Chapter Nine: Twentieth Century - Seguin's Infrastructure
Seguin's government during the course of the twentieth century saw moderate change until 1986. Its revised ordinances and charters always fell in compliance with the various changes in the state constitution, laws, and promulgations. From the inception of Seguin as a city, the form of government has been mayor-council. Generally speaking it was a strong mayor-council form of government which generally worked together for a better Seguin. In almost all cases the citizens of Seguin, public and private sector, had benefited from this representative form of government. In 1986 the citizens, by city wide election, voted to change the form of government to council-manager. This system of government had been in effect in Texas for many years and Seguin was one of the remaining cities in the state to change to a council-manager form of government. The process of making this change was spirited in debate right up to the election. In the end, as always in a democratic society, the voter won. It is too early for judgement to be made or a report card to be filled out on the council-manager form of government. Such judgement indeed would be outside the scope of any scribe of a city's history. With the change, however, one can conclude that Seguin's spirit is very much alive. The citizens have shown they were not afraid to explore change or to experiment with change. It takes a certain amount of courage for a community to take steps into an unknown area.
Seguin, prior to 1986, had three charter revisions. The fourth, in 1986, changed the form of government for the first time in one hundred and thirty-three years.
The first ordinance or charter of twentieth century Seguin was the Revised Ordinances of the City of Seguin, dated July 1909. The second was entitled Charter and Ordinances 1952, City of Seguin, Texas. The third was the Home Rule Charter for the City of Seguin, Texas, dated 1971 (revised 1978). The fourth was entitled Charter City of Seguin, Texas, dated 1986.
The 1909 Revised Ordinances gave a good insight into the needs of the city at the turn of the century. It certainly reflected that Seguin was a small town that was agriculturally based.
It established four simple ward boundaries. Ward One's boundaries was that portion "which lies west of Austin Street and North of Court Street, excepting the portion there of lying west of Walnut Branch." Ward Two was that portion "which lies east of Austin Street and south of Court Street." Ward Three was that portion "which lies west of Austin Street and south of Court Street, and Ward Four, together with all that portion of said territory which lies north of Court Street and west of Walnut Branch."
There was a "Corporation Court" which "shall have jurisdiction of all violations of the ordinances of this city now in force or hereafter to be passed . . . ." Under article 4, "the Mayor of this city shall be ex-officio recorder of the Corporation Court in Seguin, Texas . . . ."
Topics included in the 1909 revised ordinances were Corporation Court, meetings and proceedings of council, removal of officers, bonds and oaths of offices, abolishing the Marshal's office and creating a police force, tax assessor-collector, city treasurer, city secretary, nuisances, property of fire department, fire limits, malicious mischief, stock law, streets and sidewalks, health officer, railway depots-speed of trains, and additions to include animals running at large, city pound, water and lights, fireworks, butcher shops and pens, and general provisions. There were 187 articles in the 1909 document.
Under article 2 "the city council shall meet on the first and third Monday in each month in regular session, at the city hall, at such hour as may from time to time be fixed." The Mayor was authorized to call special council meetings when necessary. There was a ten item agenda the meetings were to follow with instructions to be followed for each agenda item.
The City Marshal or Policeman was entitled to fees for the "board and keep of prisoners . . . for each prisoner, per day if there were only two prisoners, $.50. If there were more than two prisoners then a fee of $.40 was allowed."
Taxes could also be levied on businesses. For example, "for selling, spiritous vinous or malt liquors, or medicated bitters, in quantities less than one quart, $100.00 per annum; for selling beer exclusively, $15.00 per annum; for every fortune teller, $5.00 yearly; for every mesmerist for money or other things of value, $5.00 annually; for every nine or ten pin alley, $50.00 annually; for every commission merchant, $3.50 annually." The list covers one and half pages.
Nuisances were a big problem. For example, if any one left the "dead carcass or body of any horse, mule, ox, cow, or other animal that had died on any public road or highway, or in any street, alley, or other public place, within the city limits the person could be fined not less than five nor more than one hundred dollars." There was also the same fine for littering public and private places with "the dead carcass of any fowl of any kind, or any putrid or unsound meat of any kind, or any fish, hides, melon rinds ... ." As many city homes had on their lots pens for hogs and other animals, there was an ordinance covering their health, sanitation, and liability so that the keeping of animals within the city limits would not be offensive or injurious to others.
Under the stock law ordinance it was not "lawful for any person or persons to drive, or cause to be driven, any horses, mules, asses, hogs, goats, sheep, cows, or other domestic animals in droves through any of the streets or alleys of this city within less than two blocks of the courthouse square . . . ." Likewise, owners of the same livestock were not allowed to stake the animals inside the city limits for the purpose of grazing, or to turn them loose for that matter.
There were specific instructions for the widths of sidewalks along the streets. For example, streets "60 feet or more in width they shall be 10 feet wide; streets from 50 to 60 feet wide, they shall be 8 feet wide" and so forth until "streets 30 feet wide, they shall be 5 feet wide."
The city also authorized the fining of the trains, conductors, and engineers for exceeding the speed limit of six miles per hour inside the city limits. It was also against the law for any one to engage in drumming up business on the train depot's platform such as hotel patronage, carriage business or omnibus and related businesses to include employment.
Fireworks could be exploded inside the city limits but not within "one-half mile of the courthouse square . . ." or "within two hundred yards" of the train depot.
The 1909 Revised Ordinances would stand for forty-three years. In 1952 the Revised Ordinances of the City of Seguin were approved. They revealed the changing complexities of city life, as well they should. Seguin, after two World Wars, a depression, and in the midst of the Korean Conflict in 1952, had become more urban and the needs of the citizens were far greater than in 1909. There were twelve chapters in the revised ordinances and 151 articles. Covered were the city council, the general administration, elections, the corporation court, public ways and places, fire protection, municipal utilities, uniform traffic ordinance, public nuisances, businesses and trades, building codes, and penalties.
Meeting times changed under article 1. "The city council shall meet on the first and third Tuesday nights in each month in regular session, at the city hall at such hour as may from time to time be fixed." Required to be present at each meeting were "The City Marshal, or the Chief of Police . . ., the City Secretary and the City Attorney . . . ."
The ward boundaries became more complex. Ward One was that portion "which lies west of Austin Street and north of Court Street and Mill Avenue." Ward Two remained unchanged while Ward Three was that portion "which lies south of Court Street and east of Austin Street to Klein Street and (south) of Klein Street east of River Street." Ward Four was that portion "which lies west of Austin Street to Klein Street and south of Klein Street, west of River Street and south of Court Street and Mill Avenue."
Article 31, section 1, created the office of "City Policeman" Article 33 stated that "The map made by the firm of Bartlett and Ranney . . . shall be and the same is hereby made and accepted as the official map of the City of Seguin . . . ."
The document itself was very comprehensive and encompassing. It certainly brought the city government in line with modern times. Attesting to this observation is that the 1971 and 1986 charters were 31 and 47 pages respectively, compared to 252 pages for the 1952 document.
What is interesting, and reflects the increasing complexities of the times of the twentieth century demands upon city government, is that the 1909 ordinances lasted 43 years; the 1952 ordinances lasted 19 years; the 1971 Home Rule Charter lasted 15 years. How long will the 1986 Charter last? Are societal demands increasing as quickly as the population grows? The next fifty years will certainly tell.
The 1971 Seguin Home Rule Charter was submitted April 3, 1971, by the duly elected Charter Commission. The Commission was composed of fifteen citizens from every sector of Seguin. The Chairman was Robert S. Ray, M.D.; Vice-chairman was Manuel Castilla, Jr.; and the Secretary was H. Keith Hutson. The remaining members were Ester Guadarrama, Roy E. Glenewinkel, Tucker Hollamon, Clarence Little, Jr., Dan Murillo, Woodrow Patterson, Marvin Rinn, Monroe Engbrock, Kermit Westerholm, Earl J. Miller, Nick Carrillo, and Jim Barnes.
It was stated in the letter of submission of the Charter that "this Charter does not change our form of government for the elective and appointive offices. The commission has purposely adopted a bare minimum of the powers inherent in the Home Rule Charter Act of the State of Texas. On the other hand, it extends the powers of initiative, referendum and recall to the qualified voters of the city, which powers have never been extended to our citizens."
The Charter was subsequently approved by the voters of Seguin on November 9, 1971. It had twelve articles concerning the form of government and boundaries, powers of the city, the city council, administrative services, legal and judicial services, nominations and elections, recall of officers, legislation by the people, initiative referendum, planning and development, municipal finance, franchise and public utilities, and general provisions.
"The legislative and governing body of the city" was "known as the council of the City of Seguin and shall consist of a Mayor and eight Councilmen." It was stated that "the city council shall hold at least two regular meetings in each month at a time to be fixed by the council for such regular meetings .... Two-thirds of the qualified members of the council shall constitute a quorum which before had only been a majority present to constitute a quorum."
Departments established within the city government were the City Secretary, City Tax Assessor-Collector, City Treasurer, Department of Police, Fire Department, Department of Health and Sanitation, Department of Finance, Department of Streets, Parks, and Recreation, and the Department of Utilities.
It was also stated that "the fiscal year of the City of Seguin shall begin the first day of April and shall end the last day of March of each year."
The 1971 Home Rule Charter, with the 1952 Charter and Ordi-nances, addressed the needs of the citizens and city government.
When the 1986 Charter was submitted, there were very few changes to the previous Charter. Perhaps the greatest change of the twelve article Charter was article 1, section 1.01 entitled Form of Government. It simply states, in part, "the municipal government provided by this Charter shall be known as the Council-Manager Government." It was stated in article III, section 3.01 (b) that "the Mayor shall be the presiding officer of the City Council and shall be recognized as head of the City government for all ceremonial purposes."
Under article IV, section 4.04 the responsibilities of the City Manager were set forth. Under article IV, section 4.05 it stated that "all administrative offices and departments, however created, shall be under the control and direction of the City Manager."
Since the adoption of the 1986 Charter no further changes have been noted in the form of the city government.
Serving the City of Seguin at the close of 1987 are a dedicated group of people.
The Mayor is Betty Jean Jones who is in her third term and was a councilwoman prior to that. The City Secretary, who has served since 1964, is Linnette Habermann; the City Tax Assessor-Collector is Bobby R. Forshage who has served since 1978; and the City Treasurer is Malcolm Tigett, serving since 1986 and was a former councilman. The legal advisor is Steve Kosub. Representing Ward One are Sam Flores, since 1965, and Ruben "Rocky" Contreras since 1978. Ward Two has Mark Stautzenberger since 1986 and Jack Shanafelt since 1985. Ward Three is represented by a landmark of city government, Rodger Weyel, serving since 1962. He did represent Ward Two until 1966 when the boundaries placed him in Ward Three. Representing Ward Four are Dr. Ray Gerhardt since 1982 and Roger Wilke since 1987.
The Seguin Fire Department's history in the twentieth century continued to be one of pride and service to the community. As with so many institutions in this century there have been times of sweeping change and ups and downs. The nucleus of the Fire Department continues to be of service, as much as ever before, in its one-hundred and eleventh year.
Mrs. Weinert called the Fireman's Celebration of 1906 the "greatest celebration." If it was, then one of her passages belongs here.
One might note with the last sentence the prevailing view Texans had towards Prohibition at the time of her writing.
From 1910 to 1920 the Fire Department continued about its business with little fanfare, with the exception of one event.
President George Draeger, the only fireman who held every office within the department, called a meeting to order on August 11, 1912, to discuss a problem with the street car. According to the minutes, "Chief George J. Kempen reported that henceforth the street car would be removed to some point, not interfering with the driving of the hose wagon."
"This action was taken because our little mule pulled street car was usually left standing on the track at the corner of Austin and Mountain Street."
Apparently a motion had been made that a committee "be appointed to request Mr. Campbell to have the street car removed from the corner of Austin Street and Starcke's Stables to some less conspicuous corner . . . ."
In World War I the men of the Fire Department answered the call to duty. One young patriot, H. U. "Urb" Woods paid the ultimate sacrifice for one's country. He was killed in action in the Meuse-Argonne Campaign in Europe in 1918. Seguin honored his loyalty to town and country for the "Seguin Post of the American Legion is named in his honor."
From 1920 to 1930 the Fire Department gradually improved its service to the community. Perhaps the one event of this decade that would not be forgotten for many years was the "Blumberg Fire" of 1922. This great fire occurred July 27, 1922 and was so destructive that it led to the conclusion "that the Fire Department must have better fire fighting equipment, and more efficient methods to fight such fires."
The minutes of 1930 reflect that the department would continue to have its annual May Parade and dance. A report of causes of fires was also given:
A comment that the key rate was 34 cents was in the 1930 minutes. This is an important matter to the community of Seguin, and all communities for that matter. The key rate is a formula in the fire codes that establishes insurance rates for buildings and homes. At the center of these rates is the Fire Department. For instance, the fewer firemen having advanced training in the State Certification Program, the more outdated the fire equipment, having outdated radio communication, and even a decaying water plant serve to make a higher key rate. Also affecting the debit side of the key rate for business owners and home owners are the status of the water works, water mains, number of certified volunteer firemen, fire apparatus, fire alarm systems, building codes, and overhead wires. On the credit side for reducing the key rate for building owners are such things as having automatic pumpers, booster trucks, compliance with the national electric code, arson reward, attendance at Firemen's Training School, and methods of fire prevention. All of these Seguin has today.
The year of 1929 saw the long overdue Ladies Auxiliary organized. The ladies had been serving the department devotedly since 1887.
In 1935 Mrs. Erwin Forshage "called the first meeting for the purpose of perfecting the Ladies Auxiliary of the Seguin Fire department." The first officers were "Mrs. Adolph Solmky, First Vice-President; Mrs. Aaron Saegert, Second Vice-President; Mrs. R. L. Engbrock, Secretary; and Mrs. Jack Doerfler, Treasurer."
The Ladies Auxiliary has a time-honored tradition of service to the community and her men. They not only prepared boxes for the poor at Christmas time and "collected, repaired, and distributed toys for underprivileged children, but also hosted an annual Christmas Party for the Firemen. It is they who provided food and drink for the men at the longer, more difficult fires and made the floats for the parades. They were pioneers in the forming of a State Ladies Auxiliary to meet annually at the time of the State meeting of the Firemen."
Mrs. Erwin Muehl was on the committee which worked on the constitution for "The Ladies Auxiliary of the State Firemen's and Fire Marshal's Association of Texas."
Through the years the Ladies Auxiliary has continued to represent the Fire Department in the traditions under which they were organized. Today they participate in the annual Pecan Festival, the annual County Fair activities, and they won the 1938 Centennial parade float. About twelve years ago a Guadalupe District Ladies Auxiliary Association was formed and since its inception individual members of the Seguin Auxiliary have been members of that board. Two Seguin ladies, Mrs. Clydie Brodt and Mrs. Molly Pogor, have served as State President of the State Ladies Auxiliary.
Today's officers are: President, Mrs. Nancy (Waymon) Krueger; First Vice-President, Mrs. Arleene (Roger) MyCue; Second Vice-President, Mrs. Molly Pogor; Secretary, Mrs. Kathy Lohse; Treasurer, Mrs. Karen Soefje; Parliamentarian, Mrs. Barbara Morawietz; Memorial Treasurer, Mrs. Juanita (Adolph) Bode.
In World War II, thirty-two men answered the call to duty, serving in every theatre of operations. Thirty-one returned. Bobby Herry is represented by the Gold Star on the Fire Department's Service Flag of thirty-two stars made by the Ladies Auxiliary. The other thirty-one stars are blue.
Chief Roger MyCue updated Mrs. Weinert's work of 1887 to 1949, by continuing the history through 1977. A copy is in the Library. To save space a brief update is presented in the few following paragraphs, based on interviews with Bobby Forshage and Chief Roger MyCue.
Today the Fire Department has forty-three volunteer firemen, twenty-two of whom are full-time employees but volunteer their offduty time. These volunteers receive no pay, their clothes are paid for out of their own pockets, and they pay for their own gas. They serve in the same established traditions of their families and the Old Reliance Fire Department of 1887.
The Fire Department of 1988 is a first-rate Fire Department. There are four stations: one central and three sub-stations. The Central Fire Station is located at 110 East Elm; the North Austin sub-station is on North Austin; the Northeast sub-station is at 123 By-Pass and East Kingsbury; and the Vaughn Street sub-station is two blocks north of West Court Street, on Vaughn Street.
The Fire Department, since the 1950s has, in effect, become a regional fire department. Because it houses the county fire equipment it responds to calls from each of the volunteer fire departments in the county: Schertz, Cibolo, North Cliff, Marion, Lake Dunlap, McQueeney, New Berlin, Geronimo, York Creek, Kingsbury, and the Sand Hills. It also responds, in emergency, to each of the five surrounding counties. For instance, in 1986, when downtown Gonzales was burning out of control, the Seguin Fire Department responded by sending its recently purchased Steffans Aerial Truck.
Each of the stations have excellent equipment. For a comparison between 1949 and 1988 the following is offered. In 1949 there were four pieces of fire fighting equipment. Today:
Today's firemen are highly trained. They receive four hours of drill training per month and go through a basic, intermediate, and advanced certification program. In addition, three men are sent to Texas A&M each year for additional training.
Recently the city purchased what is called a HAZMAT Truck which is a tandem trailer truck to fight hazardous material. Such a system is required by the federal government. Twelve men are specifically trained to fight hazardous material catastrophes. They respond to such calls by themselves, wearing special clothes and taking specially designed radios. The normal radios explode when certain vapors penetrate the systems.
Today's fires and spills are far more dangerous than those of yesteryear. Plastics, foam, fiberglass, toxic fumes, propane bottles, gasses, train derailments, truck tankers, and chemicals, all combine to endanger the lives of these volunteer firemen. They have to be well trained in a myriad of duties that stagger the imagination. No longer can the fireman go into a fire without an air pack, for in today's world smoke inhalation is a multi-chemical inhalation. Even the grass fires can be extremely hazardous, for in less than a moment the fighters can become encircled, completely cut off from help.
The Seguin Fire Department works with a minimum of publicity, which is in keeping with their motto - "Old Reliance" which suggests quietness, fortitude, and dedication.
As important as the Fire Department for the security and well being of Seguin is the Police Department. Again, if a city or community is to be judged as a good place to live, then again Seguin can boast. Its Police Department has some of the most highly trained officers of any of the surrounding regions. It is a highly professional group of men and women dedicated to the security of Seguin's citizens. Through their work with youth and adults, clubs and organizations, and the business community, more often than not it is an alert citizen who provides a critical link leading to the apprehension of a law breaker. In 1980 it was a young boy's description of two bank robbers that led to their arrest. The Police Department work is all too often criticized by individuals who feel they have been wronged, when, in fact, a Police Officer strives, even when under the utmost of duress, to be as accommodating as the situation will allow. They too, like the Firemen, face an increasingly complex society fraught with chemicals. But their chemicals are of a different kind - drugs and alcohol. It takes a rare person to face the unexpected each day and maintain a wholesome outlook on life. A short history is in order for these men and women of the Seguin Police Department.
A Sunday insert to the August 23, 1987, edition of the Seguin Gazette-Enterprise provides the best insight into the Police Department. It is used extensively herein to record for posterity what Seguin is doing for its taxpaying citizens.
The Seguin Police Department's history is relatively young. Nineteen forty-eight has been designated as its beginning, although law enforcement can be traced to 1925 with the elected office of the City Marshal.
Perhaps the best known City Marshal in the twentieth century was Marshal Max "Buck" Bergfeld who served from 1925 until his death in 1972. He cut a handsome figure in Seguin's modern history and probably influenced more young men than he ever realized. Slight of build, chiseled jaw and a knowing look added to the mystique of a lawman.
In 1948 a traffic division was formed that would become the Police Department of today. "W. C. Hoffman, a former Department of Public Safety Trooper, (was) the Supervising Officer." The Gazette-Enterprise continues:
In 1949 Leroy Schneider joined the Traffic Division. In 1974, when the Police Department was officially reorganized under the city's Charter Revision, Chief Schneider would become the first and only Seguin Police Department Chief.
In 1950 the Traffic Division moved to a small office on 110 East Elm, site of the new Central Fire Department. During the 1950s the Department remained small, not having more than four in number at any given time. When Leroy Schneider left for military service he was replaced by Charles Ehrhardt. Walter Lampmann, who is now Assistant Chief in charge of administration, joined the Department when Charles Ehrhardt departed.
It was in the 1960s and 1970s that saw some of the greatest expansion in the Department.
Under Mayor Joe Burges, in 1960, the Department was moved to the fairgrounds and was housed in a World War II horse cavalry stable which also had once housed a tamale company.
In 1972 the Department moved to its "modern" facilities on North Camp Street. During the tenures of Mayors Winfred Owen and Al Koebig even greater expansion occurred. During Major Koebig's tenure the Police Department "acquired its Camp Street Station," on 410 North Camp. It was during this period of 1966 to 1982 that "the city began providing weapons for its officers, the present car program was initiated, the communications system set up, and radar was introduced."
During this same period Marshal Bergfeld died. His position was filled by Leroy Schneider in a 1973 special election. With Chief Schneider holding two positions, Police Chief and City Marshal, it was only logical that the office of City Marshal be eliminated under the 1971 City Charter Revision.
Under Chief Schneider's leadership and with the support of the City Council the infant 1948 Police Department has grown, during the tenure of Mayor Betty Jean Jones, to "two Assistant Chiefs, 24 Patrolmen, three Sergeants, six Detectives, a Criminal Investigation Division, a Warrant Officer, Parking Meter Patrol, and five Dispatchers. Support Personnel include 10 court and Records Employees and a full-time Maintenance Man.
By the early 1980s the Police Department had outgrown its existing space. So had the Donegan Insurance Agency next door. Through coordination between private enterprise and city government the city purchased the "Old" Donegan Building when the new Donegan Insurance Building was constructed. After completing remodeling to meet Police Department specifications, the Police Department moved into its new home on August 23, 1987.
Heading the Seguin Police Department in 1988 is Leroy Schneider with 39 years experience in the Department. He is assisted by Walter Lampmann in Administration, who like Chief Schneider, is one of the early Traffic Division Personnel. Robert Zoboroski, graduate of the FBI Academy, is Assistant Chief for Operations and has 25 years of experience with the Department.
The Criminal Investigations Division boasts six seasoned veterans. Four are FBI Academy graduates. Serving in this division are Sergeant Mark Zoboroski, Reno W. Reiley, Mike Rosas, Juan Garcia, James de la Garza, and Jimmy Limmer. All are experienced in a wide range of criminal investigation activities from photography, fingerprinting, firearms instructing, narcotics, to investigative work.
The Patrol Division has twenty-one members on its force. As in the Criminal Investigations Division, the Patrol Division is not only well seasoned with Department personnel, but their training is extensive. Working one of three shifts that keeps the department working seven days a week are Sergeants Fred Byrd and Richard Perrill. Between the two Sergeants are a total of 47 years of service in the Seguin Police Department. Sergeant George Alex, Jr., Corporals Harold Burns and Daryl Hunter, and Officers Tarinna Skrzycki, Fred. E. Pfeil, Ray Rodriguez, Carl W. Franzen, Richard P. Thivierge, Billy D. Perkins, David Ellison, Michael D. Watts, Irma P. Chavez, Thomas F. Meeley, and Johnny Kinsfather make up the rest of the division. These men and women hold credentials in narcotics, hostage negotiations, special and junior college degrees, sheriff department experience, advanced accident investigation, emergency driving, Doppler Radar operations, and law enforcement training.
Making up the Warrants, Parking and Reserve forces within the Department are ten men. E. C. Turner is the Department's Warrants Officer and has been with the Department for fifteen years. The Parking Meter Patrolman is David M. Flores. Making up the reserves are Jimmy Arce, Scot Lange, Jim Hillin, Romeo Barrera, Albert Barrientos, Jimmy Harless, Bill R. Strain, and Wilbert W. Cook. The reserves are usually unheralded, yet they provide a vital function to the Department in emergency operations and extended duty periods, and when replacements are called upon. Like the regular force they must be on constant call. Also, their credentials in training are no less professional than the regular force. These men have either served with sheriff departments, have received training at the Police Academy, are in the process of earning a degree in Criminal Justice, are trained in narcotics, hostage negotiations, self-defense, and have attended various colleges to further their skills.
Supporting the force in a very crucial area are the dispatchers who are five in number. The dispatcher's job can be a confusing one to the lay observer due to the constant radio checks, emergencies, accidents, and immediate major crimes. They must maintain an up-to-the-minute ability to locate each of the men and women on duty and know how to contact those who are off duty. Making up the Dispatcher division are Linda M. Nelson, Marilyn Kaye Stewart, Cindy Rangel, Evelyn Hastings, and Anna Muzenchenkoe.
Maxine Harborth is secretary to Robert Zoboroski and the Criminal Investigations Division while Anne L. Dowdy is secretary to Chief Schneider and Assistant Chief Lampmann.
Kathryn D. Soefje, Mary Herrera and Shelley Johnston are the Municipal Court Clerks. Betty Mount, Emily Morales, Becky de la Garza, Sunda Rittiman, and Ira Ford serve dual functions as combination secretaries and dispatchers. Betty Mount serves as secretary and has been with the Department for twenty-one years.
Two new officers to the Department and undergoing training at the Law-Enforcement Academy are Romeo Barrera and Jimmy Harless.
Serving as Municipal Court Judge is Robert T. Ryan, Jr.
In reviewing the brief biographies of each of the personnel in the Police Department one observation was made. Each member has outside activities and hobbies ranging from hunting and fishing to gardening, ceramics, farming and community service work. Some are presidents or officers of various civic organizations such as the Elks Lodge, Lions Club, Chamber of Commerce, and church groups. This speaks well of the Police Department for they have releases from their stresses and yet contribute towards the betterment of the community. The citizens get to see for themselves just how human the men and women of the Seguin Police Department are.
Not much has been recorded on the history of hospitals, but with the help of Mrs. H. A. (Bess) Ulbricht, bits of information are presented.
The first recorded history of a hospital in Seguin began shortly after the turn of the century. From 1913-1915 there was the Seguin Sanitorium. In itself it was a story of man's concern for man. The hospital was in the Sonka Home on 617 North Guadalupe. It had taken Mr. Sonka several years to build this home. He did all the work himself, using brick from his own brick-making company. After moving in and settling, enjoying his own labors, there developed a concerned move in Seguin to establish a hospital. However, as sometimes happens, even though there may be a genuine community concern for a project, the funds just didn't materialize. Consequently, Mr. Sonka offered his new home to a group of enterprising doctors and moved his family to the home he owned across the street.
The group of doctors who served the community were led by Dr. Charles Venable of San Antonio. He opened the doors with Doctors Marvin Grace, R. P. Anderson, M. B. Brandenberger, R. L. Knolle, N. A. Poth, and C. Williamson. They were known as the "doctors in attendance."
The second home for the Seguin Sanitorium, known as the Seguin Hospital, was located in the two-story frame home of Dr. Grace, at 403 E. College (corner of College and Milam Street), in 1915. When he died, the other doctors rented the large home from Mrs. Grace. It served the community from 1915 to about 1925.
As sometimes happens, however, the doctors had a disagreement, and Doctors Poth and Brandenberger took over the operations of the Sanitorium. Doctors Anderson, Knolle, and Williamson set up a partnership and opened the Martha Lee Hospital on North Milam Street, across from the J. K. Jones Home. It operated from 1915 to 1925. Both hospitals were in quiet areas, yet sufficiently close to downtown Seguin as to make themselves convenient to the citizenry.
A more centralized hospital was established between 1925 and 1930. Unfortunately it was a story all too common in the history of the United States. The hospital was opened above the old Micheli Garage at the corner of Gonzales and River Street. Today the Muehl and Koebig Insurance company is in the same building. The physician in attendance was a German doctor, Dr. Edward Auer. The local doctors would not cooperate with him for one reason or another. It might have been because of competition and a good location or because his credentials were from a foreign land. In any event Doctor Auer had to close his doors in 1930.
In 1927 the Seguin Hospital Corporation was formed and it opened the Seguin Hospital in the original Park Hotel, today known as the Plaza Hotel. Again it was an excellent location for the small city of Seguin. It too closed in 1930, but the corporation believed the community needed a good hospital. The corporation bought property in the old Haemel Addition which is now at 203 East Weinert Street. It opened in 1929, with Mrs. Schmeidekind, who had left the hospital at the Plaza Hotel. The 17 bed hospital, after World War II, was operated by two nurses, Ms. Hazard and Seipman.
Then, on March 22, 1964, ground was broken for the present day hospital on East Court Street, after taxpayers had approved a new hospital. Open house was held August 29, 1965, and it has grown ever since. As 1988 approaches, an entire new addition is being constructed to continue to provide state-of-the-art medical service to the city, county, and region. More and more patients from surrounding counties are coming to Seguin as certain areas of medical practices are unavailable locally. Consequently it appears that Seguin is becoming somewhat of a regional medical support facility with the more serious cases sent to San Antonio or Austin.
Currently there are thirty-five physicians and surgeons with medical practices in Seguin. There are a number who have part-time practices in either San Antonio or New Braunfels. The services offered are geared to small town concerns for the patients. The practices available are Immunology, Anesthesiology, Orthopedics, Dermatology, Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat, Family, Geriatrics, Internal Medicine, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Ophthalmology, Otolaryngology, Pathology, Pediatrics, Plastic Surgery, Psychiatry, Radiology, and Diagnostic, General Surgery, Urologic, Podiatry, and Osteopathic.
The hospital recently added a Cat Scanner and equipment to its increasing list of modern technological medical services and has 75 beds. Seguin's progress in the medical establishment has gained respectability over the years.
Also important to the community are the Curanderos for the Hispanic community and the almost one dozen Chiropractors. Some have been long time residents of Seguin and have been contributors to the community such as the Elsik Clinic, the Hueners Clinic, and the Richardson Clinic.
For reasons known only unto themselves there has been a lack of Black physicians in Seguin. There are Hispanic physicians, and Asian American physicians. In the history of Seguin there has been only one Black physician, Doctor Friday. Mrs. Coleta Byrd remembers him well for she was his first delivery and that was on the second day of his arrival in Seguin.