Menard County Texas Courthouses
Here is a compilation of the history of Menard County Texas courthouses. Menard County Texas was created January 22, 1858, which is 163 years ago.
Due to problems, Menard’s citizens didn’t elect its officials until 1871. The first meetings were held in a picket house at the corner of San Saba Street and Ellis Street. A gas station later occupied the site. (Menard County Historical Society, 1982)
The second building used as a courthouse was a limestone commercial building in downtown Menard. It was designed by Patrick Henry “Paddy” Mires and built by B. Strom in 1880. This building housed the Menard County courthouse and jail from 1880-86. The first floor had Paddy’s store in front with the jail at the back. The second floor, accessed only by an outside stairway on the west wall, was the courtroom. The jail was reportedly a dungeon, in the building’s northwest corner, into which prisoners were lowered and from which they could not escape without a ladder. Some members of the Commissioners Court felt that both the building itself and its location were insufficient for the county’s needs. In February 1884, they discussed building a new courthouse and jail and, later that year, sold the second courthouse building to Fritz Luckenbach for $100. Mr. Luckenbach used the building to start his hardware store, and substantial additions were made in the 1930s. The original Mires building was converted and sold as a private residence. (Texas Courthouse Alliance; Menard County Historical Society, 1982)
The Commissioners Court ordered on May 13, 1884, that bonds be issued for the construction of a new courthouse and jail, and county residents responded by passing a $20,000 bond issue. The courthouse and jail were designed by architect T. P. Minor. The construction firm, Vickery and Haynes of Kimble County submitted the lowest bid, $12,500, and was awarded the courthouse contract on May 12, 1885. A separate builder Walker Mowath & Co., was used for the jail. A public privy was also erected for $209 by Scruggs & Schuchard.
The two-story stone courthouse, which featured a prominent central tower, was built on the current courthouse square near the canal. The similarly styled stone jail was at the southern end of the square, near the site of the current courthouse. The second jail, completed in June 1886, was freestanding, two-story limestone cube. It had castled turrets on each corner and crenelations on all four sides. It was designed by Oscar Ruffini.
At that time, the north and south halves of the square were still separate blocks, divided by Canal Street. As shown on the 1921 Sanborn map, the 1885 courthouse and jail both occupied the south block, with the north block reserved as open public space.
In the 1920s, Canal Street was closed between Tipton and Gay Streets, and the blocks were combined to form one lot, creating the long narrow square seen today. As shown on the 1930 Sanborn map, Mission Street was also closed between Tipton and Gay Streets, along the southern boundary of the square.
The facilities were used for forty-five years until 1931, when a new courthouse with a jail on the top floor was completed. Both the 1885 courthouse and jail were razed when the new courthouse was built in 1931. The stones from the old courthouse and jail were used to build the fence around the Pioneer Rest Cemetery in Menard. The Works Progress Administration (WPA) provided the labor in 1933-34 to lay the stones for the fence, but the arch was added later. (Menard County Historical Society, 1982)
The historical courthouse was build by Withers and Thompson; Porter, E.D. The 1931 courthouse building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is designated a Recorded Texas Historic Landmark and a State Antiquities Landmark.
We are very thankful to County Judge Richard Cordes for working tirelessly and receiving two Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program grants from the Texas Historical Commission and seeing the completed renovations of the courthouse.
Menard: Menard County Courthouse
Today, May 27, 2021, I had a nice slow drive in my Ranger behind a Dozer and skid-steer Bobcat headed to the back of our ranch to start work replacing a fence. I was the ride home, but could take my time getting there, so took some photos of what we see driving down the roads. We have flint and fossils everywhere and the lichen is different on each rock. Enjoy!
We are blessed to live in Real County, Texas on the original ranch first owned by my great grandfather, Alexander Kennedy Auld in the 1870’s. The headquarters are on the top of the Divide on the West side of US Highway 83 where the water shed flows to the West Prong of the Frio River. Here are a few photos from our pasture taken today. Hope you enjoy! Click to enlarge any photo.
San Saba Mission Painting.The Destruction of Mission San Sabá in the Province of Texas and the Martyrdom of the Fathers Alonso Giraldo de Terreros, Joseph Santiesteban, a huge (83″ by 115″) painting, was commissioned around 1762 by mining magnate Pedro Romero de Terreros, cousin of Father Alonso de Terreros and principal benefactor of Santa Cruz de San Sabá Mission. Its intent was to express both the horror and significance of the massacre as well as to honor the priests’ martyrdom. Speculations about the identity of the painter have ranged from indefiniteness to dogmatic certainty. Whoever he was, the artist likely worked in the studio of Miguel Cabrera, the dominant painter of mid-eighteenth-century Mexico. A great deal of evidence suggests but does not prove conclusively that one of Cabrera’s artists, José de Páez, executed the painting.
In The Destruction of Mission San Sabá, the placement of the figures of the two slain priests makes their deaths the window through which the viewer interprets the painting on both the actual and figurative level, since these deaths were what invested the massacre with the element of heroic sacrifice. At the foot of each of these large figures is a shield bearing a biographical sketch of the priest, who is depicted in the manner in which he died, complete with weapons and blood in appropriate places. In addition to biographical information, the shields commend the priests’ character and sacrifice. The shields bracket a scroll that briefly summarizes the purpose of the mission and praises its major financial supporter, “the illustrious Knight don Pedro Therreros of the order of Calatrava.” In the fashion of painters of other historical tableaus, the artist has placed an alphabetized key to the eighteen events depicted in the painting in the lower half of the scroll. These vignettes are illustrated by 300 separate figures, each incident marked by a large red letter.
The painting was the only such work executed in Mexico in the mid-1700s that attempted to document a contemporary historical event; the few other visual depictions of scenes from this period in the nation’s history are in the category of “historical views.” Just as most American painters of the time took their artistic cues from Great Britain and, to a lesser extent, continental Europe, so colonial Mexican painters followed European artistic precedents, which dictated that “history painting” refer to classical or biblical themes. If an artist wished to portray contemporary historical figures, he dressed them in classical garb and allegorized the incident in which they were involved. Traditionally, American art historians have pointed to Benjamin West’s Death of General Wolfe as the painting that started a “revolution” in historical painting toward realism in the portrayal of contemporary historical events (1770). Although The Destruction of Mission San Sabá did not have a similar influence, it was painted at approximately the same time and was one of the first historical paintings to portray its subjects in contemporary dress.
The painting is important primarily as an artifact, as the earliest known painting of a Texas historical scene by a professional artist. Its contents, however, are not intended as a historically reliable account of the attack. Comparison with the deposition of one of the survivors, Father Miguel Molina, indicates that the painter included many of the events mentioned by the priest, although the wording of the alphabetized key is not a literal transcription of his account. But the artist also omitted some events while embellishing others. Certainly, the painting has much to commend it as a piece of visual, documentary evidence of the battle, especially since it was executed shortly after the massacre and a survivor may have advised the artist. Nevertheless, The Destruction was intended primarily as hagiography, with history as a secondary consideration. The canvas was soon famous in Spain as well as Mexico and served beautifully as a piece of “contemporary propaganda and…current morality,” celebrated primarily for its ideological overtones rather than for its aesthetic or documentary qualities. In the 1990s it was located at the Instituto Nacional de Antropología y Historia in Mexico City.
Sam D. Ratcliffe, “Escenas de Martirio: Notes on the Destruction of Mission San Sabá,” Southwestern Historical Quarterly 94 (April 1991).
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Sam D. Ratcliffe, “San Saba Mission Painting,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 22, 2021, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/san-saba-mission-painting.
Published by the Texas State Historical Association. Original Publication Date: January 1, 1996 Most Recent Revision Date: February 16, 2019
I scanned a 28 page little black photo album that belonged to Laura Forrest Harryman Bradford. The photos are not labeled but are such a wonderful look at a time during the early years of circa 1915-1925 in Menard County, Texas. I am hoping someone will be able to help identify some of these folks.
My husband’s maternal grandmother was Laura Forrest Harryman who married George H. Bradford on January 29, 1921 in Menard County, Texas. Mamo, as she was called, was born in Weesatche, Goliad County, Texas on October 2, 1895. She moved to Menard with her family between 1900 and 1910. When she married George, Dado, as he was called, Mamo was 25 years old. She was 31 in 1926 when she had Laverne Bradford, who marries Francis Lamar Wilkinson in 1946, and then Laverne got polio and with three years of daily therapy Mamo kept her from being crippled. When Mamo turned 40, she had Georgia in 1935. Mamo and Dado were married for 59 years and had a long and wonderful life until Dado died at the age of 82 in 1980. Mamo lived many years at the Menard Manor after a debilitating stroke and died March 8, 1988 at the age of 92. You can read more about her family at the post: https://blog.wilkinsonranch.com/2017/07/08/pate-and-martindale-family-photos/
********************Photos from Little Black Album