Chapter Twelve: Twentieth Century - Modern Times
For future historians and genealogists, this chapter is devoted to the last half of the twentieth century. The information was gleaned from various sources and it is reported chronologically from 1950 to 1988.
Many can remember the fifties as the beginning of the Rock'n'Roll era, Chubby Checker, Elvis Presley, The Platters, the Korean Conflict, television, and the "Great Drought" of 1952 to 1957, Sputnik and satellites. The fifties saw the arrival of a new generation going from the old ways of doing things to a "new way" of doing things. Yet, in the final analysis, not much really changed in Seguin. She remained vibrant, alive, and very aware of her role as a community.
By using the Guadalupe Gazette-Bulletin, Seguin Gazette, Seguin Enterprise, and Seguin Gazette-Enterprise, the events of each decade are provided.
With so much accomplished in the 1940s, and people being recognized for their many community contributions, the 1950s had a large legacy to uphold.
By 1950 Structural Metals, (SMI) one of the nation's earliest steel "roller mills", was three years old and well under way under the guiding hand of Marvin Selig.
Rhett Robert Tuskin was Seguin's first born of the 1950s. He won the county "Baby Derby," which was sponsored by fourteen merchants who put prizes into the "Kitty for 1950s first baby."
Saint Joseph's, now Saint James Catholic School, observed its centennial by rededicating the building built by the Guadalupe High School Association in 1850. Also in 1950, the city council approved $75,000 for redoing the downtown street lighting system which had been powered by an underground cable since the 1920s. The ornamental standards were to be replaced by pole-mounted lights using mercury rays or lamps and high intensity incandescent lamps. The city council felt it was too costly to try and keep up the repairs of the badly deteriorating underground cable system.
Governor Shivers appointed Edgar Engelke, F. E. Knetsch and Roger Moore to the State Economy Commission in 1950 and the Dixie Movie Drive-Inn, under H. H. Daniels, opened on Highway 90 East. Also, in September, the new Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe was opened for the first time. Starcke Furniture Store, under H. H. Starcke, celebrated its 40th anniversary, 35 of the years in the same building built in 1915.
Seven TLC Bulldog Seniors played their last game in 1950 - Landa Schraub, Ferris Shanklin, John Taylor, Gene Greenshield, Harold Prochnow, Wallace Dube, and Joe Vetter. The 1950 man of the year was Dr. Edward Sagebiel and the sewage disposal plant on South River Street was to be completed in the summer of 1951.
Snow fell in 1949 and 1951. More and more men were called to active duty. In 1951 Mrs. H. H. Weinert was appointed by President Truman to serve on the Board of Advisors for the Federal Industrial Institution for Women in Alderson, West Virginia. The city expanded in 1951 by annexing south of Jefferson Avenue and west of Burges Street to include the Lone Oak Addition.
Thomas McClinton, an eleven year old, won grand champion calf at the Colored County 4-H and F. F. A. Stock Show in 1951. A photo in the Seguin-Enterprise shows Sergeant Raymond D. Bauer with a pack horse in the Korean Conflict in 1951.
Some 20,000 people viewed the July 4, 1951, parade. TLC won the float division. In 1951 the Seguin Conservation Society began to organize and the First Presbyterian Church celebrated its Centennial in 1951. John Wayne and Chill Wills, with 13 other stars, visited Seguin promoting It's Movietime in Texas.
In 1952 the community seemed concerned about rent restrictions, school board elections, and the Presidential election. Too, there were concerns about the Korean Conflict. Again Seguin was responding to the nation's needs, and as in past wars, she kept her tight knit community together.
In January the state recalled 13,211 men for re-examination. These 13,211 men had originally been classified as 4-F, thus disqualifying them from active military service.
General Dwight D. Eisenhower, a Texan, said if he were asked to run for President he would seek the Republican nomination. Later that year he won the Presidency and would do so again four years later. His would be the last two-term Presidency until 1980.
On February 3, 1952, 1,400 citizens attended the formal opening of the First Methodist Church, with Reverend Elmer J. Hierholzer, Pastor, presiding. The Seguin Conservation Society was formally organized and the restoration of the Los Nogales Post Office was its first project, to be followed by the restoration of the Sebastopol home. Also, first cousins Leroy Boenig and Elton Bading met together in Korea. They were stationed fifteen miles apart in the war zone.
The Seguin Tamale Company, operated by William M. Chambers, was doing well. It was the only plant that shipped tamales out of the state wrapped in shucks. It canned and shipped tamales, enchiladas, chicken tamales, tortillas, Mexican fried beans, Spanish rice, menudo, hot dog sauce, chili, chili with beans, cocktail tamales, and squash. Judge Albert Saegert also said he would not run for any more elections. Sheriff Phil Medlin warned scrap stealers to be on the lookout - that scrap metal was needed for the defense build-up. Thieves had been going into barns, sheds, and fields, stealing discs, cultivators, and other farm implements.
Drought conditions were so severe in Texas that all counties were designated disaster areas. In May 1952, eleven more young Seguinites were inducted for duty. Photos and stories sadly reappeared concerning loved ones who had been killed in action or were missing.
On a lighter side, for the third time in five years, the Seguin High tennis team advanced to state competition with Coach Armin Aufderhaar. Today his son, Eric, is head tennis coach at Seguin High. Leading the boys were Raymond Schubert and Thomas Tips. The girls were led by Jean Schubert and Marlene Parks.
A six-inch water main was planned for Seguin and the Elks Club planned the Flag Day ceremonies. At that time there was a ceremony at Starcke Park with guest speakers and then a bar-b-que.
In June of 1952, ground was broken for the new county agricultural building. Some 100 people attended the ceremonies. R. P. Lowman's popcorn business was booming after it had recovered from a devastating 1948 fire. In September of 1952, severe floods closed the Stockdale Highway. Homes in New Braunfels were under water and people were evacuating McQueeney. Water almost reached the National Guard Armory at the Fairgrounds.
In 1953 there was little coverage on the Korean War. It was a fairly quiet year. The new County Judge was Leonard (Dick) Fleming who replaced Judge Saegert. Judge Saegert was later appointed Federal Marshal of the Western District.
One of Seguin's better years was 1954. TLC merged with Clifton College of Bosque County and also purchased the Plaza Hotel for dormitory use. The Fiberglass Container Manufacturing and Supply Company began production and a decision was made to erect a 60 x 200 foot commercial exhibit building at the Fairgrounds. Leo Frels became a member of the Board of Directors at Nolte Bank, while John Donegan became President of First National Bank, today's NBC Bank of Seguin. Others making news in 1954 were Garfield Kiel who became Public Relations Director at TLC; Stan McKenzie became President of the Rotary Club; Hilmar Tschoepe became Exalted Ruler of the Elk's Lodge; Ray Scruggs became president of the Lion's Club; Fred Fuhrmann was President of the Chamber of Commerce; Father Hubertus became Monsignor Hubertus; Marvin Migl was President of the 20-30 Club and Chairman of the March of Dimes; Nancy Gately was Miss Seguin; Sydney Bauer joined Nolte Bank; John Traeger and Eddie Klein led the TLC Athletic Fund Drive; and Hugo Pape was President of the Crow Club.
Nineteen fifty-nine ushered out the fifties and introduced the sixties. In this year Max Weinert retired as County School Superinten-dent, thus ending 50 years of public service. A $250,000 hospital bond issue was defeated by a margin of 51, but would pass in 1962.
Seguin State Bank was remodeled and some 3,000 attended the ceremonies. Don Franklin announced plans for a $300,000 bowling center. C. H. Donegan, Sr., became President of Nolte National Bank. To indicate the excellent economy of the fifties, over $500,000 in bids were accepted by the City Council for local improvements. This was also the year local barbers increased their prices by 25 cents. Mr. A. J. Saegert became the new commander at the American Legion and the Legion's bowling alley was opened the same year. Sadly, Mrs. Frank "Mamie" Hurt passed away. She was one of the last direct descendants of the Alamo defenders.
Ground was broken for a new medical center at the corner of Mountain and King. It's still there. The Seguin-Gazette won first place in news writing and editorial writing and a new 12 lane Bowling Center opened at Court Street and 123 Highway By-Pass. The Seguin Savings Branch office is now on that site. In 1950 thirty-four new firms joined the Chamber of Commerce and Lyndon B. Johnson addressed the TLC Homecoming during his bid for the Democratic Presidential nomination. The Reneau's new $350,000 plant neared completion by year's end. Perhaps the best news of the late fifties was that the drought was broken and local farmers and ranchers began rebuilding.
The decade of the 1960s began a confusing period in the nation's history and would continue well into the 1970s. President Kennedy's assassination ended a national courtship not seen in America for thirty years. The Vietnam Conflict went into full operation by 1965 and would drag mercilessly on for ten years, only to be followed by Watergate. Yet, for Seguin, the 1960s and 1970s were a continuation of the post-World War II economic expansion.
In 1961 John Traeger announced plans to resign from the City Council and run for State Representative. His plank was "pledging to fight for economy in Texas Government, making the taxes we have now work better." His illustrious career as State Representative and State Senator was well on its way.
Nineteen sixty-two saw bank deposits up $1,225,270, totaling $18,168,946. Building permits fell just short of $1,000,000. With the passage of a $500,000 hospital bond issue the county hospital would soon become a reality. It was the year planning was begun for the Chaparral Country Club. The Seguin Savings Association began its banking career in 1962 as well. But it was also a sad year, for several prominent, leading citizens passed away. Casper W. Traeger, founder of C. W. Traeger Wholesale Grocery, and Harvey Wuest, founder of Wuest's Grocery Store chain passed away. Also, one of the county's pioneer family members died - Postmaster Adlai Breustedt.
In 1963 there was endorsement for a $250,000 city improvement plan. Three projects were already completed - the new Market Street Bridge, eight miles of city paving, and the Vaughn Street Fire Station. Remaining to be done was the widening of West Court Street and Mill Road. This was the year the City Council approved the razing of the gazebo in City Park so that a Chamber of Commerce building could be constructed.
Racial interest gained increased awareness in 1963. Two new groups were formed. The Council for Civic Betterment was established to help Latin Americans improve their status through education and greater effort against discrimination. The second group was a Biracial Committee on Human Relations. It was made up of members from all ethnic groups in the city to work towards better employment for minorities. Polio was still a scourge in society and over 7,000 Seguinites received the Sabin II Polio shot.
In 1964 Seguin bounded even more forward. The first Pecan Festival was held. Lieutenant Governor Preston Smith was the guest speaker and Sara Darilek was the first Pecan Queen. Building in Seguin exceeded $2,000,000. Canyon Dam on the Guadalupe River north of New Braunfels was completed and the Chaparral Country Club opened. The county pastors asked that funerals be scheduled for days other than Sundays. J. C Penney Company announced it would construct a 29,000 square foot building to cornerstone the new Oak Park Shopping Mall.
A $702,448.00 contract was awarded for the twin bridges on I-10 over the Guadalupe River. Four inches of snow fell in 1964 and Elmwood was annexed by the city. Glen Cove was to be annexed by the city and SMI employees voted down a union bid.
In 1965 the Glen Cove Residential Housing Development was started by Benton Donegan, Tucker Hollamon, Ty Strauss, John Donegan and Wayne Hudgens. Harold Bettersworth was engineer for this very successful residential development. City Council authorized a City Planning Commission.
Roger Moore passed away, one of Seguin's more famed mayors known for his ever friendly smile and ready handshake. The American Legion's H. U. Wood Post 245 celebrated 46 years of the Legion. John Taylor received the first Superior Journalism Award at a State Association of Journalists. Ground was broken for the new $165,000 First Baptist Church at Cedar and Cardinal. County Commissioners set aside $130,000 for right-of-way purchases to reroute the Highway 123 By-Pass.
A seventeen percent increase in business was reported by 152 service firms and Jack Taylor was hired as the High School Athletic Director. Daniel "Uncle Dan" Charles Blumberg was mourned by hundreds upon his death.
The new First National Bank Building was opened on West Court and North Camp. Some 4,000 attended the opening.
In 1966 Al Koebig replaced Mayor Joe Burges. He was the third youngest mayor ever elected. Bank deposits increased $2 million and a building boom was experienced. The traffic signal at West Kings-bury and North Guadalupe Street lit into operation. Postal receipts hit a record high of $190,309. The new million gallon water storage tank went into operation on West Kingsbury and Geronimo Street. Governor John Connally dedicated Canyon Dam and the county hired a full-time wolf hunter, Ed Caddell. The high school golf team brought home their fourth straight 3-A State Championship in a row. On the team were Zack Padgett, Mike Morgan, Steve Keeland, and Don Valdez. Senator Ralph Yarborough announced a $15,505 grant for Seguin to expand its youth program for the Seguin Boys Club.
Nineteen sixty-seven was the "end of a cotton empire." Behring and Behring Cotton Industry magnates went under the auctioneer's gavel in 1967. Walter Fey was re-elected as chairman of the hospital board. Other officers elected were Dr. Ed Sagebiel and Theos Morck. Charles Wagner was installed as the new Chamber President and Our Lady of Guadalupe held its dedication in 1967. City Council approved free Saturday parking and "9.5 miles of new" Interstate 10 going around the north of Seguin was dedicated. The three major banks reported an increase of over $1,000,000 in deposits and total combined deposits of $22,979,444.
The years 1968 through 1969 continued with a healthy economic climate and there was an eighty-second revival of the Elk Club's Mistletoe Ball. Co-chairmen, appointed by Exalted Ruler Woodie Ellis, were Dr. W. W. Wendt and Mayor Al Koebig. Publicity chairman was Wilton Woods. Woods stated that the Ball was the idea of Eugene Nolte in 1886, when he suggested a ball be given for the ladies. The Mistletoe Ball was originally held in Klein's Opera House in the Tips building.
The sixties ended on a healthy economic note with local banks reporting assets of over $34,000,000. This included the banks at Marion and Schertz as well. Seguin could also boast her contribution to the space program because of Daron Booker. Living in Los Angeles with his wife, the former Marlene Christmas, Booker was deeply involved in the engineering aspect of the Apollo Program.
The Vietnam Conflict continued at the close of the sixties, but not with the same national support as was evidenced prior to the 1968 Tet Offensive. The Sixties closed with a questioning mood evident among the public, and patriotism was being questioned. Although economically Seguin was doing well, she was awakening to authority and institutions being challenged and a confusion among the youth.
The 1970s were kicked off by Governor Preston Smith's January visit to Seguin to launch his plans for the 1970s. He had selected Seguin as the site to deliver his "start of a new decade" speech for Texas. The audience was very large and there was a "huge radio audience throughout the State." Other events in 1970 showed that construction forged ahead, numbering in the millions of dollars. It was the year that saw the three-story, 76,000 square foot Economy Furniture and Reichman's Building open at its present day location on West Court Street.
In 1971 B. B. "Billy" Schraub was appointed and sworn in as District Attorney of the Twenty-Fifth Judicial District. Pat Baker was appointed County Judge to replace Judge Schraub. The City Council also allocated funds for a new police station.
The Chamber of Commerce adopted an all-time high budget of $39,000 and H. A. Daniels was honored for his years of service with the Texas Rehabilitation Hospital in Gonzales. Three hundred and forty seniors graduated from the High School on June 4, the largest graduating class in the district's history.
John Taylor, Publisher of the Seguin-Gazette, was elected President for a three-year term of the Texas Press Association. Joe H. Bruns became President of Seguin State Bank and Trust Company while Sydney Bauer succeeded Leo Frels as President of Nolte National Bank.
The Diez y Seis celebrations were a large success and St. James Baptist Church was dedicated. Over 5,877 copies of the Home Rule Charter were mailed to the citizens of Seguin. Finally, there were 73 criminal indictments in 1971, probably an all-time high for one year.
Next, 1972 was a devastating year because of the floods, but it was also a year filled with good news. John Traeger announced his candidacy for State Senator in the Twenty-First District. He would go on to win and serve with distinction through the mid 1980s. Pete Kallies defeated Sheriff Phil Medlin, who had been in office for 25 years. Bennie Bock of New Braunfels became our State Representative. Some of the biggest news came in February when there were 12 contested races with 72 candidates for district, county and city offices. At the annual Chamber of Commerce Banquet it was announced that Acco Feeds would be breaking ground soon, bringing increased employment.
The American Legion celebrated its fifty-third local anniversary. May 12, 1972, was the day the floods entered the homes and businesses along the bottom lands of the Starcke Park area. The Seguin Matadors were rated among the top ten class 4-A football teams. And the county commissioners agreed to join the Alamo Area Council of Governments (AACOG), becoming the eleventh county to join.
In 1973 Seguin emerged as "a national focal point of small community expansion," combating growing unemployment and work shortages. Much of this was due to Motorola's bringing its employment figures to 560 personnel with a capacity to employ another 2,000. United Cotton Goods also expanded into its giant new facility. Rodeway Inn concluded its 50 unit construction and Nolte National Bank began a major expansion. Plans were announced for the Blumberg Building on North River and Gonzales Street while the new D and D Farm and Ranch Supermarket began its operations.
In addition to business and construction expansion, Seguin set the example for becoming a U.S. Bicentennial Community for 1976. Its application was so remarkable that the State and National Bicentennial offices retained the over-sized application for other communities to see as an example of civic pride in applying for Bicentennial sanctioning. It was a 33 page document depicting Seguin's history, its present status, and future plans. The application was also illustrated and had large photos with narrative description.
It was a year, also, of two big floods, two snows, and one of the coldest winters in history. One of the floods, on July 12, 1973, stranded five young people on the Geronimo Creek. The September 27th flood caused widespread property loss. Voters also elected, by a 3 to 2 margin, to build the present day Coliseum.
In 1974 events centered mostly around the Bicentennial efforts of the Nation's two hundredth birthday. But there were other events as well, such as TLC on top of the NAIA division II title. The TLC Bulldogs set so many records that not all can be mentioned, but some can. First, it was TLC's first undefeated season and it capped their longest current winning streak in the NAIA with 15 games. It was also the eighth winning season since 1948 with the last two under Coach Jim Wacker.
On Friday, September 20, 1974, Juan Seguin's remains were removed from Nuevo Laredo to Laredo. Later he was interred at his present resting site, overlooking the Fairgrounds. According to Seguin's Bicentennial Director, the National Bicentennial Administration commented that this was the "Nation's most significant Bicentennial project involving an international theme."
Additionally, Seguin voters passed a November bond issue of $500,000 for the Coliseum. With private fundraisers and donations the Coliseum became a reality, and the Coliseum has become a mainstay in Seguin's economic development.
Nineteen seventy-five's events were stories of growth and development. Governor Dolph Briscoe, with other state and local dignitaries, and 750 people attending, honored John Taylor for his many civic contributions. TLC won their second NAIA Football Championship in a row, the first team ever to do so in the division's history. "All three Seguin Banks opened new or extensively remodeled facilities in 1975." Also attesting to the economic vigor of Seguin, Motorola announced its payroll was $12 million and its work force of 1,050 was expected to expand to 1,500 in 1976. Holly Farms announced it was going to double its size and Terrain King announced its corporate headquarters was moving from Houston to Seguin. Also, the Plaza Del Rey Shopping Center was opened in 1975 and was annexed into the city limits. This meant an additional $40,000 to $50,000 in revenues from the city's sales tax. The voters turned down bond proposals of $500,000 for storm drainage improvements and $460,000 for park improvements.
In 1976 events focused on the local Bicentennial celebration of the Nation's two hundredth birthday. The top accomplishments of the members of the local commission were the Coliseum, the covered outdoor arena near the Coliseum, the reinterring of Juan Seguin, the dedication of the Walnut Branch Monument in the Rose Garden, and an almost continuous series of local observances, to include spot announcements of Seguin's history over KWED Radio, and the publication of the Bicentennial Minutes, used extensively in this history.
Other 1976 events included the United Fund, exceeding its goal by almost $2,000 and the 1975 Miss America, Shirley Cothram, visiting Seguin for the Miss South Texas Pageant. The Seguin Conservation Society sold the Sebastopol House to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. Seguin High's band won the fourteenth annual Tri-State Music Festival in Enid, Oklahoma, and Jim Barnes resigned as School Superintendent.
In 1977 Dr. Charles Oestreich became TLC's fourteenth President upon the untimely death of Dr. Joe Menn. It was a year that also put taxpayers on their guard with the local property tax re-evaluation. Problems arose over the role of the SISD and other taxing entities and many feared there would be high tax increases. By year's end many of the disputes were settled and tax notices were mailed at the end of the year. Accusations, protests, petitions, even court cases had delayed the re-evaluation process, but in the end compromise prevailed.
Some 1,500 Seguinites attended the dedication of the new Coliseum, a long-awaited dream. Five years of planning and hard work had finally been recognized. New bids were also accepted for building a new Starcke Park Dam for $366,000. Also, a new public health unit to serve the county became a reality by the end of 1977.
The year of 1978 was somewhat of a controversial year in Seguin's modern history. "A civil suit was filed against the city . . . by Andrew Ramos, Jesus Trinidad, Jr., and Bruno Martinez (represented by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund). They alleged that the existing ward lines discriminated against the predominantly Mexican-American population of Ward One." The city's proposed budget of $6.7 million went virtually unopposed. County officials created the Child Welfare Board, and Motorola produced its four-millionth radio. In state politics Texas elected its first Republican Governor in 105 years, Bill Clements. Mayor Koebig endorsed the proposed expansion of the Starcke Park golf course, but the City Council required more study on cost figures. K-Mart opened its doors for business in 1978 and the school district announced its largest budget without a tax increase.
The final year of the seventies was headlined as having few dull moments. The year began with Steve Little awaiting a kidney transplant from his sister, and the Mental Health Mental Retardation Center moved into its facilities on Jefferson Avenue. The Seguin High Basketball Team won its district and became bi-district champions before bowing out at Regionals. Plans were approved for adding nine holes by Starcke Park and the Campbell Log Cabin came to Seguin for its restoration on East Live Oak Street. The State High School Rodeo announced its decision to move to Seguin from Hallettsville. First National Bank announced three new Directors - Jack C. Baker, James A. Bettersworth, and John H. Donegan. Millions of dollars worth of damages were suffered from tornadolike winds, followed by severe flooding in May. Russell Erxleben was a first round draft pick by the New Orleans Saints. Seguin's new county jail bid was accepted at $466,920.00. The Seguin Gazette and Seguin Enterprise merged. H. E. B. opened a new "Futuremarket" on East Court Street and dangerous chromium levels were found in wells along the Guadalupe River. In September, Seguin's first daily newspaper rolled off the presses. Randolph Air Force Base announced its plans for expanding a safe zone to the north of the Auxiliary Air Field, affecting the Ander Heights Addition. Rebuilding of the historic F. C. Weinert Bridge by Starcke Park was announced and the South Texas Vietnamese murder trials were moved from Port Lavaca to Seguin. The Seguin Jury ultimately found the Vietnamese innocent, sparking national attention.
The last decade of events for the Sesquicentennial history of Seguin is really not a decade. It only goes through 1987, thus bringing the reader to 1988, the one-hundred and fiftieth year of Seguin's organized history. But, by now, the reader knows that Seguin's history is much older than a hundred and fifty years. The heritage of Seguin is an Indian heritage and a Spanish heritage, beginning long before 1838. Thus far it has been an exciting period of American and Texas History. Before closing, the reader is invited to take a short seven-year journey to the conclusion.
The 1980s was a far cry from the 1880s. Where Seguin was rebounding from the Civil War and enjoying an economic renaissance in the 1880s, the 1980s was a period of readjustments for the community. The oil market fell, affecting every aspect of Texas life. Cities had overbuilt, money became very expensive and scarce, and people began to move, in search of jobs. Seguin, because of its historically conservative nature, has thus far pretty well weathered the economic adjustment to more austere times.
The "January and February building permits dropped from a year previous." In 1980 Mayor Al Koebig was elected for his eighth and last term. He announced in 1982 he would not seek re-election. Bobby Wuest and Pat Liberty won their respective seats on the School Board. The Masonic Lodge sold its building on South Crockett to the county government for office use. It was the year of the Iran hostages and the Gazette-Enterprise, with many local businesses, held a week long flag week. Leon Jaworski, a native of Geronimo, and former special prosecutor in the Watergate affair, visited Geronimo, and old friends in 1980. The new nine-hole golf course at Starcke Park was dedicated. Ceremonies were held on the sixteenth green, shaped in an outline of Texas. There was a big shootout east of Seguin between three DPS Troopers and a fugitive. It ended at the weigh station on I-10 East.
Preliminary 1980 census data showed Guadalupe County with a growth of 8 percent. In terms of figures, 44,329 lived in the county and 17,182 lived in Seguin. County Judge Joe B. Fleming sparked a controversy by stating that Freedom Fiesta had gotten out of control and was too big for the city square. Draft registration for eighteen year olds began in 1980. A survey reflected that the Chamber of Commerce was divided on the issue of moving the Freedom Fiesta to the Fairgrounds.
Seguin was also selected as one of five Texas cities to take part in the Main Street Project. Governor Bill Clements made the selection. Mayor Koebig reacted to a petition for a city manager form of government by stating "you don't improve the operation of a government by just changing the name on the heading." The Appraisal Board agreed to lease the Plaza Hotel for office use. City and county officials learned that Seguin would have to handle an influx of 90,000 people in case of nuclear attack. Jeep Kiel, United Fund Campaign Chairman, stated that the goal of $131,210.00 would be reached. City council approved a 9.5 percent pay increase for employees. And, Seguin citizens were excited when movie crews came to shoot scenes around the Texas Theatre for Sissy Spacek's movie, Raggedy Man.
In 1981 the American hostages in Iran were freed, which Seguin celebrated by ringing bells and tying yellow ribbons around trees. Bill Ermel, Clyde Selig, Elmo Ulrich, and James Watson received the Chamber of Commerce's annual community service award. Clarence Frase replaced Dr. Richard Kirkpatrick as the School Superintendent. The High School Band brought home a first division rating at the UIL, concert contest. In May, Seguin was named the first Main Street Town to have a historic downtown district. The downtown historic district is set off by the distinctive white-on-black street signs. Olson Metal Products, under Mark Williams, officially opened its new facilities, and County Judge Joe Fleming resigned his position, turning the reins over to Charles Ehrhardt. With the failure of the hospital bond issue, the Commissioner's Court approved the intent to levy an ad valorem tax of ten cents per $100.00 property valuation. May 9 saw Seguin honor Senator John Traeger when he was named Governor for a Day in Austin. Windsor Properties, Inc., announced plans to build a $9.5 million dollar gypsum wall board plant in the county. Rains swelled Geronimo Creek and Elmwood homes and the Apache addition were flooded. A second, equally devastating flood, occurred in September.
The Texas Pecan Growers Association met in Seguin, bringing in thousands of pecan producers. The hospital opened a new intensive care unit and Patti Sanchez won the 1981 Diez y Seis Queen competition. Noted local Historian, Willie Mae Weinert, passed away at the grand age of 90. The movie Raggedy Man played at the Palace I Theatre and the movie Seguin premiered in San Antonio.
In 1982 the hospital accepted Marvin "Ted" Henderson's bid of $612,000.00 for the hospital expansion. Schools were closed in January due to an extremely hard freeze. After forty years of service to the county, County Clerk Frank "Doc" Schmidt retired for health reasons. Mayor Al Koebig also elected not to run again and Councilwoman Betty Jean Jones announced her plans to run for Mayor. Edmund Kuempel announced plans to run on the Republican ticket for State Representative in District 46 while James E. "Jim" Saegbiel ran as a Republican for County Judge. All three won. Bill Ermel became President of the School Board; Bobby Wuest, Vice-president; and Virginia Woods, Secretary. Barbara Dornak, Tracy Hewitt, and Mike Haug appeared in the movie The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. The Henderson Construction Company won the bid for the city hall expansion, and Rocky Contreras urged a study for the city manager form of government.
In 1983 Mark Williams was elected Chairman of the Guadalupe County Appraisal District and Eve Hiner joined the City Council. The School Board considered a bond issue to cover school district expansion for overcrowded school rooms and facilities. County cattlemen spoke out against the federal quarantine of Texas cattle over the brucellosis stand-off between state and federal officials. The city received a $600,000.00 federal grant for modification of the waste water treatment facilities. The City Council voted to raze the Chamber of Commerce building. The county sheriff's reserve force celebrated their tenth year anniversary and Stan Ledbetter announced that receipts from the Freedom Fiesta exceeded those of 1982. Albert W. Saegert, former Sheriff, County Judge, and Federal Marshal, passed away at the age of 86. The Guadalupe County Tax Payers' Association was formed by a group of citizens. City Council voted to raise property taxes eight percent and adopted a $13.7 million budget. The Mexican-American Legal Defense and Education Fund filed suit against the school district over the at-large voting system. The women's shelter opened with the support of United Fund, County Commissioners, the City, Noon Lion's Club and the Jaycees. The County Fair celebrated its 100 year birthday and First National Bank was robbed for the second time in its history. This was also the year of the Langtry Middletowne Apartment controversy in the Keller Heights addition. Stan Ledbetter resigned as Executive Vice-President of the Seguin and Guadalupe County Chamber of Commerce. He would be replaced by George Gregg.
Severe cold weather ushered in 1984. The city council approved the purchase of 45.13 acres on the east side of Geronimo Creek for a new wastewater treatment plant. The Seguin-Gazette Enteprise announced it was sold to Southern Newspapers by Taylor Communications, Inc. Mike Graxiola became the new Publisher. The newly expanded city hall was dedicated by re-elected Mayor Betty Jean Jones. Sheriff Melvin Harborth stepped into the shoes of retiring Sheriff, Pete Kallies. LULAC's National Office urged Hispanic and minorities to run for local, state, and national offices. Drought conditions prevailed to the extent that a request for federal aid relief was made. Employees of Knytex Proform, Inc., voted against unionizing. The historic Walnut Springs Bakery on South Austin Street burned. Stella Timmermann of the seven Timmermann Sisters passed away.
Record snows of over 13.5 inches closed schools and offices in January 1985. Hulda Timmermann passed away, again a sad day for the Timmermann Sisters, Geronimo and Seguin. The hospital authorities announced a reduction by $2 for private and semi-private rooms. Texas' Junior Miss, Valerie Lowrance, daughter of V. J. and Voncille Lowrance, was honored by the Texas House of Representatives with a Resolution. The end of June saw Valerie become America's Junior Miss, 1985. She received a $25,000.00 scholarship, was interviewed on Good Morning America and received a tremendous home town reception at the Coliseum. The city's budget increased to $17.6 million, while the Appraisal District increased its budget to $670,291.00 and the hospital's budget was $9.35 million. The first economic shivers in Seguin began when Motorola announced it was cutting pay and jobs in Austin. The school district was hit by the new state passed "no pass no play" rule and Senator John Traeger announced he would not seek re-election after 24 years of representation in the State Capitol. Olson Metals Products gave the economy a boost when it announced it would be receiving orders to manufacture parts for shipment to Delco's assembly plant in Mexico. Towards the end of the year the County Tax Payers' Association voiced concern over increased taxes and favored a tax rollback.
Two big events in 1986 occurred in Seguin that would be felt for years. The voters rolled back the county's taxes and a city manager form of government was approved by the voters. Patricia Finch and KWED Owner Stan McKenzie formed the Guadalupe County Progressive Taxpayers' Association to oppose the rollback. It was also the year Charles Lee, Grand Dragon of the Texas Klu Klux Klan, brought his campaign for governor to Seguin. There was a strong reaction in the community. Rita Clements came to Seguin to campaign for her husband in his race against Mark White for Governor. The revised budget for the county was $5.5 million and the annual Freedom Fiesta Parade route was altered to go straight down Austin Street to the Coliseum. In July the school board voted to accept bids to air condition the high school. Drought conditions caused area residents to go on water rationing and the school board closed the high school campus so that students could not go off campus during school hours. When Terry Roberts was hired as Seguin's new City Manager, the mayor's salary was reduced to $250.00 per month plus expenses. A library relief fund was established to help the library through losses suffered from the tax roll back. The library also reduced its operating hours. The hospital made plans to provide indigent care as required under a new state law. Pro-basketball Star Alvin Robertson of the San Antonio Spurs visited Seguin and Coach Harry Miller to promote the Seguin Youth Basketball League.
The last year of Seguin's history was 1987. The Seguin Gazette-Enterprise reported that December 31 and January 1 were very busy. The firemen and policemen jailed 16 people, a mobile home was destroyed by fire and a rural home was damaged by fire. A new County Commissioner was Tom Brown and the new County Treasurer was Larry Jones. The Chamber of Commerce voted to move the Fourth of July Freedom Fiesta to the Fairgrounds because of congestion. The Reneau Brother's stolen poultry truck was recovered but the $4,500 load of chickens was missing. Robert Foxworth, well known actor on T.V.'s Falcon Crest was a panelist at TLC's annual Krost Symposium, and Mini Grip Inc., broke ground on North Heideke for a 47,000 square foot plant. County Commissioners initially voted to terminate their contract with the EMS but later worked out an arrangement with the city to continue the service, for a while. Motorola's work force will expand by 30-40 employees as it received a defense contract to produce new secure voice data telephone terminals. Craig Stockstill replaced W. G. Farquhar who had been with Marion for 34 years as school superintendent.
In April, Sam Flores, Jack Shanafelt and Rodger Weyel won re-election on the City Council. Roger Wilke won his first term, replacing Eve Hiner who had decided not to run again. Bill Henze, Mark Wallock, and Caesareo Guadarrama III won re-election to the School Board. Voters also approved a one-half cent sales tax in the county to help decrease ad valorem taxes in the county. Ten firms had bid on the city's new waste-water treatment plant on Geronimo Creek and the bid selected was $1.052 million below the estimate. Walter Ehlers retired after 18 years as Seguin's resident engineer for the Texas Department of Highways. A prisoner who was waiting for transportation back to jail just walked away to a short-lived freedom. Heavy rains fell in May and June, swelling rivers and creeks out of their banks, leaving many settlements stranded. Thousands of dollars of damage occurred. This was also the year of property reappraisal by the Guadalupe County Appraisal District. By year's end most of the controversies had been settled. The School District reconfigured its grade alignments in the elementary and middle schools. Later the School District denied a request of several residents near LaVernia that they be detached from this district so they could be absorbed by the LaVernia School District.
In July the city budget changed to a surplus. July was also the month that the citizens of Seguin pulled together and helped towards a $100,000.00 down payment for young Timmy Hewer to have a liver transplant. The Hospital purchased a Computerized Axial Tomography Scanner, and Congressman Mac Sweeney brought $20,000 to the Community Council of South Central Texas for emergency assistance. August saw ground-breaking ceremonies for the city's $7.9 million wastewater treatment plant on the Geronimo Creek. In September it was announced that Seguin would get a new Post Office but not until the 1990s. The city also announced that building construction costs were down almost $700,000.00 from 1986 and $1.8 million from 1985. The biggest sports news towards the end of 1987 was the dropping of the football program at TLC.
All in all 1987 was as sound a year as any in Seguin's 150 year history. That it ended quietly for 1988's entrance perhaps is a good omen for the second 150 years of Seguin.
The current year of 1988 got off to a good start. Mayor Jones announced that Nick and Anne Costas would serve as the Directors of Seguin's Birthday. Both are Seguinites whose family heritage is respected and proud. Also, Steve Koehler of the Koehler Construction Company announced that the state granted official permission to restore the historic Sebastopol House. Many thanks especially to State Representative Edmund Kuempel and Seguinites for working with the Texas Parks and Wildlife in making this restoration project a reality. This in itself was quite a birthday present to Seguin.
By the first part of 1988 the overall profile of Seguin reflected a basically healthy community. Seguin continued to be progressive and yet remained a conservative town. It has enjoyed a spin-off from the expansion along Interstate Highway 35 from San Antonio to Austin. However the expansion has not been so great that the community has had to play catch-up. Although the economy has been somewhat sluggish in the last few years due to a slow down in the oil business and an agricultural recession, many of the established businesses have fared well.
The Seguin-Guadalupe County Chamber of Commerce published a profile in June 1987, that gives a good overview of the community's health. The city has an estimated population of 22,000, up 13,000 since 1950. In a 30 mile radius there is an estimated population of 200,000.
In the area of communications there is one newspaper, the daily Seguin Gazette-Enterprise. There are two radio stations: KWED A. M. Radio and KSMG F. M. Radio. There is a 17 channel cable television company along with NBC, CBS, ABC, and PBS. Southwestern Bell and others provide telephone service, and Western Union is available. There is one post office that is first class.
As for community facilities there are 49 Protestant Churches, 2 Catholic Churches, 8 motels with 412 rooms, 4 shopping centers, 9 department stores, and 4 major grocery stores - Wuest's, Baenzigers, H. E. B., and Wholesale Groceries.
The community is enlarging the hospital by increasing to 75 beds, and there are 13 clinics in Seguin. Serving Seguin's citizenry are 37 Doctors and 16 Dentists. Surviving banks are generally a sign of health these days and Seguin is fortunate in that it enjoys four sound banks with assets of $136,339,521.00.
A labor analysis also reflects a healthy climate. Within a 30 mile radius there is a sizeable work force. The estimated local labor force is 25,138 strong. Entering the potential labor field each year are about 375 high school graduates. There have been no work stoppages in the past five years, there is a right-to-work law, and there are no manufacturing workers in unions.
The tax rates, after recent property re-evaluations by the County Appraisal District, are based at a rate of $100.00 per assessed value. The assessment ratio is one hundred percent. City taxes are $.5659 per $100. Local retail sales taxes will increase in January 1988, but in 1987 remained at 1 percent. State taxes in retail sales is 5.25 percent.
The infrastructure, or transportation system, is very strong. There are four state highways - 123 that connects Seguin to San Marcos to the north and Karnes City to the south; Highway 46 which connects Seguin to New Braunfels and the Hill Country; Highway 90 which connects Seguin to San Antonio and westward to West Texas and to Luling to the East; Highway 90-A which connects Seguin to Gonzales and the East. There is one Interstate Highway, I-10, which connects Seguin to the southeastern and southwestern states of the United States. Interstate Highway 35 is 15 to 19 miles north of Seguin and is connected to Highways 46 and 123. The Southern Pacific Railroad switches in Seguin daily except Sundays. There are nine motor freight carriers. The local carriers are Central Freight Lines, Herder Freight Lines, Engbrock Freight, Ryder Truck Rental, and Greinke Moving and Storage. Red Arrow, Leeway, Yellow Freight and Roadway Express service Seguin via their terminals 35 miles away in San Antonio.
The San Antonio International Airport is less than a one-hour drive from Seguin. In addition to the San Antonio Airport there is the Geronimo Airfield, just north of I-10 on Highway 46. It has a 3,500 foot asphalt runway. Near Clear Springs, between Highway 46 and Highway 123, is the New Braunfels Airfield.
Bus service is provided by Greyhound and Trailways. Parcel service is provided by United Parcel Service, Federal Express, and Purolator Courier. The nearest port facilities are in Corpus Christi, Texas, a two and one-half hour to three-hour drive away.
Seguin's utilities and services are excellent. The power supply for Seguin is furnished by the Lower Colorado River Authority . For the county it is the Guadalupe Valley Electric Coop, CPL, and Bluebonnet. The source of water is the Guadalupe River with a maximum daily capacity of eight million gallons per day. The overhead storage capacity is 1,650 million gallons while the underground storage capacity is 3,140 million gallons. Rural water is offered by Springs Hill, Crystal Clear, and Green Valley Water Districts.
There is a storm sewer system, a sanitary sewer system, treatment plant, with solid waste disposal facilities available. The natural gas distributor is Entex. Lo-Vaca is the natural gas supplier. Fuel oil distributors are Gulf, Texaco, Exxon, Mobil, and Phillips. Liquid propane distributors are Superior Fuels, Inc. and Marshall Propane.
The business employers, though not legion in numbers, are stable and reflect the diversity that is Seguin. Motorola, Inc., is the largest private employer in Seguin with a work force of 950 personnel. It has been in Seguin since 1972. Following Motorola, Inc., is Structural Metals, Inc., with 698 employees. SMI, as it is commonly known, has been in continuous operation since 1947 and is a success story unto itself. SMI manufactures steel while Motorola produces Microwave Digital Panels, and electric instrument controls. Since 1970, Holly Farms of Texas, Inc., has produced dressed poultry and it employs 684 personnel. Roadside maintenance equipment is produced by Alamo Group-Terrain King and has been doing so since 1971. Terrain King employs 267 men and women. Hexcel, producer of composite fabrics, employs 226 people and has been with Seguin since 1954. Windsor-Gypsum is a dry wallboard manufacturer and it joined the community in 1981, providing employment for 115 people. Composite fabric is also manufactured by Knytex Division, Inc. and employs 89 people. Knytex has been with Seguin since 1975. Architectural millwork, residential and commercial construction by the 84 strong employee Koehler Construction Company, was established in 1954. Since 1950, United Cotton Goods, manufacturing institutional linens, has grown to 74 employees. In 1973, Olson Metal Products began its history and has grown to 73 employees manufacturing metal stamping, tools and dies. Acco Feeds employs 64 people in the formula feeds industry, and it was established in 1972. In 1976 Xerxes Corporation began its construction of fiberglass underground fuel storage tanks in Seguin. Employed are 60 people. Acme Brick Company, a successor to the turn-of-the-century Blumberg Brick Company, provides brick, fireplace equipment, tile and glass block, and employs 54. Since 1975 Marble Masters has manufactured marble products, employing 38. Gannon Manufacturing has grown to 35 employees since 1981 and it manufactures tractor implements. Cone Biotech, Inc., manufactures biological and diagnostic products and employs 26. It has been part of Seguin since 1968. Rounding out the Chamber's list of major employers is Advanced Textiles, manufacturing composite fabrics. They have been in Seguin since 1985. The Dagel Company, in upholstered furniture, has been in Seguin since 1968.
There are many employers not listed but who have been a part of Seguin for many years, several of whom trace their origins to the 1800s. Economy Furniture is a nationally recognized furniture store, as is Starcke Furniture Store. Reichman's Clothing Store is a retailer of fine clothing in Seguin. Vivroux Hardware is a Seguin fixture. The Saddle Shop and D&D Farm and Ranch have become state and internationally known. Hilbert's John Deer Tractor, James "Fella" Dietz's Massey-Ferguson, and Ewald's Ford Tractor attest to the agricultural needs of Seguin and the county. Farmer's Feed and Supply Company, Becker's Feed, Brooks Feed, and Acco Feeds provide a crucial service for the farmers, ranchers, gardeners and livestock raisers of the city and county. Aiding the livestock owners and pet owners are four excellent veterinary and animal hospitals. Restaurants are as diversified as any good town should be. Mexican food to Oriental food, to just plain home-cooked food and bar-b-que can be enjoyed at El Apache, Maria's, Little Mexico, the Oriental Steakhouse, Greenery Station or the Varsity Inn. Bar-b-que is a no-miss proposition at Johnny's, Davila's, Judge's, or Friedeck's. A quick hamburger can be ordered at one of four Dairy Queen's, MacDonald's, Burger King or Whataburger. Fried chicken can be found at Blessings, Church's, or Kentucky Fried Chicken. Pape's Pecan House rounds out the variety that is Seguin.
One item often overlooked in a community's history is that of the role newspapers have played in the community. Seguin is fortunate that the daily Seguin Gazette-Enterprise is here and it too celebrates its 100th year in 1988. However, Seguin, according to a A Union List of Newspaper Files, compiled in 1941, has had newspapers since 1853. Those newspapers have been the Texas Mercury (1853), Seguin Mercury (1857), Seguin Journal (1856), Southern Confederacy (1857), Union Democrat (1860), Guadalupe Times (1870), Seguin Record (1886), Seguin Enterprise (1888), Seguin Zeitung (1892), Seguin Anchor (1893), Guadalupe Gazette (1899), Seguin Bulletin (1914), Guadalupe Gazette-Bulletin (1919), Seguin Waechter and Western Texian.
Since then the Seguin Citizen has appeared, and there was the merger of the Seguin Gazette-Enterprise in recent years. It is a tribute to the community that it has placed a high value on the written word and that it has a curiosity of the world about them.