My Grandmother's House

My Grandmother's house was big. It was high upon a hill in the country, six miles from downtown San Antonio.

The house had two stories with a porch along the southeast side to catch the breeze. A vine, called "Queen's Crown," blossomed on the porch railings. The house was made of wood and painted yellow ocre. It had a green shingle roof.

Guinea hens and peacocks meandered near the fishponds in the yard. Horses were kept safe in the stable outback.

Inside lived my Grandmother.

Her name was Jane Maury Maverick. I remember her in a black dress with a fresh lace collar pinned at the breast with a pink cameo. Grandma always wore her cameo. Her white hair was combed back into a bun. It curled in ringlets around her face.

Jane was born in Charlottesville, Virginia in 1858. Her parents were Lucy Jane and Jesse Lewis Maury. She was the third youngest in a family of eleven children.

Jane came to Texas in 1877 when she married my grandfather.

My grandfather, Albert Maverick, lived in the house, too. He was the youngest son of Texas pioneers Mary and Samuel Maverick.

Grandpa always dressed in a suit. He wore a gold pocket watch with a fancy gold chain attached to his trousers. He told his grandchildren that his watch was magic.

"If you will kiss the cover, the watch will open," said Grandfather. Then he would secretly press a little button and the cover would pop up.

He made children happy with little white sacks of candy from the Maverick Building downtown where he worked in the land office.

Long ago, when Albert was a young student at the University of Virginia in Charlotteville, he saw Jane pass by in a carriage with her family. Albert thought Jane was the most beautiful girl in the world, and he fell in love with her at first sight.

He went to the Maury home and asked for Jane's hand, but her parents said, "Jane is too young to marry." She was only 16 years old.

Albert traveled to England and France and waited for two long years before they were joined in marriage. They honeymooned in New Orleans and had their picture made, then rode the train to Texas.

One day Grandmother said, "Now let's give our home a name," and Grandmother named her home "Sunshine Ranch." Some people called it "The Big House".

The front door of "The Big House" opened into the main parlor. The walls of the parlor were covered with many pictures, some of which Grandmother had painted.

Grandmother was an artist. She also liked to paint pretty designs on colored bottles and fill them with sand for gifts.

A stairway in the parlor led upstairs to the children's rooms. Upstairs there were two bedrooms for the five girls on one side and two bedrooms for the six boys on another. But there was only one bathroom upstairs for all the children to share!

Grandmother's bedroom was downstairs. It was the warmest room. It had a big rock fireplace where Grandmother sat to knit and tell stories of the old days when she was a little girl in Virginia during the Civil War. "General Custer's army was camped at our home. The Yankee soldiers took all of our food. I found a little piece of bacon in the dirt and washed it off and ate it," said Grandma.

Near the door was Grandfather's dresser. He hid candied ginger in the highest drawer for children to find. Across the room, a wardrobe held blankets and made a wonderful hiding place.

Janie McNeel was my best friend. We usually played "Indian" and made secret houses in the yard, but we also liked to hide in that wardrobe. Grandmother would always find us and say, "Now you children go to the kitchen and find something good to eat."

So Janie and I would run across the porch through the little dining room where most meals were taken, into the kitchen.

Here Mrs. Gifford, with her little dog beside her, baked on an old black stove.

In the pantry there was a wooden pie safe, and sometimes inside we found the treasure - a delicious crumb cake from Mrs. Schneider's Bakery on Fredricksburg Road.

But the best room in the whole house was the big dining room. Every Sunday Grandmother covered the table with a fine lace cloth and piled it high with good things to eat. People came from all around everyone was welcomed to her table.

Some Sunday evenings Dr. Pompeo Coppini, the famous Italian sculptor, and Mrs. Coppini came. Some evenings Grandmother's favorite friend, Mattie Houston, and the Reverend and Mrs. Everett Jones were guests. Grandma held some 40 Christenings at the Sunshine Ranch for her grandchildren and for the children of the ranch workers.

The grown-ups were always served first at dinnertime and the children were served last. Grandmother often said, "Children should be seen but not heard."

We were always careful to behave like little angels in her presence.

After supper Grandfather carved watermelon on the porch near bottles of thick Jersey milk from Papa's dairy down the road.

Sister Ellen, cousin Barbarita and I would gobble our watermelon and rush down the porch steps, past the tall palm tree, to the pond where the lightening bugs hid.

Jamie Maverick

Author's Note

As a child I spent many hours in the Big House. Jane and Albert were the most kind, generous people I have ever known.

Grandma was a gifted writer. Together we collaborated on many little books. At last, I have printed one about her. Many thanks to sister Ellen for her help.

Grandmother's house was built in 1905 on the Babcock Road. It was designed by family friend, Alfred Giles, of Comfort, Texas. Several years after Jane's death in 1954, the house was demolished. Today the Faith Outreach Christian Academy fills the site on what is now known as Sunshine Ranch Road.

Nearby many of the family homes remain - reminders of the mystical, magical, never-never land of Grandma's Sunshine Ranch.

Jamie Maverick


  1. Lovely article about our family memories, amazing!
    Carmen Luna Martindale
    Reuben and Kathleen Welsh's Grandaughter

  2. Lived here 18 years and have fallen in love with my "home" all over again! Thank you for sharing!!!

  3. Love remembering the times that were to few to be with Ellen and Jamie....was to young to embrace the wonder of it....but great grandmother Jennifer Maverick Mayfield from New Orleans and South Carolina would always plan a visit to Sunshine and take me with her.......wish I could relive those days of long ago.