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Old 01-21-2014, 10:36 AM
 
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I am a history graduate from UTSA, so I am always interested in learning unique and little known historical facts about things. How about we share some little known facts about our own cities history?

Here are a few to start off with, and of course, if I am wrong, correct me!

1. The reason that downtown San Antonio does not follow a common block or grid pattern is because the streets follow old Spanish irrigation channels.

2. Utilities companies still uncover artifacts from the Battle of the Alamo while digging in the downtown area. If I recall correctly, even the bodies of some Mexican soldiers were found. I cannot substantiate this with adequate documentation, so I shall leave it as a rumor.

3. Downtown, in the park across from the Mercado, there is a statue of a Texan soldier with his rifle raised in the air. This statue is built over the area that the Mexican army buried their dead from the Battle of the Alamo.

4. In WW2, Fort Sam Houston was used to house German POW's. Numerous other towns in Texas hosted the Germans as well, principally Camp Bowie in Brownwood, where the Germans were released to farmers for extra hands. Captured German U-Boat personnel were housed in Galveston. The German POW's were actually quite popular with the townsfolk. Certain towns even arranged social mixers and dances where young women would come interact with these exotic visitors.

5. Teddy Roosevelt sought out recruits for his Rough Riders in the Menger Bar in Downtown San Antonio (this one is pretty well known).

6. Camp Bullis was used heavily as an Artillery training ground during the first world war. At this time, Camp Bullis was only composed a few billets and roads. Since then, the base has rapidly expanded, and soldiers must be constantly vigilant of unexploded ordinance from this training.

Who else has some interesting stuff? I know some of mine was pretty boring
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Old 01-21-2014, 11:13 AM
 
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1. Always thought the spokes of our wagon wheel road system was the result of old cattle trails and those leading directly to other cities.

Quote:
They say that San Antonio's main streets (before the loops and freeways, that is) are really just the old trails to surrounding towns paved over.
desire-path | Flickr - Photo Sharing! (link unrelated)

7. Olmos Park was built over Camp John Wise which used to be the Army Balloon School for WWI.

http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/histo..._antonio18.jpg

8. San Antonio's original 1856 city limits were 36 square miles exactly in a perfect square as outlined in the map below.

https://www.tsl.texas.gov/arc/maps/images/map1052a.jpg
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Old 01-21-2014, 11:35 AM
 
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I'm curious if anyone has a map of where the major ranches that were once located in San Antonio are at on a current day map.

I know a few of them, but not all from doing land title research.
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Old 01-21-2014, 11:36 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Merovee View Post
1. Always thought the spokes of our wagon wheel road system was the result of old cattle trails and those leading directly to other cities.

desire-path | Flickr - Photo Sharing! (link unrelated)

7. Olmos Park was built over Camp John Wise which used to be the Army Balloon School for WWI.

http://www.lib.utexas.edu/maps/histo..._antonio18.jpg

8. San Antonio's original 1856 city limits were 36 square miles exactly in a perfect square as outlined in the map below.

https://www.tsl.texas.gov/arc/maps/images/map1052a.jpg


Regarding #1, i think that more or less applies to the roads leading OUT of downtown not so much downtown proper itself, no?
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Old 01-21-2014, 12:19 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dastexan View Post
I'm curious if anyone has a map of where the major ranches that were once located in San Antonio are at on a current day map.

I know a few of them, but not all from doing land title research.
Will find two maps showing the land grants (ranches) at two different points in Bexar's history unless someone else does first.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dastexan View Post
Regarding #1, i think that more or less applies to the roads leading OUT of downtown not so much downtown proper itself, no?
Yes, roads such as Fredericksburg, Bandera, Austin Hwy., Pleasanton and Goliad all began as ancient highways leading directly to those cities as can be glimpsed on this map.
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Old 01-21-2014, 02:00 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Merovee View Post
Will find two maps showing the land grants (ranches) at two different points in Bexar's history unless someone else does first.
i figure one exists, just not sure exactly where it is. :lol

Quote:
Yes, roads such as Fredericksburg, Bandera, Austin Hwy., Pleasanton and Goliad all began as ancient highways leading directly to those cities as can be glimpsed on this map.

Most definitely, afterall the majority of the city names in San Antonio (at least of major cities) are named either after where they lead to, or after a major land owner in the area at one time.
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Old 01-21-2014, 02:29 PM
 
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Oh yeah, the maps showing the land grants have some familiar street names.

Will post them soon as I can locate them...
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Old 01-21-2014, 08:13 PM
 
Location: Texas
5,619 posts, read 12,926,551 times
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Quote:
. The reason that downtown San Antonio does not follow a common block or grid pattern is because the streets follow old Spanish irrigation channels.
The streets are a result of cattle trails into San Antonio. I personally watched Goliad being built as it was originally a trail that a Mr Shadrock used to take his cattle out from his dairy at what is now Clark and Southcross out to Brooks AFB. His cattle were "hired" to keep the weeds down along the runways. He would idle his old green GMC truck out there with a pail of feed hanging from the tailgate early in the morning and then come back about 3-4 PM. My sister and I played on the road construction equipment as kids. I've posted a couple of pics here of the area before Goliad was there. Clark was the main road to the area at that time.
Quote:
Utilities companies still uncover artifacts from the Battle of the Alamo while digging in the downtown area. If I recall correctly, even the bodies of some Mexican soldiers were found. I cannot substantiate this with adequate documentation, so I shall leave it as a rumor.
As a teen in the 60's, I worked construction projects as a laborer/helper. I was on a job across from the Alamo when we were redoing a 2 story building from top to bottom. WE found the west wall of the Alamo. It was apparently not known at the time. The job stopped for several weeks as one of the universities sent in an archeological team to excavate it. They did find lots of rifle ball and metal parts but no bodies. I doubt any bodies anywhere in the area as Santa Anna had the defenders bodies burned at the southwest corner wall along with any weapons. You'll find that Seguin came in a few years later, gathered the burnt bones and had them placed in a large box. They took the box to San Fernando for services and then took them back towards the Alamo. Somewhere along the way the box was buried but no one has ever found it or if they found it, didn't make it public.
Quote:
Camp Bullis was used heavily as an Artillery training ground during the first world war. At this time, Camp Bullis was only composed a few billets and roads. Since then, the base has rapidly expanded, and soldiers must be constantly vigilant of unexploded ordinance from this training.
Last time I was out at Bullis, you had to watch ever step as ordinance was all over the place. From an elderly friend, Bullis was also used as a training center in WWII. It was used to reload ammo, especially artillery shells in WWII. That's what she did in WWII, reloaded artillery shells there and drove large trucks. I don't think Bullis is open like it was many years ago. I had taken my friend out there for a tour since she had failing health and we were not allowed in even with an explanation that she worked there in WWII. She did get to meet a nice Officer that wrote down her story. That took several hours. The year was probably 1995.
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Old 01-21-2014, 08:41 PM
 
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I am a range safety officer who took the orientation at Camp Bullis. The range controllers told me they still have problems with UXO (unexploded ordinance), usually in the form of mortars. Inexperienced and green soldiers will see them and try to pick them up, often times that's the last thing they do.
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Old 01-22-2014, 05:50 AM
 
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Here are the two maps. Be sure to enlarge to the largest size. Search for Bexar on top and click Map on left to get a few more maps. Land was always changing hands.

Library of Congress - 1879 Bexar Co.

Library of Congress - 1887 Bexar Co.

Comparing the two maps you can see Goliad Rd. In the 1879 map it appears as a dotted line and just runs diagonally right through people's property. Then by 1887 they straightened a portion between the Small and Esqueda tracts.

Quote:
Goliad Road. Established about 1720 by Spain as "El Camino Real a La Bahia del Espiritu Santo" ("King's Highway to Goliad"). Served for 150 years as a major emigrant, military, and trade road. Became segment of the Chihuahua Road, which connected the Texas Gulf Coast and Mexico. Indians, soldiers from Spain, Mexico, the Republic of Texas, the United States and Confederacy used road for their campaigns
Texas Historical Commission plaques

The Texas General Land Office has some of the same maps and more detailed ones you can zoom in on.
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