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Kerrville: From Shingles to Summer Camps

September 1, 2014
Kerr County Texas, 1854-1956 (1956) by Bob Bennett. UTSA Libraries Special Collections.

Kerr County Texas, 1854-1956 by Bob Bennett. UTSA Libraries Special Collections.

Located northwest of Boerne, Kerrville is known for its distinctive karst landscape and prosperous businesses. Originally established as a shinglemakers’ camp, Kerrsville (later Kerrville) was platted in 1856 after Kerr County was organized, and narrowly won the designation of county seat. The community was named after James Kerr (1790-1850), an member of Austin’s Colony who was involved in the establishment of Gonzales and served as the Lavaca delegate at the Conventions of 1832 and 1833.

Kerr County Texas 1856-1956 by Bob Bennet is a celebratory account of Kerrville’s history from from the time that Kentucky settler Joshua D. Brown journeyed up the Guadalupe River in search of giant cypress trees suitable for shingles, to the ideological (and physical) battles between pro-Union and pro-Confederacy residents, to the arrival of the San Antonio & Aransas Pass Railway in 1887, to Kerrville’s mid-century “boom” as summer camp destination: Presbyterian, Methodist, YMCA, Lion’s Club, and various non-religiously-affiliated camps for girls and boys.

Special Collections also holds a publication by an earlier Kerrville booster: an issue of Grinstead’s Magazine, circa 1915. With a writing style that is “folksy” almost to the point of caricature (and at some points offensive to modern readers), his introduction compares Kerrville to the land of Canaan, and encourages readers:

[R]ead this magazine. Then, if you need a change, for any reason except theft and murder, come on up and help us possess some of the good things of the Hill Country of Southwest Texas.

Grinstead's Magazine, circa 1916. UTSA Libraries Special Collections.

Grinstead’s Magazine, circa 1915. UTSA Libraries Special Collections.

The remainder of this issue consists of detailed descriptions and illustrations of Kerrville’s climate, architecture, industries, and local leaders. One of the town’s leading men highlighted in this section is Captain Charles Schreiner, whose mercantile business established after the Civil War grew into a local business empire continued by several generations of the family.

More detailed information on the Schreiner family and its rise to fortune is found in the biography Charles Schreiner, General Merchandise: The Story of a Country Store. Having come to Texas from France as a child, Schreiner grew up in San Antonio and served for three years in the Texas Rangers before establishing a ranch in Kerr County in 1857. Following a stint in the Confederate Army during the Civil War, Schreiner entered the mercantile business in Kerrville, gradually expanding its interests to banking, ranching, and wool.


Glen E. Lich, “KERRVILLE, TX,” Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed August 25, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

W. Eugene Hollon, “SCHREINER, CHARLES ARMAND,” Handbook of Texas Online(, accessed August 28, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

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