Charles Schreiner, Sr.

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Charles Armand Schreiner, Sr.​

"Father of the Texas Hill Country")

Charles Schreiner of TX.jpg

Born February 22, 1838​
Alsace, France
Died February 9, 1927 (aged 88)​
Kerrville, Texas
Occupation Rancher; Businessman; Banker
Spouse Mary Magdalena "Lena" Enderle Schreiner (married 1861-1905, her death)​

Eight children
Charles Schreiner, III (grandson)​
Gustave Adolph and Charlotte Bippert Schreiner​

Charles Armand Schreiner, Sr. (February 22, 1838 – February 9, 1927), was a cattle and sheep rancher, merchant, banker, politician, and philanthropist from his adopted city of Kerrville, Texas. He is often called the "father of the Texas Hill Country west of San Antonio.​


Born in Alsace, France, and descended from nobility, Schreiner was the son of Dr. Gustav Adolph Schreiner and the former Charlotte Bippert (1809-1857). In 1852, the Schreiners moved to San Antonio, Texas, then a village just sixteen years since the Battle of The Alamo. His father died soon after their arrival in San Antonio; his mother, not long afterward.[1]

From 1854 to 1857, Schreiner was a member of the Texas Ranger Division but left the law enforcement division to purchase with the help of a brother-in-law a general store at Camp Verde, a former military outpost in Kerr County. He contracted with the War Department to supply beef and other rations to soldiers. Camp Verde was a base for experimentation with the camel as a beast of burden in the American Southwest. From 1861 to 1864, Schreiner fought as a private in the Confederate Army under under General John George Walker during the American Civil War.[1]

In 1861, he wed the former Mary Magdalena Enderle, known as "Lena," a native of Germany.[2] The couple had eight children born between 1862 and 1881, the last of whom died in 1971: Aime Charles Schreiner (1862-1935), Gustave Fritz Schreiner (1866-1962), Louis Albert Schreiner (1870-1970), Caroline Marie Schreiner Partee (1873-1947), Emile Louise Schreiner Rigsby (1875-1971), Charles A. Schreiner, Jr. (1876-1967), Walter Richard Schreiner, I (1877-1933), and Frances Hellen Schreiner Jeffers (1881-1940).[3]​ ​


After a few years on his ranch at Turtle Creek, a tributary of the Guadalupe River in Kerr County, Schreiner moved to the county seat of Kerrville. There in 1869, her joined August Faltin of nearby Comfort in Kendall County, to open another store. Known as Schreiner's, it was the forerunner to the longstanding Schreiner's Department Store in Kerrville. A decade later, Schreiner bought out his partner and expanded his operations to include wool and mohair. For a number of years, Schreiner operated a bank within his store, which became one of the largest country stores of its kind in the nation. Schreiner's Bank became so successful that it was moved in 1893 into a separate building.[1]

In 1991, the department store chain, Dunlaps in Fort Worth, acquired Schreiner's with plans to keep it in the same building and in the same general outlay.[4] Schreiner's closed on September 23, 2007, with the sale of Dunlaps. The building, still called Schreiner's, encompasses several retail stores and boutiques.[5]

In 1879, Schreiner commissioned the San Antonio architect Alfred Giles (1853-1920) to design the Capt. Charles Schreiner Mansion in Kerrville. The original two-story, six-bedroom house was the first limestone building constructed in Kerr County. In 1895, a porch was added to the structure. After his death, Schreiner's heirs donated the mansion, which was listed in 1975 on the National Register of Historic Places, to the Masonic lodge. The Masons sold the building; it is now a museum.[6]

In 1880, Schreiner purchased some 27,000 acres of land to begin the Y. O. Ranch in Kerr County. "Y. O." is derived from the brand on the first Texas Longhorn beef cattle, which Schreiner purchased to start his ranch.[7] A second ranch, the Live Oak, was reserved for sheep, for which Schreiner was an equally strong advocate. By 1900, the company held some 600,000 acres stretching for the eighty miles from Kerrville to Menard, Texas.[1]

Schreiner also engaged in local politics as both county and district clerk. From 1868 to 1898, he was the Kerr County treasurer. Because of hostile Indians, a home guard was organized in 1875 in Kerr County. Schreiner was elected a captain of the guard and used that designation for the remainder of his years.[1]


Schreiner gave away more than a million dollars; his largest gift was to endow Schreiner Institute, since Schreiner University, a private university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church. The college was established in Kerrville in 1917.[1]

Along with his wife, several of their children, and other relatives, Schreiner is interred at Glen Rest Cemetery in Kerrville. His graver marker mentions that he was a private in the Confederate Army.[3]

In recent years the Schreiner properties have been used primarily for private hunting purposes. In 2013, the heirs began to squabble among themselves, with one group filing a lawsuit against the other, and they moved to liquidate or to break up the ranch holdings. Two years later, two couples, Byron and Sandra Sadler and Lacy and Dorothy Harber, purchased 5,300 acres for $12.3 million. The Sadlers and Harbers announced plans to construct a restaurant, expand beyond the existing thirteen cabins, and to establish a museum. The facility will still be used as a hunting ranch but also as a corporate retreat. Byron Sadlervowed that he would play a "hands-on" role in the reconstruction of the ranch. "We're going to invest several million dollars to bring it back to what it had been," said Sandra Sadler.[8]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 Hollon, W. Eugene. Schreiner, Charles Armand. Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved on July 18, 2020.
  2. Frances Hellen "Fanny" Schreiner Jeffers. Retrieved on July 18, 2020.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Captain Charles Armand Schreiner. Retrieved on July 18, 2020.
  4. "Schreiner's Department Store Sold," 'The Kerrville Daily Times, August 6, 1991.
  5. "Looking Back," Kerrville Daily Times, January 2, 2008.
  6. "THC-NRHP Schreiner Mansion, Texas Historical Commision, accessed August 17, 2011; material no longer on-line.
  7. Douglas Martin (April 29, 2001). Charles Schreiner, III, 74, Dies; Colorful Texas Rancher Fought to Save Longhorn. The New York Times. Retrieved on July 18, 2020.
  8. Zeke MacCormack, "Section of fame ranch changes hands", The San Antonio Express-News, October 9, 2015, pp. 1, A8.