Veterans Day observances this year included the annual Veterans Parade downtown, a wreath-laying ceremony at the Alamo, programs at both national cemeteries, and a week of events at the University of Texas at San Antonio http://utsa.edu/today/2014/11/veteransday14.html. We use the occasion to look back at previous commemorations of Veterans Day (known as “Armistice Day” until 1954).
News accounts describe the first observance, November 11, 1919, as a full day of activities that began after a large crowd assembled in front of the Alamo. At the exact time of the signing of the armistice, bi- planes from Kelly Field suddenly appeared high above the city and gradually circled lower until they dropped flowers as a tribute to those who lost their lives during the War. After the planes retreated, there was a program of speakers and musical selections, followed by a large military and civic parade. Later in the afternoon, there was a football game between the Kelly Field and the YMCA teams. In the evening, there was a band concert in San Pedro Park.
While we do not have any photographs of that first Armistice Day, there are images of subsequent observances in San Antonio. Here are a few examples from the San Antonio Light (MS 359) and San Antonio Express-News (MS 360) collections.
UTSA Libraries Special Collections is seeking a student clerk to assist with digitization of the Sons of the Republic of Texas Kathryn Stoner O’Connor Mexican Manuscript Collection.
The Kathryn Stoner O’Connor Mexican Manuscript Collection, collected by the Sons of the Republic of Texas, is made up of printed and manuscript documents, periodicals, pamphlets, and broadsides, predominantly written in Spanish, and ranging in date from the 16th through the 20th centuries. The collection includes government documents, financial records, legal petitions, political and ecclesiastical decrees, wills and legal testaments, and personal and business letters. A broad array of topics is covered in the collection, including information on government, politics, finances, work, religion, social status, marriage and family, and numerous other subjects of social and historical interest.
Job Title: Student Clerk
Job Description: With training from Department Head, Digital Archivist, and Rare Books Librarian, the student will carry out tasks relating to digitization. Activities may include paging and re-shelving, scanning, metadata editing, uploading digital objects, and other duties as determined.
Qualifications: Graduate student preferred. May consider undergraduates with library or museum experience. Strong attention to detail and willingness to perform repetitive tasks. Familiarity with scanners and image editing software. Willingness and ability to work in conditions with occasional exposure to dust and mold. Spanish language literacy preferred.
Work Schedule: Flexible during office hours, Mon-Fri.
Hours per Week: 9 – 19
How to Apply: Submit resume and cover letter to email@example.com. If you have questions regarding the position, please contact Special Collections at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Castroville was founded by empresario Henri Castro in 1842. Castro’s early life history is described in Julia Nott Waugh’s Castro-ville and Henry Castro Empresario. Born in 1786 to a Jewish Spanish-Portuguese family in St. Esprit, France. Castro came to the United States in 1827 as Consul for the Kingdom of Naples at Providence, Rhode Island, where he took an oath of U.S. Citizenship. His business interests straddled both continents in the following decades, and in the early 1840s, he traveled to Texas. Here, he developed the colonization project that led to Castroville’s founding.
Castro’s agreement with the government of the Republic of Texas, as recounted in Henry Castro and His Homestead (1978) by Cornelia E. Crook, required that the colonization project be completed within three years, lest he forfeit all of the matching grants promised to assist the effort. Castro arranged for immigrants – mostly Catholic Alsatian farmers – to be transported to San Antonio in 1844, from where he accompanied them to the site of present-day Castroville, twenty-five miles west of San Antonio. Unfortunately, Castro had not seen the site for himself prior to arriving with the settlers and was dismayed to find no reliable source of water on the grant. He was, however, able to make arrangements with John McMullen to permit his Castro’s settlers to establish homes on McMullen’s Grant.
Cornelia English Crook’s 1988 Henry Castro: A study of Early Colonization in Texas takes note of the many challenges facing Castro’s colony in its early years, including raids from surrounding Indian tribes, drought and crop-consuming locusts in 1848, and a cholera epidemic in 1849. Despite these hardships, the settlers slowly built a thriving community. By the early 1850s, it possessed two churches (Catholic and Lutheran), three stores, a brewery, and a gristmill. The town had also become the county seat of Medina County in 1848 and a courthouse was completed in 1855.The town’s architecture had a European cast, with ground floors of stone and second floors with vertical timber. Like Kerrville, Castroville was located in an area rich in cypress trees, which were logged heavily for shingle-making.
Customs, as well as architectural styles, were brought from the Old World to the New. In The Story of Castroville (1961), Ruth Curry Lawler relates that for many decades, the feast day of the patron saint of St. Louis Catholic Church, was celebrated on August 25th (later, this celebration moved to the Sunday nearest the 25th and was called Home Coming Day). She also notes that, although she was unable to identify the reason behind it, she observed that nearly all weddings in the area were celebrated on Tuesdays, and a unique wedding custom required that the groom gift each altar boy with a piece of silver before entering the Rectory to sign the register.
In 1892, the county seat moved to Hondo and residents voted to dis-incorporate their town. Although Castroville remained unincorporated until 1948, the population slowly grew over the course of the 20th century as the community continued to produce corn, oats, wheat, vegetables, and hay. By the 1980s, other businesses included grain processing, farm implement dealers, and a center for applied research in genetics and artificial breeding of livestock.
Those interested in learning more about the history of Castroville and its settlers may also wish to consult Castro’s Colony: Empresario Development in Texas: 1842-1865 (1985) by Bobby D. Weaver or explore the more than one hundred images of Castroville available in UTSA Libraries Digital Collections.
Ruben E. Ochoa, “CASTROVILLE, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hjc05), accessed October 28, 2014. Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
The Brown and Lane Family Papers span the years 1853 through 1992 and include the correspondence of several generations. Correspondence consists of exchanges between family members recalling daily activities, travels, work, relationships, and illness. The close ties between family are evident in the frequency and tone of the letters which were often written daily or weekly when family members were apart and served to keep husbands and wives, parents and children, and siblings emotionally connected when separated geographically. News from loved ones was impatiently anticipated while mail slowly made its way to anxious recipients. Family members were often chastised or apologetic when weeks instead of days passed before responding to a correspondent’s latest offering. Reciprocity was expected and the frequent exchange of letters was part of one’s weekly if not daily to-do list.
Henry Denison Brown was one of the most prolific correspondents in the family. When courting his future wife, Jeanie Valliant Brahan, Henry wrote love letters to her daily and grew frantic when she did not hear from her as frequently. All it took was a letter from Jeanie to transform Henry’s day while he was away. Henry married Jeanie in 1881 and they eventually moved to San Antonio where Henry worked as the head teller at Breckenridge Bank. In 1884, Jeanie and Henry had their first child, a daughter Elise Denison Brown. As Elise grew and went off to school, Henry continued his passion for writing letters, corresponding with Elise frequently while she was away at school. Henry often included notes from Martha, Elise’s sister. The affectionate tone of the letters speaks to the strong bonds that existed between father and daughter and connected older and younger sister.
Elise Denison Brown attended the University of Texas at Austin and was the first member of the Iota Chapter of Chi Omega Sorority. While in college, Elise studied Spanish, earning a Master of Arts degree. She put her proficiency in Spanish to good use, working as an interpreter in Mexico City for several years before making her way back home to Texas. Elise turned her attention to entrepreneurial pursuits, becoming one of the first women home builders in San Antonio. Elise and her husband Barton George Lane, Sr. had four children, the eldest Elise Lila Lane and Henry Lane carried on the family tradition of keeping close through letters while living in different parts of the country.
When Henry moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1930s, he shared details of this new chapter of his life with his sister Elise. Studying accounting and law, Henry was a dedicated student who earned his degree as a Certified Public Accountant. Despite his grueling academic schedule, he found time to keep Elise up to date on his life in the city by the bay. Henry had an apartment on Nob Hill from which he could see the lights of the ferries as they glided from the city to the shores of Marin County. Henry described the city in wonderful detail, proclaiming there was simply no where else on earth as beautiful proclamiing that anyone residing elsewhere was being “gipped.” Henry’s love for the Bay Area never waned; he anchored his life there after marrying Sally Brown who hailed from one of San Francisco’s founding families.
While correspondence forms the foundation of the Brown and Lane Family Papers, other items in the collection include Elise Brown Lane’s Chi Omega materials and financial records. Also in the collection are assorted print materials including two handwritten recipe books which contain favorite recipes and homemade concoctions used to remedy common ailments such as rheumatism. The collection is housed at UTSA Libraries Special Collections on main campus and can be accessed by submitting a Request Access to a Collection Form.
San Antonio photographers have included dogs in their photographs since at least the 1860s. A well-known photograph, from around 1868, shows a sleeping hound beneath a covered wagon parked in front of the Alamo. In another one, also from the 1860s, three dogs have wandered into the frames of a stereograph of San Fernando Church and Main Plaza. However, the three dogs are not in sharp focus due to the long exposure times required in those days.
By the late 19th century, the required camera exposures were reduced to such an extent that close views of dogs could be taken. Owners could take their canine friends to photography studios. Sometimes pet and owner would be placed in positions of equal prominence. At about the same, amateurs began taking pictures of their pets with a Kodak camera.
In late 1924, the San Antonio Light newspaper hired their first staff photographer. Within a few months, the first feature photo of a dog appeared in the paper. Many more appeared in subsequent years. From pampered pets to sporting dogs, these images provide a record of the various roles dogs have played in the lives of San Antonio residents.
- MS 22. Women’s Overseas Service League Records – 7 linear feet of records and artifacts from the Washington, DC unit
- UA 15.01.15 UTSA. ITC. Research and Collections Department, .33 feet of items deposited by Sarah Gould, Lead Curatorial Researcher
- UA 99.0020 UTSA. Papers of Faculty and Staff: Perry, George, 1 linear foot of correspondence
- UA 14.01 UTSA. Center for Archaeological Research Publications Collection, 25 pdfs
Seguin is located east and slightly north of San Antonio in Guadalupe County. At the time of Martín de Alarcón’s explorations in 1718-19, the area was inhabited by migratory Lipan Apache and Tonkawa tribes. Subsequently, several Mexican and Anglo land titles were established in the region, including that of José Antonio Navarro’s ranch, just north of present-day Seguin. The town became the county seat of Guadalupe County when it was formed in 1846 and was incorporated in 1853.
In 1831 Umphries Branch, arguably the first Anglo settler in the area, received a league of land on the northeast bank of the Guadalupe. Initially called Walnut Springs when it was laid out in 1838 by thirty-three shareholders, the town was re-named in 1839 in honor of Juan N. Seguín, an important political and military figure in he Texas Revolution and its aftermath.
An Authentic History of Guadalupe County (1951) by Willie Mae Weinert may be somewhat lacking in narrative flow, but provides a wealth of details about dates, names, and legislation relating to Seguin’s 19th and early 20th century history. This book also includes several one-page illustrated features on unique aspects of Seguin’s history. One of these highlights the City’s care in preserving its many ancient live oak trees, including several on the Court House lawn. According to local lore, a generous hunter in the mid-19th century hung a slaughtered buffalo from one of the live oaks in Central Park, accompanied by a knife for passersby to cut off steaks, and a sign reading “Take what meat you need, but woe to him who takes the knife.”
The residents of Seguin have a long-standing tradition of founding and supporting educational institutions. Seguin’s first schoolhouse was established around 1845 by Methodist Minister Reverend David Evans Thompson and his wfe Elizabeth Ann Thompson. By 1850, a high school had been established that offered a Male Acadmy and a Female Academy. Other religious denominations also pursued educational efforts, and in conjunction with the Second Baptist Church, the Freedman’s Bureau established a school for African Americans in 1871. Further details of Seguin’s educational history (as well as more general history and details of the community’s civil war involvement) may be found in Under the Live Oak Tree: A History of Seguin (1988) by E. John Gesick, Jr.
A recent memoir entitled Crossing Guadalupe Street: Growing Up Hispanic & Protestant (2001) by David Maldonado, Jr. looks at some more difficult aspects of Seguin’s history. While Maldonado recounts many happy memories of growing up in the security of his extended family and the Methodist Church that they attended, he also recalls the social, ethnic, and religious divisions that fragmented Seguin and many other small Texas towns in the pre-civil rights and pre-Vatican II era.
In addition to these volumes, other materials relating to Seguin in Special Collections include an Inventory of the County Archives of Texas. No. 94 Guadalupe County (1939), Slave Transactions of Guadalupe County (2009), and MS 221, a general store ledger from Seguin, TX including transactions between 1867-1870. A number of photographs of the community are available in UTSA Libraries Digital Collections.
John Gesick, “SEGUIN, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hes03), accessed September 24, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.