess, but he really loved learning too.
    His fondest memories of the school were the plays they used to have there. He called them "talent plays", and they would give them the booklets and give them parts and characters to play, and they would have to memorize the parts.
    Then the teachers would advertise about the play and when they put the play on, the school house would be packed full of people. It would be on a night, and they would light the schoolhouse with gasoline lamps, something called an Aladdin Lamp. It had two little wicks to light and put out a pretty good light. You had to pump a little air in them once in awhile for it to work.  He said they always enjoyed the practicing as much as going on the night they put the play on! The name of one play was "The Absent Minded Professor." Theo had a part in that play and he said he still remembered some of his lines.
 
      My Aunt Fay Goode went to the Green School when she and her brothers and sisters went there in the early 1930s.
       She told me, "Oleta and Arleta, were twins and were singers and sang on WOAI or KTSA in San Antonio on the radio. This was in the 30's. I can't remember their last names. The name of the show was something like Burt and Vi. Oleta and Arleta would go to the Smith Young Tower in San Antonio to sing on the radio. We had programs at Green School and I can still remember the poem I said one Christmas when I was 8 years old. It goes like this:
 They asked me to tell you a story
But I think I am most too small
I think I'll say Merry Christmas
I think that will please you all
 
And Robert Zieglar had to say a poem that I can remember and it went something like this: "Marbles and tops and balls. How I wish I could play with them all." One Thanksgiving we all put on this play where we went marching around the room, marching to the music from the Victrola. and us girls had to sing It went like this: 
My Rubber Dolly.
My mother told me, 
That she would buy me
A rubber dolly
My sister told her
I kissed a feller
Now she won't buy 
Me a rubber dolly.
Aunt Fay had a vivid memory of her childhood days. I got many of my stories from her.
 
   Pappy O'Daniel and The Light Crust Doughboys sang that on the radio. He later became the governor of Texas. 
Gone are the days when all the families looked forward to those times at the local country school. Now the schools are so large and crowded and the school is not part of the family social life. In those days the school WAS OUR social life.

A walk down memory lane

By Barry Koch
Wilson County News | Aug. 22, 2023
 
Growing up in Floresville in the 50s and 60s brought many simple pleasures. Yes, my family and I did venture to San Antonio also, but for the most part we stayed in and around the Wilson County area enjoying the small town atmosphere.
 
If you are from Floresville and were born in the mid 50s, this should bring back many memories beginning with this adventure on Third Street, starting with the Floresville Lumber Company and the smell of new lumber, somewhat noxious. I can still see the long double decked tin building that seemed to extend forever. The large building and property were purchased by Howard Ware and turned into a wash-a-teria and dry-cleaning business.
 
Directly across the street was Smith Pontiac and Appliance Center. Ahh, the smell of those "huge" early model new autos. Who can forget the 1964 Pontiac Bonneville? By today's autos you could live in it!
 
Up the street the smell of leather flowed through the air at Trujillo's Boot Shop. Directly across the street, the heavenly smells of Carleen's Dairy Dream. Who can forget those nighttime adventures at the busy, bustling hamburger and shake "joint"; stepping up to the outside window you were quickly overcome with the smell of grease cooking your future meal. By today's standards in healthcare we should all be dead or have had cardiac bypass surgery. The shakes and malts were to die for.
 
Directly up the street was the Dismukes property. If you ever walked there in the morning you were overcome by the pungent smell of those cottonwood trees with those pesky blooms that seemed to go billowing through the air. It was a necessity to walk fast or get "overcome by the fragrance and plastered by the blooms"!
 
A short trip northwest and you were at Sheehy Chevrolet Company. Bill Sheehy was a great man and always let us sit in those "new" cars and trucks; of course it seemed to help that our dad was a mechanic there. The oil and grease in early auto shops like this had an odor you could never forget and not transformed into today's pristine auto dealerships. The smell continued at Sheehy's until it burned flat to the ground in the 60s.
 
On the same side of the street was another exciting place, especially on Saturdays – "Arcadia Theatre". Who can forget the smell of hot buttered popcorn, sweettarts, and large sodas – need I say more. We were all sorry to see it close BUT today it has been revitalized and restored allowing for future generations to once again enjoy movies and take their dates to a local establishment.
 
I'm sure I'm missing some smells from places but those that are brought to the readers attention were the ones I remember most.
 
Up and around the corner heading west on "C" Street, one would again get a "whiff" of the smell of leather at Frank Vela's Saddle Shop. There you could see saddles made and repaired as well as have your boots or shoes fixed. That location also housed Wolfe Johnson's Tailor Shop – the first dry cleaners in Floresville, "I think". This area now houses the Wilson County News - a great place to visit and get a paper. It was one of the first places I had business cards and copies made. Great people. Always willing to help.
 
Proceeding further west you were overcome by the "out of this world and never to be copied" Trevino Bakery. I couldn't resist those warm glazed yeast donuts, spectacular cinnamon rolls, baked bread – so soft it melted in your mouth and last but not least, a pastry that had a red jelly topping with coconut sprinkled on it. I have since forgotten the name, but never the taste. I can still see the "sweets" being handed to me over the glass counter by Ms. Trevino. She had a smile a mile wide and always had a friendly, positive message that made you right at home and wanting to come back.
 
Directly across the street was the "old" fire station - a location I remember all too well. It had a smell I will never forget. Our family spent a lot of time there. My dad was a volunteer fireman and we spent many Saturday afternoons and evenings washing hoses and stringing them up on the drying racks under the siren; along with moving each truck out to the street, and giving it a good washing, drying and polishing. Dad was a real stickler that it was done right. Mom, my brother and I followed suit. The best part was when we got to sit in those trucks, as when they were finished, dad would drive them, with us, around the block.
 
Up the street heading east you would come to I.D. Flores Drug. You just had to go in there for sodas and candy. If the fragrances didn't overpower you, the sights of all the different bottles, medications, wheelchairs, crutches and walkers would. In the back Mr. Flores, "NASH" as he was known, always had a friendly smile and would talk to us and give us a sweet treat. Always free. Go to the modern day chain pharmacies and see if that will ever happen....
 
Moving on and going back north on Third Street you came to Conoly Herry Drug. This was owned by Dan Conoly and Mike Herry, the pharmacists. Once you opened the door, the smell of perfumes, powders and pharmaceuticals hit you. Besides the smell, there were gifts and glassware - every shape and color. As you went to the back you could smell the fresh coffee brewing and see the morning local men's group conversing and enjoying a hot cup, or two, or three. They were solving the problems of the day. In the afternoon it was a great place to get a scoop of ice cream - yeah, buddy!
 
Further north was the White House Cafe -- a great places to get a meal. Everyone went there for food and fellowship. If the problems of the day were not settled at Conoly Herry Drug, they were certainly at White House Café. Who can forget "Uncle Fritz" Teltschik, the owner and one of the first Band Directors at Floresville High School. Another friendly local face.
 
Across the street and farther south was Merchant's Grocery - the largest grocery at the time. A multitude of aromas came from here - the Merchants, as well as J.C. Turner always made sure the merchandise was fresh and visually appealing. 
 
Around the corner and to the  north on "C" street again were some small restaurants and some of Floresville's first "Beer Joints" as they were so called. At nighttime they were some of the only open establishments and were very alive and active.
 
Proceeding further we can begin to inhale the smell of fried food. It overpowers us and draws us into Hilda Dunn's Café. Who can ever forget the owner, Hilda Dunn; a jovial, friendly mainstay in both Floresville and Wilson County. A person could drive a short distance and enjoy a lunch or dinner that was to die for. Yes, she was always very friendly, especially to firemen as the grease on her stove frequently required a response from the fire department. Once the call came in that "Hilda's" was on fire, it seemed like every volunteer fireman in Floresville responded; something that NEVER occurs with any volunteer fire department today. This establishment was not only a Café but also the Greyhound Bus terminal, but that's another story. Many a traveler would consume a quick cup of coffee before or after their trip to San Antonio before they headed home.
 
Let's not forget the "ICE HOUSE" in the Floresville Electric Light and Power building where "Pete" would befriend you with his smile and attention and the journey "into the cold" would begin. Once the heavy door would open, the adventure ensued. The alluring smell of the old damp wood that housed all those ever so clear, glistening blocks of ice began to overtake one's senses and made you think you were at the north pole for a short moment. Today this would never happen – taking someone to pick out a block of ice and walking with your shoes on. Now, once you exited, the health department would shut this establishment down for good. It was good to be able to reminisce for a moment though. Once a block was picked out, Pete would carry the block out, escorting us from the "land of the cold" back to reality where the block could be crushed if we so desired. I can still smell the damp wood and hope I never forget it! 
 
And, so ends the journey. I know I have missed the sights and sounds of some businesses, but these were the ones that stood out in my mind. A time missed, but never forgotten.
 
(NOTE: Barry Koch is a Senior Nature and Wildlife Writer interested in preserving both. He grew up in South Texas and has since married and brought his family to East Texas. His occasional columns appear in the Wilson County News.)
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Great Trees of Texas: The oak at Calaveras

Wilson County News | 2012
By Elaine H. Kolodziej 
 
Lupe Diaz, owner of Aurelia's Kitchen in Calaveras, said she doesn't know much about this old tree, but a few calls to members of several Tackitt families revealed a little history.
 
The tree is old, as the mighty trunk shows, but no one could say how old. Nan F. Tackitt recalls that "way back there," the business was known as Tackitt's Grocery Store, and they also sold gasoline.
 
Tackitt's Grocery was first opened by Joe "Papa" Tackitt and then run "for probably 30 years" by Tommy and Alta Tackitt. Back then, the family lived in back of the store. In later years, other members of the Tackitt family also ran the business.
 
The stately old tree was always a landmark for the area. It was witness to many a lively conversation and probably a lot of local politics as patrons and neighbors gathered under its generous shade.
 
The Calaveras community is located on C.R. 128 (Old-timers know it as the Old Corpus Christi Road) near F.M. 775.
 
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COURTESY/ Wilson County News  2012

School actively participated in war collection effort

Wilson County News | July 30, 2014
By Rudy Elizondo
 
In past articles, I have written of many activities that our (Floresville School District) school participated in to help in the war effort during World War II. We collected newspaper, iron, and aluminum. We sang in school band concerts to collect money for the war effort.
 
Price of admission was purchase of war bonds or war stamps. Students were asked to purchase one war stamp per week. Our high school bused us to surrounding farms to help harvest crops since able-bodied men were in the service. Our Boy Scout troop assisted in the display of a miniature Japanese submarine captured in Hawaii. We also planted and tended a victory garden next to our Scoutmaster's home a few blocks from school.
 
We learned the songs of all the services: the songs of the U.S. Army (the U.S. Army Air Corps was part of the Army; Congress had not created the U.S. Air Force yet), the U.S. Marine Corps, the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Navy ("Anchors Aweigh"), and also our national anthem and our state song, "Texas, Our Texas." No, it wasn't "The Eyes of Texas." We even learned the song, "There'll Always Be an England."
 
We once attended an assembly in the high school auditorium where a visiting Royal Air Force pilot told us about England's involvement in the war. On another occasion, we attended an assembly to hear a sailor speak of his experience in a Navy submarine. He spoke of how a sailor had required an emergency appendectomy without the assistance of a doctor and with the use of galley knives. He survived.
 
Three cheers for the Red, White, and Blue.
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COURTESY/ Wilson County News  July 30, 2014

Stockdale Ranch House

Stockdale Ranch House .... Frances Mahala "Fanny"  Jackson Lee. " describes the house in which she grew up.
 
 In about 1866, my father, Ancil Jackson, and his second wife, (Ellender Temperance Wallace Powell),  settled a new place, one and one-half miles north of what is now Stockdale, Texas.
 
They had a two-room house built of pine lumber that was shiped from Florida and hauled in wagons from old Indianola, a distance of more than one hundred miles. Besides this
large front room with a shed room and a south porch, they built about fifty feet away, another two-room house. This was built of post oak lumber. The largest of these rooms fifteen by
twenty feet, was used for both a kitchen and a dining room. The smaller adjoining room was used for a smoke-house. In this was kept a year's supply of meat. About one hundred
feet beyond the kitchen, a third two-room house was built; this house had a south porch and was made of post oak lumber. Father usually kept the large room of this house filled
with un-ginned cotton; during the summer months, and we called it the cotton-house. During the winter months, it was often converted into a bed room for boys, but some times it was occupied by a family. About one hundred yards
from these buildings was a group of corn cribs, in which the corn crops were stored. This plan of building was used by almost all pioneer settlers, to prevent a total loss by fire.
 
To children of today a two-room house may seem very small for a family of eleven children, but in my father's house, there was always room for more. They never turned a traveler away
and they gave a home to more than a score of people during their life at this place.
 
This residence was almost surrounded by trees; on the north and west by live oak trees; on the south, in front of the house were planted three English Mulberry trees. In a few years, these trees shaded the whole front yard. Mother was a great lover of flowers and with the help of the children, she had a very beautiful yard. In addition to the flower beds, she had roses, crepe-myrtles, lilac, salt-cedar, magnolia and many other old fashioned shrubs and trees.
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COURTESY/ The Rising and Setting of the Lone Star Republic by Miss Mattie Jackson
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LOIS WAUSON & ROSE POLASEK

Living off the grid and we didn't even know it

Wilson County News, May 4, 2017
By Lois Zook Wauson, Rainy Days & Starry Nights
 
Water was a gold mine if you had a well with good drinking water on your land when I was growing up.
I grew up in the South Texas Brush Country, in southwest Wilson County Texas where water was scarce, because we did not have a good well on our farm. We had a windmill that pumped brownish, bitter water and when it sat in the tank where the well pumped the water into, and the wind didn't blow for days, the water became still, murky, and covered with a rust-colored slime mixed with the mud on the bottom. That was because the cattle waded into the tank and stirred the mud. We did not even swim in that tank!
 
Maybe in the summer when it was so hot, and we had been working in the fields all day and were covered with dirt and sweat, we took a shower under the pipe going out into the tank, even though it was smelly, yucky, felt even worse, would not lather the Lifebuoy soap we used (or if there was not enough money to buy soap, we used the lye soap Mother made). Those showers were okay because at least it was water and we got clean. Mother and Daddy called it "hard water."
 
The only water we had to drink was the rainwater coming off the roof to the gutters and into a big cistern by the corner of our house. If it didn't rain, the cistern was empty, and Daddy had to haul water in big barrels from a farm a few miles from our farm. They were kind enough to let us get water from their well.
 
We used the water from the two barrels of water for all household things like drinking, cooking, washing dishes, washing clothes, and bathing. We had a dishpan with soapy water and one with clear water for rinsing. We had a washbasin on the back porch which we poured water in to wash our faces.
 
When it was a dry year, we treasured every bit of water we had. We didn't waste water. When the baths were over, we poured the water on the garden and plants. The dishwater was used for the same. But sometimes when Mother and Daddy weren't home we kids just threw it in the backyard! Shame on us! I didn't know what it was to have running water, much less good drinking water on our land. At least the livestock had water, if the wind blew!
 
I have written about how I loved rainy days on the farm, when my daddy would be in such a good mood. In the drought years, he was not ever in a good mood. I never had running water in my house until I was 17 years old and moved to San Antonio after graduation.
 
We didn't waste scraps of food back then either. Those went into a "slop bucket" for the hogs. Nothing was wasted back then. Talk about recycling. We "recycled" everything. We didn't have plastic wrap, paper towels, paper napkins, plastic grocery bags, plastic plates, plastic cups, paper cups, and the only thing we threw away was the newspaper and sometimes we used that for toilet paper, when the pages of the last year's Sears Roebuck Catalog ran out.
 
We were "living off the grid" and we didn't even know it!
That is why I love rainy days, thunderstorms, lakes, rivers, green trees, green grass, and flowers. That is why my brothers always get excited when they see a thunderstorm. Because they grew up where it rained very seldom, and like me, they love rainy days too.
 
Last week I visited with Rose Polasek in Floresville Texas and she showed us the barrel with rainwater she catches when it rains. She uses it to water all her flowers and plants. Why don't more people do that? I used to, but now I don't. I need to get me a rain barrel.
 
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  [LOIS WAUSON & ROSE POLASEK IN PHOTO]

Cooking on the farm

By Lois Wauson , "Rainy Days and Starry Nights"
Wilson County News | October 25, 2012
 
Cooking was very simple on the farm. We had cornbread and milk at night for supper. Daddy took our corn to get it ground into cornmeal. Mother also used the cornmeal to make mush 
our corn to get it ground into cornmeal. Mother also used the cornmeal to make mush for breakfast in hard times. I really didn't like it that much, but when you are hungry it tastes very good!
 
During the summers, we had lots of fresh vegetables. We had fresh green beans, with bits of bacon, boiled until tender. We kids had to snap the beans first. We always had lots of white summer squash. Mother made fried okra, dredged in cornmeal. She made okra gumbo, using fresh tomatoes and onions. But when she would boil the okra, which is the way Daddy liked it, we kids would have to choke it down. We hated that stuff. We ate spinach, carrots, fresh sweet peas, black-eyed peas, and pinto beans. They made us eat turnips and turnip greens, collard greens, and something called Swisschard. I hated to eat that stuff. When I grew up I loved it. Mother canned all those vegetables so that in the winter we would have vegetables. She canned tomatoes, and even made homemade catsup. We grew our own potatoes too, and after harvesting them, we kept them in a cool, dark place.
 
One of the favorite things we had to eat was macaroni and tomato sauce. That was it, plain and simple — boiled in water until tender, with only salt and pepper, adding tomatoes or tomato sauce ... usually homemade. I still like it, and so do some of my kids and grandchildren. When I want some kind of comfort food, that's what I fix.
 
Homemade noodles were one of my favorites. And I really mean homemade egg noodles! Mother didn't make them often, as it took awhile, but when she did, I was in heaven.
 
But then there was corn, which all the kids liked, either corn on the cob, or scraped from the cob, and cooked with butter and a little cream or milk. I think all kids like corn.
 
Mother made the best tomato preserves, and we would go through quart jars of that wonderful stuff, spreading it on fresh hot biscuits and fresh churned butter. I still love tomato preserves and Margaret and I try to make some every summer. My son Trent learned to make them also. He once won a blue ribbon at a county fair with his tomato preserves. Did you know tomato preserves is a delicacy? Try to find some at the grocery store. She made great peach preserves from the peaches off our tree. Another delicacy was Agarita berry jelly. Those were picked wild from the pasture.
 
For breakfast, besides the cornmeal mush, we ate oatmeal. Mother bought the largest box for us, and she would cook a large pan of oatmeal and we devoured it with fresh milk and sugar. Winter was the best time, because sometimes we would have bacon and biscuits to go with it.
 
When Daddy joined the Meat Club in the '40s, we started eating more meat. Every Saturday one of the farmers in the community would butcher a calf and take it to the central location up at Dewees. We would have beef until it ran out by the end of the week. Every week you got different cuts of meat.
 
But, then there was the bread. We had to bake bread every other day. We had to make several loaves of bread and two large pans of rolls. We girls had to make the bread. Margaret and I took turns. But what we really liked was "store-bought white bread" or "light bread." But we had to eat that home-baked bread! The only time we got to eat "light bread" was when we bought it during peanut-harvesting time, to make "lunch" for the peanut-thrashing crew!
 
Even during the Depression of the 1930s and when there was no money, there was always food on the farm. Sometimes Daddy would go hunting and shoot rabbits and we never went hungry. I think those who lived in a town or city had it worse. Especially if they could not have a garden or chickens. Feeding a family of 10 was hard for my parents, but we never went hungry, even if we didn't have pretty clothes or had to live without shoes or a nice house. For that I am so grateful.
 
Lois Zook Wauson is the oldest of eight children who grew up on a farm in Wilson County in the mid-20th century.

ORIGIN & FALL OF THE ALAMO

ORIGIN & FALL OF THE ALAMO...written by John S. Ford 1894.
 
February 23, 1836, the Mexican army, 4,000 strong, formed 
by the Desiderio hill. A Texian sentinel on the church, between Main and Military Plaza, reported a force in view. A man went up. The sentinel said the force had been moved. A spirited altercation ensued. The report of the sentinel caused
excitement. In order to arrive at the truth Col. Travis directed 
Dr. John Sutherland* and Mr. J.W. Smith**, to ride out and see. They proceeded to Desiderio hill, looked below, and saw an army drawn up, not far from them They retreated rapidly . 
Sutherland's horse moved badly. His feet seemed clogged with mud . He turned over, topsy-turvy , fell on Sutherland, crippled him and broke his gun . He laid on Sutherland till Smith alighted, and pulled him off. When they reached the public square the Texians were retiring to the Alamo. On their march they came upon a herd of cattle, twenty-five or thirty in number. These they drove into the Alamo.
 
Dr. Sutherland wrote an account on the fall of the Alamo. It 
is the nearest evidence of one or the noble defenders of the Alamo we have. The wounds he received from the fall of his horse rendered him incapable of bearing arms. He was employed in the effort to procure reinforcements to the garrison of the Alamo. This will be noticed hereafter. According to Dr. Sutherland Gen. Santa Ann a sent a couple of officers, under a white flag. They were met by Maj . Morris and Captain Martin, at a footbridge on the river, about where Commerce street crosses the San Antonio river. The Mexican officers demanded an unconditional surrender, which was refused . As an answer, Col. Travis ordered a cannon to be fired at the part of town occupied by the Mexican troops. 
 
As stated by Sergeant Becerra, Gen. Santa Anna intended to 
cross the river below town, out of reach of the fire of the  Texian artillery. To obtain wood for the construction of a bridge, he directed Gen. Castrillon to proceed with two companies of the Matamoras battalion to the neighborhood of the Alamo, and take wood from the houses. Gen. Castrillon endeavored to obey the order. He reached the designated point and was soon under the fire of the Texians. In a short while Castrillon reported to Santa Anna, saying in substance ; " if you wish any of the two companies of the Battalion to remain alive you had better order them to retire at once. " They were withdrawn. Within a few minutes they had lost thirty men. Gen. Castrillon reported having met two ladies. The result of the annunciation was the performance of a mock marriage ceremony--Gen. Santa Anna as groom , and a beautiful Mexican woman as bride, and a rascally Mexican soldier as priest. 
 
Becerra states: ''Col.Mora was ordered to take position north 
andeast of the Alamo to prevent escape from the fort.'' A small fort was commenced above the Alamo ." This was finished, but was not approved by Gen. Santa Anna. Another fort was constructed by Gen. Amador nearest the Alamo, on the hill to the northeast. The firing from the Alamo was kept up with spirit. 
 
The intention of Gen. Santa Anna was to take the Alamo by 
escalade. He brought 4,000 troops to Texas. He awaited the 
arrival or Gen. Tolsa, in command of 2,000 troops. He arrived 
on the third day of March. The exultations and shouts of the 
Mexicans on that day induced Dr. Sutherland to believe that 
Santa Anna came on that date. 
 
Here is the Doctor's estimate of the Texian force will be given: 
" The strength of the Texians at Bexar now consisted of one hundred and fifty -two men. Eighty of these were a part of the  original garrison, who had not caught the Matamoras fever; 
twenty- five had returned with Col. Bowie from Goliad. Col. 
Travis had brought with him abou twenty; Col. Crockett 
twelve; Capt. Patten eleven. These detachments, with their 
respective commanders, make the number. A few clays after their concentration, some twenty Mexicans of the city joined them, increasing the number to one hundred and seventy-two." 
 
Counting the commanders of these bodies and the 
Mexicans increases the number to 192 . The ideas suggest
itself to any sensible man would be what did Gen. Santa  Anna wait for Gen. Tolsa for? He had 4,000 men. Was he doubtful 
of attacking less than 200 men? An expressve cornpliment to 
the bravery of the soldiers of Texas. Texas had not paid them. They had not been supplied with medicine , until Dr. Sutherland had been appointed Surgeon. They had nothing to eat but beef and corn bread . These supplies were obtained by accident, as has been seen. There was a spirit in these men that at no earthly power could conquer. Death could visit the body. The heroic resolution passed hence with the soul to another world, unchanged and unchangeable. The love of liberty, the determination to maintain it, is a gift from God. In the garrison of the Alamo it ruled.
 
*Dr. John Sutherland is the founder of Sutherland Springs Texas.
** J.W. (Deaf) Smith
COURTESY /Texas A&M University

Letter from Wilson County in 1873

Letter from Wilson County in 1873 .... compiled by Alfred Menn back in 1873, one "Saxet" — which is the name Texas in reverse — wrote an interesting letter:
 
"Colonies of Freedmen settled on the Cibolo, Several years ago and numbers of them purchased a considerable tract of land from Doctor Houston, went to work and put it in cultivation. From what I understand, they have paid the last dollar of the purchase money. They are now the landlords of good farms and comfortable houses to live in. Some of them have gardens, flowers and orchards."
 
"The merchants in Wilson County in 1873, do a good business, mostly for cash. We have three small towns in the county: Floresville, Sutherland Springs and LaVernia. We have no railroad running through our section."
 
"The wine presses of the Houston brothers were able to produce some 1,200 gallons of wine last season. This wine commands a ready sale at $3 per gallon."
 
"We have both black and white sulphur springs at Sutherland Springs."
 
"My orchard has furnished me this year with peaches, plums, grapes and figs in the greatest abundance."
 
"The corn crop I noticed on Hugh Wiseman's place, near LaVernia, would almost hide a person on horseback. Saxet."
 
Wilson County in 1876: The editor of The Frontiersman visited in Floresville in 1876, 80 years ago. He had this to say:
 
"First passing through the assemblage of Mexican habitations known as Lodi, the traveler takes his choice as to which of the two villages is the superb of the other, they being located only a short distance from each other."
 
"Floresville, in 1876, is a young town of board structures, unfenced and incomplete. There are two or three hotels, two or three stores, and a number of temporary-looking houses. There is also a town well."
 
"The blessed Sunday law is in operation in Floresville, and no hungry and weary traveler has a chance to buy refreshments for himself, or feed for his horse, between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m."
 
"Wilson County had been drenched by frequent heavy rains, and the local farmers were sure that Wilson would be one of the banner counties in this section. Heavy rains!"
 
The following is reported just as we found it (1876): Sutherland Springs is getting to be quite a village in 1876. The town was laid out in 1854, by the late Dr. Sutherland, sometime before the County of Wilson was organized. At one time the place was the county seat of Wilson County, until Floresville became the county seat in later years.
 
D. and A. Oppenheimer, of San Antonio, own a fine mill here, consisting of cotton gin, sawmill and gristmill.
 
There are many excellent orchards here.
 
Landowners have cut up over 20,000 acres of good land into small tracts, within six miles of Sutherland Springs, and put it on the market at from $2 to $3 per acre.
 
On crossing the Cibolo, on whose banks the town is built, one can smell the immense Sulphur Spring, ten feet in diameter, boiling up with gas, like a large cauldron; and, to add to his surprise, he finds, on jumping into this tempting bath, that the human body floats around, and is tossed about like a cork. He is astonished to find that to sink beneath the water is impossible.
 
To the left of the road, and about opposite, at a distance of some one hundred yards, is the beautiful White Sulphur Springs, ten feet in diameter, four feet deep, and discharging two or three hundred gallons of water per minute, as clear as crystal and as cold as ice!
 
Leaving these mammoth springs and driving into a dense forest over a level road, in about one mile and a half you come to the Famous Sour Spring.
 
Floresville, in 1876, had a commodious courthouse. The jail alone is said to have cost $6,000. The following were then being built in Floresville: A two-story tavern a lumberyard, three stores, gin house, a blacksmith shop and a steam mill.
 
Back in 1876 the tournament at Sutherland Springs was a popular affair. A large crowd had attended. A fine barbecue was enjoyed under the live oaks, after which 14 gaily-dressed knights, on prancing steeds, with banners flying, and music playing, appeared on the grounds. They formed in line and naturally went for the rings.
 
The first tilt was opened by Mr. Martin, Knight of the Second Sergeants, and was followed in quick succession by the other knights in the following order: Dr. Williamson, Knight of the Mutilated Heart; James Wyatt, Knight of the Sable Plume; Frank Yelvington, Knight of Mexico; Martin Covington, Knight of the Red, White and Blue; Will Hammond, Knight of the Wax Rosette; Will Warren, Knight of the Centennial; Emerson Warren, Knight of the Lone Star; Pat Craighead, Knight of the Golden Fleece; Charles Stevenson, Knight of the Cibolo; Will Loomis, Knight of the Lost Chance; T. Veery, Knight of the Spring; and Orin Stevenson, Knight of Love.
 
After an hour one of the closest contests ever witnessed in a tournament, the herald announced that the Knight of the Centennial, and the Knight of the Second Sergeants had tied at eleven rights each, for the honor of crowning the queen; the Knight of the Red, White and Blue won third honors.
 
In a few minutes after the result of the tournament was announced the crowd greeted with cheers the appearance of the beautiful Miss B- (no name given) on the platform erected for this purpose, followed her maids of honor. The sir knights on foot promptly formed a guard around the throne, when each lady in succession was crowned with appropriate ceremony.
 
During the late 1870s, the two potteries at La Vernia supplied not only all of this section of Texas, but, they also shipped a good deal of the material east of the Colorado River. And barbed-wire was being introduced to uneasy Texans. It wasn't until a few years later that serious troubles started between the large and small cattlemen in Wilson County.
 
Wilson County as described in 1876, eight years ago: Wilson County, in 1876, contains something over 900 square miles of territory, and have a population of about 5,000 persons. Wilson County has a voting strength of about 1,000.  The county seat is Floresville. The town in 1876 is improving. Floresville now has a population of about 500 persons, of whom more than one-half are Mexicans. Improved lands, in 1876, can be bought from one to three dollars per acre. In this section, in 1876, can be seen in operation, the system of large pastures, which is rapidly gaining ground as the cheapest way of raising stock among the stock-raisers.
 
Thomas Dewees has enclosed about 25,000 acres; John Camp, about 10,000 acres; Rosser, Mitchell and Presnall, about 40,000 acres; and J. Ellis, about 6,000 acres of the richest prairie land, covered with mesquite grass that furnishes food summer and winter for their stock.
 
Oats and wheat have been grown with much success.  Their acreage, in 1876, is double what it was last year. Millet, sugar-cane, peas, potatoes, Irish and sweet potatoes, melons, and pumpkins all grow and produce well.
 
A large number of persons were seeking health at the famous Sutherland Springs. Quite a number of persons had come from Galveston. Colonel Robert Houston, who lived near the springs, was then known as one of the greatest fruit-raisers in this section of Texas. He cultivated every imaginable kind of fruit.
 
We wonder how many people down here ever heard of Bill Longley. He was then one of Texas worst desperadoes. He was a cold-blooded killer. He once came into this section of Texas, but he left when life became too tame. He wasn't happy unless he was triggering his pistol
 
[This article by Alfred Menn was found in the Wilson County Texas Historical Commission Archives. Submitted by Gene Maeckel.]
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COURTESY / Wilson County News
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A washboard becomes part of history

A washboard becomes part of history..... with Sacred Heart School in Floresville Wilson County Texas.

By Julia Castro, Apple Pie and Salsa
Wilson County News, 2014
 
Summer vacation is over, and the children have returned to school. A lot of mothers posted photos of their kids dressed for their first day of school. Among them were several of my great-grandkids. I still have a few grandkids in school, but only the youngest one, Joshua, made it on Facebook.
 
The beginning of school always brings back memories of our kids. I especially remember the year that we had six of them at Sacred Heart School, two girls and four boys. Uniforms had been the dress code for a while. The boys wore blue jeans and red crew-neck T-shirts with a patch on the left sleeve that said SHS. Years later they switched to white shirts. Yeah! Al least we could bleach them. Frank got to wear the white shirts. Girls wore red pleated skirts and white blouses, and a little red tie. If the girls should happen to forget their tie, they had to cut one out of red construction paper. The sisters were very strict.
 
The mother would sew the skirts and ties. There was no going to the uniform store. Patterns were passed around and shared. I liked the idea of the uniforms because I didn't have to buy as many outfits, since they all looked the same. Anyway, I had to do laundry just about every day. In my girls' time they would wear shorts under their skirts. These days shorts are allowed for both girls and boys in warm weather.
 
That year that I started writing about, getting the T-shirts and blouses ready with the patches was quite a chore. With six kids at three patches apiece, it was time-consuming. I did them by hand because sometimes I would recycle them. They were colorfast and did not fade with repeated washings. It was a lot harder ripping them off when sewed on a machine. So for a week or so before school started, I did a few at a time until they were all done.
 
Something else I remember is scrubbing white socks on a little washboard. If I just threw them in the washing machine they would come out looking dingy. I wanted them clean, as if I had time to spare! I didn't have trouble with the girls' socks, but the boys, well that was another story. They had grass stains, the hardest stains to get out. I think I quit doing that once they got to high school, one every year. When they were smaller, I used to wonder how it would be when or even if they would all be in high school at the same time. By the grace of God they did all make it and they all graduated, one every year, some under very trying circumstances.
 
One incident I recall is going to meet with the school superintendent about the strict law on boys' hair length. Those were the years when boys started the trend of letting their hair grow. Henry and I didn't really approve of the boys' hairstyle, but everybody's son was doing the same thing. The school board had decided that the hair could not touch the shirt collar. Well, that didn't leave much room for longer hair. I brought it to the attention of the school official that his hair was touching the collar, although his hair was short. He was wearing a dress shirt and tie. Apparently the rule didn't apply to him. Besides, it wasn't his fault. He had a very short neck. I realize now that I should not have disrespected him that way. Looking back, I distinctly remember that we had the meeting in front of "The Spot." Why? I think it was because the boys, ours and others, could not set foot on school grounds until they complied with the rules. So I took our two boys home, trimmed their hair enough to comply with the rules, and took them back to school. Needless to say, once they were out of high school, they let their hair grow much longer.
 
And the washboard? Well, I still have it. It's standing up on a stand next to the washing machine along with an antique iron and my old-fashioned bonnets. Just to remind myself of how life used to be.
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COURTESY/ Wilson County News 2014

Helena

HELENA, May 15, 1882, San Antonio Express — On leaving Fairview Wilson County Texas Sunday evening, I ran down to Graytown, called on my old friend Newton Young. I found him in his garden, hard at work. Right here let me say, give Mr. N. Young two years more experience, and old Bexar will have no better farmer. This is another of Mr. Greeley's predictions: note result. Young was stacking his oats, which was fine straw, rank, coarse and fine body, but he says they are not as heavy as they should be, because they were not sown quite early enough.
 
Oats should be sown in October or by the first of November. His oats should thrash out some fifty or sixty bushels to the acre, his onions were from sets, planted in January, they should have been planted the 1 of October. Newton showed me his watermelon vines; look promising. Said he had killed out two rows, following my advice to kill off the insects, used carbolic acid, little too strong. Instructions were ninety parts of water to ten parts of carbolic acid.
 
Planted the 1st of October. Newton showed me his watermelon vines; look promising. Said he had killed out two rows, following my advice to kill off the insects, used carbolic acid, little too strong. Instructions were ninety parts of water to ten parts of carbolic acid.
 
Mr. Young has plowed his corn over four times; he will plow again to kill out the cockle burrs, as his field was grown up in cockle burrs. I told him not to bed his corn but cultivate until level. Old Graytown will bloom again. It is entirely settled by Mexicans, perhaps 100 Mexicans. Young enjoys their confidence, he can control all the labor he wishes, and at reasonable rates. His example and advice is worth much to these Mexicans. I told young he had done wrong in sowing down his peach orchard in oats; potatoes is better. As much as I love to look at the growing crops of the farm, I never forget to notice the ladies. I must say for Mrs. Young that her milk, honey, buiscuit, coffee and yellow legged chickens, left a favorable impression with me as a housekeeper.
 
Monday morning I drove down the San Antonio river to Floresville. The prospect for a corn crop was as fine as I ever noticed in Texas. It is fifteen miles from Graytown to Floresville.
 
I called on Mr. Stout, who runs a mill and gin in Lodi (steam.) I was pleased with him, an acquisition to the country.
 
At Floresville, I called on Mr. Pickett and the Polly family. We talked Johnson grass and grapes. Old Col. A.G. Pickett asked me if I ever saw grapes growing beyond the fifth leaf on the stem from the mail vine. I told him I had not noticed. I commenced counting and added another wrinkle we live to learn until our long slumber blots out all.
 
Wilson County is a fine county, fine mail facilities, and not properly appreciated. Tuesday morning I started for Mr. C.A. Whetstone's farm. I believe next season will find more small grain sown than ever before. Here I saw a fine patch of Nicaragua wheat, from four to five feet high and large bearded heads from five to seven inches in length, wet tilled, without rust and will thrash out thirty bushels to the acre. I told Whetstone to sell this only for seed to his neighbors; he said he would sell for a dollar per bushel, and sell a 1000 bushels of oats, rust proof for thirty-five cents per bushel. I told him he could get from forty to fifty cents, he said he could make money by selling oats at thirty-three cents per bushel. Mr. Whetstone has some forty-five acres in oats looking well. His orchard had like all the balance I have seen, no fruit. Mr. C.A. Whetstone is considered the best farmer in Karnes county, and his section of the country (near Panna Maria.)I have named the Egypt of the west. Mrs. Schultz tells me her people sold more than 10,000 bushels of corn that was raised last year.
 
The stock interest brings the money and my people feed them. I tell you this Texas is a great country, and I have never seen her more prosperous. Whetstone killed twenty-five head of fine Poland China hogs. (they are fat large) and saved all with the bones in it. Whetstone planted a little late this year; he said if he planted earlier would have done better His Tennessee corn is small. Tobin, hotel man, says he had roasting ears for dinner yesterday, from native corn planted in February; corn at $1 per bushel, will be seventy-five or fifty cents.
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COURTESY/ Lost Texas Roads    Every person and place deserves their own history, and "Lost Texas Roads" chronicles a history that you can touch, history that exists around you ... it is your history.

Wilson County Courthouse records of 1874 

 ..... These records were taken from Wilson County records of 1874. Floresville was named for the Flores family. The county was named for J.C. Wilson. The first mail route was made in 1886.
 
Located on a straight line to the northeast corner of Atascosa County line, thence south 39 degrees east with Atascosa line to the north west corner of Karnes County, then same course continued four and three twenty-eighths miles along Karnes County line, then north 51 degrees east to south west boundary line to south east boundary line of Guadalupe County then south with line to Cibolo then up Cibolo with its meanderings to the place of beginning.
 
An act to create the County of Wilson was passed by the Legislature of the State of Texas. Dr. G.J. Houston appointed to organize said county and to elect county officers. County seat to be at Sutherland Springs until a permanent county seat could be provided. Not exceeding 320 acres for said courthouse February 13, 1860. Had one chief justice, four county commissioners, one sheriff, one county clerk, one assessor, one collector, one county treasurer.
 
This article was found in the files of Olga Fitzgerald Blakeney. It was submitted to Wilson County Historical Society by Shirley Grammer for Historic Moments in Wilson County, Texas.
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COURTESY/ Wilson County News  written by Walter Allen Bump November 2015

Recalling the times and people with polio

Wilson County News, 2016
By Julia Castro
"Apple Pie and Salsa"


Believe we all remember standing in line with our siblings & cousins at the health center as we were pierced in the arm with those long metal needles. Read Julia's memory of polio .......
 
I have a tin can in which I save small articles. Looking for something to write about, I came upon this clipping from the "Remember When" column. It reads, "An Oral Polio Vaccination Program will be held on Sunday, Aug. 14 (1966) for citizens of Wilson County."
 
I remember taking some of our children to get the vaccine at what was then named the Professional Building. I want to say that I remember taking the older ones to get the injectable vaccine a few years before. Those were a series of three. I had been wanting to write about that scary period in the lives of couples with young children. I had approached someone who had polio as a child, hoping he would share his story. But he declined, saying he would just as soon forget it. I can't say that I blame him; it must have been a very traumatic experience.
 
I was 12 years old when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt passed away in 1945, just a couple of months before the end of World War II. It was on the radio, in newspapers, and on the newsreels at the Arcadia Theatre. The media all said that he had contracted polio at age 39. The newsreels showed him in a wheelchair. There is some controversy on that now (I Googled the info) because polio, short for poliomyelitis, struck young children. Another word for the disease is infantile paralysis. They believe he had another disease with similar symptoms.
 
I was in the seventh grade when the teachers gathered us in the large room which served as the study hall and library of the grammar school. We were going to listen to this boy who had polio. His name was A.C. Donaho. Most of us didn't know him because he went to school in Sutherland Springs. They told us that he was in an iron lung, a machine that helped him breathe. I guess they took him out of it for a while. It was close to Christmas and he sang, "I'll Be Home for Christmas." We could hear him struggling to get the words out, but he managed to finish the song. We all clapped for him. (Alan Clem Donaho 16 yrs. old in photos).
 
I got to meet A.C. when he joined our class in our junior year at Floresville High School. He was in a wheelchair. He never regained full use of his legs, but he never let his disability get him down. He always had a smile for everyone. He graduated with honors in 1951 and went on to do great things. I would read of his accomplishments in the Floresville Chronicle-Journal from time to time. He passed away in 1977 due to complications of his almost lifelong disease, according to his brother, Scott.
 
Something else that prompted me to write this story was that they announced on TV that Oct. 24 was World Polio Day. According to Wikipedia, polio has been eradicated 99 percent worldwide except in some underdeveloped countries, thanks to Dr. Jonas Salk and Dr. Albert Sabin, who developed the vaccines.
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COURTESY/Wilson County News 2016 ...

An account of Sutherland Springs in 1877

Mrs. Fannie A. D. Darden writes to the Citizen an account of Sutherland Springs. The town which bears the name of Sutherland Springs is very prettily situated on a hilly promontory, projecting into the valley of the Cibolo (or Sewilla, as it is pronounced), and from which elevation you can see the surrounding country for quite a number of miles on the north, east and west, with the river in the midst.
 
The sulphur springs lie in a peninsula formed by a sudden bend in the river. The white and black sulphur are the principal springs, and burst from the ground with such force and strength as to render the water perfectly buoyant, and we have fully realized the fact of which we had been told, that it is impossible to sink in it, or rather to remain sunk, for upon going down into it you are immediately thrown to the surface by the force from beneath. The water of the white sulphur is perfectly limpid, so that you can see the grains of sand at the bottom, and is strongly impregnated with sulphur. The black is of a darker color, (an almost blackish hue) much stronger and much deeper, and is reserved entirely for gentlemen.

It is said there is an opening in the bottom of this spring which has never been fathomed because it is impossible to sink anything in it deep enough to sound its depth. Each of these springs pour out a volume of water, estimated at about five-hundred gallons a minute. The sulphur water leaves a glow after bathing similar to a mustard bath, and is so penetrating that it seems impossible for rheumatic or neuralgic sufferers not to be benefited.
It is said that in the space of about two miles there are at least fifty springs, many of them containing different properties, conspicuous among which are the black and white sulphur, chalybeate, seltzer, magnesia, alum, sour, and a number of others. The sulphur, chalybeate and sour being not important.

There is very strong water for those needing it. These waters are considered an almost certain cure for dyspepsia and there can be no doubt of their powers, as their good effects are being constantly witnessed upon invalids who report to it.

This article, called "Wilson County," was published in the Galveston Daily News, Tuesday, September 4, 1877. It was submitted by Shirley Grammer for Historic Moments in Wilson County, Texas.
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COURTESY/ Wilson County News

FLORESVILLE, November 7, 1895

Recent rains have put farming lands in good condition for the plow and our best farmers are taking time by the clock and turning over the sod.
 
Tullos and Houston, who were recently burned out at Fairview, will rebuild in a short time and resume business.
 
The mail formerly carried between this place and Sutherland Springs now only goes as far as Marcelina. The Sutherland Springs mail going by way of San Antonio, the rail route.
 
The court is in session and the grand jury is investigating among other things the smashing of carriage lamps and other mischief to carriages during the evenings when their owners are at church.
 
Complaint is made of the doings of some hoodlums, whose parents are decent people, but the same cannot possibly be said of their kids, who are training for the penitentiary.
 
County commissioners Court has accepted the bid of M. B. James, as superintendent of the county farm. He receives $35.00 a month in county scrip, furnishes one horse and milk cow and is allowed his own board. Court decided not to issue refunding bonds.
 
The meeting one week ago for the organization of a teacher's institute was a success and a good program has been prepared for the next session of the institute which is held on the second Friday and Saturday of January next.
 
The Stockdale minstrels gave an entertainment on Saturday; and the Sunbeam club of that place gave an entertainment on Sunday night. This catches both saint and sinner!
 
This article was published by the San Antonio Light, Dec. 8, 1895, and was contributed by Shirley Grammer for Historic Moments in Wilson County, Texas.
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COURTESY/ Wilson County News April 2018

Letters from Wilson County

"Letters from Wilson County" .... Article taken from The Galveston Daily, Tuesday, Sept. 2, 1873, page 1.
COURTESY / Wilson County News  Article submitted by Shirley Grammer for Historic Moments in Wilson County.
 
The San Antonio River is settled mostly by Mexicans. Along the valley of the Cibolo which bounds the county, the most of its extent on the east, is the wealthiest portion of the county; in fact, it is almost a continuous farm. These Cibolo farmers, as a class, will compare favorably with the best in the state, if being out of debt, lands in a high state of cultivation, fences in good repair, comfortable and commodious dwellings are any indications to sustain the comparison. It is but justice to say a word here in relation to the colonies, as they are called, of freedmen settled on the Cibolo.
 
Several years ago numbers of them purchased a considerable tract of land from Dr. Houston, went to work and put it in cultivation, and, as I understand, have from the proceeds of their crops paid the last dollar of their purchase money, and are now the lords and masters of good farms with comfortable houses to live in, and surrounded with many conveniences, such as orchards, gardens, flowers, etc. A severe commentary upon many who have been more favored, yet for generations back have never owned a home of their own.
 
Commercially we are not much to brag on; but three small towns in the county, Floresville, Sutherland Springs, Lavernia. The merchants, however, do a good business, mostly for cash. As to enterprises we go slow, having no prospective railroad from the Pacific to the Atlantic running through our section; so we let San Antonio and her "slocomotive" sister city of Seguin keep the railroad excitement all to themselves, whilst we keep "the even tenor of our way." Further than a pottery, worked by Mr. Suttles near the town of Lavernia, that makes every description of articles in that line with a finish equal to any imported.
 
The wine presses of the Houston Bros., who put up some 1200 gallons of wine last season that commands a ready sale of $3.00 per gallon, and the steam grist, saw mill and cotton gin of our townsman, J. B. Polley, we are decidedly "slocomotive."
 
Last, but not least, what I consider will be the greatest attraction of the future are the fine mineral springs at this place, within a mile of where I write. Mr. Editor, if I could give you a bath in either a black or white sulphur spring that boils up with such force that it is next to impossible for one person to sink another below the bran pits, then, in a few hundred yards from there, I could give you a drink of ice-cold water; or still further, you could get alum mixed with the iron. Parties who were competent to judge have pronounced upon twenty distinct mineral waters in our mineral springs. Many invalids spend the summer here, and invariably find relief for the particular ill which their flesh may be heir to.
 
We raise here the finest vegetables and fruits. My orchard has furnished me this year with peaches, plums, grapes and figs in the greatest abundance.
 
In politics, we are overwhelmingly Democratic, notwithstanding a few years back, by bayonets and disfranchisement, we were kept under radical rule. As law-abiding and quiet citizens, the fact that not more than a dozen cases have been put upon the criminal docket, and not more than six upon the civil, in our county for the past twelve months, speaks for itself.
 
The corn crop will not be as full as last year, owing to the frosts and grasshoppers in the spring. Still, an abundance will be made for home consumption, and the price per bushel I do not think will rule over sixty cents. The cotton, where well cultivated, is magnificent. The crop I noticed on Mr. Hugh Wiseman's place near Lavernia last week, would almost hide a person on horseback, and promises a yield of more than a bale to the acre. There is but little complaint of worms. Many are trying the Paris green, with what success I have not ascertained. We extend a welcome to all who are in search of homes.

Uncle Garvie Odom

Written by Sharon Sutherland
 
The last child  born to J.D. Odom was my dear and wonderful, Uncle Garvie Odom.  He was born on February 25, 1902 there in Wilson County.  Of all of the children of JD and Ellen, Garvie was likely the most "normal". 
 
He actually got married on February 23, 1923 to Bessie Mildred Cox or "Aunt Bessie" to me.  They lived on a farm near Floresville when I was a child and I remember going down there when we lived in San Antonio to visit.  They had three sons, Joseph Daniel "JD" born in 1923, Kennie W born in 1925, and Donnie Joe born in 1933.
 
The three children were about the same age as my father who was born in 1920 and they likely grew up together.  So how did that happen?
 
My Grandmother Artie was placed in the Southwestern Insane Asylum in about 1827, she had four very young children.  One son, Eddie, was adopted by a man from California, another son, Royal Jr. "Sam" was raised by one of his Sutherland uncles.  The daughter Hazel was raised by Uncle Garvie and Aunt Bess and I am pretty sure that they raised my father as well.  I have never been able to find out what happened to him when his father abandoned the children in about 1930, but based on how close my father was to Uncle Garvie and Aunt Bess, I think they were certainly involved.
 
Uncle Garvie always looked to me just like Andy Devine and has a very similar cheerful personality.  When we would visit them on the farm, Uncle Garvie would take me on his tractor out to the field to pick some of those huge Black Diamond Watermelons to take back home with us to San Antonio.  We always stopped along the way where Uncle Garvie would drop one of those giants on the ground to bust it open and we would scoop out the heart and eat it right there.  No watermelon I have ever eaten since has tasted as wonderful.   
 
When we got back to the house, I can still hear Aunt Bess laughing and fussing.  She would say "Garvie, what on earth have you done to get that child so filthy and sticky?"  Uncle Garvie would just wink at me and say he had no idea how I got so dirty, we were just picking watermelons.  It was always our little secret.
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(Courtesy of Sharon Sutherland, writer of the "Sutherland Family History" blog)
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A STEP BACK IN TIME

... Jimmy Loer Sr. messages, "Thought you might like these pics of a big moss oak tree. It's on private property in the Sutherland Springs vicinity." He added that the next time he goes out there,  he'll capture a pic of a giant oak tree that is said to be over 500 years old.  Santa Anna and his army could have easily camped under those majestic trees with that beautiful free flowing spanish moss. (THIS scenery is so how New Town Sutherland Springs was when in my child/youthhood I roamed those dirt roads and collected moss for playing.) Thank you Jimmy.
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The Day of the Pig

Wilson County News
By Julia Castro


There were two very important events around this time of the year that happened at Grandpa Castro's home at the **Blake farm when our kids were small.
 
One was Thanksgiving. Henry says that when he was a young boy, Grandpa raised turkeys. There was a big enclosure made of wire with a high fence all around and also on the top, so the turkeys couldn't fly out. They would tie a bell around the neck of one of the turkey hens. She was the leader when they were let out of the pen. But someone still had to be with them and guide them. It was either Henry or Reynaldo. Grandpa would set aside two young turkeys in September to be cornfed and get them ready for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Henry remembers that they made a special trough just for them.
 
As the years went by and Cristobal and Carlos went off to war, Grandpa started phasing out the turkeys and eventually did away with them after that. For those special days, he would buy young turkeys from another farmer and finish raising them. When the family started getting bigger in numbers, the Thanksgiving turkey had to be at or close to 40 pounds. Henry and I and the kids, the first six, had Thanksgiving out there from 1955 to 1961. By then, Grandpa had gotten a television set, and the kids would sit on the floor watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade while waiting for lunch.
 
Grandpa would invite not only his sons and their families, but also any of the grown grandkids and their families that wanted to go.
 
Mila was in charge of the turkey and dressing, and Ramona, Buddy's wife, helped her since they lived "next door" to them. Of course, they made other dishes and desserts. The rest of us women made other side dishes and desserts to take out there, too.
 
The men would eat first. The table was cleared and then the children would eat. In between shifts, the dishes would get washed because there were no disposable dishes at Mila's house. Not even a sink. We would wash the dishes in one pan and rinse them in another one and dry them right away. At last we women would sit down to eat. We took our sweet time — talking, laughing, and just enjoying each other's company. Then we all pitched in and helped clean the kitchen and put away leftovers. Later we would go for a walk to work off some of the calories we had consumed. Some of the kids would join us. Sometimes Buddy would hook up his trailer to the tractor and take us for a ride. We had to go in shifts. Those were memorable times for us. For the kids it was never a good time to come home. They always wanted to stay longer.
 
I guess you may be thinking that the other event was Christmas. Not so. Christmas was spent at home because of the kids and the opening of gifts on Christmas morning.
 
The other event was butchering a hog. Grandpa again would invite all the family. The idea was to get all the help he could get. Henry would leave early in the morning on that eventful day. There is no phrase in Spanish to describe that day so I will call it "the day of the pig." Henry would go and help Buddy get everything ready. They would build a fire to boil water in the big black kettle (la hoya). They needed it to clean the pig after it was put to sleep. First they would drain the blood. Mila would use it later for making the morcia. They needed to work fast to scrape the bristles from the pig. They had to keep pouring hot water over it. That's where they needed more help because their arms would get tired. Another team of two or three would take over. The pig would be hanging from a hoist and weigh between 450 and 500 pounds. It would usually take about two hours to clean. The head and feet they would just partially clean. They would be cut off and left for Mila and Ramona to finish cleaning. The head would be used for tamales for Christmas and the feet would eventually go in menudo.
 
The men had big tables set up outside where they would cut up the meat. Henry would come pick me and the kids up as soon as he had a chance so I could go help with the cooking. There were other women from the family there by then. Mila would tell the men that she wanted the ribs first. These would go in the oven. Then we would cut up small chunks of meat to make with a chili gravy. There would be plenty of mashed beans and mashed potatoes and baked sweet potatoes.
 
The men would be working on cutting up the rest of the meat into different cuts. And, of course, cutting up the skin with the fat for the chicharrones. After the men ate they would start cooking the chicharrones in the hoya. It would take most of the afternoon. They didn't mind because by then they were relaxing and sipping their beer.
 
Still later in the afternoon Mila would go about making the morcia. She had taken the pig's stomach and washed it thoroughly. Then she chopped up the kidneys, liver, and heart. These would go into the stomach along with the garlic and cumin that someone would grind up in the molcajete. She would add salt and pepper and mix this with blood and pour it into the the stomach while someone held it. Then she would take a special big needle and string and proceed to sew up the opening. Then it would go into a pot of water and boil slowly. She knew how long to cook it. Mila always saved a piece for Henry, but after it cooled. I never acquired a taste for it like Henry. Of course, he grew up on it.
 
We would anxiously wait for the chicharrones to finish cooking. Of course, they were very hot when they pulled them out. We would all get a taste when they cooled enough, but you can't eat too many like that. They are delicious but very rich. Each family would go home with a small bag of chicharrones and a chunk of pork meat. And the fat from the chicharrones was stored in big cans after it cooled and was used year-round by Mila and Ramona for all their cooking.
 
After Grandpa, Mila, Buddy, and Ramona and their family moved to town, they continued the tradition, since they lived on Goliad Road and not in the city limits then. It continued even after Grandpa passed away. Our boys grew up and got involved, some more than others. Sometimes it was just hanging out with the others and watching and learning.
 
One year after Larry bought the mobile home park on the corner of 181 and Sutherland Springs Road, a bunch of the Castro cousins got together at the far end of the park and they slaughtered a hog and did everything like they had learned.
 
There hasn't been a "day of the pig" in quite some years. I hate to think that the family tradition has been lost. The younger generation should experience it.
 
*Julia Castro, a retired Head Start teacher and mother of 10, lives in Floresville Texas. She wrote a column for WCN titled "Apple Pie and Salsa".
 
**  Dr.  John  V. Blake Sr. owned the Blake Farm. It now belongs to a member of the Rhew family. It adjoins the  Rhew orchards.
 
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COURTESY / Wilson County News
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House dances in the 'olden days'

Lois Wauson wrote the following story in her "Rainy Days and Starry Nights" newspaper column.
 
 There were lots of house dances in Wilson County in the "olden days." Back when life was simple, people made their own recreation. They worked all week, usually from daylight to dark, ate supper, and were so tired they went to bed. Then got up in the morning and did the same thing over again. It was called "making a living." They appreciated the weekends when they had time to rest or have fun. Sometimes they had to work on Saturday too, but Saturday night was time to kick up their heels and dance and socialize with neighbors and have a good time.
 
I have written about dance halls in Wilson County and how many a courtship was started at a dance in Three Oaks (my mother and daddy for one), or Poth Hermann Sons Hall, or Sokol Hall and other places. I have interviewed many a person who told me they met their spouse at a dance!
 
People didn't get "baby sitters" in those days. The whole family went to dances, including the babies. They laid them on a pallet under a bench and danced the night away. The older children hung out by the musicians or the girls danced with their daddies or with each other, then when the kids all got tired of that, they played hide and seek in the dark outside.
 
But some of the favorite dances were house dances. I have written about those too. Where the family would clear out one room of furniture and that would be the dance hall.
 
Has anyone seen the movie, "Places in the Heart" with Sally Field? There were several house dances in that movie. Sometimes the dance was so crowded they danced on the front porch. With the windows open you could hear the music outside.
 
There were several family bands around Wilson County in the '30s and '40s. Mike Richards wrote me about his great-uncles, Louis, Oscar, and Robert Stobb — "The Stobb Family Band." He sent me two pictures. This is what he said in the letter:
 
"The first picture is of the "Stobb Family Band." In the front left to right is my Great Aunt Lucy (Vincik) and Great-Grandmother Annie Wenzel Stobb. In the back are my Great-Uncles Louis (who has told me he didn't play guitar), Oscar on banjo, and Robert on guitar. The second picture I can't be too sure of. It could be a house dance or a school. I am fairly certain that the two musicians on the right are Great Uncles Robert Stobb on guitar and Oscar Stobb on banjo."
 
Note: First picture shows Oscar Stobb in a uniform. He must have been home on leave from the service. It appears the picture may have been taken during the war years.
 
The second picture seems to be of a school, because I see school desks on the dance platform and a blackboard in the back. Note the boys sitting on the desks watching the boys in the band, and the two women dancing with each other. When there was a shortage of men to dance with, women would dance with each other. I think the two boys sitting by the band may be Robert Traeger and Paul Traeger. The school could have been Three Oaks, Dewees, or Kasper School ... or any one of the country schools in Wilson County in the 1940s.
 
(Lois Zook Wauson is the oldest of eight children who grew up on a farm in Wilson County in the mid-20th century. )
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COURTESY / Wilson County News 2015

Letters from Wilson County in 1873

Letters from Wilson County in 1873 ..... compiled by Alfred Menn. 
 
Back in 1876 the tournament at Sutherland Springs was a popular affair. A large crowd had attended. A fine barbecue was enjoyed under the live oaks, after which 14 gaily-dressed knights, on prancing steeds, with banners flying, and music playing, appeared on the grounds. They formed in line and naturally went for the rings.
 
The first tilt was opened by Mr. Martin, Knight of the Second Sergeants, and was followed in quick succession by the other knights in the following order: Dr. Williamson, Knight of the Mutilated Heart; James Wyatt, Knight of the Sable Plume; Frank Yelvington, Knight of Mexico; Martin Covington, Knight of the Red, White and Blue; Will Hammond, Knight of the Wax Rosette; Will Warren, Knight of the Centennial; Emerson Warren, Knight of the Lone Star; Pat Craighead, Knight of the Golden Fleece; Charles Stevenson, Knight of the Cibolo; Will Loomis, Knight of the Lost Chance; T. Veery, Knight of the Spring; and Orin Stevenson, Knight of Love.
 
After an hour one of the closest contests ever witnessed in a tournament, the herald announced that the Knight of the Centennial, and the Knight of the Second Sergeants had tied at eleven rights each, for the honor of crowning the queen; the Knight of the Red, White and Blue won third honors.
 
In a few minutes after the result of the tournament was announced the crowd greeted with cheers the appearance of the beautiful Miss B- (no name given) on the platform erected for this purpose, followed her maids of honor. The sir knights on foot promptly formed a guard around the throne, when each lady in succession was crowned with appropriate ceremony.
 
During the late 1870s, the two potteries at La Vernia supplied not only all of this section of Texas, but, they also shipped a good deal of the material east of the Colorado River. And barbed-wire was being introduced to uneasy Texans. It wasn't until a few years later that serious troubles started between the large and small cattlemen in Wilson County.
 
Wilson County as described in 1876, eight years ago: Wilson County, in 1876, contains something over 900 square miles of territory, and have a population of about 5,000 persons. Wilson County has a voting strength of about 1,000.  The county seat is Floresville. The town in 1876 is improving. Floresville now has a population of about 500 persons, of whom more than one-half are Mexicans. Improved lands, in 1876, can be bought from one to three dollars per acre. In this section, in 1876, can be seen in operation, the system of large pastures, which is rapidly gaining ground as the cheapest way of raising stock among the stock-raisers.
 
Thomas Dewees has enclosed about 25,000 acres; John Camp, about 10,000 acres; Rosser, Mitchell and Presnall, about 40,000 acres; and J. Ellis, about 6,000 acres of the richest prairie land, covered with mesquite grass that furnishes food summer and winter for their stock.
 
Oats and wheat have been grown with much success.  Their acreage, in 1876, is double what it was last year. Millet, sugar-cane, peas, potatoes, Irish and sweet potatoes, melons, and pumpkins all grow and produce well.
 
A large number of persons were seeking health at the famous Sutherland Springs. Quite a number of persons had come from Galveston. Colonel Robert Houston, who lived near the springs, was then known as one of the greatest fruit-raisers in this section of Texas. He cultivated every imaginable kind of fruit.
 
We wonder how many people down here ever heard of Bill Longley. He was then one of Texas worst desperadoes. He was a cold-blooded killer. He once came into this section of Texas, but he left when life became too tame. He wasn't happy unless he was triggering his pistol.
 
This is an article by Alfred Menn, which was found in the Wilson County Historical Commission Archives. Submitted by Gene Maeckel.
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COURTESY / Wilson County News  2015
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Sharecropping and Christmas plays in Three Oaks

By Lois Zook Wauson for the Wilson County News.
 
Melba Traeger Dunn was born at home on a cold blustery windy December night in 1934. Her parents, Hilda and Paul Traeger, lived out west of Floresville on the highway going to Dewees. They were farmers. When she was about five years old they moved to Three Oaks. She had two older brothers, Paul and Robert, at that time.
 
In Three Oaks, they lived not far from her father's parents, and did sharecropping with them. They lived in a "really old, old house" for a few years, then they built a new house to live in. While building it, she remembers they lived in the "corn crib," probably a barn. Her father put a bathroom in the house, but they didn't have running water, so it was never used. They bathed in washtubs and had an outhouse.
 
She said, "We didn't have electricity, so we always had lamps with kerosene, and a wood stove for heat and a kerosene cook stove. When the REA came in with electricity, it was an exciting time. I remember that night, we shut all the doors in the other rooms and stood in there and waited for Daddy to pull the string. It was a big deal to see that bright light come on!"
 
"We always had a battery radio and that's how we listened to "Just Plain Bill," "Stella Dallas," and "Light Crust Doughboys."
 
Melba went to school at Dewees School. Her teacher was Miss Jackie Youngblood. They walked to school most of the time. It was a long walk — several miles. Everyone walked back then. But lots of times they got to take the buggy to school. Her brother Robert was the "driver" and she and her younger brother Delbert, who had been born by then, went too. The horse stayed hitched to a tree during school.
 
Her memories of the Christmas plays are her favorite. "I always remember the Christmas plays. It was so exciting to see the Christmas plays and to be in the Christmas plays. If we dressed up, since we had no money, we dressed up in crepe paper dresses. Mother made the dresses and gathered them and made them look really pretty."
 
She said, "I remember the recesses when the bell rang and you had to hurry and run to the 'rest room' (the outhouse) and get back fast. And I remember Louis Jansky always teased me and one day at recess he tied me to a tree, right before recess was over, and I was at the farthest tree on that lot and I was crying because I was tied to the tree and everyone was laughing at me. I will never forget that. He was a mean one!"
 
"I remember having a boyfriend!" she said. "That was in sixth grade. He was Henry Fisbeck. He was always so kind. I knew he was kind because he always bought me a soda. Do you know what a treat that was? We didn't have a nickel for a soda! He would go across the road to Helen Schneider's store and buy me a soda at lunch. It was usually a Big Hippo or something. He was the nicest boy friend."
 
Like most children who grew up on farms in the '30s and early '40s, Melba had to work in the fields. She had to pick cotton. She still has the little cotton sack her mother made for her when she was a little girl. "I was so scared of the little jumping spiders. I remember sitting under the wagon for shade, to eat the food our mother brought out to us at lunch time."
 
She picked cotton, chopped cotton, chopped peanuts, helped with the harvesting of the peanuts, and helped her mother with fixing the food for the peanut thrashers and taking it to them. She said, "That was a big deal. You got to see all those people and visit with people you didn't see often."
 
She said, "I had to help Mama with the washing. She washed clothes in black wash pots. I couldn't get close, because she didn't want me to get near the fire. My mother had the whitest clothes I ever saw. She always had white clothes. She used lye soap and scrubbed and scrubbed."
 
Christmas times were hard in their family. They didn't have much money. They would cut a cedar tree for a Christmas tree. She said, "There was one year there was no money for gifts. Mother gave me a little ceramic shoe. That's all I remember getting that year."
 
Going to town in Floresville was a treat like most farm kids back then. They didn't go to town very often. Her mother would go to Almarene Kuban's Beauty Shop. It was upstairs next to Ballard's Drug Store. She got those old-fashioned perms with long electric wires coming down. Like most farm families back then, while her mother was at the beauty shop, her father would go to the beer joint and drink beer. "Relaxing," he always said.
 
When her sister Lucille was born, Melba was about 11. It was her job to stay home with Lucille and take care of her, while her mother would go out to the fields to work.
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Lois Zook Wauson is the oldest of eight children who grew up on a farm in Wilson County in the mid-20th century. Her column, "Rainy days & Starry Nights" appeared in the Wilson County News.
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Beating the drought of the '50s 

By Julia Castro  for her column,  "Apple Pie and Salsa" in the Wilson County News.
 
The Wilson County News reported in its Aug. 10, 2011 issue the present "Texas drought officially the worst ever." This is based on a 12-month period. A lot of us older folks remember the drought of 1950-57. I can't say that it impacted me very much. I was still in high school when the drought began. Then I finished high school, worked for a while, went on to beauty school, married, and had three babies during those seven years. I lived in town and saw lawns turn brown, but it didn't make an impact on me like it did on farmers and ranchers who really endured hardships during those years. But while I was still living with my folks, I would see Papá walk to town and mingle with other men in front of the old bank building, across from the existing Wilson County Hardware (the Ballard Drug Store at that time). The topic of conversation was the weather. Others sat in either Ballard or Smith drugstore drinking coffee and doing the same thing. The conversations went pretty much the same as they do these days: "When is it gonna rain?" or "We must not be living right."
 
Henry came home from the Army in January 1955, and that summer Grandpa Castro and his son Salvador (Buddy) managed to grow and harvest a crop of peanuts. It must have rained at the right time. Henry went to help when it was threshing time. It was a family affair. He took his trusty camera with him and took a couple of snapshots, for prosperity. He used film for color slides. Through the years, we have occasionally viewed these color slides and I have had prints made from some of them. The accompanying photo is one of them. These slides make pretty good prints, considering that some of them are more than 50 years old.
 
After all these years, Henry can't remember who all was out there that day. We do know that Buddy and his wife, Ramona, are in the picture, as well as Henry's aunt, Mila, and his brother, Reynaldo. One person was feeding the thresher, and the women were bagging the peanuts. Another three men worked around the baler — one feeding the hay into the baler, and one tying the bales with the wire that another one was passing him.
 
Henry says it was very hard work, but very rewarding. They all felt good when they brought a crop in. Peanuts aren't grown around here anymore, but we still have droughts. We must continue to pray for an end to this drought.
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Julia Castro, a retired Head Start teacher and mother of 10, lives in Floresville.

Notes from Grace Armantrout Museum about Wilson County

While searching for history, I came across Grace Armantrout Museum. Speaking with the Administrator Kevin Mackey , they shared these tidbits they had concerning Wilson County Texas. {Thank you for sharing}

A letter about Sutherland Springs – a treasure in words

A "Talk of Wilson County TX Historic Towns" reader, Cathe  Skrobarcek, shares a letter about her home place in Sutherland Springs Wilson County Texas. The informative text was written by Bob & Lela Phillips and it tells the history of 1911 property bought from the A. Trevino Survey. A treasure in words!

Memories of Christmas past, 1943

Memories of Christmas past, 1943   .... Lois Zook Wauson is the oldest of eight children who grew up on a farm in Wilson County Texas in the mid-20th century. In the story, Lois takes us back about 80 years to a Christmas celebration.
 
🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄🎄
 
The wind was icy and cold as it whipped around my legs in the cow pen as I milked the cow. My fingers grew numb and cold as the wind hit them, and I nudged my hand farther into her udder to warm my hands. It was Dec. 23, 1943. I finished milking and then went over to milk the other cow, while Junior finished up with his two cows. Then we headed for the house with our buckets full of milk sloshing out onto our jeans.
 
It was dark by then, and we had to have a kerosene lantern with us. After all, it was December and it got dark early. As we headed toward the house, we could see the glow of the light in the kitchen and the bedroom window. I could smell the wood smoke drifting up from the house. We came in and the smell of hot bread and rolls filled the house. Mother was at the stove frying ham. The smell was so good. Daddy had butchered a hog a couple weeks ago, and we would be eating ham, pork chops, and sausage for a while.
 
We would have scrambled eggs, and ham and hot rolls for supper. With the big glasses of fresh milk, we would all go to bed with full stomachs tonight. We set the long table and all the kids sat on the two long benches on either side, with Mother and Daddy at each end. The kitchen felt warm with all the people in it, and the potbellied cast iron heater gave out waves of heat as we shed our coats and prepared to eat.
 
The little kids began talking about Santa Claus coming tomorrow night. I looked around the table with seven of us kids (this was before Sammy was born), and Mother and Daddy, and knew that Santa Claus had a lot of work to do. I had quit believing in Santa Claus quite a while ago, but when I remembered those times I used to believe, it made me happy. I wanted the little ones to believe too. I helped them with their imagination.
 
When I was very young, there was always a doll for each of the girls, if only a little rubber doll, under the tree on Christmas morning. I loved the smell of the new baby dolls every Christmas. But this year I was too old for dolls, and wanted my very own Nancy Drew mystery book, (one I wouldn't have to take back to the bookmobile), and an autograph book.
 
I knew things were a little better this Christmas. The peanut crop was better this year, and Mother was able to order some things from the Sears Roebuck catalog. I saw her one night, from my bed in the bedroom, and the door was ajar into the kitchen as she sat at the table, a cigarette in her hand, writing things down as she pored over the big thick catalog. She brushed her hair back from her eyes, looking tired, and picked up her coffee cup, took a swallow and then a puff on her cigarette.
 
Later, it was quiet in the bedroom and as I lay next to my two sisters in bed with me I shivered with the excitement of Christmas Eve tomorrow. I heard Mother and Daddy talking about going to town to get a Christmas tree tomorrow. I could hear the wind whistling through the cracks in the house, and snuggled down under the big quilts Mother had spent so many hours piecing together and quilting. I heard Daddy banking the coals in the stove, in anticipation of starting a new fire in the morning, and the house got quieter, as everyone settled down to sleep. I could feel the cold creeping in the room, as the kitchen was the only one that got any heat. The bedroom was cold, but at least the door was open to let in some heat from the other room.
 
The next day, Christmas Eve, Mother and Daddy went to town and bought a few things along with a tiny tree. Excitedly, we did our chores, and ate supper and then we all helped Mother decorate the tree with homemade ornaments of colored paper garlands and strings of popcorn and cranberries, and a few priceless glass ornaments and little candles that clipped on the branches of the tree. We found some icicles saved from last year, and hung them on the branches. Mother made some eggnog and let us all have a cup. Then the candles on the tree were lit, and we turned out the lights. I sat there staring at the little tree with the lights flickering on it, the icicles glistening with the lights on them, and everything in the world seemed so far away. I sat there with my younger brothers and sisters on the benches next to the wood heater as Mother handed out sugar cookies. Mother and Daddy sat at the kitchen table smoking and drinking their eggnog and Mother got up to make a pot of coffee, as someone said, "Let's sing 'Jingle Bells' and 'Silent Night.'" Our voices rang out in the little house as we all sang. I wished time would stand still and the feelings would last forever.
 
Time did not stand still, but the memories lasted forever. And they are still there today. I thank God the good memories are clearer than the bad memories of a large family growing up during the Depression years trying to survive. I have lots of good memories. Christmastime holds some of my favorite ones.
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COURTESY / Lois Wauson  from her "Rainy Days and Starry Nights" column that appeared  in the Wilson county News.
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Remembering the Floresville ISD Homemaking Cottage and Miss Emily

By Julia Castro for her "Apple Pie and Salsa" column, Wilson County News.
 
I loved my high school years. In fact, I loved school since first grade, except for the first day. In high school, Home Economics was my favorite subject. And I loved being a member of the Future Homemakers of America (FHA), which I was in all four years of high school. We had classes and meetings at the Martha Eschenburg Home Economics Cottage, better known as the Homemaking Cottage. We all knew that Mr. R.L. Eschenburg had had it built in memory of his wife.
 
I had been trying for some time to find out when it was constructed, but had not been able to find out. I knew that Martha Jane, Mrs. Eschenburg's granddaughter, had donated historical papers to the archives. Maurine Liles had told me I could go and look through them. So I went one day and while I was there, Viola Henke, who was looking for other information, found a folder containing some Floresville High School history.
 
One paragraph stated that the Martha Eschenburg Home Economics Cottage had been completed in 1939. The R.L. Eschenburg Agricultural Building had been built in 1935. "Both were joint efforts of the Eschenburg family and the Works Progress Adminstration" (WPA).
 
According to Martha Jane, Mrs. Eschenburg had passed away in 1924, just 15 days after her 49th birthday. Martha also says that her grandfather got the idea when he visited in Devine, Texas, and saw that they had a Home Economics building. According to news clippings from the FHA, Mr. Eschenburg had said he would have the structure built if the PTA would equip it. But by the time it was completed it was fully equipped. Perhaps because he saved on expenses for the labor, he could afford to pay for the furnishings as well. Another note from Martha's files states, "This cottage has meant having Homemaking in our school long before the School Board was able to put it in." In February of 1949, a letter of appreciation was sent to Mr. Eschenburg for his contribution and made him an honorary member of the Floresville Chapter of the Future Homemakers of America.
 
What is puzzling is that there are no records of homemaking classes before 1947. I did talk to my sister-in-law, Bertha, and she says she took homemaking in 1944 when she entered high school, under Miss Emily Goehring. Bertha says she was very young at the time.
 
And Miss Emily is the other subject of my article. She was the homemaking teacher for the four years I was there. She was a wonderful teacher. We learned to sew and cook. However, some of the dishes we cooked were not on my menu at home. Miss Goehring was fair in the treatment of her students. We had district and area meetings out of town, and she always took a different group of girls.
 
My grades were good, but we were also graded on traits and attitude. I remember on one of my evaluations one question was, "Sarcastic?" And she wrote, "can be." Who? Me? I took a good look at myself and had to agree. Sometimes I still catch myself being what we called "catty" and I say a prayer that I can overcome that.
 
We had a lot of fun in our classes and meetings. We always had a pianist in the group. Yes, there was a piano too. Barbara Carson (Johnson) would make us crack up laughing with her rendition of "After the Ball Was Over." I don't remember it all, but part of it went, "after the ball was over, (here she would say a girl's name from the group) Mary took out her glass eye, put her false teeth in water, hung out her wig to dry," etc., etc.
 
During those years a lot of pictures for the Tiger's Claw were taken at the Homemaking Cottage.
 
After I finished high school, I didn't keep up with what went on at FHS, so I didn't know how long she had stayed here. I last saw Miss Goehring at our first-ever school reunion of the Early Fabulous Fifties in 1998. She was still very attractive and didn't seem to have aged at all.
 
When she passed away in 2010, Mrs. Norma Drozd wrote a beautiful tribute to her in which she stated that they had remained close friends to the last. I contacted her and she gave me information which I was seeking. She told me Emily had married in May of 1958 in their (Drozd) home. In June she and her husband moved away. I later found a clipping in Martha Jane's papers reporting that Mrs. D.B. Willis (the former Emily Goehring) had resigned her position here. Mrs. Mildred Millkin, who had been sharing the position as Home Economics teacher, was assigned to take over.
 
In trying to determine what year Miss Goehring started teaching at Floresville High, Mrs. Drozd recalls that Emily told her she was here in the early years of World War II, so it could have been '42 or '43.
 
As for the Homemaking Cottage, after the new high school on 181 was built in 1953-54, it included a new homemaking department. The Homemaking Cottage then became the school superintendent's office. I've been trying to find out who remembers what year it was torn down, but supposedly the school had not been keeping records.
 
My son Leonard, while working at FISD, remembers that in the fall of 1994, he helped move all the furniture out of the cottage to a new office at the high school campus. We can only assume that not long after that both the cottage and the ag building were demolished to make room for more classrooms on the then-elementary campus. Those are the buildings that serve as the Wilson County Courthouse Annex III.
 
To me those two structures as well as the old high school were historical buildings. So many memories.
 
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COURTESY / Wilson County News

A DOG TAX in Wilson County Texas ???? 

This is part of an article or a letter compiled by Alfred E. Menn, which was found in the files of the Wilson County Historical Commission Archives. Submitted by Gene Maeckel.
 
Simpler times in Wilson County: 1878-79 ...The old Floresville Academy. Ever hear of the old Floresville Academy? It was for males and females. Back in 1878, the Floresville Academy was in a flourishing condition. Professor John Washburn was the principal. The school year was divided into two terms of five months and three days each, making 206 days. Rates: In the Preparatory Department, $2 per month; in the Academical Department, $3 per month; in the Collegiate Department, $4 per month. The Board of Trustees consisted of: Colonel A.G. Pickett, president; A.C. Staudt, secretary; W.C. Rhee (Agee?), treasurer; Judge W.L. Worsham, R.C. Houston, Job Foster, Bennett Johnson, John Griffith, and J.F. Pruett.
 
Wilson County in 1879: 
 
You could have bought a good horse for $10. This had been the year of the severe winter. Sheep-owners in Wilson County had seen heavy losses. C.B. Stevenson and J.W. Anderson were ready in 1879 to start to Kansas with a drove of horses they had purchased from Don C. Delgado of Floresville, 100 head, 50 horses and 50 mares, at $10 per head.
 
At this time in 1879, it was reported that a well-organized band of horse thieves was operating full force in an adjoining county. People had to watch their horses, or they would suddenly disappear.
 
People were urged to join the Floresville Literary Society. Local citizens were warned not to become alarmed because only few cases of smallpox were reported in Floresville.
 
Moving from Yorktown to Floresville in 1879, F. Metting opened a first-class saddle shop.
 
County records had just been placed in the new county safe — Captain Lem
 
Hughes reported that, should the courthouse burn down, he believed the county records would now be safe.
 
Corn was selling in Floresville at $1 per bushel.
 
A flatboat was being used as a "bridge" across the San Antonio River.
 
The business house of J.C. Wallace on the north side of the public square was completed.
 
The water holes in the suburbs were full once more.
 
At this time in 1879, prayer meetings were being held in the Wilson County Courthouse.
 
Eggs were being sold at 10 cents per dozen.
 
It seems that the "dog tax" had just been repealed. Consequently, there were now plenty of canines on the public square.
 
The Rev. Dibrell preached an eloquent sermon at the courthouse on a Sunday morning.
 
A.G. Thomas, proprietor of the Plaza Hotel in Floresville in 1879, decided that the dry weather had produced stock that was too poor for good meat. Since he always had a reputation of serving the best at his tables in the Plaza Hotel, he decided to serve quail on toast.
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COURTESY / Wilson County News

Letter from Wilson County in 1873

Letter from Wilson County in 1873 .... compiled by Alfred Menn back in 1873, one "Saxet" — which is the name Texas in reverse — wrote an interesting letter:
 
"Colonies of Freedmen settled on the Cibolo, Several years ago and numbers of them purchased a considerable tract of land from Doctor Houston, went to work and put it in cultivation. From what I understand, they have paid the last dollar of the purchase money. They are now the landlords of good farms and comfortable houses to live in. Some of them have gardens, flowers and orchards."
 
"The merchants in Wilson County in 1873, do a good business, mostly for cash. We have three small towns in the county: Floresville, Sutherland Springs and LaVernia. We have no railroad running through our section."
 
"The wine presses of the Houston brothers were able to produce some 1,200 gallons of wine last season. This wine commands a ready sale at $3 per gallon."
 
"We have both black and white sulphur springs at Sutherland Springs."
 
"My orchard has furnished me this year with peaches, plums, grapes and figs in the greatest abundance."
 
"The corn crop I noticed on Hugh Wiseman's place, near LaVernia, would almost hide a person on horseback. Saxet."
 
Wilson County in 1876: The editor of The Frontiersman visited in Floresville in 1876, 80 years ago. He had this to say:
 
"First passing through the assemblage of Mexican habitations known as Lodi, the traveler takes his choice as to which of the two villages is the superb of the other, they being located only a short distance from each other."
 
"Floresville, in 1876, is a young town of board structures, unfenced and incomplete. There are two or three hotels, two or three stores, and a number of temporary-looking houses. There is also a town well."
 
"The blessed Sunday law is in operation in Floresville, and no hungry and weary traveler has a chance to buy refreshments for himself, or feed for his horse, between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m."
 
"Wilson County had been drenched by frequent heavy rains, and the local farmers were sure that Wilson would be one of the banner counties in this section. Heavy rains!"
 
The following is reported just as we found it (1876): Sutherland Springs is getting to be quite a village in 1876. The town was laid out in 1854, by the late Dr. Sutherland, sometime before the County of Wilson was organized. At one time the place was the county seat of Wilson County, until Floresville became the county seat in later years.
 
D. and A. Oppenheimer, of San Antonio, own a fine mill here, consisting of cotton gin, sawmill and gristmill.
 
There are many excellent orchards here.
 
Landowners have cut up over 20,000 acres of good land into small tracts, within six miles of Sutherland Springs, and put it on the market at from $2 to $3 per acre.
 
On crossing the Cibolo, on whose banks the town is built, one can smell the immense Sulphur Spring, ten feet in diameter, boiling up with gas, like a large cauldron; and, to add to his surprise, he finds, on jumping into this tempting bath, that the human body floats around, and is tossed about like a cork. He is astonished to find that to sink beneath the water is impossible.
 
To the left of the road, and about opposite, at a distance of some one hundred yards, is the beautiful White Sulphur Springs, ten feet in diameter, four feet deep, and discharging two or three hundred gallons of water per minute, as clear as crystal and as cold as ice!
 
Leaving these mammoth springs and driving into a dense forest over a level road, in about one mile and a half you come to the Famous Sour Spring.
 
Floresville, in 1876, had a commodious courthouse. The jail alone is said to have cost $6,000. The following were then being built in Floresville: A two-story tavern a lumberyard, three stores, gin house, a blacksmith shop and a steam mill.
 
Back in 1876 the tournament at Sutherland Springs was a popular affair. A large crowd had attended. A fine barbecue was enjoyed under the live oaks, after which 14 gaily-dressed knights, on prancing steeds, with banners flying, and music playing, appeared on the grounds. They formed in line and naturally went for the rings.
 
The first tilt was opened by Mr. Martin, Knight of the Second Sergeants, and was followed in quick succession by the other knights in the following order: Dr. Williamson, Knight of the Mutilated Heart; James Wyatt, Knight of the Sable Plume; Frank Yelvington, Knight of Mexico; Martin Covington, Knight of the Red, White and Blue; Will Hammond, Knight of the Wax Rosette; Will Warren, Knight of the Centennial; Emerson Warren, Knight of the Lone Star; Pat Craighead, Knight of the Golden Fleece; Charles Stevenson, Knight of the Cibolo; Will Loomis, Knight of the Lost Chance; T. Veery, Knight of the Spring; and Orin Stevenson, Knight of Love.
 
After an hour one of the closest contests ever witnessed in a tournament, the herald announced that the Knight of the Centennial, and the Knight of the Second Sergeants had tied at eleven rights each, for the honor of crowning the queen; the Knight of the Red, White and Blue won third honors.
 
In a few minutes after the result of the tournament was announced the crowd greeted with cheers the appearance of the beautiful Miss B- (no name given) on the platform erected for this purpose, followed her maids of honor. The sir knights on foot promptly formed a guard around the throne, when each lady in succession was crowned with appropriate ceremony.
 
During the late 1870s, the two potteries at La Vernia supplied not only all of this section of Texas, but, they also shipped a good deal of the material east of the Colorado River. And barbed-wire was being introduced to uneasy Texans. It wasn't until a few years later that serious troubles started between the large and small cattlemen in Wilson County.
 
Wilson County as described in 1876, eight years ago: Wilson County, in 1876, contains something over 900 square miles of territory, and have a population of about 5,000 persons. Wilson County has a voting strength of about 1,000.  The county seat is Floresville. The town in 1876 is improving. Floresville now has a population of about 500 persons, of whom more than one-half are Mexicans. Improved lands, in 1876, can be bought from one to three dollars per acre. In this section, in 1876, can be seen in operation, the system of large pastures, which is rapidly gaining ground as the cheapest way of raising stock among the stock-raisers.
 
Thomas Dewees has enclosed about 25,000 acres; John Camp, about 10,000 acres; Rosser, Mitchell and Presnall, about 40,000 acres; and J. Ellis, about 6,000 acres of the richest prairie land, covered with mesquite grass that furnishes food summer and winter for their stock.
 
Oats and wheat have been grown with much success.  Their acreage, in 1876, is double what it was last year. Millet, sugar-cane, peas, potatoes, Irish and sweet potatoes, melons, and pumpkins all grow and produce well.
 
A large number of persons were seeking health at the famous Sutherland Springs. Quite a number of persons had come from Galveston. Colonel Robert Houston, who lived near the springs, was then known as one of the greatest fruit-raisers in this section of Texas. He cultivated every imaginable kind of fruit.
 
We wonder how many people down here ever heard of Bill Longley. He was then one of Texas worst desperadoes. He was a cold-blooded killer. He once came into this section of Texas, but he left when life became too tame. He wasn't happy unless he was triggering his pistol
 
[This article by Alfred Menn was found in the Wilson County Texas Historical Commission Archives. Submitted by Gene Maeckel.]
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COURTESY / Wilson County News