Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Curse of the Groundhog!!

I haven't written here in a while and decided it's beyond time to break my silence.  Since I was doing a bit of research for Keri Wilt over at GrapeJuice about Kerrville's lone ground hog, I thought I'd share the story here, too. 

In August of 1935, several residents near downtown Kerrville reported a strange creature roaming yards and creating havoc – damaging gardens, committing “petty thievery” and “outright defiance of the body social.” One newspaper article even referred to the creature as Kerr’s Public Enemy #1.

My grandfather, Will Council, saw the creature climbing into a woodpile behind his house and rigged a trap by placing a “wire cage with a trap door near the stack of kindling. Inside the cage was placed a tempting slice of watermelon.”

When the strange creature was caught, it was discovered to be a groundhog – definitely NOT a Kerr County native. Nobody could figure out how the animal got here.

Visitors lined up to view the groundhog in his cage and wonder at his presence in our town. They named him “Tony Woodchuck” and he lived in captivity in the Council yard on Jefferson Street for about two weeks.

For a long time, this is where I thought the story ended until this week when I came across a later article in The Kerrville Mountain Sun about the sad fate of Tony Woodchuck.

Unfortunately, the animal escaped from his cage and an “outraged mob of Kerrville dogs broke loose and lynched Tony for his high crimes.” After Tony’s horrible demise, it was revealed that Tony belonged to Mrs. Elsie Harris. Mrs. Harris had brought Tony back from a trip to Tennessee earlier in the year as a kind of souvenir.

The strange punchline to this story is that my grandfather died 15 years later, on Groundhog Day!!

More blog entries soon!!!


  1. Another bit of Kerrville's unique history. Thanks for sharing this!

  2. Great story, Lanza. I've never heard this tale about Kerrville's history.