By Nancy Ehlinger Saathoff Back in the horse & buggy days of early Devine, Texas it might be surprising to know that we had several drug stores and doctors here, even though the population was pretty small! They had some healthy competition and drug stores were more than just pharmacies. They were essential in providing home remedies and prescription drugs, but were also very diversified in their services by having confectionaries with ice cream, malts & milkshakes, & candies, plus things like school supplies, stationary, jewelry, watch repairing, and more. Often the doctors would have their offices above the drug store, or in a back room. That must have worked well for “One-Stop” medical service back then! The early drug stores in Devine were basic wooden structures with plain-looking facades, but that all changed when the Lion Drug Store built their brick building with such beautiful architecture. I have not located information about exactly when it was built, but probably between 1900 & 1910. The Lion Drug Store was in business in 1900 or earlier, and this was probably not their first store, but it was their most iconic! It was unclear who the early owners were, but Dr. Evans purchased the store and had his office in the back and his daughter, Miss Kate Evans, was the proprietor & pharmacist in the front. That was an unusual occupation for a woman in those days, but she continued in that profession for years. This brick Lion Drug Store was situated on the east side of the railroad tracks between the first Loggins & Lilly store (old Locker Plant) and Hayden Street, and across the street from the Adams National Bank, on what is now Transportation Street. On older maps, Transportation was named either East Front Street, East Main Street, or East Depot Street and was the first business district in Devine! Businesses in this area included cafes, mercantile stores, cotton gins, a blacksmith shop, and of course, a drug store, or two! The schools were located farther east on the hill around Bowman Ave., and many residents built houses in this area before more businesses were built on the west side of the tracks. In 1931 the Lion Drug Store may have been torn down, but it is not entirely clear if this brick building was the one that was, or if it was an older store. As I find more information, I can update this. *This Picture, and others like it, of old, ornate buildings that were once standing in Devine can evoke all kinds of emotions, even today. As beautiful as they were, it is kind of sad that they no longer exist in our community to enjoy and bring a stronger sense of history to us now. But we are very fortunate to have some of these pictures still around and have the technology to share them with others. One of the goals of the Devine Historical Committee is to research and share the history of Devine that we find. *If you have any photos, memorabilia, or stories of Devine that you would like share, please contact me anytime. And if you are on Facebook, please check out our Devine Historical Committee page for the wonderful pictures and stories that so many have shared. For more information, contact Nancy Ehlinger Saathoff at 210-289-6205 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
By KK Calame Publisher Exciting news in this week from St. Joseph Catholic Church in Devine announcing a ground breaking ceremony for the construction of the long awaited replica Chapel of the historic 98 year old church building and steeple that was torn down August 1, 2020 due to safety concerns. “After years of preparations, we are happy to announce the construction of our new chapel is set to begin. Join us for a ground breaking ceremony on Thursday, May 4, 2023 at 10a.m. Bishop Gary Janak will be here from the Archdiocese to give a blessing”, said Matthew Balderama, Building Committee Chairman, St. Joseph Catholic Church, Devine. The new Chapel and plaza will be built where the old church once stood. It will be done in two phases, back to back. Phase one will be the construction of the chapel and Phase two will be the construction of the plaza behind the chapel. The chapel was designed to try to replicate the old one as close as possible, but will be about one third the size of the original one. The design process began with parishioner Candace DeJesus and old photos sent in by parishioners were used as references so it can be replicated inside and out as much as possible.. Architect/planner/consultants is Morkovsky and Associates, Inc of San Antonio, Texas. “The chapel will be approximately 32 ft wide by 59 feet long with ceiling at 22 feet. The base of the cross at 30’6’’ high and the tip of the steeple close to 37 feet, roughly about a third of the size of the old church. It will have 8 foot pews on each side inside and accommodate up to 100 people,”said Balderamma. Mass will still be celebrated on the weekends in the current church as they have much larger attendance. Daily Mass will be in the new chapel when it is complete. Also smaller celebrations will take place in the chapel as well, like baptisms, some weddings, etc.
The new project is estimated to take 6 months to complete. Cost estimated to not exceed $900,000. “Currently we have 58% of the money needed, as required by the Archdiocese. Funds have been raised over the 12 years since it was condemned by private donation and events like the annual Octoberfest”, he said. “We will continue to take donations, and will take sponsorships for things like the pews, stained glass windows, statues, saints, and cross. And a decision is yet to be made as to whether the old bell will be used or a new one purchased. A nice sound system and electronic bell system will be in the chapel and sound off like it used to years ago every hour of the day and at mass times. The community will enjoy hearing those again across all over town, “ he said. The Building Committee of St. Jospeh’s consists of : Don Dunford, Santiago Mendoza, Michael Perez, Laura Holder, Juan Billalobos, Jr., Candace DeJesus, Chairman Matthew Balderama, and Father Antonio Hernandez. Advisors are Ernie Morales, Lydia Benavidez, Todd Summers, and Melissa Rodriguez.
By Nancy Ehlinger Saathoff On an eastern hillside off Hester Street stand the unassuming ruins of a once thriving school for a small population of black children in Devine. This building, and previous buildings on this land, served as a place for education, social events, and worship for black families, for over 50 years. Back in the earliest days of Devine, according to census records, there was not a large population of black families here, but they had their own school and teachers earlier than 1890! Records from those days called it the “colored” school and it was most likely wooden framed. At this time two Devine school buildings were in close proximity to each other on the hill, as the east side of the railroad tracks were built up first as the main downtown area. So, the schools were in the main part of town, near the earliest built homes. It appears that this land was home to a church before a school was located there: in 1906, “the colored people, headed by Joe LeBruce, one of our most substantial colored citizens, have moved an old Baptist church and put it up on north side Briscoe addition. They have a large sign painted, One Lord, One Faith and One Baptism.” The building may have been used for Methodist, as well as Baptist church services at times, according to old city maps. On the 1913 map of Devine this was the location of the Colored Baptist Church. The colored school was actually located on the northeast corner of Upson and Galbreath streets, closer to the two-story red brick Devine School on the corner of College & Upson Streets, which was built in 1905. In 1930 a red brick school was specially built for the “colored” children of Devine. It was made of hollow brick tile on a concrete floor and iron roof to be more fire proof. A fire thought to be started in the dry wood pile by the stove, burned the school in 1931. The building was insured and was quickly rebuilt. The school had its own PTA, held parties and carnival for Halloween & other holidays. In January 1939, the school burned again and in June of that year a new hollow tile building was built by the National Youth Administration (NYA) which was a New Deal agency sponsored by Franklin D. Roosevelt during his presidency. It focused on providing work and education for Americans between the ages of 16 and 25. Local carpenter, Alfred Brieden was assigned by the school board to oversee the project. (According to what I can find, this appears to be the building that is in ruins today on Hester Street. If I find any other information, I will add it to this story at a later time. – NS) This old red tile one-room school building might look like something that is about ready to fall down; but actually it has been “falling down” for over 60 years, and still stands today! It’s crumbling walls have withstood the test of time, but its legacy and story still lives on in its ruins, and in our town’s history as a special place for a special group of Devine citizens. Joe Lebruce was a well-respected Devine citizen and was instrumental in providing a place for education and worship for the black families, and their children, in Devine. His wife, Mary, was a teacher at the school until 1941, when her health declined. She attended a black community college in San Antonio for her teaching certification. (Limited information on Joe Lebruce said that his father was a former slave, but further researching is needed to discover more about his life and how he came to live in Devine.) *Much of the information for this article was found in the master’s thesis written by Zulema Klingman in 1952. She was the superintendent’s wife and used DISD school board minutes, as well as old Devine News articles for her research. Other information used was from the archive of articles by Don Lawrence, written from oral interviews in the 1980s. Next Meeting of the DEVINE HISTORICAL COMMITTEE: Thursday, MARCH 30, 2023 – Room #9 – Devine VFW – 211 W. College St. Two sessions: 10am-12noon – Open Topic, 1:00-3:00pm – Old Devine in pictures & stories. EVERYONE IS WELCOME TO ATTEND – Bring your curiosity, stories, pictures, or just come to hear about old Devine!
DEVINE HISTORICAL COMMITTEE presents early 1900s pictures of west downtown Devine
When researching the history of Devine online, we tend to come across more & more random pictures, much to our delight; but they also raise more questions and mysteries! What is this picture of and when was it taken? Sometimes you think you know what it is, but sometimes things are not as obvious at first as you might think. But if you look close enough, there are usually many clues to help you. And that is what we did at last week’s meeting of the Devine Historical Committee! Take these two pictures, for example: These are two separate pictures that were found online at two different sites, about two years apart, and were two different colors. Once the pictures were side-by-side & the same color, it became clear that these pictures are of the same area and the same street, but what CLUES would we find to determine the exact location, date, and other facts – and where do we look? Clues: 1. Both pictures were posted online as being early 1900s downtown Devine, so that was the first clue! 2. Old city maps helped determine that the drug store building was on the corner of what is now College St. & Commercial where Bon Café is today! 3. Old maps also showed the wooden schoolhouse in the top of the picture that was moved to that site in 1890. It was later replaced with a two-story red brick school in 1905. (That is where the VFW is located now) 4. Across the street from the schoolhouse was the St. Joseph’s Catholic wooden church which was built in 1897 & the two-story Catholic school was built in 1900. So, that dates the picture to 1900 or after. 5. And finally a January 1905 article in the San Antonio Express online archives described a huge fire in Devine that put all this information together. The fire was extensive and destroyed several businesses on the main street west of the railroad tracks, including the drug store and Howell Bros, so we know this picture was pre-Jan. 1905. This sound pretty simple, but it took many hours of research, lots of luck, & 4-5 of us at a Devine Historical Committee meeting to figure this out! But it was a lot of fun! This is a small sampling of what our historical group does, and you are welcome to join us at any of our meetings, join our Facebook group, or call us if you have any questions, or have stories or pictures to share. This committee is for anyone interested in learning about the history of Devine.
For more information, contact Nancy Ehlinger Saathoff at email@example.com or 210-289-6205. If you call & do not get an answer, please text for a call back. The next meeting will be around mid-October, so check The Devine News & our FB page for the date & location.
Solving a mystery & finding history can be a simple as looking at an ad in the back of a 1949 Devine Corral yearbook! The TEXAS MARKET was a popular store in downtown Devine in the 1930s-1950s, along with Loggins & Lilly, and Schott’s Red & White, – all on the same street! In fact, the building it was in is still standing and being remodeled on the historical downtown College Street! Steve told about his great uncle, Arturo Gutierrez, at the Texas Market store as well as other members of his mother’s side of the family who were local grocers. The well-known Gutierrez families were instrumental in serving the Devine community for years in their grocery stores – Gutierrez-Chapa Grocery (where Viva Zapata is now) owned by his granddad Pedro “Pete” Gutierrez & Aunt Hortencia Gutierrez Chapa; The Texas Market; the original Independent Grocery owned by Clemente Gutierrez where Steve worked as a stocker; followed by the second, larger Independent Grocery owned by Roberto Gutierrez. Both Independent Grocery stores can still be seen on FM 3176 near Hester Ave. When shopping in Devine you could always depend on a friendly face and a fair price when shopping in their stores! More stories & information about these grocery stores and others in Devine will be included in later articles in The Devine News.
Take a trip back in time to the days of Loggins & Lily and Schott’s Model Market in downtown Devine. Here is a collection of humorous advertisements published in The Devine News in the 1947 and some from 1978.