"Years before there was a Bee County, the community of Aransas arose near the juncture of Poesta and Aransas Creeks... Samuel Cyle Skidmore brought a large family to this settlement and built its first store. Son, Frank O. Skidmore, settled first on his Olmos Ranch and joined them in the late 1870's... In 1887 Uriah Lott, a great railroad promoter, planned an extension from his railroad to Brownsville but certain ranchers refused to grant him right of way through their land. In the little settlement of Aransas he used his salesmanship on Frank Skidmore, one of the pioneers who owned vast acreages. Mr. Skidmore donated every alternate block through his property and proposed a new town site and named it after himself. The post office was moved to the new location and the old town north of the Aransas Creek was abandoned. Thus the little town of Skidmore had its beginning." -- Lillian Range, Skidmore, History of Bee County.
Aransas Creek Settlers
Erected 1967 at Skidmore Historical Society Museum, Sullivan St. and U.S. 181, Skidmore, Texas
Earliest known residents were Karankawa Indians who named creek, on this stream was one of the most famous ranches in early Texas, occupied in 1805 by Don Martin de Leon, who in 1824 founded Victoria. In 1830's Irish colonists came by way of Copano Bay, Settling down creek. Anglo-Americans from older settlements, came by road and trail, stopping mainly up creek. Stockraising, trucking and freighting provided livelihoods in the rich, new Prairie land. In 1850 Patrick Fadden sold to Ft. Merrill Corn and vegetables from 1835 land grant of his uncle, Father John Thomas Malloy. Fadden and W.R. Hayes freighted supplies to settlers in 1860's. Hays had early post office in his home, 1870; was county judge 1876-92. John Wilson, an 1850's Upcreek settler, brought first Durham Cattle to country; built one of first wooden fences, enclosing 600 acres of homesite with rough heart pine plank. On Creek's north bank stood ranch of Frank O. Skidmore, founder of Skidmore, who gained fame for building first barbed wire fence and windmill in County. He promoted breeding or registered Herefords and in 1886 gave much of right-of-way to the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railroad.
"Birdseye view looking North, Skidmore, Tex" -- undated photo (prior to 1919)
The corner of East Sullivan and South 4th Street looking Northwest prior to 1919.
The same corner, different angle, different signs.
C.A. Doubrava of Olmos let the Bee-Picayune publish a photograph taken in 1910 of Skidmore's Main Street. Horse-drawn carriages and pedestrians line the street and sidewalk. They include the Elite Hotel under the management of Hilliary Clare, native Beevillian, Frank Beyer's Saloon, W.R. Miller's dry goods and hardware, Howard Faupel's barber shop, Madray & Hayes general merchandising store, Turner's Saloon, M.J. White's general merchandise store, Dr. Hunter's drug store, a restaurant operated by a widow whose name is not remembered; William Blesse's saloon, Judge John Galloway's confectionery and adjoining courtroom, Michalke saloon, and Borcher's hardware store. In the next block is the Woodmansee Hotel and the Post Office. Fire later destroyed almost all the two blocks. -- Undated Bee-Picayune article.
This bar is just to the right of the Elite Hotel in the previous two photos.
Skidmore Skyline in 1905 - This is a view of one block of business houses in Skidmore around the turn of the century. It was brought to the Bee-Picayne by Julius Sugarek, who believes it was taken in 1905. The man leaning against the post in front of the post office is Flaco Casanova, who still lives at Skidmore. Next to the post office is the Magnolia Saloon, owned by Bas Falcon, who was a musician. Continuing, right to left, are a confectionery, a pool room, two unidentified buildings, a saloon, three unidentified buildings, and the Elite Hotel. This row of buildings was directly across the street from the SA&AP Railroad Depot on the west side. The structures were destroyed by fire many years ago. -- Undated Bee-Picayune article.
Fire Wipes Out Skidmore's Principle Business Section.
Blaze at Early Hours Yesterday Morning Razes Eighteen Frame Buildings
THE BEEVILLE BEE, May 29, 1919
Beeville's Motor-Driven Equipment Taken to Scene of Conflagration. Fire yesterday morning at an early hour wiped out the principle business section of Skidmore. Bee county town of 1500 people, eleven miles south of Beeville. Eighteen frame buildings were razed by the flames. No estimate of the loss has been made. Little insurance was carried, as the rate for he district was almost prohibitive - the risk on account of the frame structures closely clustered being unusually hazardous. The heaviest losers, doubtless, were M. J. White, who conducted a general merchandise store, and J. B. Hollingsworth, proprietor of the Worth Drug Store. Much of the merchandise and fixtures were saved from the buildings. Aside for the Messrs. White and Hollingsworth other losers were: Titus Boerm who conducted a pool hall; Hugo Russek, restaurant; Howard Faupel, barber shop and Hill & Konce, K.T. Garage. some of the owners of buildings which were destroyed were E. B. Kessler, A. F. Lutts, Doubrava & Bohac and Mrs. Emil Eichblatt. The origin of the fire is unknown. It started in a building that had been vacant for many months. In some quarters it is believed it was of incendiary origin.
One of the buildings to survive the fire of 1919 was the First State Bank of Skidmore located caddy-corner to the Elite Hotel east of the railroad tracks.
Group photo in front of the First State Bank of Skidmore, Texas. (post 1909)
The First State Bank of Skidmore housed the Tuell Drug store (lower level right) and the Opera House (second story).
Skidmore's Opera House -- Several months ago mention was made of Skidmore's Opera House in an article in the Bee-Picayune that recalled some events that happened during the early part of this century. Mrs. V.E. Kessler of Beevile, who, with her husband, the late Mr. Kessler, lived many years in Skidmore, brought a picture of the building to the Bee-Picayune, and it is shown above. The Tuell Drug Co. occupied the lower right half of the ground floor, and the First State Bank of Skidmore was located in the lower left half. Mr. Kessler was the president and cashier of the bank, and Mr.s Kessler's brother, Eugene Rennert, was bookkeeper, and later became cashier. The opera house was on the second floor of the building, which was erected by the bank in 1909. It was razed during the late 1930s when the bank was liquidated. Mr. Kessler and Ed Crow operated a moving picture show in the opera house for a while. Also there were dances, home talent plays, and other forms of entertainment presented in the building. -- Undated Bee-Picayune article.
The animations below are meant to help resurrect the ghosts of Skidmore's past. I hope you enjoy them. I plan to add more as time permits. -- Keith Petrus.
Bill Holubec's Store today and circa 1953.
A tennis court now occupies the space where the High School used to sit.