Bexar County Historical Commission
Oral History Program
Interview with: James S. Maverick
Interviewer: Clyde Ellis
Date: June 28, 1977
Place: Sunshine Ranch Road, Residence of Mr. Maverick
E: Mr. Maverick, I want to ask you a question about your early family. When did they first come to Texas? Do you remember?
M: My grandfather, Samuel Augustus Maverick, came to San Antonio in September, 1835.
E: He really was an early arrival. Just a little bit after the Canary Islanders. They were here in the 18th Century, weren't they?
M: When he arrived in San Antonio, the Texans had just about decided to revolt against Santa Ana, who was taking over all their civil rights.
E: I wanted to ask you a little about him. What was his ancestry? Where did he come from?
M: He came from Pendleton, South Carolina, up in the mountains of western South Carolina.
E: How was he related to the relative from Charlottesville?
M: Now you are on the other side of the fence. He was not related to them. That was my mother's family.
E: O.K. Well, we'll have to keep that separate. But I do want to go into that. So, what's the history then of Samuel Augustus Maverick?
M: His father was Samuel Maverick (and there have been a number of Samuel Mavericks) in Charleston. He was raised in Charleston and left there because of the yellow fever epidemics that they had there.
E: Now what did the family do in Charleston?
M: They were ship builders, and my great grandfather owned 17 ships ... 17 seagoing ships. They were all taken by the English in the Revolutionary War.
E: Well, now, the family were English to begin with, weren't they ... the Maverick family?
M: The Maverick family came from England. And at quite an early date, just a few years after the arrival of the Mayflower.
E: Yes. And then this particular branch was in Charleston.
M: One of the Mavericks sold his holdings in Massachusetts and moved to Barbados where he was quite a large land owner and plantation owner. And then his son moved to Charleston and his name was Samuel Maverick and there was another, his uncle, named Samuel Maverick, too. And he moved there. One of them became the first Governor of the Colony of Charles Town (later Charleston), of the State of South Carolina.
E: That's interesting. And that's a recurring name in the family, isn't it?
M: Yes, there were so many Samuel Mavericks when they moved to Charleston, that's where we lost track. We don't know whether it was the young Samuel or his uncle Samuel whom we are descended from.
E: That does make that research difficult when there are that many of them. And this particular forebearer left Charleston because of the yellow fever.
M: Yes, several children in the family died.
E: And so did he come then to Texas?
M: No. He was my great grandfather. He moved to northwest South Carolina, up in the mountains near Pendleton. And his son, my grandfather (Samuel Augustus Maverick) was tired of the politics in South Carolina, because they were talking about seceding from the Union, and he didn't believe in that and he wanted to be where he would be out free, like in Texas.
E: So then when he went to the mountains, did he have sort of a ranch?
M: The Samuel Maverick who moved to Pendleton was my great grandfather. He never came to Texas. He had a big plantation there which is still there ... the home is still there. We visited it and it's one of the show places of the town.
E: Is it still owned in the family or ...
M: No. A rather poor farm family bought the place, but they were so much interested in it that they spent all the money they could get hold of in repairing and putting it in first class order. And it's one of the tourist places to be visited in Pendleton.
E: Well, that's interesting. So then the ancestor who came to Texas ...
M: ... was Samuel Augustus Maverick.
E: He was a son of the ship builder in Pendleton. Okay. I wonder what motivated him to come to Texas? How do you suppose Texas came to his notice?
M: He had read and heard about Texas, as everybody had in the United States at that time. It was the "land of opportunity" and ...
E: Was it being promoted as a real estate thing?
M: No, except that it was known that you could buy land very cheaply at that time, at a very low price. He bought some land from the government which was then Mexico. The head of the State was in Coahuila. The capital of the State of Coahuila, Texas, was Monclova, nearly 300 miles from San Antonio ... "Coahuilan Texans". He bought some land from the State and then he bought, after Texas became independent, why he bought scrip, so many acres of scrip, and he was, besides being a lawyer (he graduated from Princeton) he had studied law and also was a surveyor. He would buy the scrip at 6¢ an acre and then go out and locate land that he had bought, and survey and claim it.
E: That's interesting. So he came here when it was still property of Mexico, that State of Coahuila, and then Texas shortly thereafter, it became an independent Republic.
M: Yes, just three months after he was in San Antonio.
E: Did he come directly to San Antonio or did he settle first in another area?
M: No, he didn't settle anywhere else. But he came in with a good deal of money, and he bought land as he came along. He bought a good deal of land in Texas before he arrived in San Antonio. And when he arrived here he went and stayed at the home of John W. Smith, who later was the first Mayor of San Antonio.
E: Had they had an association prior to his coming here?
E: Now, this is your great, great grandfather?
M: No, that's my grandfather. Samuel Augustus Maverick is my grandfather.
E: All right. Did he have any active part in the legal part of organizing the Republic of Texas?
M: He did. Now three months after he arrived here, the town was encircled by the Texian army, and there was a good deal of dissension among them. They were all volunteers and they encircled the town for about three months or longer. And there was no one willing to take command and come into town against the fortified army of maybe a thousand or so trained soldiers. So Maverick and Smith were finally put under house arrest, but they got out and joined the Texian army. By that time, Ben Milam was there and they entreated the Texians to attack the city at once, because the soldiers in town were in a demoralized condition and they were afraid. And so Ben Milam then shouted: "Who'll follow Ben Milam into San Antonio?" And Sam Maverick acted as his guide into San Antonio. Milam was killed on the second day, but Col. Francis W. Johnson took over command immediately, and the battle went fiercely forward. Four days later, Gen. Cos ran up the white flag of surrender. Mr. Maverick was present when the Articles of Capitulation were signed in the "Cos House" on Villita Street.
E: To have been such a new arrival he found himself deeply involved in the affairs of this area.
M: He certainly did. And then John W. Smith, after this surrender, sent his family East ... all the females in the family ... and there was no place for them to stay so they moved into the Alamo. And they were considered a part of the garrison of the Alamo, but there was an election held there when Texas decided to have a "Convention of the People of Texas" at Washington-on-the-Brazos. And Sam Maverick was elected, almost unanimously, they said, by the men in the Alamo to represent them ... he and Jesse B. Badgett. And the two of them left there a few days later and, while they were in Washington-on-the-Brazos, signing the Texas Declaration of Independence, they heard that Santa Ana had attacked San Antonio and that the Alamo had fallen.
E: Goodness. Well, were the women ... what had happened to the women in the family who had been sent to the Alamo? Had they, you know, John W. Smith and ...
M: No, he sent his family East.
E: Oh, I see. Okay. Then what course did he take after that?
M: John W. Smith?
E: No, your grandfather.
M: He stayed there for awhile ... he was a lawyer ... one of the very few lawyers present and he helped write the Constitution of the Republic of Texas. Then when Santa Ana's army came, it's obscure exactly what he did-whether he took part in the Battle of San Jacinto or not. But the diaries say that right after the Battle of San Jacinto he went East, and met a young lady.
E: Was this in Alabama?
M: Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Waited there and then married her there.
E: How did it happen? Do you remember her name?
M: Mary Ann Adams. She was a descendent of the same family as the two Adams, Presidents of the United States.
E: Well, it was rather interesting. How did you tell me he met her ... they just happened ....
M: She was riding. As he approached this town of Tuscaloosa, he saw this blond young lady of 18 years old riding a horse through the country, and he made it a point to meet her soon after and he stayed there until they were married. And then he took her to visit his father.
E: Now she is distinguished in San Antonio annals as having written her memoirs. And she's called San Antonio's First American Woman.
M: Yes, I believe that was right, because young John W. Smith married a girl of Spanish descent.
E: Well, so they went to visit his family.
M: In Pendleton, and there their first child was born: Sam Maverick, my uncle.
E: And they stayed there awhile. Did they come back to San Antonio then?
M: They left Pendleton, South Carolina, the day the baby was 5 months old. A carriage and two Negro slave families and a wagon. My grandfather rode on a horse and they came back to Texas then. Reached here in 1838.
E: Had he gotten a house by then?
M: No, he bought a house after they reached San Antonio. It was where the old Kampmann building was at the Northeast corner of Main Plaza where the Bern's Department Store is now.
E: Do you have any idea when that was torn down? Have you ever seen pictures of it?
M: No, I never have seen any pictures of it. It was an adobe and stone house with a flat roof with a parapet around it ... around the top. And that was where the Texans tried to defend themselves later, when the city was invaded in 1842 by 1800 Mexican soldiers under General Adrian Woll.
E: Was he administering this land he had been buying over the years ... of the period when he came to San Antonio and ...
M: He never was a rancher at any time. Later, when he came back to San Antonio, it was after the Republic of Texas, he was owed a debt from land he had sold and he took in trade ... the man said he could pay him in cattle but he could not pay him in cash. So he took 400 head of cattle at $3.00 each, making $1200.00 and he put them on a place that he owned, an island at that time in Matagorda Bay. There came a drought and the cattle began to swim ashore so he moved them up to a place along the river south of San Antonio ... about 40 miles south of San Antonio. Land he had there. He had a Negro family living there and this family failed to brand the calves so people would see a calf running around without any brand on him or maybe a grown animal, and they would say: "That's Maverick's." So that is the way the word "maverick" originated.
E: So a maverick cow, at that time, was one which was not branded.
M: If the calf was young enough to be suckling its mother, it was illegal for you to put your brand on it, but if they were big enough to be out on their own and grazing on the land, anywhere, there were no fences then, you could take that animal ... perfectly legally ... and put your brand on it. And so when he sold his cattle a number of years later to Mr. Beauregard, the brother of the well known General Beauregard, the deed ran "400 head as they run" and they sold them for $6.00 apiece. So he doubled his money (laugh) in only 10 years.
E: How many children did he have?
M: He had ten children but there was a great deal of .... San Antonio was quite an unhealthy place in those days and they had several children die in the epidemics.
E: Was it cholera?
M: Cholera. They had one epidemic of cholera and then one or more, and they had other epidemics. I believe it was yellow fever and they lost three of their children then. And that made them believe that the place they were living in was a very unhealthy spot. So they moved over to the corner of Alamo Plaza and built a house at the corner of what is now Houston and North Alamo Streets, where the Gibb's Building now stands. It was a two-story wood house and it was there that my father was born. He was the youngest one of the ten.
E: Do you have pictures of the house anywhere or do you have any ...
M: There are some pictures. I don't know whether I can find one or not. I think I could. It's a very poor picture and it shows some oxcarts on the Plaza in front of the house.
E: Was he very involved in San Antonio or Texas affairs at this time ... by the time they had moved over on the Plaza and had such a large family?
M: He was always very much interested in the government of Texas and he served almost all the time in some public office. It was said of him that he never ran for office in his life and that he often accepted the job with protest.
E: What was he doing? Did he have a legal practice, or what did he do for an income?
M: He was just a landowner and dealer. It was said that he was the largest landowner in Texas. Some even said he was the largest landowner in the world, which was pretty hard to estimate. He had a great deal of business. He was gone from home a great deal. He served as a Congressman in the Republic of Texas. He was twice Mayor of San Antonio. Then during the Civil War, he was Chief Justice of Bexar County during the entire war.
E: What about his children? What sort of things did they do here in San Antonio? I'm sure you must have heard tales about where they went to school and what life the family had.
M: Nearly all of the children ... I think everyone of them went off to College in the East. Uncle Sam, the oldest one, went to College in Scotland, and also in the East someplace. Uncle Willie and Uncle George went to College in Massachusetts. I believe Yale. And my father went one year only to the University of Virginia.
E: Did you know any of these people? These were your uncles. I'm sure ...
M: Yes, I knew all of them except Uncle Lewis. Uncle Lewis was said to be the first American child born and reared in San Antonio. The first American boy, I meant.
E: What about the girls?
M: There was only one girl that survived those early days. She was next older than my father. And she married Mr. Edward Holland Terrell, who was made Ambassador to Belgium. And she died over there, and was buried there. Mr. Terrell brought his five children back to San Antonio and built a Belgian castle on Grayson Street, across from the Fort Sam Infantry Post, where it stands today.
E: Do you remember any anecdotes about the family life? Did they like to entertain and have parties or get into scrapes and things?
M: Not get into scrapes. I think they were unusually honest and a law-abiding family. I don't know of anyone ... they must have been very well raised by their father and their mother. Uncle Sam, the oldest one, had the Maverick Bank, which was built at the corner, right across from the old family home on the corner of Houston where Woolworth's stands now, Houston and Alamo Plaza. It was only a four story building, but it had a French Mansard roof and each floor was 15 to 25 feet in height. I think the lower floor ceiling was about 25 feet high and the others were 15 feet high, to keep them cool. It was the tallest building in Texas, when built.
E: Did any of the children follow in the father's footsteps, with regard to the land holding?
M: They inherited so much land, all of them. I don't know of anyone that bought land except my father. There was a big boom in San Antonio--building and land boom--in 1890, the year that I was born. In '91 there came a Great Depression, called the Panic of 1891. They didn't call it a depression. When there was no money and the United States, the government, didn't finance banks if they got a run on them or anything. And there was just no money in circulation in Texas. My father had just bought land and was developing it in what is now the Woodlawn District. Used to be West End, they called it originally. And they had laid off streets and built West End Lake, which is now Woodlawn Lake.
E: Your father did that?
M: Yes. He went bankrupt the year after I was born. I was born in December, 1890, and in 1891 they had this panic. It was a lot worse than a depression.
E: At that time he was very deeply involved in the real estate development?
M: Yes. His older brothers, except Uncle Sam, whose bank went bankrupt at that time. The others were in the North enjoying themselves and they didn't take part in the land development. They just hung on to what they had and they became quite rich a few years later.
E: Because of the rise in price of everything?
M: Yes. And when the value of lands came back ....
E: Are the descendants of that family still landholders? Have they held onto their land all this time?
M: Some of them do. There's one of my cousins once removed, a younger generation than I, who lives in Greece, and she has a big building on Houston Street, which is now managed by some bank. It's in bad shape. The top part of it has been condemned and she doesn't get as much income out of it now as she did 25 years ago.
E: Maybe she should come back from Greece and fix it up. Now let's talk about your father. What stories have you heard about him as a young boy? How did he meet your mother and all that sort of thing?
M: He was sent off to Virginia, and he went to high school there. But there is nothing much on the record of that except that he got very good grades .... high school, I believe. Graduated with honors and then he went to the University of Virginia and he was so busy in all kind of pranks and having fun that he didn't do very well in his classes. But he met my mother there. She lived only about 2 miles from the University. He wanted to marry my mother right away at the end of the school year, but her mother objected, said: "You're both too young to be married. You must go away and stay away for one year and then come back." So he visited his parents who happened to be in Missouri at that time and then went to Europe. He stopped on the way at the World's Fair in Philadelphia and stayed there for about four or five days. Then he went to New York for a week, then he sailed for Europe. He landed at Liverpool and got off there and after having some shoes made, English shoes which pretty near ruined his feet, he walked across England----- to London and then on down to the Coast at Dover. Then took a ferry across to France. He stayed in London about 2 months, I believe. Then he walked from the Coast to Paris and stayed there I don't know how many months. His diary ends about that time. Then he left there. I think he stayed there about 6 months probably.
E: Just sort of touring and observing and?
M: Yes. And he was very much shocked and surprised at the behavior of the dancing girls in Paris, and he thought it was just very immoral and very bad. (laughing)
E: Far removed from Charlottesville and San Antonio, I guess.
M: (laughing) He then came back to the United States and went first to Charlottesville where he told his sweetheart's mother that he was going to stay there until Jane Lewis Maury married him. So they were married in 1877. I forget the date and they came to San Antonio on, it was said to be, the first regularly scheduled train to reach this city (from New Orleans. What is now the Southern Pacific).
E: I wonder where the depot was then located.
M: I think it was about where it is now, but I don't know. I don't think it was ever moved.
E: Have you ever heard it said what her impressions were of San Antonio? Did she like it here?
M: No. She didn't complain as far as I know. And she went to live first with my father's mother and family at the corner of North Alamo and Houston. Then about a year later, they decided to go into the ranching business. And so they bought a big ranch up near Bandera, about 8 or 10 miles from Bandera. They went there to live. They already had one child at that time, I believe. My mother had gone home to Charlottesville to have her first baby, on the train. And then the second child was born up on the ranch near Bandera. There then occurred in this part of Texas, one of those terrible droughts that come once in awhile, like we had in San Antonio in 1921, and everything dried up on the ranch, and my mother was very much dissatisfied with everything up there. She was used to having a lot of company all of her life and loved people, and they were way out in the country and she didn't see anybody--intelligent people--to communicate with. She wanted to come back. So they moved back to San Antonio and moved into a house, a big two story stone house at 218 Avenue E. This house had been built by my Uncle William Maverick.
E: Do you remember it?
M: I remember it quite well. I have pictures of it. I lived there until I was 15 years old. The first floor was up about 4 feet; then we had a large cellar underneath. Then each floor ... the ceiling was about 15 feet high on the first floor and the second floor about 12 feet high. There was a cupola up on top. And that cupola has been shown in some of Mr. Jose Arpa's pictures.
E: Well, what finally happened to that house?
M: It was torn down, after my father had sold it, to run Travis Street through there. Travis Street, when we were there, began at what is now North Alamo ... used to be Avenue D ... so they cut it through. Then after we had sold the home, they cut it through to Avenue E and then from Avenue E on to East Houston Street. It ran right through the middle of our home.
E: Why did you all decide to sell it?
M: One of my brothers became unhealthy; he was sick. One of my older brothers ... he got tuberculosis. The doctors prescribed he move to the country and stay out in the open, you know. Get plenty of sunshine. Uncle Willie gave my mother the Sunshine Ranch. She named it "Sunshine Ranch."
E: That is located where we are now.
M: Where we are now. This land we own right now has never belonged to anybody except Spain. Spain gave this land to the City of San Antonio and my grandfather bought it from San Antonio.
E: It was actually the first private family. Your family is the only one who has ever owned this land.
E: Do you know how many acres there were at the time your mother moved out here?
M: There were 315 acres when we moved here on this place, and I bought some more to make it somewhat larger than that.
E: Did you inherit it from your mother?
M: I inherited part of it and bought part of it. Then, after her death, the remaining land was sold and the money was divided amongst her children.
E: What about the house that you all moved to at that time? Out here ... it's no longer standing?
M: No. It was torn down after my mother died. The house got to be in pretty bad shape. It was not good for modern living. It was a very large, two story house. It was torn down and the land sold to the Christian Church who still own it and operate it. They haven't built a large building, but they operate a Church and Sunday School there and Day School.
E: Now after all these children began to grow and all that kind of thing ... by then what had happened to your grandfather?
M: My grandfather died before I was born. He became very depressed when he returned from a long surveying trip in 1848 and found that his little daughter, Agatha, whom he adored, had died of some mysterious unknown fever while he was away. Somehow he felt that her death was partly his own fault, and he went into a decline which nearly ended his career. At that time (1848) the Texas Congress had just commissioned Col. Jack Hays to survey and open up a road to El Paso. This was Comanche country, and nobody dared go there. Maverick had been one of Hays' Minute Men and Hays insisted that he go on the trip. "If you stay here you will be dead within a year," said Hays. Maverick went on the expedition, which encountered many hardships and difficulties. Several of the member starved to death, but the expedition was a success. It claimed the Rio Grande as the Western boundary of Texas, and Samuel Maverick came back healthy and strong. He lived an active life for 22 years more and died in 1870.
E: Well, then did his heirs continue to deal in this land which he had acquired?
M: Yes. They ran the Maverick Land Office, which was about where the old home had been, on North Alamo, across from the Post Office. When the old home was torn down, an accumulation of about 20 large cannon was found beneath it. Most of them were of iron and were eventually given to the Alamo and to Villita, where you will see them mounted today. One large cannon was of brass. It was sent to Philadelphia by my grandmother Maverick, and cast into the bell that now rings in the tower of St. Mark's Episcopal Church.
E: Those at the entrance to Villita there?
M: Yes, my mother gave them.
E: Is that house where Babcock turns, a Maverick house? That big farm house there with all the vines?
M: Yes, that was my oldest sister's home, Mrs. Jim McNeel. That was the corner of Sunshine Ranch.
E: Is that still in the family?
E: It's an interesting house. So then they operated the Maverick Land Office. Oh, the cannon--I wanted to finish that.
M: Then I inherited the one that was on Lewis Maverick's place over where the Maverick School now is, on Babcock Road. I gave that to the Alamo. It stands ... it's mounted in front of the Alamo Museum. It's shown in the picture, because it has one of the caissons broken off of one side. They can see it's the same one that's in the picture when the house was torn down ... the old home. They have done some research work and they say it was made in Spain, something over 320 years ago. It's quite a cannon. It's made to shoot rocks, pieces of metal or anything like that, that you could ram into it.
E: Let's talk about your father for awhile. After he married and they moved in from the ranch at Bandera because of the drought ... then what did they do after that?
M: My father went into the--he had been bankrupt, as I said, I know it was after that.
E: That had occurred at the time he was developing the Woodlawn Lake area.
M: That was a good deal later. I should have mentioned, when we were talking about the Wood Lake area, that they drilled three wells up here within a 100 yards of our ranch. Those were flowing wells up there on the hill and they ran down the hill and formed the Woodlawn Lake ... filled it with water. The water level has fallen so much now that you'd have to lift that water about 200 feet, I believe.
E: Do artesian wells still flow, or has the water table fallen so low? You don't hear about artesian wells anymore.
M: There are some. Oh, yes. In fact, just up to a few years ago, maybe it's still the case, in San Antonio in a rainy year, the water would flow out slowly, very slowly there. Maybe stand 6 feet high, in the pipe.
E: So what did he do after that Panic of about 1891?
M: He went to work for his brothers in the office there. He was in charge of the Maverick Land Office and the bookkeeping and everything like that ... in the collections of rents. They owned a good many houses around San Antonio, buildings on Houston Street.
E: They had not moved out here at that time, had they? When did they move out here?
M: They moved out here in 1905. That was about 15 years later.
E: How many children did he and your mother have?
M: Eleven children. There are now just four left: my older brother, Phillip, is 90 years old; I'm 86. Then I have a younger sister, Mary, and a younger brother, George.
E: Do they ... do all four of you live in San Antonio?
M: No, one brother, brother George, four years younger than I, he was a professor at the University of Virginia.
E: They keep their ties with Virginia, don't they ... where your mother was from.
M: Yes, and he lived in Charlottesville.
E: Where is your sister?
M: My sister lives here on Broadway.
E: What is her name?
M: Mrs. Mary Maverick McGarraugh. She's named after her grandmother, Mary Adams Maverick. Oh, by the way, talking about whom people were named after: my father was named after Queen Victoria's Prince Consort, Albert, the most popular man in the world at that time.
E: Where did your name come from?
M: I was named after my Uncle James L. Slayden. He was Congressman from this district of Texas, which included Corpus Christi at that time. To the Congress of the United States for something over 25 years.
E: Was he married to your father's sister?
M: My mother's sister, Ellen Maury, author of the book, Washington Wife.
E: Oh. Well, your mother being from Charlottesville, did some of her family come to Texas, also?
M: Yes. That was the only one who came to Texas.
E: After they moved back into town from Bandera, they moved to where did you say?
M: It was 218 Avenue E.
E: And they lived there until you were about 15?
E: What did you do as a young man? And what did your brothers and sisters do for fun? And who were some of your friends? And the names of people then that you knew. The Kampmanns lived down in that area, didn't they?
M: Yes. The Kampmanns lived there when we were in town. I don't know if this is interesting or not, but I was at the Third Ward School at the corner of 4th Street and Avenue E, just a block and a half from my home. And right across the street was the Kampmann home where the Masonic Temple is now. And they were building an addition to their home and they were slaking some lime, and I went over there with some other boys when I was in about the second grade. One of the boys as a joke threw a big rock into this slaking and boiling lime and splashed it into my eyes and just about ruined both of them. One eye got all right and the other one never did.
E: Did you happen to know Walter McAllister at that time?
M: No, I didn't. I didn't know him but he was always a friend of the family. He was a friend of some of my sisters.
E: Well, where did you all go to school and what was life like in San Antonio at that time? What do you remember about it?
M: Avenue E was lighted quite well in front of our house. They had old time carbon lights and they would have to come and adjust these carbon points so they would fit just right.
E: What generated the power for them?
M: They had electric power. When the two carbons touched each other they made a very bright light. We used to play there. We had a very large yard. We had all kinds of pet animals. We had lots of cousins in town. The George Maverick family lived at the corner of Broadway and Third. The William Maverick family lived off about 5 blocks from us. Uncle Sam, one thing that we used to do ... Uncle Sam would come every Saturday night with all of his small children and the others of the family. There'd be about 15 of us altogether, and we would walk down Alamo Plaza and up Commerce Street to Soledad and across Soledad and come back down Houston. That was a regular ...
E: Sort of ritual that you all had.
E: Do you remember how any of the buildings looked then? ... that we know today, the Alamo, or ...
M: Well, the Alamo, as I remember it, looked about the same as it does now.
E: It had been restored?
M: It had been restored. The long barracks was not a part of the Alamo. That was--it belonged, I believed, to the Hugo Schmeltzer Company, Wholesale Grocery.
E: Was that the one you said smelled good when you ... ?
M: Yes. It was two story. The top part was made out of wood. The bottom part was the original stone, I believe ... maybe the top part went out over the sidewalk. It was a flagstone sidewalk and we'd go along there and it was always cool under there. And it always smelled good, like fresh groceries (laughter).
E: Do you remember any outstanding people of the period then in San Antonio? Who were some of the well known people of that time or any political characters that might have stood out in your mind?
M: I'm very bad about names. We had so many friends in the family ... the different cousins ....
E: Were you all great about having parties?
M: My mother always had parties, big parties. One of her annual events was to have eggnog on New Year's Day. All the prominent people that she knew in town were invited to that. They came in large numbers.
E: What did you all enjoy doing as children? I know you said that your Saturday night was to take a sojourn around that area. What were some of the other things that you all liked to do?
M: We had in our backyard ... my father had built a turning pole and swings and trapeze and a ladder that slanted up from the ground about 10, 12 feet high. Then it went level for another 15 feet and we did lots of stunts on the trapeze and so on. I think we had probably the first privately owned developing room for pictures. In the backyard we had a little house that was lined with black paper and a red light for a window and developing tables and so on in there.
E: Whose interest was that?
M: The only one I can remember really ... I started taking pictures before that or about that time ... but one of my brothers-in-law who was a good deal older than I, developed pictures in there. I remember that quite well.
E: Where did you all go to school?
M: We went to the Third Ward School. My older brothers and sisters ... and I'm more than half way down the list ... at least 6 older brothers and sisters went to German English School on South Alamo Street. When I started to school, I believe the whole family then changed over to the public schools.
E: By the way, all this very large family of 11 children, did they all survive?
M: Yes, they all survived except a brother, Ruben, 21, died.
E: That's unusual for a large family.
M: It was very unusual. My mother said it could not have been possible in those days had it not been for Dr. Ferdinand Herff.
E: Is that right?
M: He was the first of the family to come to San Antonio. He lived on Houston Street where North Presa now comes through at the corner, right about there, where Presa Street is. His yard ran down to the river in back. He had a carriage and he wore a gray shawl always ... I don't know about the middle of the summer. But he visited homes and he was a wonderful doctor. My mother said she always gave him credit for making it possible for her to raise the whole family.
E: I guess you don't remember him yourself?
M: Yes, I do.
E: Oh, you do? What sort of a person was he?
M: He was a little stooped, when I knew him, and he was very thin with white hair.
E: A very outgoing sort of a person?
M: Well, yes. He didn't talk loud or anything like that, but he was just a very serious person with a wonderful intellect and a wonderful education. He came from Germany.
E: He has some descendents here in town now, doesn't he?
M: Yes. He has a number of them. August Herff has just given up practice about a year ago. Then his son, August Herff, II, is a very fine doctor in San Antonio.
E: Did you happen to know Stella Herff?
E: She married Dr. Ferdinand Herff, I believe.
E: She was an interesting old family. Who was she? Kalteyer? She was Cook ...
M: Oh, yeah. I don't know whether that was her maiden name or whether Kalteyer was.
E: I remember Kalteyer was in there somewhere. I think they were affiliated with a drug company, weren't they? Or Alamo Cement, or one of those?
M: The Kalteyer's Drugstore was at the corner of Houston and South Broadway, where Pincus is now. It was a very famous place. We could go to Kalteyer's and get ice cream sodas (laughter) ... wonderful.
E: Did that become the San Antonio Drug Company?
M: Yes, I believe so.
E: I thought that I remembered that. So then you all went to public school after ...
M: Yes. The primary school was the Third Ward School on Avenue E, and High School on Main Avenue.