Could you find Zanzenburg, Texas, on a map?
The town has gone by a different name since 1872, when its postmaster, Dr. G.W. Harwell, renamed the community Center Point, and moved the post office south of the Guadalupe River.
Until then, the post office had been north of the river, and the first post office was in the home of Dr. Charles de Ganahl, who gave the community its original name. Zanzenburg was the name of his ancestral home in the Austrian Tyrol.
The Zanzenburg post office was the first in Kerr County. The first public school in our county was also in Center Point.
In the late 1850s, Ganahl moved to Kerr County to start a plantation, ranch and horse operation, and he was listed as the person who owned the most slaves in the 1860 census. Of the 49 slaves enumerated there, Ganahl owned 24.
He was very supportive of the Confederate cause, and that support would eventually cause him many troubles.
Ganahl represented Kerr County in the Texas secession convention, and he voted for Texas to secede from the Union. He joined the Confederate States Army as a surgeon.
After the war, Ganahl chose to not take the oath of allegiance to the United States and lived in Mexico for several years. He finally returned to Kerr County in 1879, his health failing. He died in 1882, and he is buried in Center Point.
There are several stories about how Center Point got its current name, but the one that seems to make the most sense was it was a trading center roughly halfway between Kerrville and Comfort, and halfway between Fredericksburg and Bandera. When the railway came to Kerr County in 1887, there was a depot near the old Ganahl post office, on the north side of the river, which helped strengthen Center Point’s economy.
Center Point has been incorporated several times. The first time was for “school purposes” in 1889; an election for the first school trustees was held in 1890.
In February 1913, the community voted to incorporate for municipal government purposes and appointed a mayor, city clerk and other officers. Only a few months later, in October 1913, the voters decided to dissolve the new government.
Another round of incorporation occurred recently, in the 1990s, and a mayor and city council were elected, although that experiment in local government also was terminated by the voters about two years later.
I have several interesting Center Point items in my collection of historical Kerr County photos and artifacts.
One I found while walking along a dusty trail on some property my family owns not far from the Kerrville municipal airport, a trade coin for the “Farmer’s Mercantile Co-operative Association, Center Point, Texas.” The reverse was stamped “Good for 50 cents in Merchandise.” I found it near an old gate, where I think a resourceful rancher used it as a washer on a fence post.
Another is a photograph of the Woolls Building in Center Point, which was built in the early 1870s by G.W. Woolls and used for a general store. After a fire in 1900, the building was purchased in 1902 by the Farmers Mercantile Cooperative Association (which issued the trade coin I found).
My friend Deborah Gaudier found an advertisement for the Cooperative: “it is not a money making, but a money saving institution … net profits are returned to patrons as a dividend on their purchases.”
The interesting things about the photograph, at least to me, are in the details. A bicycle leans up against the wall beneath the second-story balcony. A banner advertises “Heart and Arrow Brand Shoes.” Another shows the Woodmen of the World Camp 135 had a meeting place upstairs.
But the most intriguing thing about the photograph is on the second story balcony. Four men and two boys are shown there along with a cow and calf. A broken tree branch has fallen between the group and the stairway down.
I wish I knew the story about the cattle being upstairs on the balcony in downtown Center Point at the turn of the last century!
Until next week, all the best.
Joe Herring Jr. is a Kerrville native who would like to have more items from Center Point in his collection. If you have an old photograph of Center Point you’d like to share with him, he’d be happy to scan it and give it back to you.