Christmas Eve 1869 - with $10,000 put up by August Faltin of Comfort
- Schreiner opened a general store in a cypress plank building in
Before closing for the day, the store had sold 7.5 pounds of coffee
and two quarts of whiskey - on credit. Whoever bought that liquor
probably intended to enjoy eggnog and toast the arrival of a new
year, but whiskey also dulled the ongoing pain of Reconstruction
and the terrible memories that haunted many Texans who had fought
in the Civil War.
Texas - never successfully invaded by the North - had escaped most
of the physical devastation of the bloody conflict. Unlike Georgia
and other Southern states, its cities did not lay in smoke-stained
ruin, but Texas's economy had nearly been destroyed.
After the war, to hitch supply to demand, Texas ranchers began rounding
and walking them north to the railheads, first to Sedalia, MO and
starting in 1867 to Abilene, Kansas. One of the major routes, known
initially as the Dodge City Trail and soon simply as the Western
Trail, passed through Kerrville.
Schreiner soon acquired a financial interest in the trail and built
shipping pens in Kerrville.
The captains also moved tens of thousands of his own Longhorns
up the trail. And Kerrville's
emergence in the mid-1870s as a cow town did nothing to harm his
bottom line at his general store.
But cattle were not the only animals that could get by on the semi-arid
land of Southwest Texas. Schreiner and Caspar Real had pioneered
sheep raising in the area, successfully breeding Delaines to his
flock to produce better wool. Soon he also began raising goats.
Schreiner's three-pronged approach to ranching
not only enhanced his success, it helped transform Kerrville
from a town with a courthouse
and a few businesses into a regional agricultural center. Ranchers
came to Kerrville
for their supplies, giving Schreiner's store a steady business,
and freight wagons hauled wool and mohair from there to San
Antonio and the state's coastal bend. Before long, the astute
Alsatian-Texan had enough cash to begin loaning money to others,
the beginning of Schreiner's soon to be quite profitable banking
an increasingly successful young capitalist, Schreiner had not forgotten
what the business end of a Winchester was for. On June 30, 1873,
a rowdy-looking group of cowboys walked into his store, ostensibly
to have a drink or two. But what they really had in mind was relieving
Schreiner of any money he had on hand. Unluckily for them, the captain
had been tipped off as to their true intentions and members of the
local minute man company that he commanded had been strategically
positioned outside to await developments.
One of the strangers unwisely shot at a local resident inside the
store and the minute men opened up on the party. When the smoke
cleared, five of the outlaws were dead and several lay moaning in
spreading pools of blood or staggering around wounded to various
extents. The survivors had mounted their horses and galloped out
of town, the minutemen in hot pursuit. The Kerrville
men caught up with the robbers about eight miles from town and surrounded
a house where they had holed up. Newspaper accounts are sketchy
as to what happened next, but the Galveston News reported later
in July that some 20 outlaws had been killed in the area recently.
Two years later, when five horse thieves hit town and appropriated
two head of other people's stock, Schreiner led a group of his minutemen
in pursuit. Thirty miles upriver, the ranger-like unit and their
tracking hounds caught up with the thieves and mortally wounded
one of them. Ten horses had been recovered, with another accidentally
killed in the exchange of gunfire. Even though the minutemen had
recovered the stolen stock, they rode on after the other thieves.
"The Highwaymen Come to Grief!," the San Antonio Express reported
on June 16, 1875. "Captain Schreiner and the Kerrville Minute Men
Do Their Business."
Schreiner went on the establish the famous YO Ranch. He died in
© Mike Cox
"Texas Tales" October
12, 2016 column
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