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Kerrville, Texas

Nestled within the picturesque landscape of Texas Hill Country, Kerrville is renowned for its stunning parks lining the Guadalupe River, which flows directly through the city.

The region also boasts nearby youth summer camps, hunting ranches, and RV parks. Kerrville is home to several notable events and institutions, including Texas’ Official State Arts & Crafts Fair, the Kerrville Folk Festival, the Kerrville Triathlon (since 2011), and the Kerrville Renaissance Festival (since 2017). Additionally, it hosts the headquarters of prominent companies such as Mooney Aviation Company and James Avery Jewelry, along with Schreiner University. The Museum of Western Art, established in 1983, showcases the works of contemporary artists specializing in themes related to the American West.

Kerrville is located in Kerr County, Texas, serves as both a city and the county seat. As of the 2020 census, Kerrville’s population stood at 24,278 residents. The city derives its name from James Kerr, a significant figure in the Texas Revolution, who was a close associate of settler-founder Joshua Brown. Brown settled in the area with the intention of establishing a shingle-making camp.

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Kerrville History

Archeological findings, including remnants such as burned rock middens, lithic artifacts, and Caddoan pottery fragments, indicate human habitation in what is now Kerrville dating back approximately 10,000 years. In the late 1840s, the region witnessed the emergence of successful shinglemakers whose commercial endeavors played a pivotal role in servicing the middle and upper Hill Country area. Among the earliest shinglemakers was Joshua D. Brown, who, along with his family, led several other pioneer families on an expedition through the Guadalupe Valley. These settlers established their community near a bluff north of the Guadalupe River, known as “Brownsborough.” However, in 1856, the area was officially surveyed by James Kerr, a Texas Revolution major, and the settlement was formally named “Kerrville,” maintaining its status as a county seat.

The development of Kerrville accelerated with the establishment of a large grist and sawmill on the bluff in 1857 by German master-miller Christian Dietert and millwright Balthasar Lich. This mill not only provided a reliable source of power but also offered protection from floods, becoming the most extensive operation of its kind in the Hill Country region west of New Braunfels and San Antonio. Capitalizing on Kerrville’s burgeoning popularity, Charles A. Schreiner diversified the city’s economy by establishing a family-run enterprise that dominated various sectors, including freighting, retail, banking, ranching, and marketing.

The Civil War temporarily hindered Kerrville’s progress, but the onset of the Reconstruction era reignited economic growth and cultural diversity, spurred by increased demand in nearby San Antonio for lumber, agricultural produce, and skilled labor. The cessation of Indian raids and the expansion of ranching further fueled Kerrville’s prosperity, marked by the cattle drives of the late 19th century. The arrival of the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railway in 1887 and the town’s incorporation in 1889 further propelled its development.

Kerrville continued to modernize, with the establishment of the Kerrville Water Works Company in 1894, the introduction of telephone service in 1896, and the paving of streets in 1912. The city transitioned to a commission form of government in 1917, followed by a city-manager system in 1928, and eventually adopted a home-rule charter in 1942. Throughout the 20th century, Kerrville experienced steady population growth and economic diversification, evolving into a hub for business, agriculture, manufacturing, healthcare, education, the arts, and tourism. By the mid-1990s, Kerrville was recognized as one of the wealthiest small towns in America, with a population exceeding 20,000 by the turn of the century. The city’s growth was fueled by a mix of retirees, young professionals, and semiprofessionals, although it also witnessed significant out-migration of young adults raised locally.

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