The Road Home: The A.M. Pyron Lands In The South Bexar County Brush Country
Fig One, The Road Home As the Linda Miller Right of Way In 2012. The road to our house was a few yards west of this Linda Miller road through that corner of Somerset Road and Dixon Road of which the larger part was a gift to the Baptist Church in 1978. All the thorned brush, prickly pear and Spanish daggers have been removed from the way it was 50 years ago.
We four heirs gave the largest portion of the tract at the corner to the Somerset Baptist Church in 1978 and George Pyron, Estate Executor, retained a small northern part of the corner and sold it in 1982 to James M. Hayden, who in 1980 bought the A.M. Pyron house from the Somerset Baptist Church. The A.M. Pyron house is of greater interest than all the houses in the A.M. Pyron Homestead Tract at the northwest corner of his lands because it was his home as the Patriarch of the family. The house still stands and could be a little over a hundred years old. In the photo above the A.M. Pyron house is not shown, but is not far to the left or east of the road shown.
I used the Bexar County, Texas Clerk’s Office online copies of deeds involved in land transactions for the information given above about the corner lots which had been part of the A.M. Pyron Homestead Tract. I used the same online copies of deeds to find the information that in 1980 the Somerset Baptist Church sold the A.M. Pyron house and lot to James M. Hayden. Even the deed in 1882 for the two tracts totaling 640 acres that A.M. and Virginia Pyron bought from George W. Mudd and wife is available online, though the older deeds are in handwriting. And that online data was used to find several other land transactions discussed below. In addition, I used the online information given about particular tracts of land in Bexar county by the Bexar County Tax Assessor. It may be that all this information, some of significant historical value, is available online for Bexar county, Texas because it is an urban county , with a 2010 population of 1,714,773. According to the Handbook of Texas Online, the 1880 population of Bexar county was 30,470. Wikipedia claims that the 1930 population of Bexar county was 292,533.
The A.M. Pyron house at 8150 West Dixon Road, Somerset, Texas has a hip roof. The usual roof type in the area, even now, is the gable roof. But A.M. Pyron built his last home with a hip roof, which is harder to construct than a gable roof, but can have some advantages in a warm climate. A hip roof may also hold up better during a hurricane, which sometimes go inland as far as San Antonio. A.M. Pyron’s hip roof home could have been influenced by the Hip Roof Cottage Style architecture of the period of about 1904 to 1911. It is possible the house was built in that period, especially after 1909 when Carl Kurz sold the Eugene S. Norris land of a little over a hundred acres to the First Townsite Company which began selling lots to create the town of Somerset. A.M. Pyron and Carl Kurz created the First Townsite Company.
The tract at the corner of Somerset Road and West Dixon Road was deeded to Blake Pyron by the heirs of Virginia Pyron in 1945, along with almost four additional acres on which Blake Pyron had built our house in 1922, a tract which was part of the A.M. Pyron Homestead tract. Before 1945, four of the children of A.M. and Virginia Pyron lived in houses which were part of grandfather’s Homestead Tract, without owning their lots. Before his death in December of 1932 A.M. Pyron owned all of the Homestead Tract, and from 1932 until November of 1943, when she died, Virginia Pyron owned all of the Homestead Tracts, which at some point, perhaps when her heirs deeded ownership to the four children in 1945, the Homestead Tract was divided into six tracts, including that very small corner tract mentioned above of .59 acre and .26 acre, which was designated as Tract Number One. The Blake Pyron main tract of close to four acres was Tract Number Six. The A.M. Pyron house is in Tract or Lot Number Two. Aunt Jessie Pyron Kennney was also an heir to the entire Homestead Tract, but she and her husband, Will Kenney, lived in Somerset. Their son William Pyron (Billy) Kenney was deeded the Blake Pyron 63 acre tract in 1948, and his daughter Patricia Kenney Anderson inherited it at his death in 1997. Billy Kenney was the oldest of the grandchildren of A.M. and Virginia, while I am the youngest. Billy was born in February of 1904 and died in December of 1997.
Aunt Mary Pyron never married and died in about 1940. She was given land from the larger part of grandfather’s 349 acres in 1935, but was never given a lot in the Homestead Tract.
A deed from the four other living heirs of the Virginia Pyron estate on May 29, 1944 to Blake Bernard Pyron, recorded June 4, 1945, describes “Two pieces of property, one containing Three and 71 Hundredths acres, designated as Tract Number Six. The other piece described as follows, Eighty Eight Hundredths of an acre, designated as Tract Number One, fronting on the south side of Payne Road in the town of Somerset, being a part of the A.M. Pyron Homestead Tract, and part of the George W. Mudd Survey 273.”
Payne Road above is West Dixon Road.
Then, on December 12, 1978 the four heirs of Mabel Pyron, widow of Blake Bernard Pyron (1889-1964), deeded what is called Lot One of .591 of an acre to the Somerset Baptist Church “…for the further consideration of the love and affection that we have for our church.” George E. Pyron had Armando A. Aranda, Surveyor, draw up, on the enclosed plat map, that smaller corner area at West Dixon and Somerset Roads, which is said to be .257 of an acre as being separated from the larger Lot One of .591 of an acre given to the Baptist Church. Remember that in the May 29, 1944 deed of that entire corner area to Blake Pyron that the size is listed as being Eighty Eight Hundredths of an acre, which is the entire corner area.
On January 7, 1982 George E. Pyron, Independent Executor of the Mabel Pyon estate, deeded “A portion of Lot One, County Block 4227.of .257 of an acre to James M. Hayden and Eloise G. Harden.” This is that small lot at the very northwest corner of the A.M. Pyron Homestead tract and of the George W. Mudd tract now owned by Ellen Hicks. It is the corner of West Dixon and Somerset Roads. and in the photo of Fig One it is the foreground part of the area of mesquite trees with the road running through them to a bank of trees at the end.
The distance of the road in the photo of Fig One above above appears greater than it actually is. The larger tract is .59 of an acre and the smaller tract at the very corner is .26 of an acre. Ellen and Kenneth Hicks bought the A.M. Pyron house and that small corner lot in 1997 from James M. Hayden. The Hicks sold the A.M. Pyron home to Juan Solis in 2007, but Ellen Hicks still owns that small .26 of an acre corner. She has it on the market with Century 21 in San Antonio, and she wants $50,000, but its appraised at $10,000. It has been on the market a number of years.
The four of us deeded the Blake Pyron place – close to four acres which remained, and did not include that Somerset Rd-Dixon Rd corner – to IRENE J. MISIEWICZ in March of 1982. Apparently she died and her heirs deeded it to Genevieve H. Berryhill and Carl Powell in January of 1991. Carl Powell has since died, in 2010, and Genevieve Berryhill may still be living there. She is listed as age 95 in http://www.pipl.com
The address of Berryhill is 20130 Somerset Road. The Tax accessed value of the property is $78,240, and the land value is $64,910, meaning the house is not worth too much. I still don’t know how much the house has been changed.
Uncle Casey Pyron’s lot and house in the A.M. Pyron Homestead Tract is listed in the Bexar County Tax Assessor records as belonging to Linda M. Barrow, which is the Linda M. Barrow Estate. Casey, or William Milton Pyron’s, Homestead area lot was tract Number Three. Aunt Ida Oliver’s place to the east of Casey’s lot, or Lot Number Four, is listed in the tax records as owned by Mongia Marcella. Dennis Scholl owns Aunt Clara Pyron Johnson’s lot in the A.M. Pyron homestead tract, Lot or Tract Number Five, and also owns a larger part of the 60 acres that was Aunt Clara’s land, which is the western area.
This is an 1879 Bexar county Landowners Plat Map showing major tracts and names of their owners with just a part seen here. See that dotted line toward the left bottom, that is the county line. Look up above it and find Geo Mudd, this is the A.M. Pyron George W. Mudd tract. Look down from the Mudd tract and to the left a bit, that is the A.M. Pyron G.W. Hayden tract. Both were 320 acres in 1882 when he bought them. Note that on this map the Hayden tract’s SW corner extends a bit into Atascosa county.
The southern most parts of two larger tracts of land are shown in the segment above. “Francisco” is the southern end of a strip of land running from a bit south of the southern border of the George W. Mudd tract, a strip that goes all the way to the Medina River, about five miles. It was a Spanish Land Grant to Francisco Rolen. To the left, or west of the Rolen grant, is the John Christopher Republic of Texas Land Grant. The southern end of the John Christopher grant was owned by Eugene S. Norris, who sold it in 1909 to Karl Kurz, who, in turn, sold it to the First Townsite Company for the creation of the town of Somerset.
A.M. and Virginia Pyron bought the Mudd and Hayden tracts of land from George W. Mudd and his wife Mahalia E. Mudd.in 1881.. They set up three notes with a total of about $1,800 that the Pyrons had to pay off. The first note was for $1,100 and due December 1, 1882. the second note was for $360 and due November 1, 1883 and the last note was also for $360 and due November 1, 1884.
Grandfather must have sold cattle to make those payments, and he might have brought some cattle from their place in Lavaca county. In the eighties, during the time he had to pay off his notes for the total of 640 acres, from 1882 to 1884 or so, A.M. Pyron would have sent his relatively small herds of cattle up the The Chisholm Trail, or sold them in the San Antonio area to other trail drivers. At that time there were trail drivers who collected small herds of 100, 200 or 300 cattle from a number of small cattlemen and put them together into a larger herd. John T. Lytle, who operated near the town that later bore his name, was one such trail boss who took small herds on consignment to take them to market in Kansas. A.M. Pyron might have hired cowboys to drive his small herds west the 8 or so miles to where Lytle gathered his larger herds for the trip up the trail. A few longhorns who went up the trail in the eighteen eighties may have had A.M. Pyron’s MP brand on them, in addition to the trail boss’s road brand.
George W. Saunders was a Texas trail driver who in 1886 started a livestock-commission business in San Antonio as Smith, Oliver, and Saunders. Two years later he started his own firm, and by 1910 incorporated the George W. Saunders Livestock Commission Company with offices in San Antonio, Fort Worth, Kansas City, and St. Louis.
So there was a stock market in San Antonio in the later eighties and afterward.
A.M. Pyron could have hired local cowboys at least at times to help drive his cattle to be sold. His first son to live beyond infancy, Blake Bernard Pyron, born in 1889, would not have been able to help much with working with cattle until he was about 14 or so, in about 1903. Blake Pyron had cowboy skills, shown by his ability in roping on foot when I was growing up. There is a photo of him on a brush country pony taken in maybe 1915 with a rope on his saddle. He must have been a working cowboy on his father’s land at about that time.
The above is a later plat map showing the way the area looked after A.M. Pyron sold all his lands west of Somerset Road to Matthews in 1889. It says A.M. Payne, but that is a mistake and it should be A.M. Pyron. The C. Matthews land is that part of the Mudd tract that was west of Somerset Road and below that is the part of the Hayden tract that was west of Somerset Road. It can be seen that grandfather sold more of the Hayden tract than of his Mudd tract. Note the C. Kurtz tract which borders the A.M. Pyron land on the east. It should be C. Kurz or Carl Kurz, the grandfather of Ruby Nell Kurz Pyron and of Billie Kurz McCord.
The segment of the 1897 Bexar County Landowners map shown above has another mistake, in the spelling of the E.S. Norris name. It should be E.S.Norris and not E.S. Morris. But a part of that tract of land called E.S. Morris became the town of Somerset. Note that it borders on the “A.M. Payne” land which is the A.M. Pyron land. You can also see from this portion of the 1897 map that C Kurtz, which should be C. Kurz, then owned a larger part of the very south tip of the Franciso Rolen Spanish Land Grant.
The rather large tract called “Kinney” in the upper left hand corner of the map segment should be Kenney and it belonged to Patrick Kenney. The Old Bexar town or village was created out of this land.
Fig Four. This is a map of the oil wells from the teens and twenties on the A.M. Pyron Mudd and Hayden tracts. The only one I remember well is Number 6 in the bottom right section of the Mudd tract, which was my father’s land after his mother divided up the Pyron lands in 1935.
In enlarging this figure the oil well numbers do not come out clearly. If someone happens to want to see the oil well numbers more clearly, sign up at the Bexar County Clerk’s site at https://gov.propertyinfo.com/tx-bexar/
Then select Search By BOOK/PAGE. Type in 2793 for the Book and 3 for the Page. Select Deed Records 2/9/1950 Platt, Pyron, W.M. and Pyron A.M. Click on View Image. You must have JAVA on your computer for the site to bring up the copy of the plat map. The oil well plat map can be copied, either to PDF or TIFF. I copied it to TIFF and put it here, but the result is not a clear image. I do not see any way to put a PDF file here, but that would probably provide a readable image for the oil well numbers.
Fig Five This is the plat map of the remaining 349 acres of the A.M. Pyron Mudd and Hayden tracts at his death in December of 1932. On many deeds after 1935 this division of the A.M. Pyron land east of Somerset Road is called the Virginia Pyron Subdivision. Remember that Grandfather in 1889 sold all of both his George Mudd tract on the north and his George Hayden tract on the south which were west of Somerset Road.
The Pyron lands were divided into six tracts in 1935, starting with the southern tract of the Hayden tract at the bottom. Tract number One was given to William Milton (Casey) Pyron, Tract Two of the original Hayden land, owned by grandfather, was given to Ida Oliver. Then, for the original Mudd land owned by A.M. Pyron Tract Three was deeded to Aunt Jessie Pyron Kenney, Tract Four to Aunt Mary Pyron, who never married, and Tract Five to Aunt Clara Pyron Johnson. My father, Blake B. Pyron’s 63 acres, was Tract Number 6 and was part of the original Mudd land owned by grandfather..
The 1935 plat map above shows the A.M. Pyron Homestead Tract in the northwest corner of his Mudd tract. It is said there to be 15 acres.
The land given to Aunt Clara Pyron Johnson in 1935, Tract Number Five above, which is on Dixon Road and across the road from Somerset, is divided up. The western area is listed on the Tax Assessor records asx owned by Dennis M. and Karen F. Scholl. The next part to the east is owned by the Somerset Independent School District and the southeast corner of the former Clara Johnson land is owned by Aguilar Masonry. Up on Dixon Road above the old railroad right of way there are small lots and between them and the southeast corner owned by Aguilar masonry the online tax records do not show the owners.
That tract called Number Four above, bordering on Somerset Road, was given to Aunt Mary Pyron in 1935. She died in 1939 or 1940, and soon her land was sold by her heirs, the surviving children of A.M. and Virginia Pyron. This land is divided up, but the large part on the north is owned, according to Tax Assessor online records, by Roy Gonzales. And a large area of Aunt Mary’s land in the southeast corner is owned by Frederick W. and Christine M. Travis.
The Bexar county Tax Assessor online records say that Aunt Jessie Pyron Kenney’s tract of land of 63 acres, Number Three above, bordering on Somerset Road, deeded to her by Grandmother Virginia Pyron in 1935, is owned by Dicki R. and William Reinhart. Aunt Jessie’s land was from the northern George W. Mudd tract, as were the tracts given by grandmother in 1935 to Blake B. Pyron, Mary Pyron and Clara Pyron.
The Blake Pyron 63 acres, or Tract Number Six above whose eastern border is Payne Road, is now owned by Patricia Kenney Anderson and she also owns 25 or 30 acres out of the Long tract which bordered Daddy’s place on the south. The total market value of Patricia’s land of about 93 acres is listed as being $311.080. If you take away a third of that for the Long tract, then Daddy’s land is valued at a little over $200,000 now, or was by the Bexar county Tax Assessor. Daddy traded it at a value of $4,000 to Billy Kenney as Daddy’s half of the store in 1948. Patricia is the daughter of Billy, or William Pyron Kenney.
And these tax records online say that Aunt Ida Pyron Oliver’s 60 acres, or Tract Number Two, just south of Aunt Jessie’s land, also on Somerset Road, is owned by Antonio T. and Cecilia A. Castellano. Aunt Ida’s place was out of the George Hayden tract or survey.
The tract designated as Tract Number One in 1935 – at the southern end of the larger A.M. Pyron land area, on Somerset Road, here being from the original Hayden tract, which was given to William Milton (Casey) Pyron in 1935, is divided up. The northern part is listed on the online tax records as owned by Adan Sanchez, and the south part by Valentin P. and Jorge C. Garza.
When I was a boy My father showed me an old homestead site – on Aunt Clara’s land – where the A.M. Pyron family once lived, and showed me either a peach or plum tree there which he said survived from the old homestead. Aunt Clara’s land was tract number five above and the old homestead site he showed me was not far from the northern edge of his land, and about half way across Aunt Clara’s land from east to west.
Then, there was that old house at the northeast corner of Aunt Jessie’s land, right across the barbed wire fence from the Blake Pyron land. Blake and Mabel Pyron lived in that old house at one time, and the only thing I remember is that Mother said he once shot a bird out of the sky – perhaps a hawk – with a .22 rifle at that place. I don’t know for sure that this house, which was there in the early and mid forties, was once the home of A.M. and Virgina Pyron. I suspect it was though. I also suspect that A.M. Pyron built the house which still stands sometime after it had been determined that the town of Somerset he and Carl Kurz had founded in 1909 was to be just across what became Dixon Road from the northwest area of the A.M. Pyron land. So, Grandfather moved his home from tract number Three to his Homestead Tract up in the northwest corner of his Mudd tract to be just across the road from Somerset.
Its also interesting that the last part of the A.M. Pyron lands that I was ah heir to, or part owner, was that very small corner lot of .26 of an acre, the very northwest corner of the Mudd tract. It was owned by the four heirs of Mabel Pyron until 1982.
The land around Somerset is flat and so cutting down all the trees and brush makes it a desolate and empty looking landscape, as has been done on much of the A.M. Pyron lands, when the original Brasada landscape was rich, exotic, and full of color, though the mesquites had those very small leaves. But along Mudd Creek on the Blake Pyron land there were a variety of trees, including one or two exotic ones, especially the one or two Bodark, or Osage Apple trees. They bore fruit, which I was told was not good to eat, a pale green, with little bumps on them.
There were also some trees along the creek on which various people had carved their names or initials, including my own. These trees may no longer be there. My father had built a picnic table in the area just north of the creek and I remember on Pearl Harbor day, a Sunday, December 7, 1941, we had a picnic there and listened to the radio in the old 1936 Ford about the attack on Pearl Harbor.”
My older sister Mary Pyron Bush (1920-2012) writes in one of her essays on Pyron family history that “Grandpa loved the land and often walked from his house to his pastures, always carrying a worn down garden hoe which he had bent straight with the handle to form a cutting tool as
well as a walking stick. Mostly, he used the hoe for protection against rattlesnakes.” “Grandpa” is A.M. Pyron (1846-1932).
In another essay on our Pyron family Mary writes that, “As a child, I recall seeing large herds of cattle driven by our house to the holding pen on the railroad tracks in town. Before crossing from Atascosa county into Bexar county at the south end of the Pyron property on the road, the cattle had to be “dipped” in a chute to rid them of ticks. The Black Jack country which began just beyond the Atascosa county line was productive for the cattle industry. the land was sandy, with good grass and was covered by Post Oak trees, some hickory and other mixed oaks.” Mary is remembering local cattle drives from the twenties when she was a young girl. I cannot remember anything before about 1936, and seeing fairly large herds of cattle on Somerset Road is not part of my memory. I do remember seeing families coming to town to shop in horse drawn wagons going by on Somerset Road – and I remember the jingle of the spurs of working cowboys in the Will Kenney store in town on Saturdays in the late thirties. Somerset Road was the western border of all 349 acres of the A.M. Pyron lands in the twenties, thirties, forties, fifties and for some parts of it into the sixties. Our house after 1922 was maybe 75 yards east of Somerset Road, but the road could be seen easily from the house or yard.