|The Gregory Hotel, Kerrville ca. 1880 - now known as the Pampell's Building at the corner of |
Water and Sidney Baker Streets. From the collection of Dana Lowe
|W.V. Gregory, ca 1875|
Previously mis-identified as
one of my uncles in the
family photo collection.
William Vandyke Gregory (December 12, 1846 - January 29, 1931) was 29 years old in 1875 when he left his native home in Marshall County, Tennessee and moved to Kerrville. Within the first three to five years of his residency here, William proved his entrepreneurial spirit: He established a shoe shop, a hotel called The Gregory House and had a horse trading business as a sideline.
In October, 1878 Mr. Gregory was a witness to the aftermath of the Dowdy Family Massacre, one of the last known Indian raids in Kerr County. He was a family friend of the Dowdy's and was riding to the family's home on Johnson Creek for a visit. He was two miles south of the Dowdy home when he learned of the attack. Gregory raced to the scene and arrived as the bodies of the Dowdy children were laid before the family. His account of the tragedy was published in the October 7, 1878 issue of the San Antonio Express. "Alice lived long enough to recognize her mother - spoke the dear name of 'Mama,' and expired." His account said.
He was very much a part of small town life. William was remembered in a column by J.J. Starkey in the August 6, 1931 issue of the Kerrville Times, a memoir of life in early Kerrville:
"While going to school at the old building then on the Secor Hospital Corner [now John Miller's car dealership], the teacher being Professor Ryan, the boys got together their nickels and dimes and bought a round rubber football. A jury, out on a case, borrowed our football and started a game near the old stone courthouse. One of the jurors struck the ball with a stick and punctured it. They had W.V. Gregory, who was a shoemaker then, mend it; but as I remember the ball never held air so well thereafter."
William and Julia Gregory on the Porch of the Gregory House
|William and Julia Gregory, about 1900|
Until Recently an unidentified couple in one of my
family group photos.
1880 was the year that changed Mr. Gregory's life. He injured his left knee while working and it became so infected that the leg had to be amputated. The amputation was performed by four doctors, Drs. White, Nowlin, and Harwell from Kerrville and one other [un-named] physician from Comfort. The operation took place in the home of Joe Robinson, a "little residence situated in the southeast corner of the Starkey Farm."
Joe Robinson's sister-in-law, Julia Kernodle (August 1851 - Nov. 6, 1930), another 1875 transplant from Tennessee, lived in the home and helped take care of Mr. Gregory. As Julia nursed William back to health, love bloomed and they were married later that year.
After the couple's marriage in 1880, Mr. Gregory's hotel gained a second story and they eventually branched into the mercantile business. In studying the photo above of the Gregory House hotel, rooms were $1 a day and meals $.25 per day.
Sometime around 1900 the property was sold to J.L. Pampell and the building became a confectionary. After their retirement from the hotel and mercantile business, William and Julia built a home on a 20 acre plot of land in the southeast corner of the D.A. Rees tract and raised chicken and dairy stock. In the early 1920s the Gregorys sold this farm and built a home in the Lowry addition.
On Thursday, Nov. 6, 1930, Julia died of a sudden heart attack at the age of 81. Her obituary in the Daily Times read, " On Tuesday, Nov. 4, at the general election, she accompanied her husband to the polls and cast her ballot. The election officers and others remarked concerning her apparent good health, giving promise of more years of life. Thursday morning she was stricken with heart trouble and passed away about nightfall."
William died only three months after his "beloved" Julia's passing, on January 29, 1931. In his obituary, the Kerrville Times said, "He had very little education but was energetic, a keen trader and succeeded better than many men with two legs to walk upon. He was of a kindly and peacable nature and had many friends."
A sad footnote to this tale: While William's obituary says that he and Julia are lying side by side in Glen Rest Cemetery, due to an unfortunate series of circumstances, the location of their graves has been lost and cannot be located. After searching for old church registries, courthouse records and talking to numerous cemetery and funeral home personnel, I am still hoping for a miracle that will one day point me to their final resting place. Mr. Gregory's name is also mis-spelled on the Pampell Building's historical marker.
It has been a lot of fun researching William and Julia Gregory with Dana and I would like to thank him for his generosity in sharing the fantastic image of the Gregory House Hotel with us. It is an amazing photo! Who would have guessed the Pampell's building ever looked like that?