Crabapple School Open House – December 10

The Crabapple Historic School (located off Hwy 965 at 14671 Lower Crabapple Rd.) will be open to the public this Saturday, December 10 from 11:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. as part of the Friends of Gillespie County Historic Country School Trail’s monthly open house and fund-raising promotion. A map to the school, and other schools on the trail, is available at the Fredericksburg Visitor Information Center at 302 E. Austin St. Admission is by donation. For more information, call the Fredericksburg Convention and Visitor Bureau at 830-997-6523.

Travis’ Letter – Happy Texas Independence Day

Commandancy of the Alamo
Bexar, Feby. 24th 1836

To the People of Texas & all Americans in the world —

Fellow citizens & compatriots —

I am besieged by a thousand or more of the Mexicans under Santa Anna —

I have sustained a continual Bombardment & cannonade for 24 hours & have not lost a man —

The enemy has demanded a surrender at discretion, otherwise, the garrison are to be put to the sword, if the fort is taken —

I have answered the demand with a cannon shot, & our flag still waves proudly from the walls —

I shall never surrender or retreat.

Then, I call on you in the name of Liberty, of patriotism & everything dear to the American character, to come to our aid, with all dispatch —

The enemy is receiving reinforcements daily & will no doubt increase to three or four thousand in four or five days. If this call is neglected, I am determined to sustain myself as long as possible & die like a soldier who never forgets what is due to his own honor & that of his country —

Victory or Death.

William Barret Travis
Lt. Col. Comdt.

P.S. The Lord is on our side — When the enemy appeared in sight we had not three bushels of corn — We have since found in deserted houses 80 or 90 bushels & got into the walls 20 or 30 heads of Beeves.
Travis

419 West San Antonio – Hoffman-Keller House

In February 1869, Johann Hoffman built the house of solid limestone with two rooms on the first floor, and a large bedroom and storage room on the second floor. The front room, larger in size, was the combination bedroom and sitting room. The smaller room behind it was the kitchen. Originally there was a narrow, ladder-like stairway that led out of the kitchen into the storage room (or rumpelkammer) at the back of the second floor. A small window in the east wall lit the stairway. Martin Keller, a Cain City farmer, bought the house when he retired. By 1938, the Kellers had died, and the family sold the home. It passed through several hands and many of the changes seen today were made, perhaps including the removal of the plaster that originally covered the limestone walls.

Continue down San Antonio to Edison Street and turn right, towards Main Street.

Texas History Day – February 16

Fredericksburg based Former Texas Ranger Foundation has partnered with the Gillespie County Historical Society and the Texas Heritage Music Foundation of Kerrville, to produce “Texas History Day”, a truly unique event that will be presented at the Pioneer Museum, 325 West Main Street, in Fredericksburg on Saturday, March 16, 2013. The event is scheduled during Spring Break as an outreach program aimed at the youth of Texas to present messages of Texas History and Texas Values.

Daytime programming will focus on character education by presenting the Five Character Traits of the Texas Ranger (courage – determination – dedication – integrity – respect), while being wrapped in the theme of Frontier Texas, through presentations of song, storytelling, magic and field reenactments. An estimated 2,000 – 2,500 people are expected for the outdoor staging portion of the event from 10:00 AM through 5:00 PM, and will culminate that evening with a catered dinner and concert by award- winning Texas author and singer Mike Blakely. Seating for the evening dinner and concert is limited to 200 patrons.

Admission for the daytime activities is $5 for adults, $3 for children age 7 to 17, and children under 7 are free. The evening dinner show is $40. All proceeds will benefit the Pioneer Museum and Texas Heritage Music Foundation.

Make plans to attend this family oriented, entertaining yet educational event …………
WHERE TEXAS HISTORY and TEXAS VALUES COME TOGETHER for TEXAS YOUTH.

For tickets and information contact Evelyn Weinheimer, Event Coordinator, at the Pioneer Museum (830) 990-8441.

117 West San Antonio – Old Gillespie County Jail

Turn left on Crockett street, then turn left on San Antonio Street.

117 West San Antonio – Old Gillespie County Jail

In 1852, the Gillespie County Commissioners authorized construction of the first jail. It was to be 18 by 18 feet wide, with an 8 foot high, two foot thick wall. It was built near where City Hall stands today, on the corner of North Orange and Main Street. The county’s first courthouse was across the street where the old Post Office stands today. But this first jail was not well built, and after a couple of escapes, the second jail was authorized in 1859, and built by Ludwig Schmidt behind the Court House, about where Nimitz Parkway runs. The third jail was built in 1874 on the South Side of the Courthouse. At daybreak January 7, 1885, fire broke out in the jail and a prisoner named William Allison, indicted for the 1884 murder of John Braeutigam, lost his life. According to once source, Allison set the fire himself, hoping to burn his way out of jail, but the fire got out of control.

By this time, the second courthouse, the McDermott building, had been constructed, and the Commissioners authorized a fourth jail to be built by C. F. Priess and Bro. for almost $10,000 on the townlot originally granted to Justus Herber. The contract called for the jail to be 25 feet wide, 35 feet deep, and 20-22 feet high with two stories. The contract also called for “waterclosets, privy, sinks, wash sinks, water tank,” etc., and bids were advertised in the San Antonio Express, Austin Statesman and Friederichsburger Wochenblatt.

The jail was finished in December 1885. Downstairs is a lockup, and jailer’s quarters. The lockup later was used as a women’s cell. Iron steps lead to the upper floor. On the east wall of the second floor are two steel cells, each with a crude lavatory and commode, and at one time steel cots were riveted into the walls. Going through a solid steel door, one reached the back room, or maximum security. Two cells stand in the center of the room with a “run around” around them where prisoners could get exercise. The only heat for the upper floor was a wood heater in the corner of the back room. Prisoners in the front cells were often moved to the back cells in extremely cold weather.

John Dietz built the wall surrounding the jail, complete with glass topping the walls, a crude but effective way to keep prisoners from scaling the wall, and often seen in Mexico.

When the current courthouse with its upstairs jails were built in 1939, the jail was converted into living quarters for William Heimann, the custodian of the new building, and his wife. When they moved out, the building was used for storage. In the late 1970s, Fredericksburg Heritage Foundation funds, matched by Texas Historical Commission dollars, restored the old jail. The sheriff’s office and kitchen are authentically furnished, as are the sheriff’s living quarters. Graffiti decades old still mars the cell walls upstairs.

The building is locked, but the wrought iron gate to the jailyard is kept unlocked so that visitors may examine the building’s exterior. The building is open for tours every year for the Candlelight Tour of Homes, held the second weekend in December.

605 West Creek – Peter Walter Home

Peter Walter was in the first wagon team arriving in Fredericksburg. He started work on this little fachwerk cottage soon after his arrival in 1846, using materials from the immediate neighborhood. A freight hauler, Walter farmed the surrounding land between supply runs to Fort McKavett. St. Barnabas Parish bought the little house in 1952, restoring and consecrating it as a mission in 1954. When President Lyndon Johnson came to Texas to stay at his ranch, he would often worship at this church.

Continue West on Creek Street.

East Corner of West Main and North Milam – Evers Building

Karl Itz and Ludwig Evers, Karl’s brother-in-law, acquired the land from Peter Itz in 1867. When the three lots were partitioned, Ludwig took the corner lot. While Ludwig farmed and ranched in the northwestern part of the county, they moved into town in their old age and settled in the little log and rock house which was adjacent to this place. The floorplan of this building was fairly simple. Downstairs there was one large room, with a thick stone wall dividing it from the smaller back room. Underneath is a large cellar. At one time the steps led up along the east wall on the inside of the building, but these have been removed and an outside stairway put in their place. The upstairs was originally one large room, which was later divided with frame partitions. When the building was renovated, the rock walls in the front were knocked out and the show windows and additional upstairs windows were added. At one time the John Knopp family lived upstairs and he operated a saloon downstairs, selling groceries and some staples. During these years this place also figured in the “beer war.” At the time Frederick Probst was brewing beer on the street behind here and it was selling for 10 cents a glass all over town. Knopp sold Pearl Beer from San Antonio and sold it for 5 cents a glass. Probst closed his brewery a few years afterward. Later a doctor, feeling that goat’s milk would cure most people’s ills occupied the building and kept a lot of goats here to supply the demand. He shortly went out of business. The building has housed a dentist office, a millinery store run by Mrs. Louis Henke, Otto Schneider’s grocery store, Walter Knopp’s grocery store, Haversack Wines, W-K Electric, and now David’s Pit Barbecue.

“Log Cabin Days” at Pioneer Museum – October 12

With the crispness of fall in the air, the Pioneer Museum in Fredericksburg is opening its gates for Log Cabin Days – Living History, a special event where families can experience life on the frontier, on Saturday, Oct 12, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Kids can take a turn at making rope, churning butter, grinding corn, and spinning wool. Demonstrators will show how to wash with a scrub board, weave pots, create “seed art,” and perform other household and homestead chores.

Throughout the day, visitors can explore the Pioneer Museum’s entire 3.5-acre site. Features include one of the first stores in Fredericksburg, a smokehouse, blacksmith shop, one-room schoolhouse, and an original Sunday House.

All Living History activities are included in the regular museum admission – $5 for adults, $3 for children. The Pioneer Museum is located in downtown Fredericksburg at the corner of Main Street and Milam Street.

The Gillespie County Historical Society, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to preserve historic sites and objects in Gillespie County, while promoting interest in Texas history. For more information, call (830) 997-2835.

Admiral Nimitz Foundation Distinguished Speaker Series with George P. Shultz – March 4

Join us in Fredericksburg, Texas, the birthplace of Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, for the initial event of the 2015 Admiral Nimitz Foundation Distinguished Speaker Series, at 304 W. San Antonio Street.  Featuring George P. Shultz, former Chairman of President Ronald Reagan’s Economic Policy Advisory board and Secretary of State from 1982-89.  All tickets include dinner and open bar.  Cocktail Party begins at 6 pm, Remarks and Q & A at 7 pm, followed by Dinner.  Signed copies of Issues on My Mind: Strategies for the Future by George P. Shultz will be available at the Cocktail Party.  To be held at the St. Mary’s Parish Center.  Space is limited and is on a first come basis.  To purchase tickets immediately, contact Laura Nelson at (830) 997-8600 ext. 200 or nelson@nimitzfoundation.org

Individual tickets are $250.

Northwest Corner of Orange and Saint Mary’s Street – St. Mary’s Catholic Church

Mariekirche, or the Old St. Mary’s church is one of old Fredericksburg’s landmarks. When the building next door was built in 1906, the original church was remodeled to be a parochial school. When the new school building was built across the street, the old church fell empty once again. For several years, restoration funds were collected through Wild Game Dinners and Damenfests.

St. Mary’s history goes back almost to the city’s founding. The Catholics, who were among the first settlers, worshipped in the Vereins Kirche, and in the home of John Leyendecker, a schoolteacher. In 1847, Fr. Dubois, a Frenchman who later became bishop of Galveston, and Fr. Salazar, a Spaniard, arrived here to hold mass, the first Holy Mass in Fredericksburg. Although they were only here for two weeks, the local Catholics were inspired to build their own church.

The original townlot was granted to Gerhard Rehmann, who, in 1854, conveyed the lot to members of the Roman Catholic Church for $18 cash. Included in the conveyance were the lots where the St. Mary’s Elementary School now stands. For many years this was where the St. Mary’s rectory stood. In the summer of 1849, Fr. Menzel, a native of what is now Czechoslovakia, arrived as minister. Since the church had not been finished, services were held in the Rectory. When he returned to his homeland and year and a half later, he had left behind a large wooden cross to replace the ones left by Spanish missionaries.

In 1853, Bishop Odin of Galveston, who was later transferred to New Orleans, administered the first sacrament of confirmation in the city. In 1859, a popular Jesuit priest, Fr. Weinninger, spent three weeks here. A popular missionary of the day, the parishioners pleaded for him to return. He asked that a church be built as a condition of his return. Work on the Marienkirche started in 1860 and was finished during the early days of the Civil War. The Church’s most distinctive feature is its stone spire, a strong reflection of the homeland Gothic. It has recently been restored. “New” St. Mary’s supplanted the Marienkirche in 1906, more finely detailed and delicate in appearance but equally Gothic, and is one of Texas famed Painted Churches.