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Chapter Ten: Twentieth Century Education

Seguin High School, now Mary B. Erskine


     At the turn of the century, Guadalupe County had a system of schooling which brought education to each community, based on the number of pupils enrolled.

     However, certain weaknesses in the community system became apparent. One of the larger apparent weaknesses was that many of the larger communities broke up into smaller communities without regard to size of community population. To cite Moellering's Thesis: "In 1880 there were 61 communities, several of which had no teachers and kept no school. Twenty years later (1900) this number had increased to 109 communities. Some of these had ceased to function, and many more had school for only a month or two each year. This disintegration did not seriously affect the schools of Seguin ... ."

     Judging by the history of Seguin's schools, Seguin, at the turn of the century was in good financial and administrative shape. However, since the Commissioner's Court was the overseer of public education in Guadalupe County, it had to look at the whole picture, not just Seguin. Indeed some communities sprang up overnight, only to disappear within a year or less. According to some oral histories, teachers from Seguin journeyed to many of these communities to assist in educating the children, only to see the school discontinue after a few months.

     In 1901 the Commissioner's Court divided the county into thirty-one districts. As boundaries were redrawn to keep pace with increased population, the number of districts increased to as high as forty-one in 1938.

     Sources conflict as to when the first office of County School Superintendent was created. One source, Moellering, states that the office of County School Superintendent was created in 1901. The Bicentennial Minutes state "as population increased, and the problem of administering schools increased, a county school board was appointed to supervise the common school districts, with guidance from the County Judge ... . The office of County School Superintendent became a reality. In 1912, J. B. Williams became the first County Superintendent, serving until 1916; he was followed by "Papa" Joe F. Saegert (1916 -1920), Max Weinert (1920 -1959), and Ted Billnitzer (1959 -1969). It was during the tenure of Ted Billnitzer that another era in local and state education came to a close."

     The trend in the state was to centralize education at the state level. Many changes have occurred since the county reverted from the post Reconstruction Community School system to the district school system in 1901. Much has been written on the subject of education in this book, but purposely so. As Mrs. Weinert stated in her Authentic History of Guadalupe County, "Perhaps the history of any county is one with education; that the writing of a history of education in a county would symbolize not only its cultural history, but actually its financial and economical development."

     For Seguin this has been particularly true. Throughout Seguin's history few institutions have played a continuous, vital role in the economic growth of Seguin - businesses, schools, churches, and government. People make business thrive and prosper. People have spiritual needs, they have children, and they are concerned about the stability of the community in terms of sound government, protection, services, and taxes.

     Of immediate concern to many people relocating to a community is the educational system. Will the education be as good as from where they are coming? If so, then a risk in relocating may be warranted.

     Through the years Seguin has wrestled with this problem. Old, young, prominent and not so prominent citizens, leaders and followers, and fence sitters have all contributed, in their own ways, to foster a healthy cultural and economic climate. Some periods have been better than others. As there are peaks and valleys in the business world so also are there peaks and valleys in community cultural development. Seguin has been no exception to this phenomena and she can take certain pride in her education system over the years.

     The next several pages will conclude the theme of education from the early 1900s to the present.

     In the post-Reconstruction era, with the help of Governor John Ireland and many local leaders, Seguin was able to move from a highly centralized state controlled system of education to the decentralized community system.

     This spurred enrollments throughout the state. There were many benefits in that education was available to students in all communities in each county. State funds for education came from the state level, thus recreating, slowly, what the post-Reconstructionists had fought against. Today, instead of being appointed to the County Board of Education, citizens seeking to influence education in the Seguin Independent School District may run for office in an election. The term of service is for two years. Thus education has gone from a highly decentralized form of control to a centralized education system at the state level in a little over a hundred years.

     School Board members for 1987-1988 are Mrs. Karen Baker, President; Mr. Mark Wallock, Vice-President; Mr. Cesareo Guadarrama III, Secretary; Mr. Bill Henze, Mr. Roland Rico, Mr. Timothy Rubinstein, and Mr. Otto Schultz.

     Today there are thirteen public schools in the Seguin Independent School District. In the beginning there was one, which had opened its doors in 1892. That first school had a number of names, not least of which was the "bat roost," for there was a belfry on top of the school house that had become home for all the homeless bats in Seguin. The school house itself was described by Mrs. Donegan as "a red brick school house with all the adornments and 'curlicues' that were so popular in the days of the 'gay nineties'."

     The first principal, according to Moellering's Thesis, was Professor J. E. Bishop. He was assisted by four teachers, teaching nine grades. In 1912 the eleventh grade was added to the tenth grade and the new Central High School buildings opened in 1914. For many years the high school students would be taught upstairs while the elementary grades would be taught downstairs. Today the school is known as Mary B. Erskine Elementary, or more affectionately, Mary B.

     Since that time, as the population changed and grew, new schools have been added, changed, or moved. At this juncture every school is named after someone who contributed greatly to education in Seguin. These personalities were educators, politicians, and business leaders. A short biography of these contributors is presented and helps tie the history of twentieth century Seguin together. Each person was a major contributor to Seguin, the county, or the state. Much of the following information is taken from the works of my wife who compiled biographies of the schools' namesakes.

     Mary Browne Erskine, known among her many students as "Miss Mamie," was born November 17, 1866, in Belmont, Texas. Her father, Alexander Madison Erskine, helped survey the Guadalupe-Wilson County line in 1874. Her grandfather was Michael Erskine, who had bought the Jose de La Baume Ranch in the Capotes and conducted the first cattle drive to California in 1854.

     Mary B. Erskine's family moved to Seguin where she spent her whole life. The family's home was on Nolte Street. As a young lady she attended General Jefferson's Montgomery Institute across the street from the present-day Sue Smith School on Jefferson Avenue. It was a school for girls.

     She knew, as a young woman, that she wanted to teach young children. No college education was required in those days, but she did have to pass a test. Her excellent character also served her well. Those who knew her respected her high ideals and principles. She was hired to be the primary teacher. Later Mary B. Erskine became the principal, thus performing two functions.

     "Miss Mamie" became an excellent teacher. Her first grade students learned to read by phonics and memory work. She had a knack for keeping her charges busy all day. As a strict disciplinarian she ex-pected her students to follow the rules at all times. She wasn't mean, just firm and fair. One of her favorite phrases was "Just and Right." One story is told that some high school students made too much noise coming down the stairs. Miss Mamie came out and said "Children, you have been taught how to come down the stairs!" The guilty must have never forgotten and must have loved her, for in 1922, an issue of the high school's The Cricket Chirps was dedicated to her.

     She tried to teach the children to be proud of themselves, their state, and their country. Often she told her students that when she was a young girl she had given her pennies to help build the Washington Monument in Washington, D. C. In turn, Miss Mamie collected pennies from her students to contribute to the San Jacinto Monument in Houston. She kept them spellbound on Washington's Birthday, telling about Betsy Ross and then cut out a five point star with one snip.

     Mary B. Erskine was very active in St. Andrew's Episcopal Church where she taught Sunday School. She never married.

     On June 27, 1926, Mary Browne Erskine died. Seguin demonstrated its love and admiration for Miss Mamie on the day of her funeral. All the businesses in town closed and the flags flew at half mast.

     Two kindergartens exist in Seguin today - one is Juan Seguin and the other is Lizzie M. Burges. Lizzie M. Burges is located on North Saunders Street, just around the corner from the Youth Activities Center. It is nestled among the oak trees of Walnut Branch, in sight of the old Ranger Station and under the watchful eye of the historic Sebastopol House. On her grounds began the history of Black public education, for it was on this site that the Abraham Lincoln and Ball High School buildings stood. A State Historical Marker honoring Black education in Seguin is affixed to the side of Lizzie M. Burges Kindergarten.

     It is only fitting that the kindergarten was named Lizzie M. Burges. She was Black and her name continues the heritage of Black education in Seguin.

     She was born March 4, 1883, in her parents home on Jefferson Avenue in Seguin. Her parents, Harry and Mary Burges, owned an 101 acre farm. She was the second oldest daughter in a family of five girls and one boy. Her entire education was at Abraham Lincoln School and Guadalupe College. She earned a Bachelor of Arts from Guadalupe College in 1904.

     The same year saw her teaching career begin at the Lincoln School. She taught there for forty-four years under seven principals. These principals were William Baton Ball, Spencer Adams, E. W. White, J. W. Wesley, G. D. Giddings, S. W. Thompson, and W. M. Ellison. One of her students went on to become the last principal of Black public education in Seguin, Mr. Henry F. Wilson, who served from 1945 until integration was effected in 1966.

     Miss Lizzie loved her students. That same love was returned, as was their respect. She required them to behave properly and saw to it that they did all their lessons well. Like Miss Erskine, she taught her students to be proud of themselves.

     She was a devoted member of the Second Baptist Church. She walked to church every Sunday from her home on Jefferson. For forty years she sang in the choir and taught Sunday School for the beginners. She made sure the children got lots of practice when they were getting ready for the special programs at Christmas and Easter.

     Miss Lizzie never married. Her home was the family home. As a young woman she was excused from the farm chores because she had a job outside the home. Her sisters worked in the field, milked the cows, and did the housework.

     On February 23, 1948, Miss Lizzie M. Burges died. Today she rests alongside other members of her family in Riverside Cemetery.

     F. C. Weinert Elementary School on Cedar Street was named after "Seguin's Grand Old Man," Ferdinand Carl Weinert. It educates grades 4, 5, and 6 and is classified as an Intermediate School under the 1987-1988 School District reconfiguration plan.

     F. C. Weinert was born July 14, 1853, in New Braunfels, Texas. His father, August Weinert, had come from Germany in 1846, following the historic German Immigrant Trail. Young Weinert's education was received at the New Braunfels Academy.

     Not much is known about his early life except for one incident that would shape his adult values. While shoeing a horse when he was twelve years old, he lost his eye. From that time on Mr. Weinert wore a glass eye and was photographed only in profile.

     As a young man he had jobs clerking in stores in San Antonio and Austin. In 1870 he moved to Guadalupe County to begin farming. Miss Clara Bading became his bride in 1877. They had seven children. When Mr. Weinert was a young 22, Governor John Ireland urged him to run for Justice of the Peace. He did and he won. He never lost another election in his long, fruitful political life.

     From 1876-1882, F. C. Weinert served as Justice of the Peace. He then won an election as a County Commissioner and in 1904 he became County Judge. During his tenure in county politics, Seguin built its water system in 1898, and added electric lights and a dam in 1908. Because of these services, Seguin was known as "one of the most progressive, cleanest, and best equipped municipalities in Texas."

     F. C. Weinert was elected to the state legislature several times, first in 1893 and last in 1933 at the age of 80. He also served as State Senator from 1908 -1911. In 1911 he was appointed Secretary of State by Governor Colquitt. From 1912 -1919 he served as the First Commissioner of Markets and Warehouses, and as State Tax Commissioner from 1927-1929.

     F. C. Weinert was known by his fellow legislators, and by his constituents, as a man who had the courage to stand up for his high principles. He was a progressive thinker and a humanitarian. He always worked hard to be compassionate and fair to the citizens of Seguin, Guadalupe County, and the state.

     One of Senator Weinert's major areas of interest was that of prison reform. He worked diligently for passage of the parole system and suspended sentence law. This particular law would allow first offenders a chance to reform instead of being imprisoned. Variations of this law persist to this day in Texas. In appreciation for his concern and understanding, some prisoners gave Senator Weinert two huge chests and a wardrobe that they carved by hand. These beautiful chests remain in the Weinert-Lovett home today.

     His compassion for his fellow man was also evidenced in his efforts to establish the Pasteur Institute in Texas. This philanthropic institute, over the years, saved thousands of lives. His inspiration came after reading about two men who had been bitten by rabid wolves. A Gonzales County man had died of rabies while a man from Guadalupe County was saved by treatment at an institute in Chicago.

     Another concern of Senator Weinert's was a legacy of Governor Ireland's. It was the concern about the fairness of taxes. In his elected positions as well as his appointed posts, Senator Weinert always stressed the need for economy in government.

     He died at the age of 85, on February 16, 1939. News of his death was reported in newspapers all over the state. Many state officials, including Governor W. Lee O'Daniel, paid their respects to their departed colleague by attending his funeral in Seguin. That day, too, the businesses closed their doors, and the flags flew at half-mast. It was a fitting tribute to a gentleman who had helped so many people.

     On Jefferson Avenue stands a school that is no longer a school. Instead it is used as an office building for the school district. This school has had two names. It was the first Jefferson Avenue School (or "Ward School," depending on who dominates the conversation at the time) constructed across the street from General Jefferson's Montgomery Institute. On this site had stood the General's stables. In any event, the school today is named in honor of one of her grandest educators, Miss Sue Smith.

     She began teaching in 1902, at the very young age of 15. Her first teaching assignment was at a one-room, 12 student school called Plum Ridge, off the New Braunfels Road. After the Jefferson Avenue School was constructed, Sue Smith would spend the rest of her life teaching there. She taught first graders for many years, then second graders. For the last twenty of her fifty-one years in education she served as its principal.

     Miss Sue taught hundreds of first graders to read, using her own phonics method. She made up a story for each letter of the alphabet and its sound. She would tell the story, and the students would repeat it. She made her own posters, pictures, and word cards because there weren't many teaching aids.

     In addition to teaching reading, writing, and arithmetic, Miss Sue taught her students about nature and the world about them. Setting the example, Miss Sue taught her students about being even-tempered, understanding, and loving. Although she expected her students to behave properly, she never was known to have lost her temper.

     Some of the fondest memories of the "Little Jefferson" students are of the May fetes organized by Miss Sue. These elaborate pageants, in which all the students participated, included singing and dancing in costume. The students were proud to perform for their parents and grandparents and were equally as anxious to read about their accomplishments in the newspaper.

     Miss Sue also led an active life in the community. She was a member of the Seguin Garden Club and she also painted. One of her paintings hangs in the Sue Smith School. She was a member of Delta Kappa Gamma and Eastern Star. Miss Sue was also an organizer of the Rainbow Girls and was a devoted Sunday School teacher in the First Presbyterian Church.

     When she retired in 1953, Miss Sue continued her special charm in education by tutoring children who needed extra help. She was always ready to aid former students who followed her into the teaching profession.

     Sue Smith died August 25, 1957. When "Little Jefferson" was renamed Sue Smith she was honored for her "charm, devotion to her students . . . and all around goodness."

     Much has already been written about the present day Jefferson Elementary School's namesake, General John R. Jefferson. An entrepreneur, stagecoach line operator in four states, Confederate soldier, educator and progressive thinker, General Jefferson left his mark in Seguin's history.

     "Little Jefferson" was replaced by "Big Jefferson" in 1959. Today it is located at the intersection of Short and Jefferson in old Guadalupe City. It is an elementary school that teaches grades 1, 2, and 3. The principal today is Mrs. Jennie Hines.

     Ball Elementary, located on Krezdorn, is currently undergoing renovation and provides education in grades 1, 2, and 3. Its principal is Mr. Clarence Little, who is also a contributor to many worthwhile civic programs. Ball's namesake is William Baton Ball, prominent leader in Black education in Seguin's history. The present Ball Elementary was Ball Junior-Senior High School after it had been moved from its original site when Lizzie M. Burges was constructed.

     The following information is taken from the application to the Texas State Historical Commission for a State Historical Marker. Mr. H. F. Wilson was the author of the application.

It was a white frame structure covering an area of 654 feet by 324 feet and would remain so from 1871 to 1920. The grades of education were from first through ninth. In 1892, Abraham Lincoln School was accepted into the Seguin Public School system ... . From 1893 to 1897 Mr. Spencer Adams served as principal, followed by Mr. W. B. Ball, and it was under principal G. D. Giddings that Abraham Lincoln would be rebuilt and renamed. In 1920 . . . it was rebuilt of brick and mortar, having the same dimensions as the original wooden frame building. In 1925 the Black citizens of Seguin applied to the Board of Trustees to rename Lincoln High School as Ball High School in honor of William Baton Ball. Mr. S. W. Thompson replaced Mr. Giddings in 1931 and would serve until 1942. This period saw the grades increase to twelve grades. Ball High School played its first football game in 1931. During the war years of 1942 to 1945, Mr. W. M. Ellison served as principal, when many young Blacks went off to serve their country. In 1945 Mr. Henry F. Wilson became the last principal, serving until integration in 1966. It was during those years that many changes occurred - for instance in 1949 Ball High School moved to West Campus at Shannon and Krezdorn while the elementary school remained on Saunders, thus completing a full elementary and secondary education program for the Black community. With the Civil Rights movements of the 1960s Black community leaders worked closely with White community leaders and the Board of Trustees . . . over the subject of integration. With the guidance of Mr. H. F. Wilson and many others, quietly and with little fanfare, total public school integration began in 1966. Within a short period of time the era of separate but equal education in Seguin . . . became history.

     Mrs. Coleta Byrd provided a copy of the Dragon's 1964-1965 Student Handbook. Many names are recognizable today who served the Purple and Gold, and many are still very active in their community. The school motto, "Enter to learn, depart to serve," had been well applied over the years by the many Ball High School graduates. The liberty of recording the names of Black educators in 1964-1965 is taken for the sake of preserving the names of teachers who saw an era end in Seguin's history. Working under Mr. Henry F. Wilson were:

Samuel K. Anderson - Vocational Agriculture
Mrs. Coleta W. Byrd - Jr. High Social Studies, Health, World History and Dean of Girls
Leslie W. Harris - Affectionately named "Goldie," Boy's Physical Education and Head Coach
Mrs. Eva L. Franklin - Typing and High School English
Mrs. Evelyn Little - Librarian
George Mercer, Jr. - Biology, Chemistry and General Science
Leroy H. Price - Jr. High Social Studies and Art
Mrs. Rose R. Morris - World History, American History, Civics and Choral Music
Mrs. Vivian K. Richard - Jr. High School English
Mrs. Gladys Perryman - Homemaking
Mrs. Shelley R. Pitts - High School English
Alonzo Richardson - Economics, Junior and Senior High School Mathematics
Mrs. Stella Smith - Jr. High School English, Mathematics and Art
Mr. Robert Sidle - Band
Mrs. Leona P. Wilson - Girls Health and Physical Education
Mrs. Dorothy Moseley - Educational Secretary
Mrs. Nellie Jackson - Cafeteria
Kelly Sanders - Custodian
Booker T. Wilson - Custodian and Bus Driver

Surely the memories of those times will endure.

     The two most recent elementary schools in Seguin opened their doors for the first time for the 1987-1988 academic year. These schools are the Vincent Patlan and Robert Koennecke Elementary Schools.

     Patlan Elementary School teaches grades 1, 2, and 3. It is named after the late Vincent Patlan. The principal is Mrs. Gretchen Ricker.

     Vincent Patlan was born November 9, 1924, in Gonzales, Texas. His was a humble life. His father of seven children supported his family by working on farms, picking cotton, shoveling coal, and shining shoes.

     Though poor, the elder Patlan stressed the importance of educa tion to his children. When in high school, young Vincent Patlan learned just how serious his father was about education. Vincent had earned some extra money shoveling coal. He told his father that he had decided not to attend college. Instead he would rather work and earn money. The next day Vincent's father took him out to shovel an entire box car full of coal. Tired, sweaty, and covered with soot by day's end, Vincent quickly learned the importance of education.

     After graduating from Gonzales High School in 1943 he joined the army. He served in Europe for two and a half years where he received the Purple Heart for being wounded in action.

     By 1951 he had fulfilled his father's dreams by earning a Bachelor's and Master's Degree from Southwest Texas State University.

     His career in the Seguin School System began in 1950 when he was hired as a visiting teacher / social worker / truant officer. His job was to ensure that children attended school according to the law. His concern for children was compassionate. He quickly learned that many young children avoided school because they had no coat or shoes, or they were sick and the parents had no money for medicine. As he stated: "My main objective is to find the problem this kid is having and solving it."

     Mr. Patlan visited the home of each child that didn't come to school. If school supplies were needed but couldn't be afforded, he got them. If shoes or coats were needed, he bought them. If the child needed to see a doctor or dentist he made sure the child got an appointment. Vincent Patlan never forgot how it felt to be poor.

     Almost every community organization in which he was a member saw Mr. Patlan concentrate on children. As a member of the Lion's Club he served as chairman of the local unit of the Texas Lion's Camp for Crippled Children. He was a director of the Boys Club and was active in his church and Salvation Army. Mr. Patlan served on the boards of the MHMR, Guadalupe County Welfare Agency and the Seguin Housing Authority.

     His wife, Francisca Flores, was also a teacher as is his daughter, Thalia Patlan Stautzenberger. Thalia teaches in the school named in honor of her father.

     Perhaps his nickname of "Santa Claus of Seguin" best demonstrates one of Mr. Patlan's lasting contributions. He knew of many needy families and it made sense when the community turned to him and asked him to help local businesses, churches, and civic organizations distribute baskets of food at Christmas time. For the last eleven years of his life (the last time from a hospital's intensive care room), Mr. Patlan and his wife made a list of those families that needed food.

     Vincent Patlan died February 7, 1985. He was buried with military honors in the Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio. The children of Seguin and their families had lost a caring friend.

     The Robert Koennecke Elementary School is located on South 123 By-pass. Its grades are 3, 4, and 5 and the first principal of this new school is Mr. Dave Gettig.

     Robert Koennecke was born in July 1920, in Fredericksburg, Texas. His father was a farmer and probably expected Robert would become a farmer also. However, after graduating from high school, Robert Koennecke knew farming was not to be his life. In 1938 he came to Seguin to attend Texas Lutheran College. It was while he was at TLC that he decided to settle in Seguin.

     During World War II he served with the U. S. Army Finance Department in Germany. Upon returning to Seguin he knew what his profession would be and set up his own tax and accounting business. Through hard work and because of his competency and honesty, his business succeeded.

     Robert Koennecke was well liked and respected by his community. Although his was a busy schedule, he gave much of his time to civic organizations such as the Lion's Club, Mid-Texas Symphony, Tax Appraisal Board, and the TLC Board of Regents. At one time he was the director of the Texas Lion's Club Camps for Crippled Children. Robert Koennecke, like all of those for whom a school was named, was an active devoted member of his church, Emanuel's Lutheran. Additionally, Mr. Koennecke served on the Seguin School Board for eight years, from 1958 to 1966. Many years saw him as its president.

     Mr. Koennecke was married to Margaret Solmky and they had one daughter. When he wasn't working on his business or giving time to other civic organizations, Robert Koennecke enjoyed his favorite hobby, watching sports on television.

     His death was sudden, untimely. Robert Koennecke's friends and family were shocked when he died on October 17, 1982, at the age of 62. He was a man who was never too busy to help others.

     Juan Seguin Elementary became a kindergarten school, effective in the school year of 1987-1988. For many years it had been an elementary school. As this book is a history of Seguin and much of it has been about Erasmo and Juan Seguin, suffice it to say that the name of the Seguin family is felt in education also. It was Erasmo Seguin who, with the help of others, pioneered formal education of a public nature in the early 1800s in San Antonio. The Seguin legacy of freedom and education is well honored in this community. The principal of Juan Seguin Kindergarten is Mrs. Lois Hull.

     McQueeney Elementary School is not in Seguin, but is in the lakeside resort area of McQueeney. The school is indirectly named after a person and makes an interesting story in itself. Again it is from Mrs. Weinert's work that much of the information is taken.

     Three names are involved in this location just six miles north of Seguin, on the German Immigrant Trail. These names are Lake Abbott, Hilda, and McQueeney.

     Lake Abbott was the name given to the lake that was "formed by the construction of the power dam across the Guadalupe in 1925." Later it would be changed to Lake McQueeney.

     "Hilda" was the name of the railroad stop less than a mile from the place where a store was built by Mr. C. F. Blumberg, about 1900. According to tradition, the name Hilda was given in honor of the infant daughter of George Wallace McKean and his wife, Mary Blumberg McKean. This certainly fits the pattern the railroad used for naming its switches every six miles through Guadalupe County. The next switch was Marion.

     As tradition goes, Mr. Blumberg wanted the Hilda switch moved closer to his store, which was one mile east. The Superintendent of the Lines was a Mr. McQueeney. "As a student of the frailties of mankind, he (Blumberg), decided that if he would call the location of the store McQueeney, the Superintendent of the Lines would be so flattered he would designate the store location as the stop for trains."

     As fate would have it, Superintendent McQueeney died before a decision could be made. Hilda switch and the McQueeney store became the McQueeney community. Hence, the name for McQueeney Elementary School, whose principal is Mrs. Caroyln Carr.

     There are two middle schools in Seguin. One is Joe F. Saegert and the other is A. J. Briesemeister. The Joe F. Saegert Middle School site is as historic in education as the St. James site, but has seen many changes over the years. It was the site of the Female Academy, Guadalupe College, the first high school building, and is now a middle school.

     AFter the construction of Mary B. Erskine in 1914, Seguin High School was the next major construction. It opened its door for the first time in 1928. It was located on Bowie Street. Today's principal is Mr. Milton Witt.

     Joe F. Saegert was born on December 27, 1878, in Green O Village, Mechlenberg, Germany. While a small boy he immigrated with his parents to America. The only thing he remembered about the trip was being violently seasick during the voyage.

     His family settled in Paige, Texas, near Bastrop. His father was a farmer and Joe, with his brothers, helped with the many hard chores. As a teenager, during one of those hot steamy central Texas summers, Joe. F. Saegert hurt his leg in a farming accident. He contracted blood poisoning and had to stay in bed all summer. His sisters taught him to crochet so he would have something to do. For the rest of his life Joe enjoyed crocheting, and even as a grown man he made lovely bed spreads and table scarves.

     Although his father wanted him to stay on the farm, Joe knew he wanted to be a teacher. He spent a number of years going to night school and worked days on the farm. Finally, he entered Blinn Memorial Academy in Brenham, Texas. In 1898 he received his teaching certificate. Thanks to the generosity of his oldest brother he was able to pay for his college education.

     Mr. Saegert then taught school in Falls County and in Washington County. In 1905 he was elected Superintendent of the county schools, and in 1920 became Superintendent of Seguin Public Schools, a position he held for twenty-nine years. In 1949 he retired. Many of the students in Seguin who knew and loved Mr. Joe F. Saegert affectionately called him "Papa Joe."

     In addition to teaching or being Superintendent, Mr. Saegert had other interests. In 1910 he was married to Clara Haenel of Austin. She passed away in 1919, after the birth of their third son. In 1920, Mr. Saegert married Frieda Gosemann of Seguin. They had a daughter, Marie Jo. When Marie Jo Billnitzer retired from teaching at the end of the 1986-1987 school year it ended a one-hundred year tradition of teaching by the Goseman family in Seguin. Mr. Saegert also enjoyed raising flowers, and reading poetry, both in English and German. He belonged to many organizations in the community and was active in his church, Emanuel's Lutheran. He even found time to teach at Texas Lutheran College and Southwest Texas State Teacher's College in San Marcos.

     while making a church visit on December 9, 1951, "Papa Joe" Saegert died. Later the high school building, when it became a middle school in 1952, was named in his honor. It was a fitting way to remember a man who spent so many years of his life educating the children of Seguin.

     The last school building named for a dedicated individual in the history of Seguin was A. J. Briesemeister. This middle school is located on West Court Street, formerly Mill Road, for it was not far from this site that the Seguin Flour Mill was located. The principal of "Breezy" is Ms. Herminia Uresti.

     Alvin Julius Briesemeister was born October 8, 1896, in Gonzales County, Texas. His parents, Julius and Martha, had both come from Germany. They had settled in Ottine, just ten miles west of Palmetto State Park, near Luling, where his father was a farmer.

     Little is known about A. J. Briesemeister until he was nineteen. That year, 1915, he earned a teaching certificate from Southwest Texas State. He also began teaching that year in Comal County. He served in the army during World War I, from 1917-1919. When he returned, he taught in Gonzales County, from 1919-1921. Mr. Briesemeister returned to Southwest Texas State to study, and earned his Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1925. Twelve years later he earned his Master's Degree from the University of Texas.

     He then taught in the Clemens School District from 1925 -1926. On May 27, 1926, he was hired to teach history and to coach at Seguin High School. Later, he said, he "drifted" into teaching math. Many people still remember him as being a fine math teacher.

     On September 16, 1941, Mr. Briesemeister became principal of the high school and was made Assistant Superintendent in 1943. When Joe F. Saegert retired in 1949, A. J. Briesemeister became Superintendent of Seguin ISD.

     During Mr. Briesemeister's 16 year term as Superintendent, Seguin saw an active period of growth. There were additions to Saegert, Weinert, Juan Seguin, and Ball High School. Lizzie M. Burges was finished, as well as the new Jefferson Avenue School.

     He was also very active in the community. Mr. Briesemeister be-longed to the Chamber of Commerce, Lion's Club, Masons, and Emanuels Lutheran Church. He was also President of the TLC Board of Regents. He was married and had two sons and one daughter.

     He was to have retired at the end of June, 1965, after having spent forty-seven years in the teaching profession, thirty-nine of those years in Seguin.

     On June 6, 1965, Mr. Briesemeister and his wife were killed in a car accident near Rosenberg during a rainstorm. They were returning from their granddaughter's Confirmation in Houston.

     Seguin High School retains the tradition of being the bearer of the town's name, which is only fitting. Initially constructed in 1952 to ease the increasing student population in Seguin, the last addition to the campus was the completion of the 500 wing classrooms in 1986. By September 1987, the entire high school had been air-conditioned out of the interest earned on funds on hand from school bonds. Not only has the air-conditioning greatly improved the learning climate at the high school, but it was done with no additions to the school budget.

     The principal is Dr. Shirley Johnson, the first woman principal of a public high school in Seguin. The high school is located at 815 Lamar. It is Seguin High School that has often been the last stage of education for many in Seguin. It is here that many of the most treasured memories are stored among the walls of Seguin High.

     A 1927 Cricket Chirps, sponsored by the senior class, was Volume 5, Number 11, indicated that the first Cricket Chirps was published in 1922. On the front page is a picture of the old high school at present day Mary B. Erskine School on College Street.

     According to this particular issue, Lucille Starcke was voted the most popular girl and Milton Theum was voted the most popular boy.

     As is still done today, the seniors published their wills, challenged the lower classes to do as well as they, participated in clubs, sports, and academic events. A review of the clubs in school year 1926 -1927 shows four outstanding clubs.

     Officers of the Spanish Club or Los Hidalgos were:

     President - Roland Anderson; Vice-President - Willie Troell; Secretary - Rodger Vaughn; Treasurer - Eugene Jandt; Sgt.-at-Arms - Amanda Beutnagel.

     The Spanish Club met every two weeks, to increase interest in the Spanish language and the customs of Spain.

     The German Club met every two weeks with Inez Wenzel as Presi-dent, and Lottie Von Helms as Secretary-Treasurer. The Latin Club also met every two weeks and its officers were Lillian Bouquet, Presi-dent; Dudley Baker, Vice-President; and Martha Anderson, Secretary-Treasurer. One of the bigger clubs was the Home Economics Club where dress, manners, and cooking were studied. President was Norma du Menil; Gene Bernhard, Vice-President; Thelma Davenport, Secretary-Treasurer; and Zella Buerger, Reporter.

     Graduating in 1927 was Class President, Arthur Draeger, Amanda Christine Buetnagel, Florenda Virgina Anderson, Hilmar Boenig, Lee Germann, Marieanna Gertrude Sauberlich, Emil Baer, Hilmar Bose, Polly Campbell, Milton Glaeser, Roland Anderson, Gustave Adolphus Blumberg, Elmer W. Jubela, Mary Louise Fleming, Benjamin Lehmberg, Marie Nathalie Sievers, Milton Louis Thuem, Lola Wagner, Madlyn Weinert, Gussie Blumberg, and Laura Luedecke. The 1928 -1929 class would say farewell to the old high school and enter the new one that today is the Joe F. Saegert Middle School.

     A 1934 Cricket Chirps reflected a dynamic freshman class. In it was a clever "Freshman Alphabet that begins with 'A' is for Aubel and also for Ayers and burden us with their many cares . . ." and concluded with "Z is for Zimmermann . . . ." By this time the football team was no longer the Seguin Aviators but the Seguin Matadors. In the 1933 - 34 school year the basketball team was very successful, winning the Stockdale Tournament, and beating Prairie Lea and Nixon. The tennis team and baseball team also had successful years, with the netters winning the county meet. The Cricket Chirps Staff in 1933 - 34 were Editor-in-Chief, Valerie Lambrecht; Assistant, Harvey Dibrell; Business Editor, Ralph Sagebiel; Athletic Editor, Fritz Lehnhoff; Society Editor, Rose Mendlovitz; Joke Editor, Gardley Moon; Reporters, Wilma Klenke and Estelle Schubert.

     In the September 1941 edition, it was reported that the 1941 graduates going to college were:

     "Texas Lutheran College - Eleanor Bauer, Mary Campbell, Mose Campbell, John Donegan, Gilbert Elley, Tom Gonzales, Ida Corrine Greenwood, Zelda Hassinger, Robert Haugen, Melvin Hector, Idalen Hey, Douglass Keller, Gloria Koepsel, Jeannette McBride, Geraldine Plunkett, Jane Pritchett, Andrew Raetzsch, Vernell Seay, Lucy Tochtermann, Alten Willmann, Helen Zimmermann."

     "Texas A&I College - Bill Bergfeld, Ernest Kleinschmidt, William Lovett, Melvin Pomerantz, Garland Powers, Larry Cochran, Tony Wille."

     "University of Texas - Betty Frances Gibbs, Richard Ryan, August Wittenborn."

     "Southwest Texas State University Teachers College - Mildred Anderson, Verna Deane Oates, and Baylor University - Rose Langerfeld."

     In 1941 the Seguin Matadors finished third in its football district. Other sports played were boys' and girls' basketball and golf, tennis and bowling.

     The January 26, 1942, issue of the Cricket Chirps reflected the war years by running an article on what to do in an air raid: There were five things to remember - "Keep cool, stay at home, put out lights, lie down, and stay away from the windows."

     In 1942 the senior class "gave a service flag program at the high school auditorium by purchasing a service flag in memory of the men in all branches of the Armed Services and Nurses of the U.S. who have attended Seguin High School."

     As the high school opened for the 1944-45 year, the first edition ran an article on plans being made for VE-Day. It was reported that "When the authentic news of the Armistice or cessation of hostilities in Europe is received, the church bells of Seguin will ring for five minutes in celebration at a specified time."

     The years of high school, the memories, go by too fast, even in the good old days when life seemed slower, but really weren't. The 1950s ushered in not only an era of continued conflict for the United States but ironically a period of stability throughout the nation. The Korean Conflict lasted a few years and did not have the effect on the community of Seguin as much as did World Wars I and II.

     The fifties were rock and roll, Fats Domino, Elvis Presley, Beach Boys and parties, the 1957 T-Bird, and jalopies. Flat tops, peg legs, the Platters wailing In the Still of the Night, and the fifties generation was going to the dogs. No one has heard them, or their off-spring bark to this day, however.

     Tribute should be paid to the Seven Timmermann Sisters who have done so much for the sports and spirit at Seguin High for so many years. The November 26, 1951 issue of the Cricket Chirps reflects the following story about the Seven Timmermann Sisters:

The fabulous Seven Timmermann Sisters and their father entertained the Matadors and the team coaches with their annual feast before the big game. Last year the Sisters featured roasting New Braunfels Goose, as geese were served to the guests. The near upset and fight of the Unicorns can be accredited to this fine boost in morale by the Seven Sisters. This year's squad was served steaming baked turkey and mashed potatoes with all the trimmings. The meal was climaxed with the serving of a special victory portion. Dick Freeman of the Houston Chronicle was the guest speaker and Toast Master was George Norris.

     Today the Timmermann Sisters are fewer in number, but still, each year, they are at the athletic banquet when the annual Timmermann Sisters Trophy is awarded for excellence in academics and sports. Their spirit will long be remembered.

     In 1952 there were eighty seniors graduating. In 1957, there were 373 students entering the halls of Seguin High School. There were just three grades at the school in the fifties - sophomores, juniors, and seniors. Bobby Lee was senior class president in 1957, Bill Ermel was junior class president, and Joel Tigett was sophomore class president. The football team in 1957 had a two-win, three-loss district record with a four-win, six-loss overall record. However, John Kramer and Leslie Bugai were on the San Antonio Light's 1957 All-District 13 AAA Team. Kenneth Kutac and Joe Tigett gained honorable mention spots. It was that year's athletic efforts in basketball and football that saw Seguin win the District 13 AAA Sportsmanship Award.

     The fifties slipped into the sixties, a period of protest, doubt, rebellion, and Vietnam. Seguin High School fared well during this decade. They had moved into their new high school, it hosted the District 14 AAA University Interscholastic League Academic and Sports Meet, and had some of its greatest years in football, golf, and other sports.

     In 1960 the Matador football team ended the season with a threeway tie for first after beating the Beeville Trojans by 12 - 10. Unfortunately the selection of which of the three teams would go to the Bi-District event was handled with the flip of a coin in Mr. Gingrich's office. San Marcos won the toss, thus eliminating Seguin and Sam Houston.

     The years 1963 to 1966 were fairly uneventful for the Matador footballers. Nineteen sixty-eight to 1970 were the banner years again. The 1967 squad had a 12-1-1 season, advancing to the semi-finals before losing to El Campo. In 1968 the Matadors lost only one game and advanced to the state semi-finals before bowing to Austin Reagan. The same occurred again in 1969 before being edged 27-23 in a heart stopper by Robert E. Lee. It would not be until 1973 and 1976 that the Matadors became serious contenders again. In 1973 they lost to Churchill at regionals. In 1976 the Matadors ended up in a four way tie for first and again there was a coin flip, with MacArthur winning the honors. In 1980 there was a district realignment and the years have quickly sped since then. The Matadors find themselves each year facing state-ranked powerhouses in District 28-5A with the likes of Lee, Roosevelt, Madison, Churchill, MacArthur, San Marcos and East Central. The team spirit in the halls of Seguin High continued well into the 1980s. The coaches, fans, players, and students refused to quit and the morale points to the future with "Mat" pride.

     During the 1960s to 1980s the golf team became one of the most respected in the state, winning regionals and going to the state finals several times in the 1980s. The basketball team became district contenders during this time and the 1970 baseball team became the State Champs.

     In Vocational Education, under the stewardship of Lee Roy Van Booven and Mildred Woerndel, the VICA Electrical Trades and Office Education Students have been a fixture in national competition. At the state level, vocational agriculture and metal trades are perennial contenders. The Distributive Education classes, with Jana Darling have continued to produce.

     In the University Interscholastic Academic League competition, Seguin High is a keen participant, winning and placing in ready writing, drama, typing, speech, poetry, spelling and math. Gwen Henze, in the tradition of Lisa Jones' ready writing years, advanced to the state finals in typing in 1986.

     The city of Seguin was also honored when one of her high school students, Miss Valerie Lowrance, was crowned Junior Miss of America in 1985.

     There is too much to write, too little space to be able to write of all the students and their accomplishments. Suffice it to say that Seguin has much of which to be proud in its students.

     The Superintendent of Seguin ISD, overseeing as many changes as there were during the Briesemeister years, is Mr. James Lehmann.


     Much of the information offered on the City-County Library is taken from Mrs. Jeffrie's Master's Thesis - The Friends of the Seguin Guadalupe County Public Library: History and Analysis 1954-1966. The origin of the library was during the depression year of 1930. At that time the Municipal Building was on North Camp. Two women, Mrs. W. F. Lovett and Miss Madeline Gerlach (Mrs. Gilbert Starcke), who were members of the long-standing Shakespeare Club, "requested permission from the Mayor, Mr. Max Starcke, to place a bookcase in a city office for a lending library."

     According to Mrs. Lovett, the "bookcase" was a second-hand china cabinet with glass doors.

     The ladies had collected a gift of books from the local townspeople and, upon securing approval from Mayor Starcke, they "turned to the Texas State Library for a 'Traveling Library' for Seguin to supplement the gift ... ."

     "The 'Traveling Library' was loaned for a period of two or three weeks and consisted of approximately 25 books, most of which were adult fiction. At the end of the loan period, the women boxed the books, shipped them back to Austin, and another 25 were then sent to Seguin."

     In a letter to Mrs. J. E. Gingrich (Dorothea), dated September 22, 1960, former Mayor Starcke reflected:

In a few months, to my great surprise, there had been over 500 users of the make-shift Library, which consisted of a very limited number of books. The china-closet was soon disposed of and necessary shelves were built to house the many books that were contributed.
Soon thereafter we were discussing the new Municipal Building and a request was made that a room be set aside for the Library which had expanded so much. Securing the Library at that time grew to such an extent that our office force was unable to handle it together with their other work. However, through funds available by the then W. P. A., Mrs. Agnes Cook (Koch) was employed as Librarian and has been there ever since . . ..

     The facilities for the community's first Library were as humble as the founding of Seguin. "The room was a 14 1/2 by 21 foot room in the Municipal Building containing 15 seven foot single steel shelf units, one table, three chairs, and a few Library supplies, and the books."

     The Jeffrie's Thesis reflects that:

The Staff consisted of one part-time employee, Mrs. Agnes Koch . . . who kept the Library open from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon on Saturday. The collection in 1954 consisted of 3,079 volumes. At least 98 percent of these volumes had been donated by individuals and the Women's Study Club. The books given by the Study Club were those that the Club had used during the previous year. A few new titles had been purchased from money supplied by the city. In January 1965, there were approximately 3,500 volumes on the shelves, none of which had been cataloged. The Seguin Chapter of the AAUW (Author's note: American Association of University Women) had been giving children's books to the Library each year as one of its projects.

     The Jeffrie's Thesis goes on to reflect that the original room was soon crowded. The work space for the Librarian and those using the reference books was one table in the center of the room. All available wall space and window ledges were occupied by adult and children's books. The system of arrangement of the books was "Alphabetical by the Author's last name."

     Mrs. Koch was paid an annual salary of $950.40 by the city and county. The county paid the salary and was reimbursed by the city for one-half of expenses incurred. In the formative years "expeditures for the Library ranged from $1,200.00 to $1,800.00 per year."

     Although the city and county supported the Library, "no plans for improved Library services or quarters were under consideration." Mrs. Dorothea Gingrich and the AAUW organized an effort to bring about one of the treasures in Seguin's history, the present day 15,018 square foot City-County Library housing approximately 53,000 Volumes. Their efforts were a success.

     The effort to bring about the present facility was a story of what Seguin can do when her citizens feel the community as a whole will benefit.

     Mrs. Gingrich was "The first President of the local chapter of the AAUW. Mrs. Gingrich suggested that the newly organized Seguin Chapter adopt for their club project the promotion of a better Library for Seguin and Guadalupe County."

     Katherine Diehl, a Librarian at Texas Lutheran College in 1955, suggested that if each individual in the county gave $1.00 each, then some $15,000 per year could be raised to operate a Library.

     From this early suggestion, and through Mrs. Gingrich's newspaper columns in the Seguin Enterprise, and community support for a Library, it was not long before citizens began to take note of a need for an established Library.

     In 1956, Miss Nelle Sparks, president of the Seguin Chapter of the AAUW, had appointed a Steering Committee to recommend decisive measures for the organization of a Friends for the Library which could stimulate interest and bring about community action for better Library service for the community. Miss Helen Weiss, a Faculty Member at Texas Lutheran College, was named Chairman of the Steering Committee.

     Under the guidance of Miss Weiss, "a total of 144 letters were mailed, 75 to organizations, the remainder to interested civic leaders, the press, and radio. Miss Weiss' students mimeographed the letters and addressed them for mailing."

     Sixty-one people attended a 6:30 p.m. meeting on March 1, 1957, chaired by Miss Weiss. By evening's end a Friends of the Library was organized.

The first Executive Board Members were County Judge Dick Fleming, Miss Helen Weiss, Mr. Joe Burges, and Miss Elizabeth Cabron. Temporary Chairman, Dr. Raymond Moore, appointed a committee to draw-up a constitution and bylaws. . ..

     The first permanent officers were "Dr. W. W. Wendt elected President; Mrs. Carl Sagebiel, Vice-President; Mrs. Bernard Lenowitz, Secretary; and Mr. John Donegan, Treasurer. A total of 67 members was reported at this meeting."

     After a series of ups and downs in the late 1950s to raise funds for a new library, the Friends of the Library began to take on substance and direction between 1960 and 1964.

At the October 29, 1961, meeting of the Friends, Mayor Owen announced that a city ordinance had been passed that named a Library Board. This concurred with the appointment made by the Commissioner's Court. He then introduced the members of the Library Board of Trustees who were present - Dr. William F. Kraushaar, Mrs. H. L. Anderson, Mrs. Effie Page, Mr. Fredlein Schroeder, Mr. Stan McKenzie, Mrs. Dorothea Gingrich, Mrs. Ralph Keehn, Mrs. Wilton Woods, and Mr. Keith Hutson.

     With the help of a firm guiding hand by the Advisory Council to the Friends of the Library, sufficient ground work for fundraising to build a Library was laid.

     By 1964 a contract was awarded to Marvin "Ted" Henderson of Seguin to construct the Seguin-Guadalupe County Library on the donated Bauer land. The Library's Architects and Engineers were Barnes, Landes, Goodman and Youngblood of Austin. Awarding the contract was the 1964 Library Board of Dr. William Kraushaar, Chairman; Mrs. J. E. Gingrich, Vice-Chairman; Mrs. Effie Page, Secretary; Mrs. Fredlein Schroeder, Treasurer; John Bauchman, Mr. Ralph Keehn, Mr. Stan McKenzie, and Mrs. Wilton (Virginia) Woods.

     Despite the help of many volunteers, and dedicated Librarians and Staff, the demands on the Library became such that expansion was needed within a short twenty years. Again the community, and county and city governments came together to increase the size of the Library so that more children and adults could use the Library. Once more the Friends of the Library responded to the challenge.

     Construction and renovation began in the fall of 1985 and was completed in July 1986. Receiving the bid for expansion was the James Hood Construction Company. Awarding the bid was the Seguin-Guadalupe County Library Board of Trustees, Kathy Sagebiel, Chairperson; Robert Blevins, Vice-Chairperson; Itta Lenowitz, Secretary; John Hey Donegan, Treasurer; Wes Clepper, Keith Stadtmueller, John Marshall, Charles Koehler, and Margarita Garcia-Perez. Former Board members were Trudy Selig, Clarence Little, and Col. William Jones, Jr. The architects were Johnson-Dempsey & Associates, Inc., of San Antonio.

     The Library suffered a set-back in 1986 when there was a county wide tax roll back of taxes. The Friends of the Library and its directors, with assistance from the county and the city, have managed to keep the door open to the public. The services in the Library, a community public temple of knowledge, will not be denied to the public. The Library has come a long way in 58 years, from a one room office and one cabinet to the handsome structure it is today.


     The primary source of information for Black education in Seguin is taken from Anne Brawner's Master's Thesis, Guadalupe College: A Case History in Negro Higher Education 1884-1936.

     Black education in Seguin saw its history begin shortly after the Civil War. As education for Whites in Seguin had begun with churches, so too did Black education. According to oral history, the Negro churches became the power for Black education. According to Mrs. Brawner's interview with Mrs. Fennell, "the first school for Blacks in Seguin was opened in a one-room Methodist Church, in an area known as 'Methodist Hill'." "Methodist Hill" was "the area on West Court Street near the present location of Wesley-Harper United Methodist Church." It was called "Methodist Hill" because members of the congregation concentrated their homes around their church.

     This first school had children of all ages attending. Their lessons were given by a northern Reconstructionist, "Mr. VanDine."

     On East Court Street there was a school conducted for Blacks in a small building. "A congregation of Black Baptists worshipped in the same structure." In 1874 the Baptists moved to "Baptist Hill" where they erected a twenty-by-forty foot frame building to serve as a church and a public day school. This was the beginning of the Second Baptist Church on South Guadalupe Street.

     It was the Black Baptist congregation that threw its ardent support behind education for their own race. They were instrumental in the development of Abraham Lincoln School in 1874. In 1892 Lincoln School came under the jurisdiction of the newly created Seguin Independent School District, and would continue to provide education for Negroes until integration in 1966.

     Two White citizens who were dedicated to Negro education in Seguin were the Reverend Leonard Ilsley of Maine, and Colonel George Brackenridge of Seguin and San Antonio.

     Reverend Ilsley helped found "several Black Baptist Churches in the area and was instrumental in the organization, in 1873, of the Guadalupe Baptist District Association." This organization became the backbone for the emergence of and continuance of higher Black education.

     William Baton Ball, "veteran of the Civil War and Indian Wars, arrived in Seguin in 1871." He too was a minister and it was he "who, at a meeting of the Guadalupe Baptist District Association, first presented the idea of a Negro Baptist College to train leaders in religion and education." The Association agreed upon the idea.

     In October 1884, a facility that "had housed schools of one kind or another since the 1850s, was purchased from Father Louis Morandi. It was located "three blocks west of courthouse square," on the site of the Jesuit-operated Female College, and site of present day Joe F. Saegert Middle School. The trustees who signed the promissory note for sixty-five hundred dollars were "W. B. Ball, M. H. Bradford, John Sheffield, H. R. Green, Jeff Hysaw, Peter Mays, Isham McKnight, Louis Stephens, and Cy Walton." Included on the property was a three story stone building and two frame structures.

     In "1887 the dream of a Negro Baptist College became a reality when the first session of Guadalupe College opened and the institution entered upon the work of higher education among Negroes of the southwest." In March of 1888 the college was granted a charter "to promote education" for a fifty year period. "The nine men who had initially purchased the school property were named as trustees for the first year." The first president was J. H. Garrett, and he was succeeded by Reverend David Abner, Jr., Ph. D., in 1891. It was under Reverend Abner that the College would experience its most prosperous years.

     Reverend Abner was dynamic, a "spell-binding orator," excellent fundraiser, and "particularly skillful at cultivating community support for Guadalupe College." His relationships with the White community was extremely successful, considering the White bias of the times. Mayor Zorn was quoted in a pamphlet as saying:

. . . We are proud of your conduct in Seguin, proud of your advancement, and proud that the influence of this college is spreading its wings from one end of the south to the other.

     The climate of growth Reverend Abner fostered is exemplified by the following passage in Mrs. Brawner's Thesis:

College flourished. Annual attendance was approximately three to five hundred pupils, of which 150 to 250 were boarding students. Expenses were reasonable, tuition and room rent were one dollar per month, board was eight dollars, and music lessons were $2.50 per month extra. Increasing enrollment made necessary the construction of two new buildings. The first, completed in 1893 and named in honor of Reverend Ilsley, housed sixty-five young men and two teachers. The second, a four-story structure erected in 1903-1904 at a cost of fifteen thousand dollars, provided quarters for the girls and a Chapel-Auditorium. It was named in honor of Colonel George W. Brackenridge . . . who gave three thousand dollars towards its construction.

     The curriculum was demanding. Not only were there the classical disciplines, but there was a movement to encourage vocational training as well. "Emphasizing classical, normal, and theological training, the college offered courses in Latin, Greek, prose composition, mental and moral philosophy, Roman history, and New Testament Greek, as well as English, mathematics, history, geography, and science. By 1901 . . . industrial and mechanical departments, which taught sewing and millinery to the girls and carpentry, printing, and shoemaking to the boys," had been added to the curriculum.

     In 1905 Colonel Brackenridge had secured title to 216 acres of land west of Seguin which enabled the administration to increase its emphasis on "Scientific Farming."

     Reverend Abner continued his duties until 1906 when "the board of trustees relieved him of his duties and appointed W. B. Ball as Executive Officer of the college."

     Reverend Ball held the college together from 1906 - 1913. This was one of the most difficult periods for Guadalupe College due to a decline in enrollment, financial distress, and increasing indebtedness. Through refinancing in San Antonio, and timely assistance from the Missionary Baptist Convention in 1912, the college was able to keep its doors opened. Between 1907 and 1914 enrollment had dropped from 450 non-resident boarders to eighty-six in 1914.

     Had it not been for the financial intervention, in 1913, of Colonel Brackenridge, the college may have had to shut its doors. Due to litigation, the County Court ordered Sheriff W. F. Neubauer to sell the college campus because the college would not honor a court order. Brackenridge "purchased the college premises . . . thus saving Guadalupe College from financial ruin . . . ."

     In 1914 the college, with behind-the-scenes help and guidance from Colonel Brackenridge, moved to the 216 acre farm. Two new buildings were constructed, using materials taken from the campus in Seguin.

     The new campus opened for the regular 1914-1915 academic year. Dr. William Henry Moses succeeded Reverend Ball as President.

     From that time to its closing in 1936 Guadalupe College continued to function as a vocational and traditional institution of higher learning.

     Modest success continued under Dr. Moses, but he was succeeded in 1916 by Jesse Washington. Plagued by the war years and concomitant decline in enrollment, Guadalupe College suffered some of its hardest years. In 1921 Charles H. Griggs became one of the last Presidents of Guadalupe College.

     His accomplishments were several that helped Guadalupe College. "Graduation certificates were granted in theology, domestic science, domestic art, missionary training, and High Normal." However, the trustees noted that emphasis needed to be placed on "better trained Negro teachers in the public schools system." By 1926 Guadalupe College gained status as a standard junior college which meant "that work done at the school would be accepted in granting Texas Teacher's Certificates."

     In 1929 Guadalupe College was designated "a senior college, with no exceptions." By this time Dr. F. G. S. Everett was the President, and had been so since 1927.

     However, the depression caused great suffering for Black schools throughout the South. Because the college "could not maintain the separate classes for college and high school division required by the state, and other reasons, the rating of Guadalupe College was reduced in 1931 to that of a junior college." This rating would continue until its closing in 1936.

     Professor J. R. Lockett inherited the Presidency in 1930. "Without the farm the institution would have failed." Through the farm, and efforts by the student body to conduct programs throughout the state, the college was able to survive.

     It seemed that by the mid-thirties Guadalupe College would survive, that it was "achieving its goal of providing quality education for the Black youth of central Texas. Then, early on Sunday morning of February 9, 1936, the final disaster struck. According to the Seguin Enterprise "The $100,000 main building and girls dormitory . . . was destroyed by fire . . .." The doors would never again open. Even with the help of the Seguin Chamber of Commerce, congressmen and state legislators, enough could not be done to reopen Guadalupe College.

     Yet, the Black Baptists did what they had set out to do. They wanted an institution to provide quality education for their own. Through tenacity, and a belief in what they could do, the Black Baptists trained and provided leaders in the community, the state, and the nation for 52 years. Yes, higher education for Blacks in Seguin had been a success.

     The college land is still owned by the Black Baptists. The grounds are maintained and life is stirring again on campus. The old wooden chapel, located between the two original brick buildings, has recently been restored.


     Several sources have been drawn upon for the history of Texas Lutheran College, but mostly the works of Professor Emeritus of History, Dr. A. G. Weideranders, prevail. His book on the history of TLC, Coming of Age, and his vignettes in the 1976 Bicentennial Minutes have been most valuable.

     TLC's beginnings were modest if not humble. It was established in Brenham, Texas in 1891 as Evangelical Lutheran College. It first opened as an academy "at the corner of Pecan and South Market Streets" in Brenham. The original structure "was 80 feet by 32 feet, and 18 feet high at its peak. In a tower over the middle of the structure a bell was suspended which served as the Master Clock of the school." Today this bell is the "Victory Bell" on the TLC campus.

     The first director was Reverend Gottlieb Langer who responded to the call by the Executive Board of the First German Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Texas.

     According to Coming of Age, the Evangelical Lutheran College's growth in a small rural community was moderate. In the first year seventy-seven students were enrolled; eighty-three the second year; seventy-nine, the third year; and seventy-three, the fourth year. From 1895 - 1897 the enrollment averaged fifty. Eighteen ninety-seven and 1898 saw the enrollment decrease to thirty students. Then, from 1898 to 1905, under different directors, the enrollment fluctuated between seventy-four and forty-seven students.

     Enrollment costs were kept as low as possible for the students. Seven courses were offered in the early years - "preparatory, classical, normal, commercial, scientific, elementary, and music instruction, if desired." The costs ranged from a high of $2.75 a course per month to as low as $1.50 for the elementary course. If a student desired two hours per week of music instruction instead of one hour, the cost rose from $2.25 per month to $4.00."

     "These prices were increased in the early 1900s, but income from board, room, and tuition could never defray all the costs of maintaining and operating the school because of very limited budgets."

     During the years 1908 to 1910, financial hardships, and fluctuating enrollments plagued the college's survival. Some of the hardships could not be avoided, as Dr. Wiederanders wrote in the Bicentennial Minutes.

The Galveston storm of 1900 contributed much to this scarcity (of money). This devastating hurricane spread the boll weevil, which had come out of Mexico, over large portions of Texas. Where farmers had harvested a bale of cotton per acre, they suddenly did well to raise one fourth of a bale. When their bank balance began to dwindle, their college was among the first to suffer. A man in his eighties . . . told this amusing story, 'we German Lutheran farmers became so tight with the little money we had that we crawled underneath our gates to save the hinges.' This serious lack of funds had to have a negative effect on a church college which depended on voluntary giving.

     In Coming of Age, by 1911 the operating and maintenance costs had exceeded the monies available. Reverend C. Weeber, as director of the Proseminary, was quite successful in liquidating debts by 1910 and in graduating a number of young students who would continue their theological studies to become Lutheran pastors. However, the continued maintenance demands and competition with nearby Blinn College seriously drained the Proseminary of two important resources - students and money.

     Several solutions were studied to keep the doors open. During these studies, an enticing offer for relocation to Seguin was made by the Men's Club of Seguin.

     The only requirement the Men's Club of Seguin had of the Pro-seminary was that if it did relocate to Seguin it be maintained for "at least fifteen years." Several members of the Men's Club also established the West Seguin Improvement Company to raise funds "to secure a site for the Lutheran College west of Walnut Branch, as well as adjacent lands to be sold for residence lots."

     Several sites were offered for the location of the College. From Coming of Age, "one of these, on the east side of Seguin, was favored by the club. A second possible location was north of the Southern Pacific Depot; still another, to the west of Seguin on the Louis Fritz Farm."

     Different monetary and utilities enticements resulted in "twentyone representatives of the Synod" coming to Seguin "to take a first hand look at the available options."

     After convening at Fredericksburg, the Synod "opted for the fifteen 'Fritz Acres.' The open field around this tract and its location were particularly attractive. There was much room for expansion in nearly every direction. Over the years the wisdom of this choice has become evident. By 1977 TLC owned a campus of over one hundred continguous acres north, south, and west of the original grant."

     This group of gentlemen continued the spirit and pride of education in Seguin and the county. Soon the proposal by the Men's Club came to be known as the "Seguin Offer." From the Bicentennial Minutes:

Because something constructive had to be done soon about the Lutheran School in Brenham around 1911, an offer from the business Men's Club of Seguin of 15 acres, 10 years of free water and light, and $20,000 was a timely one. This Seguin offer and attending correspondence bore such revered local names as D. D. Baker, R. E. Blumberg, C. H. Donegan, Louis Fritz, Max Starcke, William Steinmann, Charles E. Tips, F. C. Weinert, and R. Wuppermann. The Lutheran Synod which owned the Brenham School accepted the Seguin offer in the spring of 1911, pledged an equal amount of money, and soon over-subscribed this sum quite handsomely. The contracts for Old Main (TLC's main college building) of TLC and for the director's residence amounted to a little more than $50,000. The relocated Lutheran Institution was given the name of Lutheran College of Seguin, Texas, and opened its present campus in September of 1912.

     With Old Main constructed in 1912, the doors were opened September 10, 1912. In Coming of Age, Reverend C. Weeber, the Director, received the keys to Old Main from Reverend J. Romberg, President of the Lutheran Synod of Texas. "Sixty students enrolled the first term and eighty-eight, the second."

     To give the reader a glimpse into that first year of the new academy the following paragraph is extracted from Coming of Age.

Lutheran College of Seguin, Texas, opened with six members on its staff: C. Weeber as Director and main professor, Emil E. Sitz, Carl Runge, Emma Frey, who also served as matron in the girl's dormitory, H. Harthan, and the Rev-erend M. Haag as housefather. Mrs. Haag and her daughters provided the meals in the college's dining room. The east side of the main buliding was the 'girls' and the west side, the 'boys' dormitory. They spoke of the students at the academy as 'girls' and 'boys' because most of them were still of high school age. Classrooms, offices, auditorium or convocation hall, library, laboratories, music rooms, dining room and kitchen were in the central part of the building."

     Since its modest but earnest beginnings TLC has grown into a nationally ranked academic institution. But this has not been achieved without arduous effort.

     Summarizing Coming of Age, the Great Depression and World War II had a tremendous effect on the survival of TLC. Perhaps it was Director C. Weeber's selection of a group of professors, who not only had the requisite academic credentials, but also had the tenacity to weather adverse outside events, that helped see TLC through this traumatic period. A core for the college's teaching and administrative staff was comprised of E. J. Braulick, H. E. Gibson, A. C. Streng, and A. G. Gustafson. Through their direct and indirect leadership over the years, TLC survived.

     By taking on additional chores, cooking for the dormitories, buying, selling, and teaching full time, administrators and professors were able to cut costs. This was no mean feat when it can be remembered how many students were in class one day and gone the next, leaving just a handful of students.

     With the return of the students after World War II, TLC experienced a resurgence of growth. Through fundraisers such as "the Ingathering of 1950 and 1951," when Dr. Ed Sagebiel and Garfield Kiel were instrumental in raising considerable sums of money in the community to help finish building the memorial gymnasium, the spirit of keeping TLC financially healthy has always been at the forefront. However, not so much so that the student suffered from lack of attention.

     The 1987-1988 Texas Lutheran College Bulletin provides an excellent overview of TLC's commitment to quality education. As one reads through the bulletin, the reader is left with the feeling that TLC is committed to the over-all enhancement of her students, faculty, administrators and community.

     Under the stewardship of President Charles H. Oestreich, Ph. D., since 1979, TLC has experienced a dynamic growth, physically and academically.

     On the 130 acre campus are 27 major buildings which are all airconditioned. Since 1971 every building has either been constructed or reconstructed. The most recent addition has been the acoustically pleasing $3.5 million Jackson Auditorium, dedicated in 1986.

     The Blumberg Memorial Library provides space for up to 400 students at one time. Available to students and faculty are about 130,000 volumes, exceeding the standards of the American Library Association for college libraries. Over 2,000,000 volumes are accessible from an online search system through arrangements with a San Antonio area library consortium.

     There are two endowed Chairs: The Jesse H. Jones Chair in Business and Administration and the Dr. Frederick C. Elliot Chair in Health, Fitness, and Nutrition. Three Professorships reflect the Baenziger Professorship of Music, the Adolph L. Krause Professorship of Natural Sciences, and the Lillie Krause Professorship of Social Sciences.

     Three major programs are available to the students: Arts and Sciences, Teacher Education, and Professional and Pre-Professional programs. Providing excellent leadership in education are 91 full or part time professors or professors emeritii, with 44 holding a Ph.D.

     The history of twentieth century education in Seguin has been one of growth, improvement, and commitment by the community. The business sector's support of education at the private and public levels has been a major contributing reason for the continued improvement in educating tomorrow's leaders. The tradition of all sectors of Seguin working together for tomorrow's success bodes well for the twenty-first century.

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© 2000 E. John Gesick, Jr. All rights reserved.