INSTITUTE OF TEXAN CULTURES
ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM
INTERVIEW HITH: Regina Tyrrasch
INTERVIEWER: Betty Keefer
Date: January 20, 1982 (repeat i ntervi ew because recorder malfuncti oned
Place: Tyrrasch home
K: Regina Tyrrasch is going to tell us some thing about her background,
her parents, plus the social life or customs they had in those days.
Regina, last time you told me about the marriage of your mother and
father ... Let's get that straight now.
T: Grandfather Wulff came from Hamburg, Germany. I think he landed in
New York and then went to Ne\~ Braunfels. And he came here and he became
engaged . .. and various things. I think he had some mercantile establishment
once on the Plaza. And then he had a wagon train to Mexico. That's how
he became acquainted with so many ~1exi can famil i es over there. Then he
met Paulita Olivarri, who was a descendant of the Canary Islanders, and
so they were married. They lived in various places; I know they lived
in Fredericksburg one time. I don't know where they settled. They were
married in Judge James' home, which was on Commerce Street in that block
between Navarro and Presa Streets. In connection with that, the Harnisch
and Baer confectionery was one of the choice places in San Antonio.
\.Je don't have anything like that now. It was a tea garden where you
could go in the afternoons and have tea.
K: It was called what?
T: The name of two families, Harnisch and Baer. People just loved to go
there. They had candy counters and everything and it overlooked the
Well, so time went on and they had all these children ...
K: How many did they have?
T: There were four boys and five girls. (2 died in infancy) ~'Iy mother
was the oldest of the girls.
K: And her name was?
T: Carol i na. And she marri ed a man named Tyrrasch. He came from Germany.
He came here from Bres 1 au ... the town where they used to live. And that was
one of the places that was taken by the Russians and put into Poland and
now has an entirely different name.
These two cousins I have here don't want to hear the name Breslau
K: We won't mention it, then.
T: It was such an unhappy time for them.
K: Did your father come over alone or with the family?
T: By himself. So did Max Mayer. He was from Germany, too. Grandfather
Wulff must have seen they were higher class families that he let them
marry his two daughters. They were fine gentlemen .
T: No ... Mayer. Mayer was really German but people here called it "Meyer".
K: Now your mother and father were married and they lived where in San
Antonio ~Ihen they were first married? Do you know where it was?
T: No. I know that they lived at the Wulff house part of the time.
My oldest sister was born there. I don't know whether they moved there
right after the marriage or not.
K: Then you eventually lived ...
T: And then they moved ... at one time they were in Dallas for a short
time. Linda and I were born on Presa Street. About a block or two away
from the Wulff house. Then my brother, who was the youngest, was born
in the Wulff house. They moved there aga in. So they moved around quite
Papa was a traveling salesman and so maybe wasn't always settled.
K: Your father died young. Is that right?
T: In 1905.
K: And then you said your mother lived in a large house on St. Mary's
T: My uncle, Mr. Mayer, he was always so solicitious of Mama and all
of us. They were the wealthier family and we were the poor family so
he thought Mama ought to have a house; he took charge of all her financial
affairs. We had a lovely home on St. Mary's Street ... 10 room house.
When Miss Gething saw it and they were going to destroy it ... all those
pillars ... and she said, "Oh, if I could have gotten those pillars!"
They were Victorian style, you know. That was destroyed.
K: When was that house destroyed? Do you remember about what year that
\oJas? (Harvey L. Page was the architect . White frame and white wooden
T: Yes, it was in (19)38.
K: And the lot you still own.
T: It's for sa 1 e. And the 1 ady who is se 11 i ng it ... maybe you don't want
K: Well ...
T: She came by yesterday and told me someone phoned her and wanted to
know if we wanted to rent it for parking during Fiesta time. I said
they might be very destructive. She didn't encourage me; she said unless
we had liability ... the cars could run into the neighbor's houses. So I'm
to let her know; I haven't contacted any of the other family but I'm
sure they won't agree to it ...
K: How many own the lot now together? Your cousins and you?
T: No, not my cousins; just my family. I own half of it. My sister Linda
left me her share. There were four of us. My brother left his to his
three children. Carol is one of them. Charles Anderson and Barbara
Anderson got the other fourth. So those are the heirs.
K: I was going to ask you this question. There were four of you children.
You said you'd be 90 years old in April.
T: Don't put that on the blackboard, though!
K: Oh, I won't put it on the blackboard. (laughter)
T: I'm not that sensitive about it.
K: I was trying to show how long ago these things were true . You
talked about going to school. What school did you go to?
T: We went to Bonham School, which is still on South St . Mary's Street
and is one of the schools they want to prese rve. It's just beyond Alamo
Street on St. Mary's. That was about through the fifth grade, I think.
And then we went to Brackenridge Grammar School as it was called then.
Which is on South Alamo. That was the original German -Engli sh School.
That's where we went about the sixth and seventh grades.
K: Now that school you said was started by one of your relatives as a
German school. Who started that?
T: ~1y grandfather was one of the founders. And I guess some of the
K: That's the Grandfather Wulff?
T: Uh huh. In regard to founding things, the Casino Club, on Market
Street . .. they tore that down; it was such a nice building. I think
the Water Board has something there. That was the German social place.
Grandfather, uncles, all of them belonged to that. All the prominent
people . It was quite a lovely thing. He was one of the founders of
K: Was that a large hall where they had dances and ...
T: It was a bi g hall and they'd have dances there and entertainment .
Sometimes we' d go just to look on.
K: Did they have any visiting entertainment come there? Li~e from Dallas,
from Houston, or some place?
T: Well, they may have had some but not like nowdays, you know.
Beethoven Hall did have the Vienna Opera Company come and we were thrilled.
Beethoven Hall .is where visiting companies came.
K: We're talking about your school at Bonham. Was that a one room
school? Or more than one room?
T: Oh,. there were quite a lot of rooms. There were six grades.
K: What did you wear to school?
T: Just ordinary clothes, which reminds me of Amy Freeman Lee. She
had an article in the paper one time. I knew she had been raised in
Seg uin by her grandmother. She said they wore school clothes and as
soon as they got home they had to take off their school clothes and put
on their play clothes. That's the way we were raised. ~~e had to take
care of our clothes.
K: What did school clothes include? Like a dress or a skirt and blouse?
T: Maybe a nicer little dress than ordinary.
K: Did you wear high button shoes?
T: No, not that I recall. I did in later years. I think I have a pair
here. I have a pair of spats that my mother wore. Hhen it was so cold.
K: Were there any Mexicans in your school?
T: No, not at that time.
K: What was the West side like? Or do you know? The Southwest side,
do you know what that was like at that time?
(T: There are some pictures in here I was going to show you.)
K: You never got over there?
T: I guess maybe we'd go over if they had a festiv al or something like
that. You wanted to know about the other, the high school.
K: Oh, yes.
T: They called it San Antonio High School; we ca11ed it Main Avenue
High School when we got there. And that was through the twelfth grade.
You know they had only had eleven. When our cl ass got there, they added
on a twelfth year so we had to stay a year longer than they had before.
K: You were the first class to have twelve grades then. What year was
T: That was in 1911.
K: I was going to ask you about text books. Were text books free or
did you have to buy your te xt books?
T: I think we had to buy ours.
K: Did you have any language classes? What did you take in the way of a
foreign language in school?
T: German. I think I told you about that professor that told us to stand
in front of the mirror and say, "ach de schoen ". It has those two little
dots over it and we'd say "shane" and he 'd say "Schoen". (shern)
K: The games you played. You said something about stealing rocks. How
do you play that game?
T: You'd hide some rocks across the street and then you'd have to try to
rush across and steal one and get caught or get successful. And Sting Base
was more or less the same thing.
K: What was Sting Base like?
T: You had to get to a certain post and touch it before you were caught.
K: Did you have teams or did you play individu ally?
T: I don't remember that.
K: I was trying to think ...
T: We used to play on the street all the time. That was in the days
K: I was going to ask you about two things. You told me that your mother
went frequently to the coffee klatches with her neighbor friends. And
you showed me the beautiful cream and sugar set she had gotten for a
When they went to these coffee parties in the homes ... was that maybe
every week they would go? Or how often?
T: That was a coffee klutch. I guess just like people give parties.
K: It would be a party .
T: Whenever they gave a coffee klutch.
K: They wouldn't be just dropping in?
T: No. We used to have a lot of those. Even after the time of coffee
klutch. We had those German cookies at Christmas time . .. what were they
ca 11 ed?
T: We didn't make those. We made Cimmetsterna (cinnamon stars) and
Phaffen brodt. That's soft bread, molasses kuchen. When Peggy Piper came
over here, we all brought ... she talked about molasses cake ... we both made
the same type of molasses cake.
K: When you \~ere growi ng up, you 1 earned to cook, I presume.
T: Oh yes, we all had our turn of cooking. We had help very often because
we were such a large family, when my uncles and aunts lived with us.
K: But as a child, you cooked and helped Mama.
I was going to ask you about the theater. .Ias the Majestic Theater
there then? Do you know when the Majesti c Theater was built?
T: We went to the Majes ti c, but it was the Empi re was the one tha twas
maybe the oldest. It was on the corner where Joske's is ... before Joske's
extended over there. That's where we used to go in the early days. The
K: Was that a movie theater? Or a regular legitimate theater?
T: No ... it was a movie theater. Then we used to have the stock companies
come. Another Empire Theater, later, was on the corner of St. ~lary's
and Houston Street. In later years it was called the Empire, too.
And that's where those stock companies used to go .• Ie were just thrilled
with Emma Bunting; she was one of the actresses. She was really in
history, Emma Bunting was. She created quite a stir in San Antonio. She
was so beautiful all the men were impres sed .
K: Where did those shows come from, Hou ston, Dallas? Do you know where
they came from?
T: I don't know where they came from.
K: You didn't care! Oid boys and girls date in those days, much?
To parties; or did they all go together?
T: They a 11 went together. In fact, someti mes they had a chaperone.
I know Aunt Lula, that was a very prominent ~lexican family that lived
here. They wouldn't let their daughter go out unless an Anglo boy
went with her.
K: It kind of cut down on dating, didn't it?
Now you were telling me, and I don't have this quite straight, about
the Charles Andersons. What relation was he to you?
T: Judge Anderson's wife was my sister.
K: Judge Anderson'slwas your sister so Judge Anders on was your
T: They had two children: Charles Anderson who retired in Dayton.
He's in Dayton and he was a colonel when he retired. Barbara Anderson
(Judge's daughter) lives here.
K: Who was the one who lost a leg in an accident?
T: That was Judge Anderson. And you know, handicapped, he did more
K: Tell about how he lost his leg. It would be good to have on the tape.
T: Well, he was in the service at the time ; he was not a judge. That
was in his early days. That was before we knew him . He was walking
across the street and some man was firing at another man across the
street and hit him.
K: Down on Houston Street, you said?
T: I don't know which street. He had to have his leg amputated.
K: Then he married your sister after that.
T: Yes. Then he worked in the Judge Advocate's Office out at Fort
Sam Houston. My sister \~as worki ng out there and that's how they met.
They lived with us; the children were both born at our house. That is
in the hospi ta 1, but they were 1 i vi ng there.
Both of my sisters died too young.
K: What hospital was here at that time?
T: I don't know which one was there, when they were born .
K: I have that book there ... about the Revolution, now, 1824,
T: 1911. People were afraid to stay in Mexico. So Uncle Fred and the
American Consul were delegated to bring all the refuaees to San P.ntonio.
K: Uncle Fred?
T: Wulff. He was a civil engineer and he laid out bridges and made
dams over there in those Mexi can areas. P.nd so they came on the tra in.
And he said, very humorously, that the train \'lOuld break do~m on the
road and nobody knevl what to do. And Uncle Fred, being the engineer,
would have to take a little ladder out, get up on the ladder and see
what was the matter and fix it. They'd go slow and then they'd stop
sometime. He said they ~lOuld be playing cards. He tells about some ...
K: Now this book: "Tulita of Torian", how many books are there like
this? Is it in the library for instance or are there only a few in
T: No. It's quite popular. She wrote it several years ago. It was
published by the University of Texas in El Paso. I'll let you look at
I thought it was interesting they brought all these people over here.
A 11 these refugees, they v/ere promi nent t~exi can fami 1 i es. The t·1aderos
stayed ... I think I mentioned to you the Hutchins Hotel?
K: No, you didn't.
T: It was a sort of family hoteL .. very ni ce. I t used to be on the
corner of St. Mary's and what is now Durango Boulevard. In that block
of St. Mary's street. And the Maderos all stayed there. My family knew
a 11 of them.
The Zambrano family, that we knew, had rented a house near us. All
these people came to San Antonio while that (revolution) was on. I know
they had a massacre of Chinese at that time.
K: Where? In Mexico?
T: Un huh. 1 think my Uncle Henry lost his business at that time. He
had some business there. 1 thought it was interesting.
Another item that 1 didn't tell you about was during World War 1.
K: Yes, 1 know. 1914.
T: My sister Linda and Mrs. Staacke ... the Staackes owned the first
automobile place in San Antonio, one of those two buildings that the
Nix (hospital) wanted to take for their parking lot ... they saved the
fronts of them you know . \~ell, ~1rs. Staacke and Linda worked for the
Red Cross on the top floor of what was then the Wolfe and Marx building;
now the Rand building. And that's where they did all this work for the
Red Cross. Linda had a record of how many bandages, etc. they made and to
what Camp it was sent . I thought that was historic.
I phoned the Red Cross one time and asked them if they would be
interested in her book; I found it here, and they didn't seem to be
interested. Mrs. Staacke's daughter said she couldn't understand why
they didn't want it.
K: I wonder if The Institute of Texan Cultures might be interested in
T: I would have to try to locate it again.
K: They have a lot of things down there of our cultural background. It
is kind of a depository for things like that.
T: I thought that was historic.
K: I think it is, too.
T: Mrs. Staacke's daughter phoned me the other day, Estelle Gordon (Bowen).
She was sort of a family connection because her mother's father was
married three times and Mrs. Staacke was the one with the first family
and then they had two other families and then the third wife was the
mother of our Aunt Tasca who married Uncle Ed. You see she wasn't related,
she wasn't one of the Staackes, but she was one of the family. So that's
Estelle Bowen (Staacke's daughter) phoned me the other day.
K: I wish you'd get that book "Tulita of Torian" and we'll talk about
it for a minute.
I think that some of these things you should go through and give to
some historical society. It will be interesting to somebody and they
shouldn't be buried somewhere so nobody knows where they are . See what
you want to do with these things if you're through with them.
T: Of course, I have family that will take over. And then this cousin
I told you was writing his thesis on San Antonio, he has a lot of material.
Arthur James Mayer, he asked me if I would give him that book because he
thinks it is one of the most authentic books. I did want to keep it in
my own particular family.
He says he's going to give everything to the St ate Lib ra ry and I
think that's the sensible thing to do. If he does that, I'll give it
to him to have it there for reference.
K: These things get rare. Now you said that there were several of
these books "Tulita of Torian" that were printed ... 1969.
T: This is the only book of that type (time?).
K: But you don't know how many are still around.
T: Joske's had it for sale and the Rosengrens had it for sale and later
people wanted some more; I don't know whether ...
K: What relation ship was she to you? Anything?
T: First cousin. Her daughter, second cousin.
K: Five dollars; you can't buy a book for five dollars these days!
T: That's where she tells all about them bringing the refugees. And
some of the funny Mexican customs in those primitive days.
K: The massacre of the Chinese is interesting. That's in this book also?
T: ] don't think she ... ] don't know if she mentioned that or not, it's
some time since] read it.
(] lent it to a lot of people. ] was talking to Mary Barrett today
and] mentioned that and she said, "Oh, ] loved that book".)
K: Good. She read it. Right now] don't think of anything more to ask
you. You've been a big help. I may want to call you and ask you a
question or two if we want to clarify something.
We want to get a legal rElease from you, saying what you say here is
true. I didn't bring it with me.
T: Some things I didn't verify because I didn't know myself. Like dates
K: Well, they're hard to go by. Thank you. I'm not going to take any
more of your time Regina.
K: You told about a Ladies German Reading Club. What was it called?
T: Le se Kranschen (meaning circle and she couldn't spell it)
Some books shown me from library of Regina Tyrrasch:
90 Year Record of Madison Square Presbyterian Church 1882-1972
(Has a good history of San Antonio)
Rodriguez (Judge), Memoirs of Early Texas 1913
Harry Landa, As I Remember
Chabot, Indians and Missions (SA. Series)
Chubot, Military History (SA. Series)
Frank Bushick, Lights of S. A.
Roy Hatley, Texas
Pioneer Flour Mills (lOOth Anniversary) Naylor Pub.
Chabot, With the Makers of S. A.
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