Charles Schreiner (Texas rancher)

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Charles Armand Schreiner Sr.
Anothr Charles Schreiner photo.jpg
Schreiner in undated early photo
Born(1838-02-22)February 22, 1838
Alsace, France
DiedFebruary 9, 1927(1927-02-09) (aged 88)
Resting placeGlen Rest Cemetery in Kerrville, Texas, US
Spouse(s)Mary Magdalena "Lena" Enderle Schreiner (married 1861–1905, her death)
Parent(s)Gustave Adolph and Charlotte Bippert Schreiner
RelativesCharles Schreiner, III (grandson)

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 in the Texas Hill Country. He is often called the "father of the Hill Country".


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 Rangers. He left the law enforcement division to purchase with the help of a brother-in-law a small 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 States Army 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. The couple had eight children born between 1862 and 1881, the last of which died in 1971.


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, Schreiner 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. A decade later, Schreiner bought out his partner and expanded his operations to include wool and mohair. His business was among the first in the United States to engage in the mohair trade, which was centered about Kerrville. 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 of Fort Worth, acquired Schreiner's with plans to keep it in the same building and in the same general outlay.[2] Schreiner's closed on September 23, 2007, with the sale of Dunlaps. The building, still called Schreiner's, now encompasses several retail stores and boutiques in Kerrville.[3]

In 1879, Schreiner commissioned the San Antonio architect Alfred Giles 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 in 1972. It is now a museum.[4]

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 begin the ranch.[5] 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 in the United States of America. 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.

In 1964, he was inducted into the Hall of Great Westerners of the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.[6]

See also[edit]

Charles Schreiner III


  1. ^ a b c d e f Hollon, W. Eugene. "TSHA: Schreiner, Charles Armand". Handbook of Texas Online. Texas State Historical Association. Retrieved October 15, 2015.
  2. ^ "Schreiner's Department Store Sold", Kerrville Daily Times, August 6, 1991
  3. ^ "Looking Back", Kerrville Daily Times, January 2, 2008
  4. ^ "THC-NRHP Schreiner Mansion". Texas Historical Commission. Retrieved 17 August 2011.
  5. ^ Douglas Martin (April 29, 2001). "Charles Schreiner, III, 74, Dies; Colorful Texas Rancher Fought to Save Longhorn". New York Times. Retrieved October 15, 2015.
  6. ^ "Hall of Great Westerners". National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. Retrieved November 22, 2019.