The History of Staples, Texas
- The early people
- Early businesses in Staples
- Camp Clark
- Staples grows
- The railroad that almost was
- More early settlers and development of the churches
- Life in early times
- The coming of the roads
- The schools
- Professionals in the community
- Commerce and industry
- The Staples Post Office
- The Civic Club
- Later Changes
- Credits and Kudos
Staples is located in the northeastern part of Guadalupe County, overlooking the San Marcos River valley to the east, and surrounded by broad fertile fields to the north, west and south. It is about 11 miles from San Marcos, 15 miles north of Luling, 16 miles west of Lockhart, and 20 miles east of Seguin, our county seat.top
The early people
Long before the coming of the white settlers to this region, the territory surrounding Staples was the hunting ground of the Lipan Indians. They were a tribe of the Apache. The Comanches too, frequently raided this region, but were not permanent inhabitants.
Mr. and Mrs. J. C. McKean have quite a collection of arrow heads found on their river farm. About one-half mile west of Staples, some arrows have been found about five inches long. Here on the flat prairie, the Indians probably hunted for deer and perhaps buffalo. The rivers abounded in fish and there were many large leafy trees, some bearing savory nuts, persimmons and mulberries. Besides the deer and buffalo, there were bears, partridges and many other animals. This might well have been the reason the earlier settlers referred to it as God's Country.
Early settlers were reported to have come to this region because of the beauty of the valley, the abundance of water and low river banks from which to load water.
De Leon in 1688 wrote of the San Marcos River being large enough for a small vessel to navigate it. He described lagoons along the river, which evidently was the swampy region around Ottine. They continued on up the river to a small hill where they could see the source of the river. They named it San Marcos because it was discovered the day after that Saint’s birthday.
The real colonization of this region began with Green Dewitt. He came from Missouri territory to Mexico City to secure a land grant from the Mexican government. On April 15, 1825 this title was granted. There was room for 400 families. Among those coming to Texas with the Green Dewitts was George Allen, wife, and two children. George Allen's league of land was located on the southwest margin of the San Marcos River, about eleven leagues from Gonzales. This title was received in June 1851. Each head of a family received 4,605 acres.
It was on this league of land, on the banks of the San Marcos, that the community of Staples had its beginning more than a hundred years ago.
In 1855, Judge John McKean and family crossed the Sabine River into Texas. They settled in East Texas where they lived for many years, due to unsettled conditions in Texas at that time.
In 1852, two of the brothers, John and William, came first to Caldwell County and made their home about two miles southeast of where Staples is now. Later in 1852, William married Martha Ellison and moved across the river into Guadalupe County. Thus they became the first home steaders in the little community of Staples.
On July 14, 1857, George Allen sold the upper half of his league of land to Graves Fulcher for $1,500.00. In June 1848, the remainder of the 2,854 acres was sold by Tax Assessor and Collector William King to highest bidder Abner Harris for $12.10, who in turn sold it to Joshua Burr in 1849 for $17.18 cash. On June 24, 1855, Churchill Fulcher sold half of the upper half of the land, his father, Graves Fulcher, had bought from George Allen, to D. A. Nord for $5,500 cash. In 1854, Alex Word and wife and Charlie Word had come to Texas. At first they settled across the river in Caldwell County, about three miles from Staples. The next year, they sold this land to Headly Polk and moved about a mile southeast of where Staples is now located. At present this land is owned by Milt and Evie Lowman Cabiness.
New! An update with more information about the Word family in Staples.
Shortly after the Word brothers had gotten located on the San Marcos River, their father died in Bastrop. They moved their widowed mother and her three widowed sisters, Mrs. Anna Spraggins, Mrs. Sallie Roberts and Mrs. Jennie Caruthers to a farm south of their land, formerly known as the Munk place, now owned by Tobe and Bernice Scrutchin.
Alex Word hauled freight from Port Lavaca for stores along the route and for neighbors. On one trip, he brought a buggy to Mr. Murff, Mrs. W. N. Albright's father. This being the first buggy in the community, people came for miles around to see it.
Alex Word cut walnut trees from his place, hauled them to New Braunfels. There they were cut into lumber from which he made his own furniture. The grand-daughters, Mrs. Blanche Harris and Mrs. Ura Mercer still have some of this furniture.
In Dec. 1855, D. A. Word sold 934 acres on upper side of this homestead to Leonidas Hardeman, who built the first gin on the present site.
There were many other gins and mills up and down the river- Polks, Words, Murffs and Munks. Not surprising, as a gin could only turn out four bales a day, most of the work being done by hand.
By this time, there were many other families moving into the neighborhood. There the Pendleton Rectors, Major M. D. Anderson and family and Jack Douglas Staples, for whom the place was named. Born in Tennessee Jan. 9, 1829 and when fifteen years of age with his two brothers moved to Ala. and carried on a saddle and harness manufacturing business. Then in 1855, they came to Texas and bought land out of the upper part of the George Allen league on the west bank of the San Marcos River. In 1858, J. D. Staples bought his brothers interest in this land. He built a home and soon married Cordelia Appling from near Cottonwood. Five years later his wife died leaving him with six children. Two years later he married Mrs. Amanda Jeffery; they had six children.
Mr. Staples was very civic minded, as he gave land for both churches, the Baptist and Methodist, the second school house and the cemetery. He was one of the first to be buried there in November 1907 at the age of seventy-eight. Other early markers read Infant Griffin, died 1893; Lorena Lowman, died May 1895; Joseph Mote, died Aug. 2, 1893.top
Early businesses in Staples
The first business house in Staples was erected by J. D. Staples in 1870. It was a small one-room frame building under the oak trees to the left in front of his home. It was known as Staples Store, Texas, until March 20, 1891, when the name was changed to Staples, Texas.
Dr. John W. Williams, a young man from Ala., put in a small line of drugs in a shed room built on the Staples store. A few years later he went to Tenn. and married Miss Josie Garrett. He erected a home with two small rooms and a shed room, where the Mrs. J. A. Lowman home was, now owned by Mrs. Wilburn Daniels. Later a little drug store was built in the corner of their yard.
Mr. Staples sold his store to Gus Brackney. After a few years, he moved to Luling and Mr. Black Hill and nephew, Gorde Hill put in a stock of merchandise in the Staples building, but in a short time, they moved to Martindale. The Griffin brothers, T. L. and W. E., had come to the community and bought the gin, then they bought the building and enlarged it making a two-story building. Dr. J. T. Kinney used one room as his office. The other was used by John Mote, doing light house-keeping.
The Martindale Bros. built a nice store building across the street on the west side of town. Gus Staples bought them out. Griffin Bros. sold to Peel and Hardy and with Q. J. and R. P. Lowman, they bought out Gus Staples. Other early merchants in small store buildings were J. A. Lowman, Doll Autry, Bob Johnson and sons and Edd Kramer. John Blair was possibly the first druggist.top
Across from the Staples home there was a grove of live oak trees spoken of in early history as "the village green." This spot was the rendezvous of soldiers about to leave for the Civil War, in 1861. It was called Camp Clark. Later this camp site was moved about five miles to the north of this location.
It was at this time, 1861, that Capt. Holmes organized a company. They became members of Woods' regiment, 32nd Texas Cavalry, Tom Green Corps. In 1964 an historical marker was put up near the entrance of the Memorial Park marking the location of Camp Clark, C.S.A. The marker text reads as follows:
Named for Edward Clark, first Confederate Governor of Texas, whose Executive Order June 8, 1861, created voluntary camps of instruction such as this. Food, camp facilities and guns
were voluntary gifts by local people. Farmers, merchants, artisans, laborers gave goods and services. Men with military training and experience gave their time as drillmasters. This
and 50 or 60 other camps of instruction mainly taught walking to Texans brought up with the habit of moving about on horseback. (6 out of 10 Texans joined the Cavalry. Governor Clark felt
compelled to say in his Executive Order that infantry service was actually a matter of honor.) Operated despite scorn of 18 to 35 year old recruits who had fought Indians most of their
lives and were impatient for battle-- not for training. Though neither Texas nor the Confederacy in 1861 had funds for camps of instruction, by 1862 privates were paid $11 a month, officers
$50. This Guadalupe County camp of instruction was convenient to roads and to water. Area units that trained here included Co. D, 4th Texas Infantry, of Hood's famous Texas Brigade, and 4th Texas Cavalry (Partisan) under Captain William P. Hardeman.
Capt. Holmes and W. N. Albright bought adjoining farms about two miles above Staples, where their families were reared.
Other settlers taking their places in the community about this time were E. P. Waller, W. H. Jennings and G. M. Autry. In 1876 Hardeman sold gin and 60 acres of land to C. H. Word for $250.00 cash.
In 1878 Harmon Luther Lowman and wife from Ala. came to Texas with their eight children. They bought land from a man named Spruell, about one-half mile north of Staples. Having been educated to be a minister, he served the Pleasant Ridge Methodist Church as local pastor for several years. There was at this time no church in Staples. The Lowman brothers formed a co-partnership under the name of Lowman Bros. They were ginners, farmers, and stock raisers. Later they established a mercantile business.
Neighbors of the Lowmans were Dr. Campton and wife, sister of Mrs. Lowman. Then there were the Sam Scott family and the Mose Howards. Also Nelson and Marshall Tuttle who married Spencer sisters, Prudence and Vernette. At this time there was A. L. Oliver and family with his mother, Mrs. Elizabeth Hooper and son, Will; all built homes in the Pleasant Ridge Community.
Earlier, the Tuttles and Olivers had built homes close to the river, but they were washed away by a flood.
Other families coming in after the Civil War were A. M. Williamson, whose father was a doctor. His father prepared a number of prescriptions and medical directions for the family, which consisted of the wife and four children. A son in-law, C. C Howard, now owns the farm on which A. M. Williamson settled, having paid $.50 an acre in the early days. Others establishing homes here were: Travis Reese and family, Wade Andrews and wife, and their daughter Ella, who later married Bill Hooper. Billie Sherrill bought a large tract of land two miles southeast of Staples. He became an extensive land owner and cattleman.top
The railroad that almost was
At one time, Staples almost had a railroad. The G. H. and S. A. railroad company made a survey and was granted a right-of-way thru J. S. Slaughter's farm in 1874. In 1894 this right-of-way was renewed.top
More early settlers and development of the churches
Locating about three miles west of Staples were the three Waldrip brothers, W. T., Henry, and Bob, their families and their widowed mother, their brother J. J. (Jack) having come in 1877 buying land and selling to the brothers.
Billie Simmons and sons, Mark, Pink, and John came. There were also Sheep Reed, J. M. Mason, George Call, J. H. Jenkins and their families. It was among these early settlers that the pastor R. S. Williams organized the first Baptist Church in a log school house in 1875. Later a building was erected on Yorks Creek, Rev. R. S. Williams as pastor. It was known as the Woodlawn Baptist Church. Major Anderson was the first deacon and R. A. Randolph first clerk.
When this building was destroyed by fire, the church was built at Staples bringing the membership and name ”Woodlawn" with it. This one room church was built in 1888. In 1924 it was torn down and replaced by a brick building with classrooms and modern conveniences compleated in 1925. It is now known as Staples Baptist Church.
Pastors serving this church thru the years are R. S. Williams, W. M. Chapman, S. C. Harle, S. H. Blair, J. H. Wharton, C. C. Gady, J. H. Mizzell. Also E. C. Routh 0ct.1903; J. M. Hunt Dec.1905; T. E. McKenzie Nov.1904; T. J. Dodson 1908; J. H. Ballard 1911; C. N. Nelson 1910; W. L. Lackey; S. P. Harris Aug. 1916; D. R. McMillan 1918; E. C. Dearman 1919 to 1921; Elder Yelvington; A. L. Ingram 1921; T. B. Prescott 1927; H. C. Suttles 1928; D. H. Roberts Jan. 1932; H. M. Adkins Feb. 1951; J. D. Foster Aug. 1951; L. R. Mitchell Sept. 1956; Jesse G. Cooke July 1965; J. D. Foster Nov. 1966; and James Darnell June 1969.
The first Methodist parsonage was built in 1897. The parsonage at Pleasant Ridge had been sold for $200.00. The new parsonage was first occupied by Rev. J. T. Graham and family. Members residing in Staples attended church at Pleasant Ridge. In 1901 Rev. W. H. Biggs appointed a church building committee, composed of Rev. W. A. Scott, Dr. J. W. Williams, B. J. Butler and Q. J. Lowman. This one room frame church was completed in 1901 costing $1,500. The church was organized by Rev. C. H. Perkin: with 70 members in 1902. In 1924 when it was seen a larger building was needed, Rev. A. Guyon appointed a building committee whose plans were accepted and a modern 12-room brick veneer was finished in May 1925, costing $15,000. In January 1936, this building burned. Another was erected from these ruins and on Oct. 4, 1936 the third church building was dedicated. Rev. Ratliff was presiding elder and Rev. Gaston, pastor. The pastors serving the Staples Methodist Church are Rev. J. T. Graham 1897-1901; Rev. W. H. H. Biggs, 1901-1902; Rev. C.W. Perkins, 1902-1904; Rev. V. G. Thomas, 1904-1905; Rev. J. C. Russell, 1905-1905; Rev. V. V. Boone, 1906-1909; Rev. W. L. Pate, 1909-1911; Rev. Marcus Wil1iamson, 1911-1915; Rev. W. L. Hightower, 1915-1918; Rev. R. W. Fischer, 1918-1920; Rev. C. W. Rylander, 1920-1921; Rev. Chas. Doak, 1921-1922; Rev. A. Guyon, 1922-1926; Rev. W. V. Teer, 1926-1931; Rev. G. T. Hester, 1931-1933; Rev. C. B. Diltz, 1933-1935; Rev. W. H. Gaston, 1935-1936; Rev. C. C. McKinney, 1936-1938, Rev. A. F. Foerster, 1938-1940; Rev. J. E. Parr, 1940-1941; Rev. D. G. Hart, 1941-1942; Rev. J. C. Jones, 1942-1945; Rev. S. R. Harwood, 1945-1947; Rev. Walter Dibrell, 1947-1954; Rev. E. A. Potts, 1954(2 Months); Rev. Thomas Hogan,(3 months, student); Rev. Charles Nixon, 1954-1955; Rev. G. B. Harris, 1955-1957; Rev. Glen Polan, 1957-1958; Rev. W. D. Gunkel, 1958-(10 months); Rev. B. R. Easley, 1959-1961; Rev. Bill Hammond, 1961-1965; Rev. Jerry Evans, 1965-1966; Rev. Gordon Talk, 1966-1968; Rev. John Decker, 1968-1970; and Rev. Allen G. Roe, 1970.
The brush arbor camp meetings played a large part in the lives of the early settlers. Even as late as 1910 or 1912, camp meetings were being held just across the river where Ed and Mattie Belle Hightower now live. People attended from far and near.
The first colored Methodist Church was built in Prairie Lea around 1880. This building burned and the church was rebuilt near Staples in 1889 on a lot donated by Jim Walker, who owned land just south of Staples near Word and Munk places. "Uncle Jim" Walker was the first pastor.top
Life in early times
In the early days there were the log rollings for the men and the quilting bees for the women. There were the play parties such as square dances, snap, spin the plate, etc. The school concerts were largely attended at close of school. Then often times, the schools had their debating teams. Another feature of entertainment as well as profit was the old time ice cream supper. Couples were sent out to solicit eggs, milk, sugar, and cakes. Then others spent the day of the supper to collect. After all was gathered in, a group of ladies would meet at the church or school house and make custard and freeze it. At times a little salt might get into the cream, making it rather distasteful.
The Sunday afternoon singings held at different homes were enjoyed by the young folks. The present day entertainment is quite different to what it was then, now with T. V.'s, picture shows, etc.
Many a person can still remember the days when the old fly brush was a necessity in every home. Often this was a stick with some paper fastened to it, cut in strips to scare the flies, or a china limb waved back and forth over the table. How many can remember awakening to the sound of the old coffee mill? Or the smell of the home cured bacon, ham, and sausage for winter use? Today all this is supplied from a locker or a deep freeze. What child of the early days does not remember coming home after school to an oven of baked sweet potatoes waiting on the hearth of the old fireplace. Peaches were dried and stored. These had to be sunned every few days to keep out bugs. Much of the corn was ground into meal for home use, which made bread of the best quality. Hominey was made by the potful. When seasoned with bacon grease, it made a very appetizing dish. Coffee was bought green and roasted in the oven of the old wood stove. Then it was ground fresh every morning.
In the early days, farmers raised cane to be made into molasses. Then when this was at the right stage for sweetness and flavor, it was stripped, cut and hauled to the mill. A press was pulled by mules to extract the juice. Usually one farmer had his own mill and would make syrup for other farmers. This job was a rather long, tedious one, with skimming and running the syrup from one vat to another until thick enough to keep. If not just right, the syrup would sour. Sometimes each family would have as much as fifty gallons put up for winter. This served with hot biscuits or corn bread was good, as well as healthful. The expression, "slow as molasses in winter time," can only be understood by one who has waited to draw a pitcher full on a cold winter morning.
Each family raised their own hogs for butchering. There were gallons of lard, sacks of sausage, jars of sauce, to say nothing of good hams and bacon in the old smoke house. Today all this is supplied from a locker or deep freeze. Quantities of cracklings were stored to be used later in making crackling cornbread, which when served with plenty of cold sweet milk, would really hit the spot.
Of course, there was always plenty of milk, cheese, and butter, for each family always had their own milk cows. Often times in hot weather, butter was kept in buckets hung in the well. Every scrap of fat meat and grease was saved to make lye soap. This art was learned by every homemaker. Also there were large quantities of beans, peas, corn, onions, sweet and irish potatoes raised and harvested.top
The coming of the roads
In pioneer days, the roads were mostly cow trails. Travel being by foot, or horseback, if fortunate enough to own a horse. Later carts and wagons were used. In rainy seasons it was impossible to get thru some places even in a cart. The road from Staples thru Pleasant Ridge to Martindale was graveled about 1907 or 1908. Then travel was much easier.
In 1950 a good farm to market road to Seguin was completed. At its completion a big barbeque was given in which this whole community and many Seguinites and San Marcans joined in celebration. A little later the Staples-San Marcos road was paved, mostly due to the untiring efforts of R. P. Lowman.
During the month of April 1954, three other paved roads were completed, connecting with Martindale, Fentress, and the Luling-San Marcos highway; also a very nice concrete bridge over the river here at Staples. New concrete bridges were built at the Martindale and Fentress crossings also. Later a paved road was completed, leading west to Galle, connecting with San Marcos and Seguin highway SH123. One has but to travel these roads at any time of year to enjoy real scenic beauty. There are hills and valleys, level farm land, and in the springtime, the green trees and wild flowers of many hues are beautiful to behold.top
The first school house was erected on the Thad Lowman place, now owned by the Buford Linebargers. Many parents pooled their resources and hired a teacher for their children. Then those same parents would board the teacher free of charge. School terms were very short, due to bad weather and the children being needed in the fields during the work season. A little later a school was built two miles west of Staples on the Waldrip tract of lard. This land was donated by J. J. Waldrip and was known as "Martin Box". This was the center of learning for many years. Some of the teachers in this school were: Mr. Cook, Misses Hattie Everton, Jennie Dibrell, Lou Leonard, Demetria Stanfield, Rora and Lena Autry, Lou Andrews and W. H. Butler at $19.00 per month salaries. Teachers were scarce and salaries small. In March 1882, Ella Killough, later Mrs. A. L. Oliver, received $106.45 for 4-months.
The first record of a teacher from this vicinity receiving a certificate to teach was Lottie Gregg in 1892. Later she became Mrs. W. R. Williams. Later there followed a number of others - J. L. Lancaster, A. G. Cook, Hark Williams, R. G. Carlisle, Sue Slaughter, Jennie Watkins, W. H. Butler, Josie Williams, and many others.
A few years later the school building was moved to the corner of the lot where Mae Vaughan now lives. After a number of years this building was torn down and a two story frame building erected. Then, in 1913, a new two-story brick building was erected on the north of town on land bought from Robert Lowman from the George Allen survey. This school had four large class rooms, plus cloak rooms for each, and a large hall downstairs. The upstairs consisted of an auditorium with stage for programs and assemblies. These affairs held the community together in common fellowship.
In the spring of 1914 the following were in the first group to complete the tenth grade in this new school, which was the highest grade ever taught here: Callie Autry, Gertie Bost, Angie Mae Bost, Edna Fleming, and Ludie Hunsucker. Hundreds of other students received their basic education in this school since then. To the north of this building there was a small frame building known as the music room. Here many learned to play piano under the direction of Mabel West, Louise Lawson, Flossie Lowman, Faye Allison (Tuttle) or Inez Gregg. In the early 1920's there were so many students that the older students had to use the hall for a home room. So, a two-room frame building was erected to house the primary classes. However, this building burned a few years later, and another was erected in its place. As the youth declined in numbers and the government lunch program began, this building became the lunchroon. Community gatherings were also held there.
Before the days of the lunch program, when everyone carried their cold biscuits saturated with syrup and sometimes a hunk of sausage or hard-boiled egg in a lunch pail or sack; at the suggestion of some cunning teacher, the children decided to fatten a pig with the scraps to raise money for some project. (Perhaps balls or other play equipment). The pig was named "Minnehaha", no doubt due to the fact that Longfellow's poetry was the current subject of study for some. Minnie grew and thrived very well, especially since many youngsters pretended to be exceedingly hungry and brought extra sandwiches and things to share with her. The ultimate outcome of this project alludes this writer.
At one time Staples School had fine basketball and baseball teams. They also entered various interscholastic league activities. One group of girls belonged to the Camp Fire Girls. In the 1940‘s there was a 4-H Club connected with the school and the county agents came and worked with the youngsters.
Laura Ann Allison, Helen Bierstedt, Myrtis Holmes, and Helen Munk were members of the last group to finish the tenth grade in Staples School. This was in the spring of 1945. The pupils completed high school in Prairie Lea and soon all students above the sixth grade went there.
In 1949 the Staples Schools were consolidated with the Seguin Independent School District. The Latin School, which was located on the left hillside of the road which leads to the San Marcos river, was torn down and the Frank Whittens bought it to build their home. The land was sold to the W. E. Daniels. The latin children were moved to the afore mentioned brick building and this became an integrated elementary school. The Junior High and High School students were transported by bus to Seguin.
At about the same time, for lack of colored children, their school, which had been located next to their church and cemetery, was abandoned. The old church was torn down and the school building was used for a time for worship services. With nostalgia, one remembers the day-long meetings these people held on Sundays. After dinner on the ground, there was visiting and then singing of spirituals which could be heard for a great distance. But soon after the passing of Jessie Lewis, these meetings ceased and the old building was torn down.
In 1956 the Staples School withdrew from Seguin and consolidated with the San Marcos Schools. A year or two later, all children were being transported by bus to San Marcos, including the elementary grades.
In 1958, since there was no further use for the lunch room and school building, the San Marcos School District gave the lunch room to the Staples Community to be used as a Civic Center. But the land on which it stood could not be deeded to the community due to school laws and red tape. However, after the school building and land was finally sold to the Jack Andersons(who used part of the material to build their home), they in turn sold this land and the small lot in front of the building to the community. Part of this was paid for with money which a group of community minded young people had raised by giving plays and programs. Their original plans had been to raise money for a tennis court, in an attempt to ease the feeling of void caused when the schools were taken away. And some of the money came from the "Staples Brotherhood", a group which had disbanded earlier.
It would seem impossible to name every teacher who has taught here in Staples, but we are sure, each one will be remembered in the minds of the pupils each taught. Let's sweep away the cobwebs and see how many of these are in your mind's eye!
Ola Adkinson, Herman Allen, Annie Anderson, Margaret Anderson, Cleo Ballard, Ruth McKean Bauerlein, Zonie Bell, Frances Boswell, Allie Mae Brown, Grace Bruff, Doris Gerrone, Dixie Chaffin, Geraldine Chamberlain, Ada Clark, Mattie Cochran, Jack Copphage, Willie J. Daniels, Ruth Davis, Frank Delaney, Ashby Dibrell, Mr. & Mrs. T. L. Duffy, Barbara Eckhardt, Sam Fenner, Vincent Fromen, Mr. Mrs. Zac Gray, Bernice Gresham, Ruby Grey, Julia Mae Hamby, Louise Harper, Janie Harrison, Katie Henderson, Lottie Hevelka, Janie Hightower, L. D. Hill, Leola Hoerger, Hazel Ward Howard, Ollie Huling, Doris Hunsucker, Ludie Hunsucker, Clyde Hunsucker, Nelda Innman, Effie McClaugherty Jenkins, Mary Willians Johnson, Leona Jones, Juanita Kuykendal, Florence Langford, Mr. Leggett, Adelaide Leissner, Berta Lowman, Mrs. Cliett Lowman, Harmon Lowman, Mrs. Quincy Lowman, Mae Eva Lowery, Caroline Mason, E. L. Mason, Evelyn Mauldin, Sue McAllister, John McCall, Mr. McDonald, Mary McDuffy, Silvia McGee, Lilla Metz, Walter Miller, Victor Munk, May Murff, Eva Murphy, Nora Ogletree, Nancy Oliver, Loleata Ratliff, Mabel Ryland, Lizzie Raborn, Nyna Robertson, Clara Rylander, Bernice Scrutchin, Lois Shanklin, Edith Shinn, Dorothy Slaughter, Ruby Slaughter, Sue Slaughter, Elizabeth Smith, Florence Smith, Martin Smith, Mrs. Neil Stanford, Minnie Mae Stephenson, Reggie L. Stiles, Lola Stulting, Sue Thomas, Mildred Thompson, Sudie Hood Thompson, Alice Todd, Rita Tuttle, Margaret Fannin Vinyard, Lois Waldrip, Henry Waller, Lila Watson, Naomi Watson, Max Weinert, Willie Mae Stout Weinert, Pauline Whitaker, Leila White, Grace Williams, Marjorie Williams, Bessie Wilson, Blanche Woods, and Mr. Wooley.top
Professionals in the community
Staples also has had a number of doctors during the past century. Besides those previously mentioned here were: Dr. N. C. Williams, Dr. V. C. Williams, Dr. Ben Lisles, Dr. A. T. Cook, Dr. Lackey, Dr. Tidd and the last one who was here in 1956, Dr. McGowan. Since the days of good roads and hospitals, Staples no longer has a resident doctor.
There were a number of blacksmiths who served this area, since this had become a great farming center. Some of these were: Albert Bracken (colored), Kesser and Garner, Long Hilson, Henry Fuller, Robert Dietert, A. J. Cowley and Ben Festervan. The Whitten Bros. served a number of years moving the shop from its location near the old post office to a lot south of the Methodist Church. At the present time Marvin Voss is the blacksmith.
Another place of business through the years, was the butcher shop. Some of the butchers were: Ross Bagley and J. H. Sherrill, Cal Tuttle, S. F. (Bess) Williams, Otto Kretzmeier, Doyle Hudgens, S. R. Huling and G. C. Nesbitt.top
Heretofore running water had only been spoken of in connection with rivers and creeks, but in 1890 Q. J. and R. P. Lowman installed the first water works for the little town of Staples. Luxury of luxuries, a Saturday night bath in a wash tub, for, of course, bath tubs were very scarce. The wooden tank used to supply water held 5,000 gallons. It was set on a 30-foot tower in the center of the business part of town. In 1913 this was replaced by a 100-foot steel tower and tank to hold 25,000 gallons. Today water is piped from three to five miles into the country. New mains of plastic pipes were installed to the northwest in 1966 and to the southeast in 1969.
W. D. Sherrill was the first man to fence his land. Of course, this displeased the neighbors, as cattle no longer had the open range. Parts of this original fence can be seen on the Malcolm Sherrill farm today.
In 1922 the gin again changed hands after the death of Q. J. Lowman. J. C. Koerth bought his interest. Then in 1933 Fred Smith bought it. It was then R. P. Lowman and Smith until R. P. Lowman passed away and his son-in-law, L. D. Hill, bought out the other heirs. It remained the property of Smith and Hill until the Stap1es Farmers Co-operative wes formed in 1951 with Robert P. Lowman, President and Robert G. Lowman, Secretary. The proceedings to purchase the gin property from the Smith Gin Company began Nov. 2, 1951 and the papers were signed on Feb. 12, 1952. Fred Snith was appointed manager for one year; then Victor Munk was appointed manager. This property was purchased for $25,000. $10,000 worth of stock was sold to local farmers, and $15,000 was borrowed from the First National Bank, Seguin, Texas. R. P. Lowman served as president for 10 years; then R. G. Lowman served until 1959. At present Emmett Harper of Martindale is the president.
Extensive improvements have been made on the gin, in order to conform to all the laws and regulations regarding pink boll worm, etc.
That a change in the price of cottonseed! In early days, the surplus was dumped in the river. Now the seed breeders buy them back at good prices. After a few years, a mill was built on the gin lot. Since so much grain and hay is being raised, this became a necessity. Now this feed is being ground and fed to many registered cattle for miles around. In 1966 a new storage and office building was added.
The last cattle brand to be recorded in this community was that of Jack Campbell, in June 1956. He used the capital "J" as in long hand except it is written turned over on its back.
It was a very happy day when electricity made its advent in the village. The first dynamo was installed in 1895. This furnished lights for the gin and Q. J. Lowman residence. Later a line was extended through town. Of course everyone had to learn to turn off, rather than blow out the lights. There was much rejoicing, but at the same time a note of sadness among the younger set. The lights were turned on about sundown and off at 1O:OO P.M. or even at 9:30 P.M. if Harmon or Quince were unusually sleepy. The going off of the lights was the signal for all beaus calling on their best girls to depart at once.
Since Q. J. Lowman was father of electricity in Staples, it fell the lot of his sons to tend the plant as they became of age. Prior to that time L. P. Howard had his share of the responsibility.
In 1924 Arthur Smith of Martindale having bought the electric plant, extended lines from Martindale to Staples. Bluebonnet Elect. Co-op electricity was now available 24 hours a day. With this improvement in the system came more modern conveniences. No one knew how to appreciate the electric iron, except those whose lot it had been to iron pleated bosom shirts, white shirt waists and many beruffled petticoats (of which each well dressed lady must wear from three to six) on the old sad iron. These were heated by a wood fire at the old wash place. In 1949-1950 electricity was extended to the rural areas around and near Staples by the Guadalupe Valley and Lower Colorado Co-ops. So, today every home has its own electric refrigerator (which makes ice while you wait). Radio and television bring up to the minute news of the world. Many have deep freezes, storing the years supply of food. While still others have their air conditioning systems, automatic washers, and driers.
Staples at one time had its own telephone system. F. C. Gabriel installed the first switchboard in 1905, and operated it a number of years. Later Cress Milligan and Neil Daniels owned and operated the board. Then Merton Swift of San Marcos bought out the system and installed it in the home of Mrs. Ida Lowman Burkett, who was "Hello Girl" for a time. This was around 1918 or 1919. Others assisting her were Ella Huling Jolly, etc. In each case the board was in the home, so of course the families did their share of the work. At one time the Bell Telephone Co. owned it, but soon it was sold to Martindale Store in Martindale. After that it was taken over by Frank and Rob Harper, who later sold it to Bible of Martindale. He in turn sold it to Fowler; then to Caldwell County Telephone Company, and now Texas Telephone and Telegraph Company owns it. The installation of dial phones has been completed. In 1970 underground cables are being installed.top
Commerce and industry
During the past 40 years a number of oil wells have been drilled, but no oil in real paying quantities has as yet been found.
At one time Mr. and Mrs. C. W. Anderson owned a store on the east side of the street, under the oaks, not far from where the first store (Staples Store) was located. This store was later bought by Frank Whitten. Across the street were B. W. Carlisle and S. R. Huling. Next to this was the Lowman Store, at that time owned by Taylor Thomas and Arthur Harper. Later B. N. Carlisle bought Arthur Harper's interest in that store and it was known as Thomas and Carlisle. In 1943 S. R. Huling passed away and his daughter and son-in-law, Mr. & Mrs. Floyd Howard, had the little store and after a few months, this was operated as a gift shop. Finally this business closed out. The big store burned and H. P. Scrutchin and son H. P. Jr. put up a store north of the location of the big store. At one time, Lex Vinyard and George Reed had a store in the old blacksmith building by the old Post Office. At the death of H. P. Scrutchin, Sr. in October 1943, Mr. and Mrs. G. C. Nesbitt bought out the Scrutchin store. Then after a few years, they sold to George Reed and Lex Vinyard. George Reed decided to go into another line of work, so Lex and wife operated the store until they sold to Roger Linebarger. After a time, Roger sold to Mr. and Mrs. C. W. Anderson, who in turn sold out to Frank Whitten a second time. Frank Whitten had built a red tile store on the lot where Lowman's, formerly Martindale‘s Store, had burned. Today this store is operated by Everitt Whitten, son of Frank Whitten. It is modern in every respect. There are frozen food, fruit, meat, and vegetable counters. You can find most every item available in a super-market, as well as televisions, refrigerators, washing machines, and many other electrical appliances.
In the early 1920's, besides two gins, there were two general stores, two drug stores, a butcher shop, two garages, two gas stations, Vinyard's Barber Shop, The Staples Lumber and Hardware Co., a blacksmith shop, and two doctors. And then there was the cane thresher which was located about a mile and a half south of Staples, on the Walter Kutscher farm. Many will remember how the wagons lined up for half a mile, some days during the threshing season, waiting for the sorghums, which had been cut by hand to be threshed and sacked. This is a far cry from the enormous combines of today.
Although farming is still the main activity around Staples, the methods have greatly changed from those days. No more do we see the mule drawn plows, the shocks of hay in neat rows to be later hauled up and stacked in a large hay stack, or waiting to be bailed with a mule-powered hay press. Even the fields filled with singing cotton pickers (human variety) are fast disappearing from the scene. The crops of cotton, small grain, corn, and hay are all being harvested with machinery. Eight-row equipment is commonplace.
The cattle industry is growing. More and more we see meat type animals, such as Hereford, Brahman, Angus, and Brangus replacing the old-time Jersey cows.
Another industry is fast coming into its own. A dream as a little boy, of popcorn that would really pop, has at last been realized by Robert P. Lowman. Grown both for seed and commercial purposes, this corn is not only being sold in Texas, but is also shipped to foreign countries. There are numerous barns and facilities for drying, shelling, canning and storing the grain preparatory to shipping. Some is sent by parcel post, some by freight, but most of it is delivered by truck. Mr. Lowman also has a large lake on his farm, well stocked with fish.
Tiller and Madera James came here fron Houston in December 1951. They bought the Walter Kutscher farm which was known as the old Compton place. He does some farming, but most of his income is from raising broilers. With four houses, they are now equipped to turn out 24,OOO broilers at a time. At present these broilers are being contracted for by a company furnishing the feed, then paying so much per pound for the chickens. They raise about 4 flocks a year.
Ed and Mattie Belle Hightower have developed quite an industry also. They have 5 houses with 6,000 caged hens. They have an electric candler, electric washer, and an electric ice box that holds 1O or 12 cases of eggs at a time. These eggs are sold to merchants in San Marcos, Lockhart, Staples, Martindale, and Maxwell. Rev. T. L. Hightower, father of Ed, had the first caged layers in Guadalupe County.
For these three families, as well as for C. W. Anderson and others, the pecan industry has become a good source of income. Some are native but most are grafted varieties.
Another profitable industry is bee-keeping. W. E. Whitten has many stands of bees and sells large quantities of honey over the state.top
The Staples Post Office
The Staples Post Office has seen many locations and many postmasters. The first Post Office was located in the Staples Store. After several more moves it was located for about thirty-two years in Waldrip’s Service Station. Since Oct. 1967 the office is located on the north corner of the Memorial Park, in the home of the Wesley Deans. According to the records of the National Archives, the first Post Office was established here on May 19, 1879, with Edward F. Waller appointed the first postmaster. Others are E. L. Brackney appointed August 17, 1880; J. D. Staples appointed Jan. 25, 1882; Abel W. Hill, Oct. 14, 1884; John D. Staples, Dec. 7, 1885; T. L. Griffen, Nov. 18, 1886; Robert H. Pool, April 50, 1898; Walter L. Johnson, Feb. 15, 1900; Zed H. Wilson, May 27, 1903; Jefferson G. Lilly, May 19, 1904; George C. Munk, July 2, 1906; Della Purtle, July 22, 1909; James S. Slaughter, Jan. 5, 1910; Alma Lancaster, Mar. 25, 1919; John Marvin Scott, May 1, 1923; Myrtle Scott, Nov.16, 1927; Edna C. Fleming assumed duty Apr.22, 1935, appointed June 17, 1935; Melany K. Dean, assumed duty Oct. 1, 1965, appointed Aug.29, 1966.
Throughout the years mail was carried by stage, by hack, by buggy, by automobile, and now by truck. Some old timers tell of the days when mail arrived two and three times a week. Others tell of a route man who sometimes went fishing, and brought the mail whenever it pleased him. Today the mail comes by star route from Austin at 7 a.m. daily. It is picked up and carried to Austin, via the same route, late in the evening.top
An interesting highlight for the community is the "Homecoming". One homecoming was held on December 2, 1939. It was held at the Staples School and was sponsored by the P.T.A. while Mrs. G.E.Thompson was president and Herman Allen was principal. On July 4, 1941 the community held a homecoming with more than four hundred in attendance. It was decided that a picnic be held each year on July 4 in the Memorial Park, with special "homecomings" every three years. There are always some present who were unable to attend the previous year, and some old familiar faces missing from our midst. This often causes a note of sadness for some, yet there is such joy and happiness in meeting old friends and recalling happy days.top
The Civic Club
In 1945 a group of interested citizens met under the oak trees and organized a "Civic Club". The purpose of the club was to work toward the betterment of the community. Since its organization, it has been under many different leaders, some of which were: Marcus Allen, Dibrell Waldrip, Robert F. Lowman, Tiller James, W. A. Scrutchin, G. C. Munk, Hebert G. Lowman, Everett Whitten, Clay Munk, Leland Burgum, Dick Gibson, John Decker, and at the July 1970 meeting Oran Allison will be installed. Through the influence of the Civic Club, the community purchased the Oak Grove previously mentioned, from Taylor Thomas, on Aug. 24, 1949. It was dedicated to the soldiers of past wars. This dedication was held on July 4, 1951. Some of these men were called to make the supreme sacrifice, while others are useful citizens in our community and else where. Three gave their lives in W. W. II; Bruce Anderson in Italy, Nelson Tuttle, Jr. in the Pacific and Thomas Wesley Jenkins in Air Force Training. The sturdy oaks and green grass are ever a reminder of the brave hearts and undaunted spirits of these men, who were ever alert to the call of our country. Others have memorialized themselves and their works by planting shrubs in this park. When we see the oleander and redbud in bloom, we see Mrs. Della Slaughter as she served this community with heart and soul. The crepe myrtle is a reminder of the many deeds of Mrs. Clara Altenhof. Then there are the junipers by the entry which remind us of two other community workers, Mrs.Margaret Anderson,and Mrs. Effie Jenkins. And as we see the Christmas lights sparkling each December on the fast growing evergreen in the middle of the park, we are reminded of one who served this community for many years as postmaster and is still serving in many capacities, Miss Edna Fleming.top
The last decade has brought a number of physical changes to Staples. All three cemeteries were newly fenced in with chain link fencing. A statue of Christ was added to the Staples Cemetery. Street signs were added to our streets. A new addition and street was opened by Waldrip and Daniels. Several new homes have been built. Even several trailer homes have come on the scene. In 1964 Staples won first place in the district in the Community Improvement Contest through the combined efforts of all of our citizens. It was during that year that a home demonstration club was re-organized for a short time. Also, a 4-H Club was organized on May 14, 1964, but this was dropped in 1967, due to too many other interests.
A current business enterprise which was not previously mentioned is Mac Turner’s Station and Garage, which was established in 1945. More recently established businesses consist of Arnulfo Silva's Barber Shop, Edna Silva's Beauty Shop, Dean's Shop, and Faye Anderson, Dressmaker.
Who can say what the future holds for this community, but to those who shall carry on, may they lift the banner high, that it may be seen far down the centuries.top
Credits and Kudos
This Staples History was compiled from information obtained from:
The National Archives
Mrs. L. P. Howard's History of Staples
Miss Edna Fleming's observations and experiences
excerpts taken from the Thesis of Mrs. Mildred Thompson
records of Guadalupe County Commissioners Court
land deeds of Guadalupe County
Mrs. Max Weinert's History of Guadalupe County
letters, papers, and interviews with Mrs. R. S. Holmes, Sr. and other families of early settlers
the McKean family Bible
the San Marcos Record
the Seguin Enterprise
the Seguin Gazette
Special thanks to these and all other localites who so cheerfully helped give needed information. A very special thank you to Elinor Daniels, who did the typing and deciphering of scrambled notes.
And last but not least, our thanks go to all who have lived and labored here (although their names may not appear herein) because their contribution to the colorful life of Staples has made this community a pleasant place to live, and to remember.
M. K. Dean July 1970