TexasEscapes.com HOME Welcome to Texas Escapes
A magazine written by Texas
Custom Search

Texas | Columns | "Texas Tales"

Texas Rancher
Charles Schreiner

by Mike Cox
Mike Cox
One of the tens of thousands Texans who fought hard, if in vain, for the Confederacy was Charles Armand Schreiner. Born in 1838 in the mountains of Alsace-Lorraine, France, he had come with his family to Texas in September 1852. The family settled in San Antonio, where his father soon died. Four years later, his mother died from a snakebite. Except for his siblings - three brothers and a sister -- he was on his own.

Only 16, Schreiner first rode as a Texas Ranger in 1854. While scouting for Indians with the rangers, he saw the Hill Country for the first time. As historian J. Evetts Haley later wrote, "[H]e must have reasoned that a man was foolish to range and rove, and thirst and starve, in such a bountifully attractive land…."

In 1857, Schreiner took up ranching with his brother-in-law, Caspar Real. He lived with his sister Emilie and Real in a log cabin on Turtle Creek in the vicinity of Camp Verde. Not quite six months after the outbreak of the Civil War, Schreiner married Mary Magdalene Enderle on Oct. 1, 1861. Soon after, he enlisted in the Confederate army at San Antonio. After service throughout the rest of the conflict, Schreiner was mustered out in San Antonio in 1865. One story has it that he walked from San Antonio back to Turtle Creek in Kerr County with only five gold dollars to his name.
Charles Armand Schreiner

On Christmas Eve 1869 - with $10,000 put up by August Faltin of Comfort - Schreiner opened a general store in a cypress plank building in Kerrville. 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 up Longhorns 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 business.

While 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 Kerrville in 1927.

© Mike Cox
"Texas Tales" October 12, 2016 column

Columns | People | Texas Ranching
See also Texas Towns | Texas Counties | Texas

All Texas Towns :
Gulf Gulf Coast East East Texas North Central North Central Woutn Central South Panhandle Panhandle
South South Texas Hill Hill Country West West Texas Ghost Ghost Towns counties COUNTIES


Texas Hill Country | East Texas | Central Texas North | Central Texas South | West Texas | Texas Panhandle | South Texas | Texas Gulf Coast

Texas Attractions
People | Ghosts | Historic Trees | Cemeteries | Small Town Sagas | WWII | History | Texas Centennial | Black History | Art | Music | Animals | Books | Food
COLUMNS : History, Humor, Topical and Opinion

Courthouses | Jails | Churches | Gas Stations | Schoolhouses | Bridges | Theaters | Monuments/Statues | Depots | Water Towers | Post Offices | Grain Elevators | Lodges | Museums | Rooms with a Past | Gargoyles | Cornerstones | Pitted Dates | Stores | Banks | Drive-by Architecture | Signs | Ghost Signs | Old Neon | Murals | Then & Now
Vintage Photos


Privacy Statement | Disclaimer | Contributors | Staff | Contact TE
Website Content Copyright Texas Escapes LLC. All Rights Reserved