With ancestral roots in Mexico, the Botello family has been part of King William for four generations. Their story spans all the many changes our neighborhood has faced over seven decades, and — to quote an old story — a river runs through it.

Or anyway, it used to. Josephine Botello Garcia (Josie to neighbors and friends) remembers the river well. In her childhood, her house on West Johnson Street — built for her parents, and still her home — backed up on a then half-wild San Antonio River. So did her grandmother’s house, just around the corner on South Main Avenue. Her father Marco A. Botello, Sr. (who was a charter member of the King William Association) had a boat, brightly painted red and green, that was his pride and joy. Josie, the oldest of six siblings, remembers the many times her father took the children out on the water.

The first Botello generation in our neighborhood was Josie’s grandmother Adelaida Botello, who had brought Marco and his brothers from Mexico during its Revolution. Her husband was not so fortunate. In the chaos of the times, he disappeared without trace while headed north to join them, leaving Adelaida to raise her four children as a single mom. Eventually, she bought a house in 1942 on what is now South Main Avenue (then called Frasch Street).

Marco built a successful career nearby in the photo reproduction department of Tobin Aerial Survey, which occupied the building on Camp Street that is now Camp Street Lofts. Josie remembers Tobin as a very good workplace, with an excellent cafeteria for employees and an onsite medical clinic for employees and their families. Josie herself worked there for a few years in the 1970s when Tobin was busy mapping out the groundwork for the Alaska Pipeline.

Marco and his family moved to a new house they built on Johnson Street in 1962, but the connection to the river would not last long. The old river channel originally made a sharp bend toward South Main and between the Pioneer Flour mill and South Alamo Street, finally returning to its current course at Blue Star. The bend was prone to flooding, and in the late 1960s the San Antonio River Authority and US Army Corps of Engineers straightened and widened the channel — slicing through the long, sloping lawns of the Steves Homestead and other King William Street mansions and putting a broad expanse of fill, eventually occupied by the headquarters of the River Authority, between the river and the Botellos and their neighbors. Houses that once had verdant riverbanks now fronted on parking lots.

Through it all, the family held on. Five of the six Botello siblings still live here (sister Adel now lives in the Medical Center area). The family had gradually acquired other houses in the neighborhood, initially as rental property. Josie, now in banking, moved back to her parents’ home after her father passed; Sylvia Botello lives in their grandmother’s house on Main. Brother Marco, Jr. and sister Mari and son Gerald all live on Johnson Street right across from Josie. Youngest brother Henry and son Marco have a house two blocks away on Arsenal St.

Last year Mari married Roger Martinez and — fittingly, given her family’s connection to the river, and with special permission — said their vows on the Johnson Street Bridge. The river may have moved, but the Botellos are still very much here.

-- Jack Kent

Helen Geyer reflects on 71 years in King William

When Helen Ganter moved to 414 E Guenther in 1936 as a 12-year-old, she couldn’t have known that she was moving into one of the best neighborhoods anywhere – or that she would never leave that neighborhood for the rest of her life.  She attended Page Middle School at the time.  “It was the only school that our whole family attended – Bill, myself, and our three kids.”  She reminisces about life in the ’hood almost 100 years ago:  “Kids used to skate and run around at the corner of Guenther and Crofton,” she remembers.  “The windows would be opened in all the houses and you could hear the radios playing.  That was before TV and air-conditioning, you know.  I really never thought I’d see air-conditioning in houses!  I liked the heat then.  We didn’t have anything else so we all just tolerated it.” 

This past April, when Audubon Texas announced its 2017 Terry Hershey Awards for outstanding contributions to conservation by Texas women, King William neighbor Susan Hughes was one of the four awardees. The honor recognizes decades of public advocacy by Hughes as naturalist, activist, public advisor — and elected official: elected to the board of the Edwards Aquifer Authority at its inception in 1996, she has been returned to that role by District 6 voters ever since. But King William residents may also know her and her husband Bruce as the people on Guenther Street with all those purple martin houses.

If you’re reading this memorial, then you knew Sue Duffy.  What?  You say you didn’t know her? I beg to differ.  If you’ve enjoyed the parade at the King William Fair just once over the last eleven years, then you did know Sue Duffy, who passed away in May. 

Although known most recently as our Chief Parade Wrangler, Sue’s relationship with King William was quite long.  Decades ago, she performed on our stages as an Irish dancer, and she managed portions of the parade before being tapped to “chair” the event, a title she quickly dumped in favor of something more accurate in her point of view. 

If you've driven by Bonham Academy, chances are you've seen Rose Cunningham and Linda Jackson. These crossing guards, affectionately known as Ms. Rose and Ms. Linda to neighbors, are sisters who have been standing watch over Bonham crosswalks as a team for twelve years. Ms. Rose, who works the intersection at St. Mary's and Pereida, started in 2003 and brought in her sister, who works at Pereida and S. Presa, a couple of years later. 

 “I just love kids,” is Rose's reason for choosing this job. Both women are grandmothers, and their affection for children is apparent to anyone who observes them in action. Rose said that former students come back to visit from time-to-time and asks if she remembers them. “Of course I do!” she answers enthusiastically. Past Bonham student Felice Martinez says that, in addition to making sure kids cross safely, they also “really brighten your day.” These women are a wonderful asset to our neighborhood.  Thanks, Rose and Linda!

- Angela Martinez

This pretty two-story Eastlake-Victorian house at 151 Crofton was built in 1903. It was a wedding gift to Dr. Edward Hertzberg and his wife, Helene, from the young doctor’s parents. The senior Hertzbergs, Theodor and Emilie, who owned the brick mansion next door at 155 Crofton, hoped to see a large and loving family of grandchildren grow up in the new house. That dream came true.

Edward and Helene Hertzberg had three children, Helene, Lenora (Nola) and Edward, Jr. Talented in the arts, Nola traveled to Germany in the 1920s to study theatre, art and music, planning on a career in one of these fields. While there, she met and married a German national. As Hitler’s Nazi regime began to engulf the country, Nola Hertzberg Feiler thought it prudent for her to return to the United States, moving back into the Crofton family home with her parents. She had a happy life there for many years but then one day, tragedy struck.

On New Year’s Day, January 1, 1955, several family members piled into the family car for a drive to the country. Besides Nola, there was her mother, her older sister, Helene Simmang, and her husband, Theodore Simmang. They were hardly out of the city on Bandera Road when an oncoming car veered into their lane causing...

A beloved neighborhood leader has been called away to serve a permanent mission.

James R. Johnson, Sr., LTC, U.S. Army (ret), who received the Silver Star for gallantry in action while serving in Vietnam and served his King William neighborhood with an equal amount of vigor, passed away on September 21, 2016. His health had declined over the past months, but he lived a full life of adventure and merriment for many of his 85 years.

“The Colonel,” as he was known to many of his neighbors, was a tireless advocate who sought to “do his part” in bettering the San Antonio community. In the late 1990s, he provided great leadership when he served as the King William Association president. During 2001- 2007, Jim represented District 1 on the board of the San Antonio River Authority, where he served to make sure there would be dedicated funding to support the Mission Reach project.

Jim had a real passion for life and companionship, whether with friends, one of his dogs, a tennis partner or foe, or a personal love. Although he sometimes hid behind a rigid demeanor, the tenderness in his eyes usually gave him away. He was an old soul who celebrated the nostalgia of baseball, the military and rustic travel, but had the spirit and heart of a young trooper who approached every mission with purpose, leadership, a vision and the ability to...

The KWA Cultural Arts Committee is working on a walking tour brochure for the “Arsenal” side of our neighborhood association. Deed and consensus research conducted by intern Michael Carroll revealed this area’s original settlers were ethnically diverse:

  • • 210 Arsenal - Russian Jews Michael and Freda Dubinski Milgrom immigrated to the United States in 1880.
  • • 119 Daniel - Irish immigrants Patrick and Anastatia “Statia” Donoghue purchased their lot in 1901.
  • • 115 Rische - James Montanio was born in Italy in 1888. He immigrated with his parents at the age of eight, their ship docking at the port of New Orleans.
  • • 920 S. Main - Eugenio Ruiz and his wife and fellow Mexican immigrant Carlota built their house here after Carlota purchased the lot in 1910.
  • • 216 W. Johnson - Frenchborn Jean and Alexine Loustaunau immigrated to the United States in 1867. Jean co-founded La Maison Blanche, a French restaurant on Market Street.

- Cherise Bell

We see them so often in San Antonio that we may forget to notice them, or at least to note how extraordinary they are: intricate light fixtures of perforated metal, on the Riverwalk, in our stores and banks, in some of our finest homes. The delicate patterns that these fixtures project on our walls and walkways are part of the sensual world of our city, as natural to us as the flicker of luminarias or the shadows of papél picado. But they are the work of a few inspired men and women, living and working here in our neighborhood – part of a tradition that, fortunately, is set to persevere.

August 26 is Women’s Equality Day, designated in 1971 to observe and commemorate the passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution in 1920, granting women the right to vote. This was the culmination of a massive, peaceful civil rights movement by women that had its formal beginnings in 1848 at the world’s first women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York.

Robert Hugman had a dream of turning a winding, lazy river, prone to frequent flooding, into the beautiful River Walk that we see today – and he had that dream while living right here in our neighborhood.

Hugman was born February 8, 1902 to a working class couple. His father, Harold, was a carpenter and his mother, Annie, worked for the Social Services & Legal Aid Bureau. The family lived in a rented house at 507 Westfall Avenue in Denver Heights near the intersection of Hackberry Street and the MKT Railroad.

In 1938, Bonham Elementary was the first school in San Antonio to get a “Safety Sally” sign.  The police department placed “Safety Sally” at primary school crosswalks across the city to caution motorists to slow down as they approached school crossings.  In the photo above, Bonham principal Mildred Baskin  looks on as seven-year-old Bonham students, Dolores Duke and Kenneth Lee Petrie, pose with “Sally.”

In 1980, President Jimmy Carter declared the week of March 8 as Women’s History week. Years later, Congress passed a bill declaring March as Women’s History Month. Every year the National Women’s History Project chooses a theme for this month, and 2015’s theme is “Weaving the Stories of Women’s Lives.” This presents the opportunity to weave women’s stories – individually and collectively – into the essential fabric of our nation’s history.

While it’s fitting that we should honor all women in King William who strive to make the neighborhood a better place to live, this article pays special tribute to those remarkable women who have gone before us.
Written evidence tells us that women played an important part in our neighborhood’s development from the very beginning. Over a hundred years ago, women were major developers, home builders and land owners -- Maria Ygnacia Delgado, Adalina Dane, Lady Bailey and Emma Altgelt to name a few.

I first met Mike Wiederhold in the mid-1980s. Roz and I lived in Houston at the time and had just recently discovered the King William neighborhood. It was a cool, misty fall Saturday and I believe the occasion was a home tour combined with a quilt show. Of course, we didn’t know anyone in the neighborhood at the time. We were walking up King William Street when it suddenly began to rain. We noticed that several people had congregated under a carport at the corner house across from the King William Park to get out of the rain.

The Texas Commission on the Arts recognized our neighborhood as a cultural arts district in 2011. But our association with art and artists is as old as the neighborhood itself. One such artist was Rolla Sims Taylor (1872-1970).

Current KWA board member Ethel Pedraza remembers Taylor as a kind neighbor. He lived next door to the Pedraza family at 611 Mission Street, in what was once known as the Winslow Subdivision.

From time to time, the King William office receives a call or visit from a former resident with fond memories of living in our neighborhood. They are always encouraged to share those memories. One such former resident is Jacquie Banks who lived with her mother and grandmother on King William Street from 1943 to 1953.

Growing up in Nana’s House

By Sue Ann Jacqueline “Jacquie” Banks

In the early 1940s, my father was in the Navy so my mother and I lived with my grandmother, who owned the houses at 236 and 242 King William St. It was during WWII and San Antonio was bursting at the seams with military families and civilian workers. Nana rented out all of 242 and most of 236 except the rooms where we lived. Since mother wasn’t working, I had a great childhood with both my mother and grandmother at home all those years.

A dear friend of King William has died. Mary Trevino passed away February 13 at age 102. As a tribute to this remarkable lady, we are repeating excerpts from an interview with her ten years ago when she was only 92:

Mary Trevino’s bright smile has greeted guests at El Mirador for more than 35 years. At 92 years of age, she still works the register, cooks the soup and sauces and fills in wherever she is needed around the restaurant.

Mary’s son Julian and his wife Diana moved to King William in the late 1960’s, and that’s when Mary and her husband Julian, Sr. began visiting the neighborhood. “When our first granddaughter, Jessica, was born,” Mary said, “we couldn’t stay away.”

There was a small restaurant in the building next door to the present El Mirador, a pleasant place where the Trevinos ate occasionally. It had three booths, one table and a few stools at the counter. Julian happened to notice one day that the little restaurant was for rent. Mary got on the telephone right away to her sister-in-law and a friend and said, ”You want to go into the restaurant business with us?”

The first thing they both said was, “Who’s going to do the cooking? You can’t cook! I can’t cook! None of us knows how to cook!”
“We don’t need to know,” Mary told them. “The restaurant already has a cook.” So they pooled their resources and were soon in business, but the cook proved to be temperamental. “About a month after we opened, the cook suddenly took off,” Mary said. “I had no choice. I had to learn to cook in a hurry, taste and make changes until I got it right.” She evidently ‘got it right’ because the business soon began to prosper.

The Macias sisters, Connie and Mary Lou, have lived in their pretty cottage at 118 Daniel Street for sixty-seven years. They were teenagers in 1945 when their mother, Concepcion Hernandez Macias, widowed just the year before, paid $1,500 down payment on the house.

Concepcion was a teenager herself in 1915 when she arrived in San Antonio with her family, fleeing a pneumonia epidemic in Guatemala. She attended mass at San Fernando Cathedral for the next few years and that’s where she met Liborio Macias. While social conventions of the day kept them from actually “dating,” they took every opportunity to get to know each other during the social hour after mass. Liborio had emigrated to the U.S. from San Luis Potosi, Mexico in 1905 with his mother and brother to escape political unrest at home.

When you stroll through our neighborhood on Fair Day, have you ever wondered about the names given to certain Fair sites – “Pat’s Pub," “Julia’s Veranda," “Ilse’s Attic”? Old timers will recognize those names, but if you’re a newcomer, you might be curious.

Over the years, the various Fair committees have chosen to recognize a few ‘gone but not forgotten’ King William residents who have left an indelible imprint on our neighborhood. It’s yet another way to honor those who have gone before us and to keep their memories alive.

Ben Garcia, Sr., and his wife, Eloise, moved to their home at 315 Mission Street in 1968. Their son, Ben, Jr., who still lives in the neighborhood on Forke Street, and his two sisters were also part of the family.

"We had long outgrown our little house on Forest Ave. off South Flores Street," says Ben, Jr. "Looking back years later, it was hard to believe that five of us could have possibly lived in that tiny house."

"Both my sisters went to Brackenridge High School but I went to Fox Tech on North Main. I sometimes walked to school but what I really wanted was a car so I could drive. My mom said, 'If you want a car, you‘ll have to get a job to help pay for it.‘ So I got a part-time job after school working in the basement at Joske‘s on Alamo Plaza as a stock boy making $1.60 an hour – minimum wage."

Jack Kent (1920-1985) was a cartoonist, children’s book author and illustrator, and longtime King William resident. Born John Zurawski to first-generation Polish and Austrian parents in Iowa, he became Jack Kent when his dad, a traveling linoleum salesman, relocated to Texas in 1926 and changed his name to something his customers could more easily remember. From that day forward my father was a Texan and, except for a honeymoon in Mexico and some tedious business in the Pacific during WWII, never lived anywhere else.

By his mid-teens he was “Texas Jack” and already sure of his calling. He wrote fan letters to all the great cartoonists of the day—his most treasured correspondent was George Herriman, creator of the strange and wonderful Krazy Kat. But he was more than a fan. It was the Depression, and Daddy’s career started early. His formal schooling ended at 15 as he worked as a printer’s apprentice and sold caricatures to the San Antonio Light.

He was self-taught in art and everything else. For a high-school dropout in a rural state, he was extraordinarily well-read and aware of the wider world. He loved opera. His work for The Light was inspired by Miguel Covarrubias, the Mexican artist, anthropologist and New Yorker cartoonist. His artistic taste went far beyond the comics page to Picasso and Miró, Ben Shahn and Paul Klee. He spent his spare time (and his spare change) at the two temples of the literary life in 1930s- 40s San Antonio: Rosengren’s Books and Norman Brock’s used bookstore.

Walter Nold Mathis passed away on 30 December 2005 at the age of 86 years. He was born in San Antonio on 13 August 1919 to Arthur Mathis and Jessie Bell Mathis. He was the grandson of Thomas Henry Mathis, rancher and founder of Mathis, Texas and co-founder of Rockport, Texas. His maternal grandfather was Samuel C . Bell, former mayor of San Antonio.

Mathis was a direct descendant of Maria de Jesus Curbelo, a member of one of the original Canary Island families who founded San Fernando de Bexar in 1731 and of John W. Smith, who brought 32 volunteers to the Alamo from Gonzales, was the Alamo's last messenger, and San Antonio's first Mayor under the Republic of Texas. Mathis graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelor's Degree in business administration. He was a member and officer of the Phi Gamma Delta Fraternity.

On the morning after Pearl Harbor, Mathis enlisted in the Army Air Corps. Following pilot training, he was given command of the 45th Squadron, 265th Division, 9th Air Force. The unit, called "First Pathfinders," provided front line B-26 aerial support for the Normandy invasion and later for General Patton and consisted of 196 men. Only 28 survived. Although eligible for discharge after completing 25 missions, Mathis completed 65 missions and remained on active duty until the war ended. Captain Mathis mustered out of the Army Air Corps on 29 December 1945, rewarded by three Distinguished Flying Crosses, the Air Medal, and a Presidential Citation.

The year was 1909. It was a hot sultry morning in late May when three neighborhood teenage boys gathered in the backyard of 208 King William Street, the home of fifteen year-old Arthur Bergstrom. Besides Arthur, there was Walter Giesecke from 218 Washington Street and Willard Berman from 338 Madison Street. Bored and with the prospect of a long summer vacation from Bonham School #10, they began casting about for something to do. According to a written account by Arthur’s younger brother, Walter Bergstrom, it was Walter Giesecke who suggested the idea of forming a boy’s club. Willard Berman is said to have come up with the name for the club – The Merry Knights of King William.

With permission from Arthur’s parents, the upper floor of the Bergstrom’s carriage house would become the Merry Knight’s clubhouse. There was much to be done to make the space suitable for their purpose. The first order of business was to recruit additional members to form a work crew for the task ahead.

Those new recruits were Ernst Schuchard who lived at 221 East Guenther and Percy Clarkson from 213 Washington Street. Next they brought on Albert and Werner Beckmann from 529 Madison (now 222 East Guenther), George Henyan, 202 Madison Street, Harry Ankerson, also from Madison Street, Henry Pancoast at 203 King William and Frederick Bollinger from 236 King William Street.

According to the October 17, 1909, Sunday Edition of the San Antonio Light, a San Antonio landmark was razed just the week before in order to widen South Alamo Street. The old home of Gustav and Augusta Haenel, which had been on the City's condemned list for fourteen years, finally came down.

In 1849, sixteen year-old Gustav and his brother Julius, left their home in Prussia arriving in Texas at Indianola. Traveling inland, they stopped off briefly in San Antonio and New Braunfels, and then traveled to Louisville, Kentucky but after a year, they returned to South Texas where they would remain.

Some neighbors have deeper roots in King William than others. Former KWA board member Henry Botello and his siblings were born and grew up here. Henry's parents, Marco and Josefina Botello, were married in 1950 at San Fernando Cathedral. Shortly thereafter, they moved to 916 S. Main, where Marco's mother had lived since 1941. Six children were born to Marco and Josefina while they lived there: Josie, Adel, Sylvia, Marco Jr., Marie, and Henry. After six children, the Botellos had outgrown their house, so in 1962, Marco built a larger home for his family just around the corner at 210 W. Johnson St.

Meerscheidt SistersIn last month’s newsletter, Belinda Molina wrote about the Axel Meerscheidt house that once stood next door to her house on E. Guenther. Sadly, the Meerscheidt house burned in the 1950’s. Belinda has communicated with Neale Rabensburg, a descendent of the Meerscheidt family, who has generously shared excerpts from the memoir of Erna Meerscheidt. Erna, daughter of Axel and Olga Meerscheidt, grew up in the house.


By Erna Meerscheidt Weeks Bouillon

“........but after my grandfather’s death [Dr. O. Remer of New Braunfels], grandmother [Franciska Schleier] moved to San Antonio where several of her children had settled. My father [Axel Meerscheidt] had a darling little house built for my grandmother across the street from this large home in the Meerscheidt Addition [515 E. Guenther, later changed to 101 Crofton]. Our home was really a mansion, built in red brick with white rock, around curved windows, and the curved entrance door. It had a marble foyer and beautiful, stained glass windows. The mansion has now been turned into a chapel by the Catholics. It was of French architecture, located in an exclusive residential district named after my father, the Meerscheidt Addition.

When I was a young kid starting out as a writer, I had a shining goal: I was going to present Mexico and the Mexicans as they had never before been presented. Well, I did. I made the big time. I even made MGM and Book of the Month. You see, I reached my goal and passed it." -Josefina Niggli

King William has long been a home for writers and artists. Even so, it may surprise some of you to know that Josefina Niggli once lived in our neighborhood. For those who are not familiar with that name, she was an author, playwright, actor, teacher and photographer who was popular in the mid-1900’s. Fewer still may know that she lived on King William Street. Her parents, Fredrick Ferdinand “Fritz” and Goldie Morgan Niggli owned 221 King William where Josefina lived off and on for about thirty years, from the mid 1920’s to the mid 1950’s.

Josefina’s mother was a concert violinist of Irish, French and German descent. Her father’s Swiss-Alsatian forebears immigrated to Texas in 1836. In 1893 after her parents married, they moved to Mexico where Fritz managed a cement plant in Hidalgo near Monterrey.

Josefina was born in Monterrey, Mexico in 1910. When she was three, her parents moved the family to San Antonio to escape the violence of the Mexican revolution. Her father continued to manage the cement plant and traveled back and forth between Hidalgo and San Antonio. Her mother gave private violin lessons from her King William home.