Annabelle Priour/Britz/Thiele

Annabelle Priour. Annabelle Priour was born August 3, 1904.

Annabelle's first marriage was to Charles Britz in 1923. Their children were Bobby Lee and Douglas Theodore. In 1934 Annabelle remarried to Arthur "Red" Thiele. They had one son, Donald Louis Thiele.

"Annabelle was a one-woman local Red Cross, writer, historian and race track enthusiast. When I was a kid she filled my head with scary stories. Once, while visiting a cemetery, Annabelle pointed out a slab of concrete with a crack in it. She said that a vampire was buried beneath the slab and that it was slowly making the crack wider and wider until it could someday make it's escape. I'm not sure that she expected me to take her seriously but I slept with the covers tight around my neck for quite a while after that. -- Keith Petrus.

At the Skidmore Museum opening in 1976, posing in the old "calaboose" from left to right: Annabelle Thiele, Lois Ledbetter, Nellie Petrus, Lillian Range, Frances Stubenthal, and Beatrice Rylant.

Annabelle was a founding member of the Skidmore Historical Society and was instrumental in organizing and establishing the Skidmore Musuem. Her remembrances below are among the items on display at the museum.

Written by Annabelle Thiele, October 13, 1992.

I remember World War One and when my brother came home in the middle of the night. We had no way to know he was coming. There were no radios, no TV to know what was going on. Today, we sit at home and watch the live action on TV. That is a span of only about 75 years.

I remember the first airplane that flew over Skidmore. We watched it fly over our School house. the teachers let us all go to the windows to see it.. It was a small plane but looked so wonderful to us.

We were in the brick school house with the four wings and the only two story Skidmore has ever had.

I remember the first automobile in Skidmore. It was owned by Mr. Guss Staples, a Roadster. When he drove down the road close to our house, our horses would almost break out of the pen.

But before the airplane and the automobiles, there was something I use to love. It was an old livery stable just two blocks from where we lived where horses, saddles and buggies were rented out. The young lovers would go riding down lovers lane and the buggies were rented out for business or pleasure.

The one I remember best was the long wagon with the two white horses that served as a (Hearse?) Friends would follow it to the Cemetery where the grave had been dug by friends.

My father was a carpenter and mad most of the coffins for free with what lumber was furnished.

Mr. Henry Bissett was our Sheriff then and owned four houses this side of the railroad - two of them are still there. The Bane house and the Finger house, the two between have been moved. One of those were where we lived until my father got our house built on our farm.

When ever Mr. Bissett wanted to get help, he deputized my Dad and one time, a convict escaped and was seen hiding in the livery stable. Mr. Bissett came to get Dad and tried to hand him a gun. I remember Dad picking up my brother's baseball bat and refusing the gun. They went over and arrested him with no trouble.

I guess the reason I loved the old livery stable was because I always loved horses.

There were no undertakers or people did not have to be imbalmed. The cost of a funeral was just a few dollars. And I am sure the lord did not judge them by their caskets.

I lost an old friend last year in Beeville. An old couple that lived on a little 10 acre farm mainly lived on what he could grow in his garden.

When he passed away, his wife in her 80's had to sell the (Mules?) and mortgage the place to pay for a decent burial for her husband. I heard later, she lost her home and ended her days in a Nursing home.

I wish we could forget our pride, and go back to sensible living. I feel sad when I pas by the old livery stable, so rusty and falling down, forgotten by all.

Annabelle expanded on her father's exploits as a "deputy sheriff" during a 1993 interview.

When we lived where we come from on the big ranch out there. Papa was the foreman, well we had such a good time on those ranchs. You can just look back and see the good times you had, you know. Well, so we lived across the railroad track, that big old stable is still there, the old horse stable where they used to rent buggys, and horses, wagons and things you know. Henry Bisset was the sheriff and he lived right down the street from us. So Henry, he would come and deputize Papa, you know to go and help him when something bad happened. And Papa would never take a gun, said "Naw, just give me a stick." He'd take a baseball bat or something. And Henry would say "I'll swear they were scared'r of him with that stick than they are me with my gun." -- Annabelle Thiele, October 24, 1993.

One of Annabelle's "stories" included a tale about buried treasure.

I was working for Margie and he came down to the cafe, this Mexican, he couldn't even speak English, and he gave me that thing and asked if I new where the cemetery was and I said "Yes, right down there." And he said "Is this the old Spanish trail?" I said "Yes, this is the old Spanish trail." Of course it used to wander off down that way. He told me said "Well, I'm gonna tell you, my uncle was in the penetentiary and before he died, he called me and gave me this paper and told me to find the old cemetery." And these three big trees, he had it marked there just exactly like down there at Corrigan Pool.

You know we used to go through a gate going to our place. We'd go past the bridge and go through a gate at the right and go on down. And we'd cross a little old culvert, a little bridge there, and oh there was moss and everthing. Papa would tell us the hairy man lived there. We was all scared to death when we would cross that thing. That's why I remember that. It was in that vicinity somewhere where Don found this gun leaning up against a tree. It was so rusty it had big pits in it and everything, just rusted to pieces. The thing might have been loaded for all I know, but Don brought it home, he was a little ol' kid you know. And Doug took it and put it in the museum in Corpus. It still should be there. And I'll bet you anything in this world, where those trees were, that gun was standing up there. I'll bet you that was one of them because he said his uncle told him that they heard em coming, the law or whoever it was. You see, they had robbed a bank in Corpus and they was trying to get home and I'll bet you he put that gun down by that tree and I'll bet he was one that was killed. Cause two of them was killed and his uncle was the one that got away. And he was trying to tell this boy where to find the money. He said they didn't have time to hide, they just kicked ashes over the top of where they buried it, real shallow between those three big trees. And now down here there was three big trees, exactly like it was... only they come and dug, they dug a hole this deep, one of Buck cows fell in it and they had to get a block and tackle to get her out. But they was on the wrong cemetery, sure as the world, and that old gun standing there by that tree.

Keith: How come you never went out there and dug up that money?

Because I never had nobody to pay attention to me. That's just it, it's one of Ann's tales! (laughing) Now Don can tell you where he found that gun. But I have tried to get him... little thing, he's forgotten and everythings changed so you know. But I believe it! Someday! -- Annabelle Thiele, October 24, 1993.

One of the more enduring local legends involved a portion of the Aransas River east of town known as Corrigan Pool.

They couldn't find no bottom to that Corrigan Pool and it was a suckhole in there... a whirlpool they call it, and as the limbs and the trees and the floods and the sand, that cave is all filled up. And I know it would leave just enough suction you know to drown. I know that because that body got through there somehow on down to the Dixon hole. There's a lot goin on down there that people don't know.

And the old cave we used to go play in and dig out the arrow heads... down where we used to live, twenty miles from here way on down towards Refugio was our ranch, where our cemetery is. Papa found a baby's little knee with an arrow in his kneecap.

And this, Oh I loved this place. This was out between Refugio and Woodsboro on that big old ranch. It was the Michael O'Donnel ranch. Papa was foreman of that ranch. That cave is on the river there.

When Grandma died though, when Papa's mama [Rosalie Priour] died, she wanted to be buried in her mother's grave. And so they all, they went down into her grave and there was nothing left but some hair and one button, I got the button. And then Grandma was buried down in that grave. I've still got that button. I've never seen a button like that in my life. Funny looking thing. But anyway, it was off of a coat or a dress or something.

The button from Grandma Hart's grave.

Annabelle had a wonderful sense of humor about everything, including the inevitable, her own death. She wrote a poem about her last wishes (with her side comments footnoted).

My Last Request
by Annabelle Thiele

When I am gone,
I want my five grandsons (or Bubba or Ron)
to be my pallbearers and put me away
that I'll see my loved ones in heaven that day.

With Papa and Mama, Doug and Bob,
Ida and Billie and auntie Cobb,
Lola and Daisy and Emmy and Roy,
And all of the little ones that went on before.

What a grand reunion that would be.
I wonder which one will come for me.(1)
I know my horse Roanie and my dogs Tippy and Hobo(2)
will all be there to tell me hello.

If Kita' still living I want her to be,
put to sleep and buried with me.
Just a simple funeral, let everyone pray,
that I make it across the Jordan river that day.

Out to the cemetery you know I have said,
I want Bob's little tombstone put at my head.
Then all go home, not a tear I want to see,
just go to the races and bet one for me.

And no hospital!


(1) "They always say one comes for you."

(2) "I loved that horse and this was the first little dog that would run Jackrabbits. Dick and I with the grass this high over the prairie when Papa had that ranch and that little dog, rabbits would jump up and run and she'd keep her eye on that one rabbit until he got so tired he couldn't run and she'd pounce on him and me and Dick would pounce on him too. We'd get that rabbit!"

The tombstone Annabelle refers to was homemade by her son Bobby Britz. As the story goes, Bobby made his own tombstone and decided to make one for his mother as well. Annabelle eventually decided against having her dog Kita put to sleep and Kita ended up living her life out at the Rockport ranch of Annabelle's granddaughter, Clois Ann Brewster. Annabelle died March 21st, 2001 and is buried in Skidmore's Evergreen Cemetery with "Bob's little tombstone" at her head.

Skidmore's Evergreen Cemetery

My favorite Annabelle quote: "I'm more interested in living relatives than the dead ones." -- Keith Petrus

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