Sunday, May 28, 2017

Luckenbach, Texas
Yes, there really is a Luckenbach, Texas!  There was a country western song written and performed by Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and probably other country western musicians, which made the town famous.  So, since it was close to where we were staying in Fredericksburg (only 13 miles away), we had to go and check it out (even if I’m not a country western fan!)! 
Luckenbach Sign
The town of Luckenbach is really tiny – it consists of 9.142 acres. The Luckenbach website lists "412 Luckenbach Town Loop, Fredericksburg, TX 78624" as the physical address for GPS navigation, just in case you want to swing by it sometime!
Luckenbach, Texas Post Office and General Store
This building is Luckenbach’s oldest building and is a combination post office, general store and (in the back) saloon reputedly opened in 1849 (1886 is more likely. Luckenbach was first established as a community trading post, one of a few that never broke a peace treaty with the Comanche Indians, with whom they traded.  The post office was actually closed down on April 30, 1971 and the zip code, 78647, was officially retired.
Big Town
Luckenbach's population increased to a high of 492 in 1904, but by the 1960s it was almost a ghost town. A newspaper advertisement offering "town — pop. 3 — for sale" led Hondo Crouch, a rancher and Texas folklorist, to buy Luckenbach for $30,000 in 1970, in partnership with Kathy Morgan and actor Guich Koock. Today Luckenbach maintains a ghost-town feel with its small population and strong western aesthetic.   There are two main buildings – one of which you saw above.  The second is a dance hall. 
Still in the Woods
We came across this building as we were driving just outside Luckenbach.  I’m not certain, but I’m thinking that it might be an old still used for making moonshine…..who knows?  It may still be used!  I applied a vintage effect to the image, just to reinforce yesteryear when, I think, there were more of these around.
To end this post, I thought I’d close with a couple of lyrics from the song – “Maybe it’s time we got back to the basics of love….Out in Luckenbach, Texas, there ain’t nobody feelin’ no pain.”
Schoolhouses on the Luckenbach Loop
We saw a few more schoolhouses along what I called the Luckenbach Loop drive.   Yes, we did drivee thru Luckenbach, Texas, but more about that in another post!  For now, let’s look back on these pieces of yesterday…
Musebach Creek Country Schoolhouse
This school was first built in the early 1800’s, and the last school (fourth one) was built during the 1930’s.  One interesting historical note about this school – back in 1869, five brothers and sisters, whose parents were freed slaves, attended this school.  It might actually have been one of the first integrated schools in the South.
Grapetown Schoolhouse
In 1859, the first Grapetown School was actually in the former William Doebbler home.  In 1869, a log schoolhouse was built, and in 1884, the present school was built.
Welcoming Front Porch
In 1887, the teacherage was built – basically, a home where the school teacher lived, located next to the school (as you can see from the image below).
Grapetown Schoolhouse and Teacherage
The Grapetown School is one of only four school which still has the original teacherage.
Grapetown School Storage
This kitchen, storeroom and smokehouse was built after the teacherage, altho I’m not certain of the exact date. 
Reflection thru Grapetown Schoolhouse Window
I was able to peek into the old schoolhouse and capture this reflective image.  From what I could see (which wasn’t much!) there were some tables and chairs in the school room.  I loved the feel of this image – I could imagine a child in school looking out the window, just waiting for recess when he/she could go out to play.  This school was used until 1949 when it was consolidated with the Rocky Hill School District as part of the overall rural school consolidation in Texas.
Luckenbach Schoolhouse
Yes, Luckenbach had its own schoolhouse, and this is an image of the outside of it.  It was one of many that were locked, so we couldn’t explore the inside, tho.  Altho the first Luckenbach school was built in 1855 (log cabin construction), this limestone school was built in 1905.  Grades 1 – 8 were taught at the school, with the older students helping out the younger ones with grammar and math.  At 4pm, the boys had to bring in firewood for the stove and the girls swept the floor.  First graders were responsible for cleaning the erasers – did they get into eraser fights?  I wonder!
Peering into Luckenbach School
I was, however, able to get a peek inside the school, and I just love the feel of peeking into (and thru outside the window opposite) this old schoolhouse.  The table and chairs clearly don’t look to be desks, but they did look old enough to add to the charm of looking into this country school.
Lower South Grape Creek School
For those of you who follow my #FotoArtFriday pieces, this image may look somewhat familiar.  I used it as the inspiration of a piece from a couple of weeks ago (check out, and click on the post for “School Days”).  This present schoolhouse was built in 1900, altho the first school was built in 1871 (log cabin construction).  For certain holidays, like Washington ’s Birthday, Thanksgiving and Christmas, plays and other programs were presented in the schoolhouse, with families and the community invited. 
Inside Lower Grape Creek School Looking Out
There is a story that one Christmas, as Santa was handing out oranges, apples and candy.  He also lit the candles on the Christmas tree, when his beard caught on fire.  According to the story, he made a quick exit thru the window and headed for the water well!  Could this be the window where he made his escape?

Friday, May 26, 2017

In the Country
Springtime in Texas…..warm sun and great scenery….
Wildflowers in the Field
Throughout the countryside, there were these lovely white wildflowers that popped up in the meadows and fields.  These are the flowers that the bees found so appealing!
Country Fence
This fence is the stereotypical country fence and I loved the setting among the trees and grasses.  It just meandered in and out of the trees along the road for several miles.
Old Fashioned Cabin
As we drove along, we happened to come across this old cabin.  I’m certain is was part of some sort of historical park in the making, but for now, it just seemed to sit out there.  After I took the photo, I realized that to truly do it justice, I needed to apply a vintage look to it, in a way, to make it look as real as it did as we drove past it.
Old Rocking Chair
There was an old rocking chair sitting on the side of the porch – again, the scene it created just seemed like a page out of history, and I applied the same vintage technique to this image as well.  It’s as if we’ve stepped into the late 1800’s.
Country Church
A bit further down the road, a small country church appeared.  I sort of wish I was a writer – between the cabin and this church, I had such fodder for a historical novel!  But, alas, a writer I’m not!
Elk Grazing
One thing I did not expect to see was an elk grazing in a field!  In fact, we drove by him and had to turn around so that I could capture him in an image.  This guy must be used to cars driving by him – he had no reaction at all to us slowing down to take his photo.  I also love the wildflowers blooming in the foreground.

Flowers Along the Road
As we drove around looking for schoolhouses, we saw some lovely blooms along the side of the road.
Bee at Work
As I walked around the school grounds and along the roadsides, I was lucky enough to see this bee hard at work gathering the honey-making supplies!  Yes, he was as big as he looks!
Thistle Bloom
Along the sides of various roads, there were abundant bunches of thistle blooms.  Check out those thorns!
Fence line Wildflower
I loved the look of this single bloom peeking thru the weathered fence.  It’s the simplicity that I love.
Willow City and Crabapple Schoolhouses
One morning, Jeff and I took a drive down a couple of country roads and managed to find a couple of the one-room county schoolhouses scattered throughout Gillespie County Texas.  We were able to get close to these schools, but unfortunately, couldn’t see inside.
Willow City Schoolhouse
This two-story, 3 school room school house was the third of the Willow City schoolhouses.  The first, built in 1876, washed away during the floods of 1880.  The second schoolhouse was too small to accommodate the increased number of students.  This third schoolhouse was built in 1905, and is made of hickory sandstone.
Two-Story Schoolhouse
Here’s a close up of the school, so you can see the actual school bell.  This school sits upon a hill – can’t you just hear the school bell ringing, calling students into class.
Crabapple School Front
The first Crabapple School was built in 1878, and this present building was built in 1882.  Between 1887 – 1910, the first building (not available to be photographed) also served as the post office for the town of Crabapple.
Crabapple School Window Reflection
Typically, land for the schools was donated or purchased for $1.  According to local myth (or perhaps truth??), Crockett Riley and Mathias Schmidt both wanted to donate land for the school, and ran a footrace to see who would have the privilege.  Mathias won and this school was built on his land.  More school (and stories) to come.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Flowers at Wildseed Farm
While in Fredericksburg, one of the “must do’s” for me was a stop at Wildseed Farms.  This farm is devoted to flowers – wildflowers primarily, but others as well.  I’m not going to say a lot about each of these images.  They sort of speak for themselves.  Come for a walk thru this wonderful place……
Peach Waterlily
One of the first stops on our walk was a man-made pond that held some lovely waterlilies.   This peach colored waterlily just seemed to pose for its portrait.
Invisible Float
There are a number of these images that I played around with to create some (I think) lovely art sketches.  This is one of them.  I’ll give you the link to them at the end of this blog.  This waterlily seemed to be floating on…nothing!  The water was very clear, so that it was extremely difficult to see.
Beautiful Monarch
We next walk thru a butterfly garden, where I was lucky enough to capture this image of a Monarch butterfly as it landed on a flower.
Poppy Peeking
As I was leaving the butterfly garden, this poppy just seemed to peek out at me from behind a wooden post.
Hibiscus Pair
The next flower I saw on my walk was the hibiscus.  This pair were just a sample of the lovely blooms in this section of the walkway thru the gardens.
Tiny Bloom
I’m sorry to say I don’t know what this flower is – I just know its star-shaped blooms were just charming!
And, here’s part of the wonder of Wildseed Farms – the open fields of blooms.  Other farms can boast corn, soy or some other product – but, here, its flowers!  The seeds from these flowers will be harvested and sold to populate gardens throughout the country!
Pink Purple and White Larkspur
I loved these flowers shot close up and just all bunched together – just how they are growing!
Country Walkway
The garden meanders up and down the fields on the farm, and here you can see one walkway from the other.  This way, you can’t help but get a great shot of the blooms!
Garden Snails
Ok, this isn’t technically a flower, but it does call the garden here home!
Luscious Red
Yes, the leaves on this flower look shiny and almost wet – that’s how luscious the red color is.  Again, sorry – I don’t know the name of this bloom.
Winery Rose
After we visited Wildseed Farms, we stopped for lunch (and a glass of wine) at a winery not far from the wildflowers.  Wildflowers aren’t generally found at wineries, but roses are. This one was just off the patio where we sat and sipped our wine.  This, too, has been converted to a pencil sketch.  To see all of them, visit my photo art blog at  and click on the blog post called “Pencil Sketches of Wildflowers and Roses”.

White Oak Schoolhouse
In Gillespie County, Texas, there were once a number of one-room schoolhouses scattered throughout the county to accommodate where the settlers’ children lived.  Multiple grades were taught in each schoolhouse.  The county still has a number of these schoolhouses still in existence, and while visiting the Fredericksburg area, we managed to find and visit each of these schoolhouses.  Our first stop was in Pioneer Museum, and was the White Oak Schoolhouse.
Entry – White Oak School
The entry to this schoolhouse was in a corner, a bit different from the other schoolhouses we saw.  White Oak School was built around 1920, and was used as a school until about 1949.
One Room Schoolhouse
This is a replica of what the school looked like while being used.  I noticed the different size desks – some look like they would seat 2 children…..or one larger child.  I’m not certain which is the correct answer!  The displays around the perimeter of the school room hold artifacts from the school when it was being used.
English and German Taught
As Fredericksburg was settled by immigrants from Germany, both English and German were taught in the school.  This practice continued until World War II broke out.  From that point on, only English was taught.
Students’ View of Lesson Plan
Here’s a view of the teacher’s desk and the lesson for the day on the blackboard.  When some of the schools were initially explored, some blackboards hidden behind walls still had their lesson plans on them!
Teacher’s School Bell
Was this the actual school bell the teacher would ring to call students into class?  Probably not – still, I’ll bet it looked something like this bell!
Report Card – White Oak School
Yes, this is an actual report card of a student attending the White Oak School!  In fact, as we were in the schoolhouse, there was an audio presentation going on to provide some history of the school.  The voice speaking said this report card was his!  If you look closely, you can see this report card was for the school year ending 1947.  As I said in the beginning of this post, the last year the school operated was the school year ending 1949, due to a lack of students.

Pioneer Museum – Fredericksburg
In downtown Fredericksburg, in the midst of all the shops and restaurants, lies an open-air museum, celebrating the first days of Fredericksburg, Texas.  In about May, 1846, people settled here from Germany.  This open-air museum gave an insight to what the everyday life looked like for those pioneers.
Weber Sunday House (circa 1904)
The above collection of images shows the Weber Sunday House (middle) and a couple of photos of the interior of it.  A typical Sunday House consisted of only one room, with a bit of storage above the living area of the house.  These storage areas were generally reached by stairway or ladder.  Sunday Houses were built by families who lived farther outside of town, and used on weekends when the family came into town to shop and attend church.  In this case, the Weber family lived 7 miles outside of town – a 5-10 minute drive today, but it look much longer in the 1800’s!

Outside Looking In – Weber Sunday House
I took this image from the front porch, looking into the Weber Sunday House.  Perhaps the family would peer into this window, much like me, when they would arrive at their “weekend town home”! 

Walton Smith Cabin - Entry
The Walton Smith cabin was originally built outside of town, near the Gillespie/Llano county lines, and later moved here to the museum.  The original cabin was built in the 1880’s, but was rebuilt in 1985.  It was typical of what family homes looked like back in the 1880’s.

Walton Smith Cabin
Here’s a photo collage of sorts of the inside of the Walton Smith cabin.  The spinning wheel in the upper left corner was probably used by the woman of the house/cabin, as she spun yarn from wool sheared off the sheep they had.  The family hearth (lower left) was probably used for heat, and the chairs in front of it used horsehair for the seats.  Don’t you just love the deluxe stove that Mrs. Walton Smith had to cook on (center)?  The last photo in the collage (right side) was looking from just inside the back door of the cabin, thru the kitchen and dining area thru to the living room area where the hearth and spinning wheel were to the front door.

Schmiede Barn
This collection of photos is of a typical barn of the time, this one apparently owned by the Schmiede family.  You can see the double door entry to allow the family’s wagon or buggy to enter, and also some of the tools of the day on display now just inside the barn!

Kammlah Barn & Smokehouse
The significance of the Kammlah Family Homestead is that these structures are still sitting on their original build site.  They have not been moved or rebuilt either.  This building served two purposes – as a barn (red wood portion of the structure) and as a smokehouse (stone portion).  Not only did the first and second Mr. Kammlah smoke liver, sausage, bacon and ham for their family, they also sold meats to the nearby townspeople as well.

Kammlah Smokehouse
According to the family, the wives were in charge of running the smokehouse.  A small fire would have been lit in one corner of the smokehouse (image on the right), and the meats would have been hung from the rafters for a few days to fully cure.  The image on the left shows some of the tools that would have been used, and (fake) replicas of some of the sausages that were smoked there.

Kammlah House
This image shows only 1 part of the Kammlah house.  The landscaping is quite lovely and mature and different from all the other buildings in this museum.  I’m imagining that’s due to it being on its original build site.  Over the years, the house was added onto again and again, sort of an ongoing building process!

Kammlah House – Interior
Here are some images I took while inside the Kammlah house.  The center image is of what is commonly called a root cellar.  At one point, I’m certain the entrance was on the outside of the home; but over time, additions to the house were added, and the outside root cellar became the inside root cellar!  The photo on the left shows a child’s tricycle, now rusted, but still in one piece!  The image on the right is the view from the Kammlah house across the road (at the time) to their next-door neighbors, the Fasel-Roeder’s.  Their home is the only other one on this site that was originally built here.

Kammlah House Worn Steps
These steps were also, at one time, outside the house – perhaps the original back door steps.  The top step was really interesting to me, in that is worn down by several inches in one spot.  I’m guessing that was where many shoes landed over the many years!

Front Porch – Fasel-Roeder House
As I said above, the Fasel-Roeder’s were the Kammlah’s next door (across the road) neighbors.  Their landscaping isn’t quite as lush – perhaps they didn’t have much of a green thumb!  I could just picture the family sitting outside after dinner, enjoying the cooling air, and watching other neighbors walking by or riding by in their wagons. 

Front Porch Details – Fasel-Roder House
So much of the buildings seen in the museum were very practical and utilitarian.  It was nice to see this fancy decorative touch. 

Achleger Bath House
One thing that one might notice when touring the various homes in the museum, is that there were no bathrooms.  I’m certain that there were outhouses, but no place to take baths, etc.  These bathhouses were popular in the early 1900’s.

Achleger Bath House Interior
These photos are of the inside of the bathhouse.  Gentlemen could get a shave and a haircut on one side, and a hot bath on the other.  However, what’s not clear to me is how the ladies got themselves fresh and clean!