This account of the Destruction of the San Saba Mission is from the Frontier Times January 1925 issue. You can visit the Presidio de San Saba in 2015.
Personal letters written in Spanish, dating back 175 years, and containing interesting historical information in regard to the establishment of the San Saba Mission in Texas were recently brought to light in Mexico City by Dr. Lota Mae Spell, assistant librarian of the Garcia collection of books and manuscripts of the University of Texas. She obtained copies of the letters and is now translating them into English. They give an account of the early hardships encountered by the priests when the San Saba Mission on the San Saba River near the present town of Menard, was founded. They also tell in a personal way the reactions of the founder, Father de Terreros, and give an insight on the early Spanish life among the Indians.
It is expected that when the work is completely translated much valuable information will be added to the history of this early Texas mission.
The letters were discovered by Mrs. Spell last summer while she was in Mexico City. She met the Marquis of San Francisco, a direct descendant of Pedro de Terreros, the financier of the enterprise, and he graciously consented to allow her access to the archives of the family.
While hunting through this great mass of manuscripts, Mrs. Spell found these letters and obtained copies of them for the University. She also obtained a picture of an old oil painting now in the possession of the marquis, which portrays the massacre of the San Saba Mission.
According to the material unearthed from these letters, the money for the founding of the mission was furnished by Don Pedro Romeo de Terreros, Count of Regla, and the founder was Father Fray Giraldo de Terreros, a cousin of the financier. The letters were written by Father Father Fray Giraldo de Terreros to the Count of Regla.
The San Saba Mission was founded in 1756 when Father de Terreros was granted a charter by Don Barrios, then viceroy of Texas and Coahuila districts. The purpose was to Christianize the Indians and the money for the first three years expenses was to be furnished by the Count of Regla. A garrison of soldiers was sent to protect the expedition, but on account of a misunderstanding between the priests and the soldiers the fort was built across the San Saba river three miles from the mission.
Work was finished on the mission by the later part of the year. Ground was cleared for crops, a chapel and vestry was built, and the priests’ quarters and stables were completed. From the first the priests had difficulty with the Apaches and they did not desire to embrace the Christian religion. In his letters to his cousin, Father de Terreros laments this fact and speaks of the treachery and general shiftlessness of the Indians.
When spring came there were few converts. Rumors were heard of the Comanches, the northern neighbors of the Apaches being on the warpath and the Apache neophytes prophesied that their enemies would soon be in the San Saba county.
Little attention was given to these rumors by the priests, although the soldiers became alarmed and tried to force the priests to seek the protection of their garrison. This the priests refused to do and in one of his letters, Father de Terreros speaks of the idle fears of the captain.
But the padre’s ignorance of Indian treachery cost him his life. In about two weeks the little mission was awakened by the cry of “Indians “, and rushing to the windows, the priests were able to perceive the whole plain covered with strange Indians, gaily bedecked in war paint and ready for battle.
Father de Terreros attempted to appease their chief with gifts of tobacco and beads, but according to the old accounts, he was shot down in cold blood. A general massacre of the whole mission then followed and only one survivor lived to carry the news of the massacre to the garrison across the river.
The Indians pillaged and burned the buildings, drove off the stock and mutilated the dead bodies of the priests.
In his letters to his cousin, the martyr, Father de Terreros, seemed to forecast the tragic end of the mission as he stated in his last letter that the Indians were not desirous of Christianity but were savage heathen.
Our Menard County area of Texas is in the heart of Texas history. You don’t have to go far to find great stories and one place is in the Frontier Times magazine. In the September 1954 issue there are two different stories written by John Warren Hunter. The first was originally published in 1906 and is titled Nine Years With the Indians, which is about Herman Lehmann and his brother Willie’s capture by Indians from their family home in Loyal Valley, Texas in 1869.
The second story was told to Mr. Hunter in 1907, which also coincides with the accounts from Captain Lamb Sieker (Lamartine “Lamb” Pemberton Sieker), Ed Sieker (Edward Armon Sieker Jr.), and Captain Dan Roberts as told to John Warren Hunter.
Thomas P. Gillespie, member of Captain Dan Roberts’ company of Rangers,
gives the following account of the fight on the Concho Plains west of
Fort Concho, in which Herman Lehmann narrowly escaped capture by the Rangers:
In August, 1875, while scouting in the upper San Saba valley,
we discovered an Indian trail on Scalp Creek, a tributary of the
San Saba in Menard county. The trail was comparatively fresh,
and indications were that it had been made by a band of twelve
or fifteen Indians with a bunch of forty of fifty head of horses.
Our command consisted of Captain Roberts, Mike Lynch, Jim
Trout, Jim Hawkins, Ed Sieker, Jim Gillett, Andy Wilson, Henry
Matamore, myself and one or two others whose names I have
forgotten, but I think those mentioned were all that was present
on this chase. Our horses were in bad condition for a long pursuit,
but there was no alternative and we began the chase without delay.
The trail led out across the head of Dry and Rocky
Creeks in to the north part of Menard county and on in the
direction of Kickapoo Springs, crossing the Ft. McKavett and Ft.
Concho road about nine miles south of Kickapoo Springs. It was
nearly night when we reached this road and our horses being
very much jaded and suffering for water, we left the trail and
went to the springs where we remained over night. As many of
our horses had flung their shoes and were lame in consequence
we went to a ranch the next morning and reshod our stock, after
which we resumed the pursuit. Some twelve or fifteen miles
above the head of the South Concho we again came upon the
trail and followed it to the top of a mountain where the Indians
had halted and had removed the shoes from their stolen horses.
Just why they should want to pull the shoes from their stock has
always been a mystery. Several theories have been advanced by
the rangers and frontiersmen but none hold good. These horse
shoes were left where they had been pulled off and in addition
the Indians had torn two long strips from a blanket and had
placed these strips in the form of a cross on the ground, and in
this condition we found them. It was about 2 p.m. when we discovered
this sign on the mountain, the weather was dreadfully
hot, but we took up the trail and pushed on as fast as our jaded
horses could carry us. We knew from those signs so familiar
to a ranger that the Indians could not be far away and that they
were moving leisurely along and we hoped to overhaul them
before nightfall. We followed the trail, which led in a southwest
course, until we came out on the plains after which the trail
led due west. About half an hour by sun we came to a pond
where the Indians had watered their stock. The water in the
horses’ tracks was yet muddy and the grass on the margin where
the horses had come out was still wet, showing that we were
close at their heels. It being nearly night Captain Roberts said
we had better cook supper here and give our horses a brief rest,
which we proceeded to do, and after supper we remounted and
followed the trail as long as we could see. It becoming too dark
to distinguish the trail we lay by until dawn, giving our horses
a good rest which they sorely needed. By the time it was light
enough to see we were in the saddle and expecting every minute
to come in sight of the enemy. We rode at a moderately brisk
gait until 7 o’clock, when Captain Roberts suddenly halted and
said: “Boys I believe I see them. “Far ahead in the plain we could
see a few dark objects but not sufficiently to tell whether they
were horsemen or other objects. Unslinging his field glass, Roberts
got a good view of them and said: “Boys, there they are.
They are riding slowly. They have not discovered us yet. Now
you fellows close up behind me in single file. The sun is at our
backs and by following my directions we can get close in on
them before they see us.”
We were all keen for the fight and the captain’s orders were
obeyed to a letter. We rode in the manner indicated and were
within 600 yards of the Indians before they discovered us. There
were eleven of them and as to numbers we were about equally
matched. Besides the eleven, there were two riding along at a
considerable distance to the left and these two were the first
to see us and gave the alarm. We broke rank and raised the
yell—every man for himself, making full tilt for the savages. The
Indians began rounding up the herd and mounting fresh horses
and when we got near enough to do execution they scattered
and each sought safety in tall running. However; when we got
in about 150 yards of them they rallied on a small elevation and
opened fire on us. This was evidently for the purpose of giving
some of their numbers time to catch and mount fresh horses.
We killed three or four horses and probably killed or wounded
an Indian or two before this crowd broke and ran. We carried
Winchesters and needle guns and every man in the company
was a crack shot. A running fight followed and our men singly
or in pairs, selected their game and put in after them. The Indians
scattered in pairs and when our men killed a horse, the
rider would hop up behind his comrade and continue the flight.
After a run of 500 or 600 yards they brought down one of the
horses and as quick as a flash the Indian was up behind his
mate and the race continued until the horse ridden by the two
Indians began to lose his wind and began to circle a maneuver
often practiced by the Indians when cornered under like circumstances.
The boys had fired at least a dozen shots at these two Indians
during this run, but on account of their shields had failed to
bring them down. Seeing this circling ruse, Jim Gillett dismounted
and with his needle gun took deliberate aim and broke the horse’s
neck and then sprang back into his saddle
and dashed forward alongside with Ed Sieker. When the horse
fell, the Indian mounted on behind hit the ground a-running, still
holding the shield over his back, while the horse in his fall had
pinned the other Indian to the ground. The boys dashed up to
the fallen horse and Jim Gillett threw his pistol on the Indian
lying pinned under the horse, and was in the act of shooting
him when Ed Sieker shouted: “Don’t shoot him! Don’t you see
that he is a white boy?” Gillett lowered his pistol and a bare
glance showed that the boy was closely held by the body of the
horse and, even if foot loose, he could not escape, they hurried
on after the fleeing Indian whom they overtook and killed after
a race of about 300 yards. After having killed this Indian they
tarried a short while to get his scalp and to gather up his bow,
quiver, shield and other accoutrements worth carrying away as
trophies and when they returned to where they had left the
boy under the dead horse, he was gone! At this they were
puzzled beyond expression. The scene of the fight and the chase
was an open plain with nothing to obstruct the view for miles
and from the moment the horse was killed until their return to
the spot they had been in full view of the surroundings and the
boy could not have gotten away without their having seen him
start. There were a few scattered mesquites but none large
enough to offer concealment. The grass was green and seven or
eight inches high and into this he must have crawled off and
secreted himself. The search began and in a short time the entire
company came up and joined in the search. Every square rod
for a mile around was gone over and every bush and tuft of
grass was examined but no boy was found and we gave up the
search as hopeless and went away completely mystified as to
what became of him.
Some years later I learned that this boy was the captive,
Herman Lehmann, who when a child, was stolen from his
parents in Mason county and kept nine years, during which time
he became thoroughly Indianized, joined his adopted people in
their wars and horse stealing raids, but at length was restored
to his mother and became in the course of time, a good citizen.
In this fight we captured thirty head of horses which we drove
to Mason county and delivered to their owners. At the first
onset, we crowded the Indians so close that in mounting fresh
horses they had to abandon their saddles which we captured, but
being old and worthless we cast them aside.
Here are a few of historical Menardville, Menard County, Texas photos from different collections. I love the punctuation by the sign painters. Hope you enjoy!
1800′s D. G. Benchoff (Post Office) Saddlery and General Merchandise, Menardville, Menard County, Texas by N. H. Rose
1800′s Iron Clad Saloon, Menardville, Menard County, Texas
Late 1800′s Murchison and Brothers Dry Good & Groceries
1886 Menard County Courthouse designed by Oscar Ruffini 1885-1886, photo by Baker
1899 Sacred Heart Catholic Church built in Menard, Menardville, Texas. (God Bless Texas even if the flag is upside down!)
Thank you for visiting my blog and would love to hear from you.
We have a treasure in Menard County! We are located in the Texas Hill Country along the Texas Fort Trails and in our little San Saba river valley, over 257 years ago, the northern-most and largest and most advanced Spanish Colonial fortification was built.
The Presidio de San Saba (originally called Presidio San Luis de las Amarillas), was established in April 1757 by a Spanish force led by Captain Don Diego Ortiz Parilla with the combined efforts of the Spanish soldiers, priests, and Apache Indian labor. The fort was established to protect Mission Santa Cruz de San Saba (four miles down the San Saba River) which was also built in 1757. The mission was destroyed by over 2,000 Comanche, Caddo, Wichita, and other Indians on March 16, 1758. The Presidio only lasted another decade and a half, abandoned by decree of the Viceroy of New Spain in 1772.
This Menard County historical treasure has been honored as a Registered Texas Historic Landmark (RTHL) in 1971; National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) in 1972, and State Archeological Landmark (SAL) in 1981.
The presidio and its accompanying mission were the first place that Europeans in Texas came into conflict with the Comanche Indians and found that Plains Indians, mounted on Spanish horses and armed with French guns, constituted a fighting force superior to that of the Spanish colonials. The course of history was changed at the Mission and Presidio; eventually, the Spanish withdrew from the frontier creating other lines of defense along the Rio Grande.
In 1937, as part of the Texas Centennial Commission our little community partially reconstructed the northwest bastion area of the presidio complex and received a Texas Centennial marker honoring its history. My father-in-law, F. L. Wilkinson took the below two photos when the work was completed in 1937. He was an excellent photographer.
The below was stated on the State of Texas Centennial paperwork for the Presidio.
Real Presidio de San Saba was originally established on the San Gabriel as the Presidio de San Francisco Xavier in 1751. Moved to a site one mile northwest of Menard in 1757 as a protection to Mission Santa Cruz de San Saba, it was known as Presidio de San Luis de las Amarillas until March 1761, when its name was changed to Real Presidio de San Saba. An allocation of $11,800 supplemented by a contribution of $500 by Menard County was used to acquire the twenty-five acre site and to restore the stone building as it was in 1761. The plans were drawn by F. L. Napier, architect. The building is maintained by the county as a museum.
The Texas historical marker states:
REAL PRESIDIO DE SAN SABA
ORIGINALLY ESTABLISHED ON THE SAN GABRIEL RIVER AS THE PRESIDIO OF SAN FRANCISCO XAVIER IN 1751
MOVED TO THE PRESENT SITE IN 1757 AS A PROTECTION
TO THE MISSION SANTA CRUZ DE SAN SABA
KNOWN AS THE PRESIDIO DE SAN LUIS DE LAS AMARILLAS
AFTER MARCH 1761 THE NAME WAS
REAL PRESIDIO DE SAN SABA
THE STONE BUILDING WAS COMPLETED IN 1761
You can read about the celebration at my blog link:
Another good compilation of our history is in the Texas Almanac. It is a wonderful article. Here is my blog post.
Several archaeological digs have been conducted at this historic site and it has undergone significant restoration work. The site sits on almost 25 acres along the San Saba River and includes a covered pavilion with restroom facilities.
Today, we are very fortunate through support of Menard County, the Presidio de San Saba Restoration Corporation and the Texas Historical Commission, Phase I of a management plan was completed in 2011. Now we are ready for Phase II which includes a Learning and Visitor’s Center.
Through educational and diverse historical narrative which is suited to a wide audience we are able to provide a very important benefit to our community. We welcome you to come visit this wonderful site and see what a small group of unpaid volunteers can do with hard work and determination.
Heritage tourism is a big part of Menard County. Plan a trip to see the newly renovated Presidio and keep in touch on Facebook/Presidio-de-San-Saba or website http://www.presidiodesansaba.com/. Donations to support the preservation and development of Presidio de San Sabá are always welcome. You can contact the Presidio de San Saba Restoration Corporation at P.O. Box 1592, Menard, Texas 76859. The corporation has 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status.
My father-in-law Francis Lamar Wilkinson enlisted in the Navy 11 February 1942 and separated 15 November 1945. He was a Photographer’s Mate First Class and was stationed in Hawaii during the war as an aerial photographer. Here are five photos from his collection given to him by a fellow photographer taken during the Japanese surrender ceremony on September 2, 1945; which was performed in Tokyo Bay, Japan, aboard the battleship USS Missouri. Here are the photos and for reference are the ones from the Navy or National archives.
We thank all the veterans for their service!
After finishing his introductory statement General MacArthur directed the representatives of Japan to sign the two Instruments of Surrender, one each for the Allied and Japanese governments. At 9:04 AM, Foreign Minister Shigemitsu signed, followed two minutes later by General Umezu. General MacArthur then led the Allied delegations in signing, first Fleet Admiral Nimitz as United States Representative, then the representatives of China, the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, Australia, Canada, France, The Netherlands and New Zealand. All signatures were in place by 9:22. Following a few brief remarks by MacArthur, the ceremonies concluded at 9:25.
Japanese Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu signs the Instrument of Surrender on behalf of the Japanese Government, on board USS Missouri. Lieutenant General Richard K. Sutherland, U.S. Army, watches from the opposite side of the table. Foreign Minister representative Toshikazu Kase is assisting Mr. Shigemitsu.
You can see another view of this photo at the Naval History and Heritage Command Photo #SC 213700 from the Army Signal Corps at this link: http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/images/s200000/s213700c.htm
General Yoshijiro Umezu, Chief of the Army General Staff, signs the Instrument of Surrender on behalf of Japanese Imperial General Headquarters, on board USS Missouri (BB-63), 2 September 1945.
Watching from across the table are Lieutenant General Richard K. Sutherland and General of the Army Douglas MacArthur. Representatives of the Allied powers are behind General MacArthur.
General of the Army Douglas MacArthur signs the Instrument of Surrender, as Supreme Allied Commander, on board USS Missouri (BB-63), 2 September 1945. Behind him are Lieutenant General Jonathan M. Wainwright, U.S. Army, and Lieutenant General Sir Arthur E. Percival, British Army, both of whom had just been released from Japanese prison camps.
Another one solved!! This is one of my unidentified photos in my glass negative collection I have previously posted. I have had so many people help me with the photos and locations and appreciate all the help! Unfortunately the photographer is still unknown but thanks to J. T. Koenig, President of the Rosenberg Family Association this is his ancestor’s house built in the King William Historic District in San Antonio, Texas.
This is the Axel Meerscheidt home. Axel was the son of Arthur Meerscheidt and Amanda Caroline von Rosenberg of Fayette County Texas and was a large part of the King William Historic District in San Antonio, Texas. You can see more about this family at the links:
Below is the photo he shared with me.
Here is what I found on an Internet search. This is from the King William Association. I am so happy to find all this history!!
I bought the Stieren House at 503 East Guenther Street four years ago. Upon moving in, I read Mary V. Burkholder’s book, Down the Acequia Madre, and I learned many historical facts about the house. It was built in 1891 by Carl Stieren, who lived here with his wife Hedwig. Carl was a lumberman and entered into business with the Meerscheidt brothers, Axel and Paul, who owned a large area spanning 33 acres, south and east of South Alamo Street. Together they sold lots and built houses in the area, developing the Meerscheidt River Subdivision where my house stands today.
As a newcomer to the King William Historic District, I became enthralled by the history of our neighborhood and was floored when I received an intriguing letter in the mail. The letter began, ”I am a relative of Axel (Alexander) Meerscheidt.”
The letter was from Neale Rabensburg of La Grange, Texas, and it contained an old photograph (above) of what he thought might be my house. The picture was taken in the 1890′s and was published in The Story of My Life, an autobiography by Erna Meerscheidt, Axel’s daughter.
While visiting San Antonio and researching his family history, Mr. Rabensburg saw my house and thought he might have found his ancestor’s homestead – the house Axel Meerscheidt built for his family. In her book, Erna notes that their home backed up to the river and that she was born in the master bedroom of the house on July 24, 1893.
I immediately responded to Neale’s letter and told him what I knew about the Stieren family living here, and I referred him to Burkholder’s book. He was one step ahead of me as he had just finished reading the book’s description of my house. He was surprised to read that Hedwig Stieren had lived here. He told me that Erna Meerscheidt’s mother, Olga Meerscheidt, was Hedwig Stieren’s older sister! The story took a new twist. Carl Stieren and Axel Meerscheidt were brothers-in-law! Could they have all lived in the same house?
The fact that my address was different was bothersome but Mr. Rabensburg and I thought that the similarity between the houses merited further research. In the 1894 City Directory of San Antonio, Mr. Rabensburg had found that Axel Meerscheidt lived at 515 East Guenther. I quickly realized that 515 East Guenther no longer exists! I took Neale’s photograph across the street to my neighbor, the savvy architect Charles Schubert who knew at first glance that the house in the photograph was not my house.
My curiosity led me to the San Antonio Conservation Society Library. Conservation Society volunteer Frederica Kushner was very helpful and soon found the 1952 Sanborn Fire Insurance map that cracked the case.
The Axel Meerscheidt house was next door to mine where the condominiums are today. The estate was huge and labeled with two addresses; 515 East Guenther and 101 Crofton. Unlike the houses surrounding it on the map, the Meerscheidt house was barely visible because of an attempt by a 1950′s cartographer to cover it with glue and paper. The attempt was proof that the house was there in 1952 when the map was printed but gone by 1957 when the map was amended. Further research in the city directories confirmed that the house met its demise in 1957. We also came across a 1942 newspaper article reporting a small fire at 101 Crofton which had apparently become the Convent of the Sisters of Guadalupe! More research will have to be done to find out exactly what happened to the house.
I told Mr. Rabensburg, “At least we have a photo of the house and we know exactly where it stood. It makes perfect sense that Axel Meerscheidt would have had the largest estate and the grandest house in the area! He certainly must have been a leader in the community!”
Mr. Rabensburg sent me a newspaper article printed in 1936 that confirmed my beliefs. The San Antonio Express article meticulously recounts a visit by President Benjamin Harrison in 1891. It was the first time a President of the United States had ever visited San Antonio. The city was in a tizzy. The very first Battle of Flowers Parade was planned to honor the President. Rain forced a cancellation of the parade and moved the reception indoors to the Grand Opera House (site of today’s Ripley’s Believe it or Not). Every seat in the Opera House was filled to the rafters.
The article detailed the seating arrangement at the event: “the President occupied the center seat of the front row. On his right sat in order, Postmaster General John Wannamaker and Secretary of Agriculture Jeremiah McLain Rusk and on the President’s left sat Mayor Bryan Callaghan and Axel Meerscheidt, the latter representing the commercial bodies of the city.”
The Meerscheidt Homestead is a piece of the San Antonio puzzle that we did not know was missing. Thanks to Neale Rabensburg, our history is now a bit more complete.
- Belinda Valera Molina
More about the Meerscheidt Family
In last month’s newsletter, Belinda Molina wrote about the Axel Meerscheidt house that once stood next door to her house on E. Guenther. Sadly, the Meerscheidt house burned in the 1950′s. Belinda has communicated with Neale Rabensburg, a descendent of the Meerscheidt family, who has generously shared excerpts from the memoir of Erna Meerscheidt. Erna, daughter of Axel and Olga Meerscheidt, grew up in the house.
THE STORY OF MY LIFE
By Erna Meerscheidt Weeks Bouillon
“……..but after my grandfather’s death [Dr. O. Remer of New Braunfels], grandmother [Franciska Schleier] moved to San Antonio where several of her children had settled. My father [Axel Meerscheidt] had a darling little house built for my grandmother across the street from this large home in the Meerscheidt Addition [515 E. Guenther, later changed to 101 Crofton]. Our home was really a mansion, built in red brick with white rock, around curved windows, and the curved entrance door. It had a marble foyer and beautiful, stained glass windows. The mansion has now been turned into a chapel by the Catholics. It was of French architecture, located in an exclusive residential district named after my father, the Meerscheidt Addition.
”You see, my father had studied architecture at the University of Heidelberg, Germany. He had been sent from Texas, where the schools were very poor at the time, to live with his Aunt Emma Koerber and his Uncle Karl, an attorney. Their home was in the Black Forest in Germany, Bad Harzburg. He was around thirteen or fourteen years old when he went over [to Germany from Texas] and remained about ten years. He did not practice as an architect in San Antonio but used his knowledge of it by opening up exclusive residential districts and having a beautiful house or two built in each to encourage others to buy property and settle in these districts. He did very well, and traveled to Europe with his whole family every few years.
“In the evenings in the summer when it was so very hot, we children were allowed to stay up late. It would have been impossible to sleep anyway. With mother and father, we would sit on the upstairs long gallery and sing. The southern skies on a warm night were very dark with many stars twinkling like lightning bugs. Father often went down to the little corner beer parlor two blocks away and brought back a little pail of beer. Mother and father would each have a large glass of beer so it was real cozy. I don’t remember that we children had anything to drink, although we might have been given lemonade.
“The property of the estate ran down to the river about one hundred feet back. Large pecan trees grew in the back. There was a steep drop to the river. We had a heavy rope with a huge knot at the end on which we took turns sitting. The other children would run way back, give a push and out we would swing over the river’s bank. This was fun, and we could hardly wait for our turn.
“We had a great deal of help—in the house and yard—and German cooks my father imported from Germany when on a trip there. Dressmakers also came into our home in those days since clothes were made at home and not in factories as now.
“I wore white dresses until I was four or five years old. The ironing woman would hang rows and rows of beautifully ironed frocks and petticoats and panties on lines in the ‘ironing kitchen’ as it was called. It was a beautiful sight to behold. It was a kitchen because there was a stove to heat the irons—no electric irons in those days.
“We went to Germany when I was five years old, then the next summer we traveled through many parts of Europe bringing to me additional unforgettable memories. I shall never forget sitting with my sister Emita and a tutor, a young, energetic teacher, on three wrought iron chairs with a wrought iron table very near the Radau River’s edge, studying arithmetic, Bible study, German reading and the writing of German script.
“When we returned to my Aunt Emma’s home after the following summer’s travel to say good-bye to her, the tutor asked my father to take him back to San Antonio. He offered to pay all of his own expenses and father took him.
“Not long after we returned to San Antonio, my father heard at the German social club he belonged to that the Menger Hotel on the San Antonio River needed a greeter to meet all travelers. The tutor applied, got the position, and did so well that he soon became the manager of the social activities of the hotel. He made many new plans such as serving meals outside along the river bank at noon and in the evenings. At night the Japanese lanterns, which he instigated, lit the river bank. This became a tradition continuing to this day all along the San Antonio River as it winds through the city.”
There was a pamphlet written and printed by John W. Hunter, the publisher of the Menard County Enterprise in 1905 that names Menardville – Summerland. The below pages are from the Don Wilkinson collection and are a Special Edition about our little valley town and are possibly written by Mr. Hunter. These could be from multiple publications and at different times and dates but what a great description of the people and town in our part of Central Texas in the Edwards Plateau.
This is another unidentified glass-plate negative photo from the late 1800′s. The seated gentleman is the same man in the Nic Tengg blog post.
I am still trying to identify the photographer. Great photo!
Nic Tengg started his business in San Antonio in 1874. Here is one of my glass-plate negative photos and you can see a safe behind the stand-up desk with the name Nic Tengg.
Wonder who took this photo, when and where this is located? Could any of these men be one of the five sons of Nic Tengg?
Here is an 1895 map of San Antonio made by Nic Tengg showing his address as 220 West Commerce Street, San Antonio, Texas.
You can click the map and go to a larger photo.
I found the two below photos on Flickr and the invoices for Nic Tengg with 218 West Commerce Street, San Antonio, Texas.
In my research for the date of my glass-plate negative photo of the Alamo; (http://blog.wilkinsonranch.com/2011/09/23/my-research-and-images-of-the-history-of-the-alamo/) it shows that the named business; Nic Tengg was located for over a half century on the south side of West Commerce, just east of Oppenheimer Bank in what was originally called “The Old Curiosity Shop” by Julius Berends. Nic bought this business in 1874.
Nicolaus Tengg was born in Austria on 6 December 1847, son of Eva Meyer and Thomas Tengg, both born in Austria. His family moved to San Antonio in 1852 by way of Indianola. He went to German-English school and then to St. Mary’s College. He worked for Julius Berends, a bookseller and stationer whose business was established in 1854. It was San Antonio’s first book store which he called “The Old Curiosity Shop”. Berends was very successful and his store was a gathering place for German intellectuals. Berends and his friends organized the Krankenkassen Verein, the Casino Society, and the German-English School, for which he served as director for 15 years. The building still stands today as a reminder of the high educational standards of those early German immigrants. It was built by Johann Kampmann.
In 1874, Berends returned to Germany and Nic bought his business and Nic Tengg’s bookstore became an institution in downtown San Antonio and remained a family enterprise throughout its ninety-year existence, eventually involving several of Nic Tengg’s sons. He was a bookseller, stationer and printer also map maker. The business was located on the same block for over a half century on the south side of West Commerce, just east of Oppenheimer Bank. At one time Nic served as Secretary of the old German-English school established by Berends and other members of the immigrant community. He was first secretary of San Antonio’s Turnverein.
On July 19, 1927, Nic Tengg , widower, died from a cold that developed into bronchitis at his home on 326 East Crockett Street. He was buried on 21 July 1927, in a family plot in the City Cemetery No. 1, at the far west end. He married Louise Plumzer on 27 August 1866, she was a member of a German-immigrant family. They had 9 children, 5 sons and 4 daughters. Their eldest son was named Julius (1867-1966) in honor of Julius Berends. The Nic Tengg business was closed by the family in 1964.
Some of this information came from the personal files of Mary El-Beheri, Julius Berends’ biographer.
1903 UDB Hugo Schmeltzer Building Alamo San Antonio TX
Sold Date: 05/01/2009
Channel: Online Auction
An undivided back card with a black and white view of Alamo Plaza, San Antonio, Texas. The Alamo itself can be seen to the right. In the middle of the shot is the Hugo Schmeltzer Building, with the Post Office behind it. Nice details. The image is marked “7 Nic Tengg” in the lower right corner. There is no further publishing information. This card was sent from San Antonio to East Saint Louis, IL in 1903.
This is in my personal collection; postcard by Nic Tengg.
Paula Allen – Paula Allen
Web Posted: 02/14/2010 12:00 CST
A photo of the San Antonio post office from a viewbook published by bookseller Nic Tengg in 1907.
PHOTO COURTESY OF NIC TENGG (MY NOTE: you can see this building in my blog post http://blog.wilkinsonranch.com/2011/06/26/help-me-to-identify-texas-1800s-glass-negatives/)
I found a book of very sharp, clear photos of San Antonio in a shed behind my house with some of my parents’ belongings and wonder what it might be worth. The publisher is Nic Tengg; on the same page, it says Albertype, Brooklyn. The first page has a picture of the Alamo. The rest are photos of the (Spanish colonial) missions, courthouse, post office, Sunset Depot, San Pedro Park and other places around San Antonio, attached to the pages like in a scrapbook. There is an introduction that refers to San Antonio as “the largest and oldest city in Texas” and gives the population as 53,321 from the 1900 census. Can you find out anything about this book?Norbert Bustos
Known as souvenir viewbooks, albums like this were published from the late 19th through early 20th centuries. For tourists who didn’t have cameras, they provided an elegant alternative to carrying home a sheaf of postcards. The publisher of your book was Austrian-born local bookseller/stationer Nic Tengg (1847-1927), who also published postcards and maps, printed brochures and letterhead stationery, and sold other paper goods and books in his shop at 220 W. Commerce St.
Its printer was the Albertype Co., which operated from 1890 to 1952 in Brooklyn, N.Y., as a postcard and viewbook publishing company, says the introduction to a finding aid for a collection of photos held by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, www.hsp.org. Founded by Adolph and Herman L. Witteman as Witteman Bros., the company changed its name to emphasize its process — “the technological innovation of the collotype or albertype to photomechanically reproduce images.” According to this document, Adolph Witteman and other photographers took photographs in cities and towns all over the United States, producing more than 25,000 collotypes of these images, which were “distributed across the United States in the form of postcards and viewbooks.”
Books of this kind “are sometimes rare, depending on the title,” says Ron Tyler, Ph.D., director of the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth. “The (highest) value, of course, would be placed on books that are complete and in good condition.”
Your book, according to comparisons with similar volumes in local libraries, is one of many different versions Tengg published. The San Antonio Conservation Society has the 1905 edition, which does not include an introduction.
“Many of the pictures were the same, although not always in the same order,” says Beth Standifird, Conservation Society librarian, who examined your copy. “A few pictures differed in the angle or place from which they were taken, (but) the scrapbook-style format was the same.”
The Texana/Genealogy Room at the central San Antonio Public Library also has a copy, cataloged as “San Antonio,” by Nic Tengg, published in 1907 by Tengg. Texana Manager Frank Faulkner saw your copy and says it’s from the 1907 edition, which has the introduction you quote. Both your book and Texana’s have green paper covers, about the weight of construction paper; both fasten on the left side with a string threaded through holes punched in the paper.
“However, the ‘San Antonio’ (title) on a good copy is indented with white paint in the letters,” says Faulkner. The white coloring is missing from your copy, as are two of the 23 pictures.
At the DRT Library, archivist Caitlin Donnelly and librarian Martha Utterback would like to see your copy, which sounds similar to the “San Antonio Album,” an undated book in the library’s collection that seems to match your book in some respects. The sequence of photos in both books is similar, although the Album doesn’t have an introduction and has hard, red covers. Another book there, “Picturesque San Antonio Texas,” has paper covers like yours, but its photo of the post office is not labeled in the lower right-hand corner as yours is. Donnelly suggests you visit the library on the Alamo grounds to compare the two books and to pick up a copy of the DRT Library’s list of appraisers. This list does not constitute any endorsement by the DRT, but could help you get started on finding the value of your book.
You may also stop by the History Shop, 713 E. Houston St., where Jim Guimarin has handled San Antonio photo books at prices ranging from $25 to $400. “Normally, anything less than original makes it half or more (of the possible top value),” he says. At the time of this writing, a Washington, D.C., bookseller was offering a copy of “Picturesque San Antonio, Texas, Photo-Gravures,” published in 1904 by Tengg, with “original green wrappers (faded and soiled), ties lacking, spine very worn,” for $165 at Advanced Book Exchange, www.abebooks.com.
E-mail questions to Paula Allen at history email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/sahistorycolumn.
Menard County and the town of Menard were given the name of a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence, member of the Texas Congress, and founder of Galveston, Michel B. Menard (1805-1856) (research shows his middle name to be the family patronymic Brindamour after his grandfather Jean Baptiste Menard called Brindamour, but historians have published it as Branamour or Branaman). Colonel Menard never came to Menard and died in 1856 two years before the State Legislature honored him during the 7th Legislature on January 22, 1858. The county residents attempted to organize the county government June 25, 1866, but when the attempt failed the legislature placed Menard County under the jurisdiction of Mason County. So if I understand correctly, the first deed records of the county are located in Mason. Menard County residents finally elected their own officials in 1871. The county seat was originally named Menardville when the site was laid out in 1858. The town is located on the banks of the San Saba River.
You can read more about the forming of Menard County at the link at the Portal of Texas History, The Laws of Texas, 1822-1897 Volume 4: http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth6730/m1/935/?q=Menard
In the west part of the county was Camp San Saba which was first established on March 14, 1852 and was abandoned in 1859 but regarrisoned in 1868, at that time named Fort McKavett in honor of Captain Henry McKavett of the 8th New York Infantry, who was killed in the Battle of Monterrey, September 21, 1846. The fort was abandoned June 30, 1883. Thankfully in 2014, you can visit in Menard County the Fort McKavett State Historical Site along with the Presidio de San Saba.
Here is an article from newspaper THE MENARD NEWS – Centennial Edition published November 11, 1971, as a Souvenir Keepsake Edition.
First Decade 1871 to 1881
Menard County was created by the 7th Legislature on January 22, 1858. Until that time the area now known as Menard County had been a portion of Bexar County. Official organization of the county was delayed until 1871, following a failure in 1866 of the citizens to gather the necessary votes for a permanent organization. Further attempts at county establishment were delayed until the close of the Civil War. In the meantime, the settlement of Menardville was considered to be the county seat. This small village was very near to the geographic center of the 900 square mile county. The State Legislature proclaimed that the new county be named Menard in honor of Col. Michel Branaman Menard, a man of extraordinary aid in the development of early Texas. He was best-known for laying out and helping to establish the city of Galveston, and for serving in the Texas government. He died in 1856, several years before the organization of Menard County. The fact that the Legislature so-honored him is a great tribute to his enduring courage and noble character.
May 22, 1871 was the date set for the meeting called to further plans for the organization of the infant county. Three justices of the peace were present, presiding justice Captain J. J. Callan, Thomas J. Reese, and William I. Vaughn. The fourth justice, George Paschal, did not attend this meeting. The first two official county appointments were made by the group, Willie Prescott as Clerk and Louis Wilson as Sheriff.
The order for Menardville to be the seat of justice was handed down on May 29, 1871. An ad valorem tax of one-sixth of one percent was affixed with a county road tax of one-sixteenth of one percent. The first road commissioner was William Tipton. The first courthouse was a picket house.
Pioneer life in early Menardville was hard. The settlers worked hard to provide their families with food, with homes, which were usually picket houses with dirt floors and no room to spare, and to protect them from Indian raids which continued until 1875, although the biggest attacks were in the time of 1869-70. These Indians raided every light of the moon, stealing horses and murdering anyone caught in their way. It is claimed that the soldiers at nearby Ft. McKavett in the western part of the county did little to protect the settler. It was necessary for the early pioneers to depend on the Texas Rangers in the area.
There was little opportunity for an active social life in the early days. Social activities included quilting bees, dances, croquet games, and horse racing at the Ranger Station. These events were few and far between, forcing the settlers to enjoy them all the more. One treat was watching the stage as it went through town, with seldom a stop longer than just to toss off the mailbag and grab the out-going bag. Travel was held to the minimum, considering it took four days to travel from Menardville to Austin.
One of the first hotels in the thriving little community was Deckers’ Hotel, where you could get a room and three meals for $1.00 a day. That hotel was located on San Saba Avenue in later-day Menard.
In spite of hardships and Indian perils, there were about 15 or 20 students in the school.
Officials during the first decade of organized government included:
Commissioners of Precinct 1 – J. J. Callan, P. H. Mires, Jno. T. Scott, E. S. Ellis, E. Vanderstucken, Commissioners of Precinct 2 – Thomas J. Keese, O. Striegler, Peter Robertson, Jno. Campbell, Commissioners of Precinct 3 – George Paschal, W. M. Holmes, Wm. Lehne, Jno. Flutsch, and Sam’l Wallich; Commissioners of Precinct 4 – W. J. Vaughan, Isaac Sellers, Jos. M. Jackson, F. M. Kitchens, W. J. Wilkinson and D. P. Key.
Chief Justices – Captain J. J. Callan, P. H. Mires, and Jno. T. Scott.
County Judges – Samuel Wallich and A. B. Wyatt.
Sheriffs and Tax Collectors – Louis Wilson, J. L. Howard, C. P. Nunley, J. W. Cart, W. C. Harter, J. N. Blakeley, J. H. Comstock, and H. W. Merrill.
District and County Clerks – Willie Prescott, John McNeese, Thomas Cunningham, C. M. Hubbell and R. P. Beddrow.
County Treasurers- Jno. Bradford, Richard Robertson, E. S. Ellis, Wm. J. Vaughan, and W. W. Lewis.
Tax Assessors – L. J. Decker and Jos. Layton.
County Attorneys – C. C. Callan, Geo. W. Dexter, J. D. Hill, and Jno. Alex Smith.
Justices of Peace – James Moorhaus and W. W. Lewis.
Postmasters – Lee C. Blake, when post office was established in 1868, John Bradford, Willie Prescott, John McNeese, John T. Scott, Ludwig Decker, and V. D. Stucken.
Col. Michel B. Menard, whose portrait appears in the courthouse, was born in Canada of French parentage in 1805, and came to Texas in 1833, after a number of years previously spent among the Shawnee Indians. He gladly cast his fortune with the struggling Texas colonists to break the yoke of Mexico.
Fitted by inclination and natural endowment, his great industry and capacity enabled him to render conspicuous service to the Texas Patriots in this great cause that had its happy termination in San Jacinto.
This picture is an enlargement from an old daguerreotype of Col. Menard, formerly owned by Col. Thomas F. McKinney of Galveston and Austin, whose close personal friend and business associated he was. The owners of this original, relative of Col. McKinney, have taken pleasure in cooperating with Judge J. M. Matthews so that people of Menard County could have this authentic likeness of one of the most heroic and outstanding characters of early Texas history and in whose honor the County and County seat have been named. Picture by Jordon Co, Austin, Texas.
You can also see another photo of Michel B. Menard, founder of the town and namesake of Menard County at the Galveston County Historical Museum.
You may go to the below link at findagrave and see the headstone and burial place of Col. Menard.
|Birth:||Dec. 5, 1805
|Death:||Sep. 2, 1856
Galveston County Texas, USA
Indian trader, entrepreneur, and founder of the Galveston City Company; namesake of Menard County, Texas. There is a historical marker honoring Michel B. Menard in Galveston, Galveston County, Texas at the Old Catholic Cemetery.
More about the sketch of life of Michel B. Menard is found at this link. http://scholarship.rice.edu/handle/1911/37463
A historical report about the uncle of Michel B. Menard, Pierre Menard has the below information.
In the Edward G. Mason’s Early Chicago and Illinois – Chicago, 1890 (Chicago Historical Society’s Collection, vol. IV) it reads: Two of Pierre Ménard’s brothers, Hypolite and Jean François, followed him to Illinois and settled at Kaskaskia. The former was a successful farmer, and the other a famous navigator of the Mississippi. Both led useful and honored lives, lived to an advanced age, and both rest near their brother Pierre in the old cemetery at Kaskaskia. A nephew, also, Michel Ménard, having as well the family patronymic of Brindamour, who was born at LaPrairie, December 5, 1805, made his way to Illinois at the age of eighteen. For several years he was employed by his uncle Pierre in trading with Indians. He obtained great influence among them, and was elected chief of the Shawnees. It is said that he almost succeeded in uniting the tribes of the Northwest into one great nation, of which he would have been king. In 1833, Michel went to Texas, was a member of the convention which declared its independence, and of its congress. A league of land was granted to him, including most of the site of the City of Galveston, which he founded, and where he died in 1856. It is related that the Indians said of him, as of his uncle Pierre, whom in many respects he resembled, “Ménard never deceived us.”
More can be read about Pierre Menard and the letters from Pierre Menard’s parents in Chicago Historical Society’s possession.