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Thursday, May 26, 2011

More Kerr County History and the Importance of German Settlers in Early Texas

Here is more rare and very early history of the German settlements in early Kerr County History

(I am indebted to several parties for help in writing this article. Among these, I mention James J. Starkey, Edward Starkey of Oklahoma City, Mrs. Henry Weiss, Mrs. Herman Schulze, Judge Charles Real. I also used the pamphlet on ”Kerr County," sponsored by Mrs. Raymond A. Franklin, an d many articles in Frontier Times. I soon found there was a plethora of material on heroic women of Kerr county, and I give the history of some of them at length. Lack of space forbids the mention of others in detail or at length.—T. U. T. )

Kerr county was organized in 1856. The first term of the county court was held May 19, 1856, at J. M. Ridley's, on the Guadalupe river. Jonathan Scott, chief justice; T. A. Saner, W. B. Hindricks, J. M. Ridley and E. A. Mc-Fadden, county commissioners; and D. A. Rees, county clerk, were present. The sparse population was engaged largely in making cypress shingles. A settlement grew up at the present site of Kerrville and was known as Kerrsville. The first county seat was between Comfort and Kerrsville. During the Civil War the county seat was moved to Comfort. In 1866, Captain Charles Schreiner was elected county and district clerk, and gradually the name of the town”Kerrsville" became Kerrville. The letter ”s" was dropped by mutual consent.

A word should be said about James Kerr. He was born on September 1, 1790, in Kentucky, and moved in 1808 to St. Charles, Missouri. In 1819 he married the daughter of General James Caldwell, speaker of the House of Representatives of Missouri, and later became general manager of the DeWitt colony in Texas, and was a friend of Deaf Smith. In July 1826, he laid out the town of Gonzales. He died at his home in Jackson county on December 25, 1850. Austin, Texas

Miss Elaine Enderle (daughter of Michel Enderle and Mary Mansord Enderle) married Charles A. Schreiner on October 15, 1860, and their home at that time was a rude shingle camp south of Kerrville. The honeymoon was interrupted by the call to arms and shortly afterwards Charles Schreiner joined the Confederate group and was exposed to the hardships and privations of the whole war. His wife stayed in Texas with her people, and underwent almost as much danger and privation as her husband did, for Kerr county was the frontier of Texas and the Indians took advantage of this. The fear of the red warrior and worry over her husband was enough to drive the new bride to distraction. When the war closed, Captain Schreiner returned to San Antonio.

As there was no method of communication between San Antonio and his home, he mounted ”Shank's Mare" and walked to his home in Kerr county— some sixty miles away. Here they started over again. While Captain Schreiner was busy with shingles, sheep, and merchandise, his wife made a home. At first it was nothing more than a shack. Later prosperity came to Charles Schreiner and she lived to see her husband one of the richest men in West Texas. They brought into the world five sons: Aime Charles, Gustav Fritz, Louis Albert, Walter Richard, Charles Armand, and three daughters: Carline Marie, who married Hiram Partee; Emilia Louise, who married W. C. Rigsby, and Frances Helen, who married S. L. Jeffers. From 1866 to 1869 Captain Schreiner lived on his ranch. In 1869 he opened a store in Kerrville, and at that time he borrowed five thousand dollars from August Faltin of Comfort. Prosperity was not only around the corner for the Schreiners--it walked in at the front door and made itself at home. He bought out his partner in 1878 and branched out to the wonderful prosperity which was a blessing to Kerrville, Kerr county, and the State of Texas. Quiet Elaine Schreiner stayed at home, encouraged her husband, brought children into the world, and was a true house wife and helpmate. Her contribution to Kerrville was in eight living children who have contributed much to the prosperity of their town, county, and state. Mrs. Schreiner was born June 6, 1843, and died September 8, 1905. The greatest heritage that Captain Schreiner and his wife, Elaine, left to posterity, and' to civilization was not their ranches, banks, stores, wool, sheep, or cattle, but the heritage of a good name.

By Mrs. Augusta Schulze Christian Dietert was born in Tesen, District of Magdaburg, Germany, on August 24, 1827. He was a millwright and miller by profession. In early manhood he left his homeland, embarking on a four-masted sailing vessel, accompanied by his brother, William Dietert, who later settled in Boerne, Texas. They sailed for Texas to try their fortunes with the much talked of new country, and to gain political freedom. After a voyage of eight weeks the ship landed at Galveston . Their destination was New Braunfels, the ”Mecca" of all German immigrants in those early days. There were at that time only two routes to New Braunfels, one by way of Houston, which was a long and perilous journey, and another by way of Indianola, then the only seaport on the mainland. This route was somewhat shorter, so they shipped in a two masted sailboat to Indianola. This port was totally destroyed by a tropical storm in about 1887.

After some weeks of delay, waiting for transports, they boarded wagons drawn by mules and were conveyed over trackless miles of territory covered with water from six to twelve inches in depth. This, together with the scarcity of camping places, and danger of Indian raids, wild animals, etc., was a most arduous journey. They reached New Braunfels in July, 1854, after weeks of slow travel overland. It had been five months since they had left Germany.

In August of the same year Christian Dietert joined a company of thirteen men, who journeyed into the Gudalupe Valley to the place where the Cypress Creek joins the Guadalupe river, where they surveyed the tract of land, and helped lay out the town of Comfort.

In the beginning, shingle making was the only industry. The shingles, which were made by hand, were freighted to San Antonio by ox wagon. Early in 1855, a saw and grist mill was built under the direction of Mr. Christian Dietert. This venture was financed by Mr. Altgelt. The power was furnished by a huge waterwheel, fed by the waters of Cypress Creek. The remnants of the old rock dam, reaching half way across the creek still stand, a'silent witness of this enterprise that failed. The little stream that gushed from the hills, no doubt fed by the copious rains the preceding seasons, dried out after a year or two of drouths, and as a result the mill had to be abandoned for lack of water power, less than two years after its completion.

Mr. Dietert was married to Miss Rosalie Hess in 1855. She had come to the settlement of Comfort a short time before from her home in the city of Jena, Germany.

Mr. Dietert 's father and mother, Mr. and Mrs. Gustav Dietert, two brothers, Frederick and Henry, and sister, Lena, came over from Germany in 1856, to settle in Comfort. Accompanying them was Ferdinand Schulze, then a young man, who settled on a farm on Cypress Creek in the eastern part of Kerr county. He was the father of Herman Schulze of Split Rock Farm. Early in 1857, Mr. and Mrs. Christian Dietert moved to Fredericksburg to work on the building of the Van der Stucken mill. In the latter part of the same year they moved to Kerrville, following the organization of Kerr county. The young millwright bought the tract of land along the banks of the Guadalupe southwest of Water Street, from what is now Earl Garrett Street south to A Street. He established a shingle mill, using horse power until he could construct a water wheel, with which he later sawed lumber from the Cypress trees growing along the banks of the river. This mill was built on the site of the present ice factory. It was washed away by a great flood after a year or two of operation.

Being without funds to rebuild the mill, they again moved towards Fredericksburg, to build a saw and grist mill for Mr. C. H. Guenther on Live Oak Creek. The power for this mill was furnished by a water wheel. This venture was short lived, but let it be said, in spite of controversy, that they did saw lumber from pecan and walnut trees, of which there were many in Gillespie county. The Germans who worked with lumber were well versed in the art of converting walnut and pecan wood into lumber suitable for building homes and furniture. After only a few months of operation, torrential rains of several days duration softened the sandy land of that section to such an extent that the earth crumbled before the on-rushing waters and took mill, waterwheel, and everything pertaining to the undertaking away, to be buried and lost miles down the creek.

Mr. Dietert moved his little family and belongings back to Kerrville where he again built a mill on the old site. This mill was destroyed by fire. Being offered work on the construction of mills in the vicinity of Comfort, and to be near a school for his children, Mr. Dietert moved to Comfort. He also built a mill for his brother, William Dietert, in the town of Boerne.

The Dietert family moved back to Kerrville in 1866, and again set up a water wheel, to operate a saw mill and steel grist mill. This water wheel was also washed away by a flood. In 1868, he put in an under-water iron turbine for power and a queer old type of flour mill consisting of two large stones, the lower a flat stational stone with a somewhat conical shaped stone above it, which in revolving crushed and ground the grain into flour. People came from many miles around to have corn and wheat ground, and also to have lumber sawed by the sawmill into suitable lengths for building purposes.

According to information recently received from the First Assistant Postmaster General, Christian Dietert was appointed postmaster at Kerrville on July 22, 1868, and served until his successor was appointed on June 26, 1888. He was elected to fill the office of Justice. of the Peace in 1869, and had also to fill the place of County Judge in the absence of the regular judge. Mr. Dietert was greatly interested in education, and served on the school board for some time.

His first civic act upon arrival in the new land was to take out naturalization papers, and to begin the study of the English language, which both he and his wife learned to speak fluently. For a time Mr. Dietert engaged in the hauling of freight in company with a number of other men, to and from Mexico, for the Confederate government during the Civil War. Heavy wagons drawn by four to eight yoke of oxen were used. These trips usually took several months and were filled with dangers and hardships. Necessary provisions and clothing for the home were brought with each return trip. The groceries consisted mainly of coffee, tea, sugar, flour, rice and dried fruits. Cloth was bought by the bolt and was a coarse white material. Lengths of this cloth were dyed by the women with herbs, roots of the algerita and sumac, and bark of the pecan, the walnut, and live oak tree, and were then made by hand into garments for the men and women and children according to their needs.

This history would not be complete without mention being made of Mrs. Rosalie Dietert, who played a most important part in the upbuilding of this section of the country. Women were not appointed to office in those days, but Mrs. Dietert was made assistant postmistress and. took over all responsibilities and all transactions pertaining to the office during Mr. Dietert's tenure of office. The first postoffice fixture was a frame made of cypress wood, by the postmaster. It was four feet high, three feet wide and seven inches deep. It contained twelve pigeon holes six inches high and three compartments fourteen inches wide and 'six inches high for newspapers and packages. A lower section seventeen inches high comprised the entire width of the frame and was used for the general paraphernalia pertaining to the office. This postoffice fixture is still in the Dietert family.

The Dietert home was the center of social activities. Oft times young couples (lanced in the large living room to the tune of fiddle and accordion. Being accomplished in the art, Mrs. Dietert taught the young men and the very few girls to dance the waltz.

Santa Claus brought the first Christmas tree in Kerrville to the Dietert home. People came from miles around to see the wonderful tree, which of course was not the glittering yule tree of today. Its dress was modest; the home made decorations consisted of festoons of chains, links, of which were cut and made from brightly colored paper. There were also nuts covered with gold and silver paper, apples brought from San Antonio, and cookies cut into shapes of birds and animals and decorated With colored sugar. The candles were tallow dips.

The nearest trading place was San Antonio, and trips, which were made by wagon, took about a week. The nearest doctor was also iii San Antonio. In case of sickness the neighbors assisted each other with home prepared potions of roots and herbs. The usual privations and hardships of the pioneer, together with the dangers of Indian raids, wild animals, etc., were experienced by this couple, but undaunted and undismayed they set their faces to the future with the development and civilization of their adopted country ever uppermost in their minds.

Twelve children were horn to them: four sons and eight daughters, all of whom grew to manhood and womanhood except one daughter who died in infancy. Most of them are living in and near Kerrville and are active in various business enterprises. They ere: Gustav Dietert, Del Rio; Mrs. Clara Ochse, Oregon, deceased; Mrs. Lena Herzog, Kerrville, deceased; Rosalie, infant, deceased; Mrs. Amelia Enderle, Kerrville; Rudolph Dietert, New York City; Henry Dietert, Kerrville; Otto Dietert, San Antonio; Mrs. Augusta Schulze, Kerrville; Mrs. Emma Rosenthal, Houston; Mrs. Valeska Mosel, Kerrville, and Mrs. Flora Weiss, Kerrville.

In 1885, Mr. Dietert sold his mill site and interests to Chas. Schreiner and bought a farm across the Guadalupe opposite the town, where he lived with his family until his death in May, 1902. Mrs. Dietert lived to the ripe old age of ninety-six. She spent the last years of her life in the home of her youngest daughter, Mrs. H. Weiss. She was laid to rest beside her husband in Glen Rest Cemetery, Kerrville, on April 7, 1929-, having seen the little settlement with its five one-roomed log huts grow into the city of Kerrville.

When Rosalie Hess arrived in the town of Comfort in 1852, she was nineteen years old, five feet two inches i n height, and weighed an even one hundred pounds. She looked small, was small, and that is all that was small about her. Li her influence in Kerr county, she was a giant. If we measure her by the deeds she wrought, she will take her place on the very front line of pioneer heroines of the west.

The more the writer learns about her, the more he is attracted to her personality. Recently he sat in the glassed in porch where she spent her last years. It fronted south, and the scribe stood on the spot where she sat in her big rocking chair and talked to her kin. She could speak two languages, but in her native tongue she was fluent. She of course talked English, and could take her part in any discussion of affairs of the day. She was born in a neighborhood where she heard much French, and in her later years she was liable to forget the ”yah, yah," of the Fatherland, and the “yes, yes," of the old Texans, and would resort to the early days of her youth and reply in romantic French "oui, oui.”

When she married Christian Dietert she became part of the pioneer west, and she and her husband fulfilled the injunction of the Bible and replenished the earth with eleven children as follows: first, Augustus Dietert, married Louise Hasley, and they had four boys and three girls; second, Clara Dietert, married Robert Osche, and they had one boy and four girls; third, Lena Dietert married Nathan Herzog, and they had one boy and one girl; fourth, Emilia Dietert married Albert Enderle, and they had issue two boys and two girls; and fifth, Rudolph Dietert married first Lillie Griffin, and no issue, married second, Betty Swenson, and had children, one boy and one girl; sixth, Henry Dietert married first Paula Schulze, and had three boys, and two girls, married second, Clara Reed, and issue one boy and one girl; seventh, Otto Dietert married Halanda Boeckmann, and had one child, a boy ;eighth, Augusta Dietert married Herman Schulze, and had two boys and one girl; ninth, Emma Dietert married Oscar Rosenthal, and they had one boy and two girls; tenth, Velaska Dietert married Edward Mosel, issue one boy. The blood of Rosalie Hess flows in eleven children, thirty-six grandchildren, forty-six great grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren; a total of eighty-nine blood descendants that came from the petite little woman who was only five feet two inches in height and weighed a little over one hundred pounds. She has a descendant for nearly every pound of her weight, or if you wish to be exact she has a descendant for every year of her life. If all the 89 descendants were placed on a pair of scales at the same time, the gross weight would tax the biggest truck in Texas, as it would nearly double the weight allowed by law aggregating nearly twelve thousand pounds.

The first official post office at Kerrville was established June 9, 1858, and Hance M. Burney was postmaster. The postoffice continued to be known as Kerrsville until after Christian Dietert, who was appointed postmaster on July 22, 1867, and served until- June 26, 1882, nearly fifteen years. A list of the postmasters is shown below: Hance M. Burney, appointed June 9, 1858. Robert J. Farr, appointed May 25, 1866. Christian Dietert, appointed July 22, 1867. The name of this office was changed to Kerrville, the exact date of which change is now shown. Joseph F. H. Back, appointed June 26, 1882. Albert Enderle, appointed September 3, 1883. Charles C. Lockett, appointed April 25, 1896. Charles Real, appointed August 3, 1900. W. G. Carpenter, appointed May 20, 1913. Emil Gold, appointed March 7, 1922. Gober L. Gibson, appointed May 9, 1934.

Before the post office was established, the travelers to San Antonio would obtain mail from the neighborhood and leave it at the residence of Christian Dietert. His wife took charge of this mail, and sometimes acted as unofficial postmistress. Her home was a type of clearing house for the mail—before the United States established a regular post office. She served unofficially as postmistress for nearly twenty years. While her husband was official postmaster, Mrs. Dietert conducted the office during the time he attended to outside business.

Emilie Schreiner was born at Riguewhr, near Strassberg in Alsace - Lorraine, in 1836, in a home built in 1500. Her father, Dr. Gustav Schreiner was a distinguished dentist. She was confirmed in the Lutheran Church when 14 years old and had the best educational advantages in both the French and German languages. Having been brought up in a cultured environment, there was probably very little indication of the quiet strength and courage which she was to manifest in later years as a pioneer wife and mother. Her parents both' died shortly after their arrival in San Antonio. In 1853 Emilie Schreiner was married to Caspar Real and moved to a ranch on Martinez Creek, about ten miles from San Antonio between the Cibolo and Salado and near the present community of Converse.

The sheep and cattle business did not prosper due to the poor market and a dearth of money. The Reals left (luring the severe drouth of 1857, and moved to Kerr county, seven miles south of the present town of Kerrville. The continuous supply of flowing waters of the spring-fed Turtle Creek was the main attraction. Two other families besides the Reals located on a 320 acre tract of land and while they were constructing their log homes, Mrs. Real, with three small children, lived with friends on Cypress Creek, near Comfort.. In November 1857, they moved into their new home, built of logs, chinked with chiseled rocks and plastered with adobe. The long big room with a front porch, and the two small side rooms were warm and were equipped with the limited conveniences of that pioneer period. The ”big room" contained one window, a roughly hewn cypress floor and a big homey fire place with two iron hooks on which to hang cooking vessels when needed. A three legged stand was kept usually on the hearth near the side on which to put iron pots for boiling food. Bread was baked in a ”skillet and lid.” Mrs. Real frequently baked cookies for the children at Christmas and other special occasions in this skillet or "Dutch' oven" as it is now called. One of the small rooms became the Real kitchen as soon as it was possible to buy a cook stove. 'The other small room was used for a bed room. Each of these rooms had only one window of two panes. The kitchen for several years had only a dirt floor.

Mrs. Real was busy early and late maintaining a home for her ever growing family with the limited conveniences available. Mr. Real had brought with him from Germany tools that enabled him to make many things that added to their comfort. He made a cradle of mesquite wood, bedsteads, a dining table and benches. They had cowhide bottom chairs and probably two rockers. Mrs. Real was small in stature and very large so she had the legs of her chair cut off for her convenience to use in the kitchen.

The first lights were brass cans filled with tallow, containing a wick which could be ”screwed higher" as needed. Later, tallow candles were used; then lanterns were available. Mrs. Real thought it a great day when lamps could be bought. In addition to her many duties she knitted garments and stockings for the family. She usually did this gt night as the family sat around the fireside after supper. Mrs. Real devoted her time inside the house keeping close watch over the children. Because of the fear of the Indians she kept the children within ”seeing distance” of her house. The danger of Indians, who made almost monthly raids through that section of the country stealing horses, was constantly on their minds. On one occasion Mr. and Mrs. Real went to Comfort in an ox wagon to a fourth of July celebration, taking the youngest child, Mathilde, with them, leaving the older ones at home in care of a hired man. On the trip home, night overtook them near the Guadalupe river, about five miles from their home, when the oxen became uneasy and were hard to keep in the road. "There is a bunch of horses and I saw a man!" said Mrs. Real to her husband in a low voice. ”He is an Indian.” He was standing perfectly still. They did not know how many more were around. Mr. Real, who had been walking by the side of the ox wagon, grasped his pistol and got into the wagon. Mrs. Real with the child lay down in the bottom of the wagon bed. But they were not bothered and on arriving home Mr. and Mrs. Real could not find one of the children, Robert. They were frightened but finally he was found in the back yard sound asleep.

Mrs. Real and her daughters were excellent seamstresses. Goads were bought by the bolt and eyed with walnut leaves and hickory. Hats were made of the same material. During the early days sewing was done by hand. In later years Mr. Real bought one of twelve sewing machines, brought from New York by his brother Adolph Real.

Mrs. Real, though a gentle, retiring soul, seemed always to have plenty of inward grace, strength and courage necessary to meet each problem which confronted her. She was an excellent cook and served her family many rare French and German dishes. Mrs. Real had four brothers: Gustave, Fritz, Charles, and Aime. The latter was killed during the Civil War. Her brother Charles and his wife lived close to them for a number of years, which was a great comfort to both Mrs. Real and Mrs. Schreiner, especially when the men folks were away from home.

Mr. and Mrs. Real gave the children their first schooling, then later they attended schools at Comfort, Boerne and San Antonio. Four sons, Albert, Arthur, Julius and Robert attended the Southwestern University at Georgetown and Walter and Charles received their schooling in San Antonio. Eight children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Real, named as follows: Walter, a rancher living near Kerrville; Emma (deceased) wife of Herman Stieler, of Comfort; Albert (deceased) rancher near Kerrville;

Arthur, a rancher now living near San Antonio; Julius, formerly State Senator, living on a ranch near Kerrville; Robert (deceased) a rancher near Mountain Home; Mathilde, wife of Hubert. Tngenhuett, formerly of Comfort, now lives in New York City: Charles, the youngest, a rancher but now in the State Comptroller's department at Austin, Texas. Mrs. Real left the old ranch home in 1900—seven years after her husband 's death to live with her daughter. Mrs. Ingenhuett, at Comfort, where she died March 13, 1918. Mrs. Real was very fond of good music and folk songs, which she had opportunities to enjoy during the last ten or fifteen years of her life by traveling here and abroad.

Both Mr. and Mrs. Caspar Real are buried in the family cemetery on the old homestead near. Kerrville. Like most other pioneer families of their time, the Reals helped to make West Texas a better place in which to live. "A noble pioneer couple has gone to their reward in Heaven."

In the year 1851, there arrived near the site of the present town of Bandera on the Medina river the Widow Rees and her four children. Her maiden name was Henrietta Lowrance, and she had married John Rees in Lincoln county, North Carolina. In 1828 the couple moved to McNairy county, Tennessee, and in this county all the four children were born. These children were: Sidney Benner Rees, born 1829, died 1909; Daniel Adolphus Rees, born 1831, died 1901; Martha Adeline Rees (Starkey), born 1834, died 1905; Alonzo Rees, born 1837, died 1919.

The Widow Rees tried the Bandera country for a short while, but the Indians were so active in killing and robbing that she moved to the valley of the Guadalupe, a few miles from the present town of Kerrville, where she reared her family. When the family settled in Kerr county, Sidney was about twenty-three years old, Adolphus twenty-one, Martha eighteen, and Alonzo fifteen. It can be seen that the children were ready to take part in the affairs of the frontier, to help make a living, and to wield a rifle in defense of their home. These four Rees children were knit together in a rather close kinship, and a very commendable bond of human ties. They all married and became leading citizens of Kerr county. Each was devoted to the mother and to each other and each other's family. Sidney Rees married Emily Tedford; Adolphus married Lucy Ann Nowlin; Martha Adeline married James Monroe Starkey; and Alonzo married Eleanor Ann Brown.

Here in the valley of the Guadalupe in the hills of the southwest, they went forth and replenished the earth, and even Theodore Roosevelt could not complain of their success in this line of human endeavor. They brought nearly forty children into this world of pioneers. Thirty-six of the number, all first cousins or brothers and sisters, were reared within ten times of Kerrville, and it is thought that this breaks the record for replenishing. Of this number, thirty-two bore the name of pees. Starting with the original John and Henrietta, who came from North Carolina to McNairy county, Tennessee, there were over 500 human beings who were born or adopted into the tribe of Rees by marriage. More than 430 yet survive and are living in Kerr and nearby counties, and each is an asset to the commonwealth of Texas. Sidney Benner Rees married Emily Tedford on March, 15, 1860, and they settled near the mouth of Turtle Creek, along the banks of the Guadalupe. Here they brought into the world thirteen children. Near their farm a Methodist camp meeting was held each summer, and the Rees family constituted themselves host To the congregation. They showed that one was not only welcome to eat at their table, but that one was conferring a favor on them by eating the bountiful repast that was always ready.

Sidney Rees was a very devout man, always energetic, always crisp in his conversation; and sometimes this economy of words was used in his language when he said ”grace.” Members of his family were never surprised when the ”grace" was shorter than usual. His wife Emily came from Tennessee with her family, consisting of her mother; two sisters and four brothers, and settled on Verde Creek. She was ever ready, an effective and efficient worker, and a first-class manager. The husband and wife supported a large family, but visitors were always welcome, and they never counted a visit unless you stayed all night and took a meal. Like the old Kentucky colonel ”Taint no visit unless you wailer a bed and mop up a plate." It is a pity that Texas has not had more families like Sidney and Emily Rees.

Daniel Adolphus Rees was born in McNairy county, Tennessee, on December 2, 1831. He became a ranger in 1864, and later a guard in the Texas state forces in defense of the frontier. In 1856, 1857, and 1858 he was county clerk of Kerr county. On December 3, 1863, he married Lucy Ann Nowlin, and they settled on the old Rees place northwest of Kerrville. Here they brought ten children into the world, all of whom were trained in the fundamentals of religion, patriotism and good citizenship. Six sons and three daughters were reared to become leading men and women of Kerr County. The wife was born near Corinth, Mississippi, on February 23, 1848. They were married by Judge James Monroe Starkey, her brother-in-law, who married Martha Adeline Rees. Lncy Ann Nowlin was a. product of the west, and she took to frontier life like a duck takes to water. It was her adopted heath and the life was not new to her. She knew all the ups and downs, and with complete cooperation she was indeed a help-meet and helpmate to her husband. She was a rare asset to her neighborhood, affectionate, lovable, and a great help in time of trouble or sickness. Her father was a doctor, and her oldest son followed in the footsteps of his maternal grandfather. She early acquired those traits that help in the sickroom and she was ever ready to go to the help of the rich, the poor, the halt, the lame or the blind. She was a cook of rare traits and her cooking was as celebrated as the Camp Verde camels, and far better looking.

She was not only a good cook, but she took to the horse like her forebearers, could handle a rifle as well as the men, and what was an unusual accomplishment, she was an expert swimmer. The waters of Turtle Creek and those of the Guadalupe often had the surface of their pools and holes split by the daring diver, even when she was near th'e age of three score and ten. At the age of 81, she went to her final resting place in the Glen Rest Cemetery in Kerrville, surrounded by the eternal hills among which she had spent a useful life.

Martha Adeline Rees came at first with her mother and three brothers to Bandera county, but soon settled near the mouth of Turtle Creek. She was seventeen years old when the family came to Bandera, and eighteen when they finally settled in Kerr county. She met James Monroe Starkey in Kerr county, and on April 3, 1860, they were married. She was a consecrated Christian and worked hard for the ehurch. In all religious movements she was very active. Mr. Starkey as born in Sparta, White county, Tennessee on February 6, 1820. He was named for James Monroe, the president of the United States, who gave to the world the celebrated ”Monroe Doctrine," which has been an international factor for safety for 130 years.

In 1849 James Monroe Starkey was living in Tennessee, when he and others caught the California gold fever and made the trip overland to the gold fields. There were eight friends who held together and called themselves the "invincible eight," and this name came finally to the Guadalupe valley. After five years of gold digging, James Monroe Starkey took passage by boat for Panama, and finally landed at New Orleans. Iie made his way from East Texas to Kerrville on the back of a Mexican pony. In Kerr county he soon began to clear some land for a crop, and also went into the making of cypress shingles, which at that time commanded a ready sale in San Antonio.

While living in Tennessee, he had married Elizabeth Young Ridley, who bore him a daughter and a short time thereafter passed away. The child was taken into the home of her Ridley grandparents and reared and nurtured. This daughter is now living at the age of 97.

Martha Adeline (Rees) Starkey and her husband brought into the world five children, as follows: Alice, born January 12, 1861, lived in Kerr County and for many years taught school in Kerr County and Kerrville; Jones Starkey, born September 9, 1862, killed accidentally September 9, 1868; John James Starkey, born September 21, 1870, lives in Kerrville, graduate of Coronal Institute at San Marcos, editor of The Kerrville Times, a historian and antiquarian of great ability and acumen, his ancestors came to the hill country in 1851, and his forebearers dodged Indian arrows along the Verde and along Turtle Creek, ”Jim" has followed in their footsteps in dodging Cupid's arrows for over sixty years; Alonzo Lycurgus Starkey, born August 25, 1872, has been county surveyor of Kerr county for nearly half a century, married June 3, 1900, to Pattie Hugh Goodwin, has six children; Edwin Starkey, born February 14, 1876, attended Southwestern University, married Dukie Ramey Hugh at Greeley, Colorado, February 4, 1904, lives at 706 E. 18th Street, Oklahoma City, but his early range is strong enough to bring him back to Kerr county when the grass is green in the spring, to visit the scenes of his youth.

Alonzo Rees, the fourth child, and the youngest of the Rees household that arrived in Bandera in 1851, was born on September 6, 1837. In his early years he served on the frontier forces in defense of the settlers. When the Civil War broke out in 1861 he was twenty-four years old, but had been a soldier for several years. He was sent to the coast country by the Confederacy, and soon was awarded the rank of captain. After the war was over he returned to Kerr county and engaged in farming, and stock raising, and was elected a commissioner for Kerr county, and served sixteen years. On January 16, 1868, he married Eleanor Brown. Her father, Joshua Brown, was by some considered Kerrville 's first citizen. His shingle camp was the center of this section. When Kerrville was laid out in 1856 Joshua Brown 'donated the streets, a public square and a site for the Methodist church; and he insisted that the new town be called Kerrsville in honor of James Kerr of DeWitt's colony. Later the “s" in the town's name was dropped, and was changed from "Kerrsville" to”Kerrville," which it has been for the last eighty years. Eleanor Ann (Brown) Rees was a native of Gonzales county. She came to Kerr county early, and to all intents and purposes she grew up in Kerr. She was the last of the original eight of the ”invincible eight" to pass away. She did her duty always, and she brought into the world an even dozen children: John B. Rees, who married Josephine Klein; Willie Ella, who married Rev. C. W. Goodwin; Joshua Rees, who died young; Martha Adeline married Charles Barlemann; Brownie, married William Alexander Cocke; Joe Denton, married Gertrude Ridley; Louis Luke, married Evvie D. Hagens ; Etta, married Frederick A. West; Osbon, died young; Janie Eleanor, married Wesley Carroll Carringer; Charles Jacob, married Juanita White; Abigail Katherine, who married Douglas Graves Decherd.

Mrs. Whitfield Scott, nee Harriet Gill, married Whitfield Scott in 1864 when be returned from the Civil War on a furlough. To them seven children were born. Five survived the father: Mrs. A. C. Schreiner of Kerrville being a daughter. After the Civil War the health of Whitfield Scott became impaired and they moved to Kerrville. When they arrived there it was a small struggling frontier town. Colonel Scott bought what is now the St. Charles Hotel. They lived there until he could erect a home, now occupied by E. E. Palmer. Colonel Scott was not physically strong and he took up ranching for outdoor experience. He became a leading citizen of Kerr county and was elected to the legislature twice. He was almost teetotal so far as drinking was concerned, but he was opposed to prohibition. He was elected the first secretary of the Texas State Wool Growers Association. His work in the legislature was always for cattle and sheep— the main dependence of his county. Harriet Dill was horn in Nacogdoches but the family moved to McLellan county while she was a child. She was a woman of rare refinement and was chosen to make the flag to be carried by th'e Seventh Texas Infantry in the Civil War. The flag went through many vicissitudes but at the end of the war, the flag, tattered and torn, was returned to Mrs. Scott and is one of the cherished heirlooms.

After the death' of her husband, her children scattered and she spent time with them in Kerrville, Victoria, and Monterrey.

The two Tivy sisters came to Kerrville with their brother, Joseph Tivy, in about 1870. They built a home in the present city limits of Kerrville. He bought 160 acres half a mile south of the Guadalupe. The two sisters and brother Joe had agreed solemnly never to marry. But notwithstanding this agreement pioneer conditions brought changes. Captain Tivy married the widow Losey. She died soon after becoming Mrs. Tivy. The sisters were hurt because of the marriage of their brother and felt he had broken the silent obligation. They went north, but the younger sister returned to Kerrville to live with her brother after the death of his wife and stayed there until her death. Mrs. Tivy requested before her death to be buried on Tivy Mountain which was almost inaccessible. The grave had to be blasted out as the mountain was almost solid rock. The casket had to be carried in a hack drawn by mules, as the other vehicles couldn't make it. The attendants had to walk up the steep mountain side. Captain Tivy, his wife, and young sister all sleep in graves on the mountain. Captain Joseph Tivy was much devoted to education and this took the form of concrete action. He left a substantial heritage to the citizens and children of Kerrville and the town showed its gratitude by naming the high' school Tivy High. The pupils help by keeping the graves green.

Miss Mary Tatum married Judge H. M. Burney whose family had been in Kerr county from its origination. To them nine sons were born: Judge R.H. Burney, deceased; Judge I. H Burney, deceased; Lee Burney, Center Point; Judge J. G. Burney, Austin; W. B. Burney, Cetner Point; W. M. Burney, ('enter Point; P. C. Burney, El Paso; Mac Burney, deceased; John Burney, California. The Burneys grew up as nine sons in Kerrville. The eldest attended the first school in Kerrville when it was a small place, with five straggling houses. The father was the first postmaster of Kerrville and the first judge elected after the county was organized. The school was held in the old court house aptly described as being built of logs 16 feet long, skelped, with wall 8 feet high, and with a shingle roof. The school terms even in the little towns were short. The Burney family have been factors on the frontier 'of Texas since Kerr county was created. The Burneys have occupied nearly every political position within the gift of the people and have always been faithful to their trust.

By Mrs. Herman Schultz Mrs. Christian or Rosalie Dietert was a well educated woman, having finished—as it was called—at a girls' seminary at the University City of Jena, Germany. She was a small dark haired, and brown-eyed woman, weighing about 110 pounds, though what she lacked in size she made up in a charming and energetic personality. Coming to a new and unsettled country still over-run with Indians did not daunt her. She went to live with Mrs. Theo. Wiedenfeld near Comfort. Later she went to live with a Mrs. Ridley some miles west of Comfort where she began the study of the English language.

After her marriage with Mr. Christian Dietert she settled down in a small cabin in Comfort, to housekeeping with a skillet, a small dutch oven (which was a small round iron pot with three legs and a dented-in lid to hold live coals), and a brass kettle holding about one gallon, for cooking utensils. But they were enough for the little they had to cook in those days when they had to do the cooking on a fire outside their doors. Meat there was always plenty, venison, wild turkey, fish, occasionally bear, and later beef. In the beginning there were practically no vegetables. They made a salad of wild parsley and tea from a variety of the small prairie sage, and greens from the ”lamb's quarters" or ”land squatters.” Mrs. Gustave Dietert, my father's mother, brought some vegetable seeds when they came to Comfort in 1855. Among them were some German peas which did' exceptionally well here. Everyone wa.s anxious to get a few for a start. It is noteworthy to state that the strain of this hardy pea has been kept and planted year after year by members of our family to our present time.

Some one brought a handful of squash seed to the colony which was distributed among friends; the fruits of these were not relished at first, but they flourished amazingly, and there were few vegetables to choose from. They soon learned to cook then and make them palatable.

For coffee they used a mixture of cracked and parched post oak acorns, rye and wheat grains. Later coffee was brought from Mexico. The furniture was home-made of walnut and cherry wood. The decorating was up to the women. Her home was not long without homey decorations. For the bare windows she made curtains from widths of a voluminous skirt of those days which were the admiration of all her friends; a. wall basket that seemed to be a distinctive decoration of every pioneer home, to hold letters and patterns was a semi-circle foundation of stiffened cloth or paper and covered with a piece of material with cross-stitched flower design with colored wool thread; or a crochetted piece, or a velvet beaded piece, just whatever their store of treasure yielded. Mother was an expert at handiwork which she willingly taught others. Rugs were made of corn husks or plaited of worn-out trousers and coats. She also made lovely pieces of crochet for the dresser and table. Among her treasures from across the sea she brought a set of silver knives and forks and spoons and lovely linen table cloths. For their bed spreads they pieced and quilted the loveliest quilts, some of which can still be found in homes. Every spring the house got its inside and outside coat of white wash.

Once or twice a year a pattern package came from across the sea. This was always welcomed, for it contained all sorts of handiwork patterns and a large sheet with patterned lines running up and down and criss-cross, designating certain types of dress patterns. To me when I saw a last relic of one, they looked much like a road map of today. One of which shows paved, graveled, or all weather roads. They were eagerly sought after. Dangers of Indian raids were still prevalent, so visits between places were few. When they did visit, they went two, three, or four together on horseback and side saddles. Between the stretches of homes they went in a full gallop all the way. Horseback riding was one of mother's first accomplishments in the new country.

In about 1870 some cook stoves were brought west as far as San Antonio, one of which mother became the proud possessor. No more out-door cooking in all sorts of weather—a stove and a real oven to bake bread and cakes! Her recipes were gotten out, and all sorts of good things were made for holidays and birthdays. The favorites were stollen (loaf cake), pfeffernusse (spice cookies) and schnecken (a sweet dough rolled out flat and covered with brown sugar, cinnamon, raisins, currants and pecan meats. This was all rolled up, cut into slices and baked.) This recipe soon became very popular and was given to all who asked for it until it was used in most of the homes in Kerr county. Recently at a gathering I found a dish of schnecken and I asked about it. The maker said they were the ”Dietert Cookies." “My grandmother got the recipe from Mrs. Dietert. They are still our favorite cookies," she said. I had the pleasure of telling her that I was one of Mrs. Dietert's daughters. It may be of interest to add that mother used the popular sour dough for leavening for loaf cakes. They were set in a warm place to rise. For cookies eggs were used plentifully with lots of hard beating to incorporate air. As postmistress, mother learned to know everyone that came to Kerr county. Mrs. T. K. Carr once told me that when she came to Kerrville as a bride, her husband stopped to get his wail before going on to his ranch home near Harper, Texas. When mother learned that his bride was outside in the ”buckboard," she went out and brought the young Mrs. Carr into the house. It was a very cold wintery day and she had had nothing since they came through San Antonio. She said mother made her a cup of hot coffee and set a plate of schnecken before her. That was Mrs. Carr's introduction to Kerr county, an act she always remembered.

Mother played no musical instruments, but she had a sweet singing voice and taught her children many Lutheran church hymns. Most of the Christmas carols are still popular today. While frequently attending services in churches of other denominations, she remained true to her Lutheran faith to the end.
Much more on German Settlers in early Texas and Kerr County history here. Free search engine of 100s of Hunter's Frontier Times Magazine - Texas History and Frontier Genealogy written by those who lived it.

1 comment:

  1. Can you please give the citations for the articles by Augusta Schulze? She was my great grandmother. My family has some of her family history articles that were published in local newspapers, but some of the material you post here about my great-great grandmother, Rosalie Dietert, is new to us. Delighted to find it here!