Herman Schreiber: Patriotic Son of the Lighthouse Keeper and the Photographer

I’m currently working on a big blog post but it’s taking longer than I thought it would so in the meantime I want to write a couple of posts especially for my second and fourth grandsons about their families that aren’t related to me. This post will be about Herman SCHREIBER, Jr.- my son-in-law’s paternal great grandfather and the paternal 2nd great grandfather of my youngest grandson.

As always, we start with the basics. Herman SCHREIBER, Jr. was born 5 May 1886 in Brownsville, Cameron County, Texas. On 2 August 1911 in Cameron County, Texas, Herman married Vera Annie LAMON. Together they had 6 children. Herman passed away 7 May 1971 in Brownsville, Cameron County, Texas. He is buried at Buena Vista Cemetery in Brownsville, Cameron County, Texas.

Herman’s Parents: Hermann and Margaret and Ruben.

Herman was born to Hermann SCHREIBER, Sr. and Margaret EGLY. Hermann Sr. brought Prussian-German heritage to the marriage. Margaret brought French-Irish heritage to the marriage. Possibly of interest to my son-in-law will be the fact that Hermann Sr. had a brother named August SCHREIBER. That was a meaningful coincidence for me personally. Also of interest to me was Hermann Sr.’s occupation. He was a lighthouse keeper. He was employed at Old Point Isabel Lighthouse off South Padre Island in 1884. His brother-in-law, William EGLY, was the assistant lighthouse keeper. After looking up Old Point Isabel Lighthouse online, I realized that my husband and I and our two children (who were young at the time) had actually seen the lighthouse when we visited South Padre Island years ago- many years before we ever met our son-in-law. I’m loving all these coincidences!

Lucille SCHREIBER BERRY left some much-appreciated family history stories on Ancestry. She said Hermann Sr. died from a burst appendix. This was at a time when doctors were unaware of Appendicitis. Sadly, Hermann suffered greatly before his death. About the lighthouse, Lucille related, “[The lighthouse] is very steep and grandad remembers getting to go to the top of the stairs to get his dad for eating a meal. He was a very young child and he said he scooted up and down.” 

At just 2 years of age, Herman lost his dad, Hermann SCHREIBER, Sr. This left Herman Jr’s mom, Margaret EGLY SCHREIBER, alone to raise 3 young children. That was, I’m sure, a scary position for a woman to be in in the year 1888. Although she had more rights in Texas than she would have in other states at this time, she still had very few rights so she would have been largely dependent on the men in her life. Margaret was fortunate to live in Texas in that she could legally maintain ownership of any property she had when she married Hermann. She was legally entitled to share in any wealth or property Hermann gained after the marriage. She was legally entitled to make her own last will and testament and to leave her property to anyone she wanted. If, however, the property they lived on was solely owned by Hermann at the time of his death and he had not willed it to her, she (and any unmarried daughters) would be allowed to live there as long as they wished but she couldn’t own the property herself because, as a widow, she couldn’t legally make or enter into contracts. She wouldn’t be able to vote (or serve on a jury) for another 31 years, but she could hold public office if she could convince enough males to vote for her!

Many widows in 1888 would have chosen to remarry as soon as possible. It made life easier. Margaret did not. I’m sure her French-Irish heritage probably gifted her with a certain amount of stubbornness that contributed to her delay in remarriage. (I can certainly see that French-Irish in my grandson! I love it!) When Margaret remarried 7 years later, she married Ruben Henry WALLIS. Ruben was an Englishman. (Interesting fact about Ruben: his first wife was also named Margaret and his first Margaret was also Irish!) Ruben came to Texas from New Orleans, Louisiana- as did both Hermann and Margaret. Ruben and Margaret did not have children together, however he was a widower who had a young daughter from his previous marriage. Margaret is buried in the Oddfellows Cemetery in Brownsville, Cameron County, Texas. An interesting fact about Margaret: She was a twin. At the time of her twin sister’s death in 1941, Margaret and her sister were thought to be the oldest set of living twins in Texas. Two years later in 1943, Margaret passed away. I have no photos of Hermann Sr. but I do have one photo of Margaret and two of her sisters. Sadly, I can’t tell you which one is Margaret as the photo wasn’t labeled in any way.

I was searching the internet for photos of the lighthouse from the period that Hermann was the lighthouse keeper and I found this fabulous blog post at Colorized Fotos blog. It not only includes photos of the lighthouse, it includes a beautiful colorized photo of Ruben Henry WALLIS!! I encourage you to go look at it. I learned Ruben WALLIS was a photographer in Brownsville from the 1860’s to at least 1910 (based on both the blog post and census records on Ancestry). If you’re ever out antiquing in the Brownsville area, keep an eye out for Ruben’s photos! The blog post states that Ruben was probably a lighthouse keeper. I haven’t found documentation to support that but it is a possibility. Another interesting find I made was at Lighthouse Friend’s website. They have not only a blog post with some Point Isabel lighthouse history, but also a photo of the Point Isabel lighthouse keeper’s house from 1895. In addition, they list the lighthouse keepers and show that Hermann SCHREIBER (spelled SCHRIBERS on the website) was the lighthouse keeper from 1884-1888. Margaret’s brother, William EGLY, was the assistant lighthouse keeper from 1884-1888 and the lighthouse keeper from 1895-1905. This website does not list Ruben as a lighthouse keeper but I also note there is a large gap of time from 1888-1895 where no lighthouse keeper is named so I haven’t ruled out the possibility that Ruben really was the lighthouse keeper. (There is also a Fred MEYER listed as a lighthouse keeper. MEYER is a surname connected to Margaret EGLY on her mother’s side so possibly he may be related?) One last aside: Bronsbil Estacion blog used at least one of the photos Ruben took plus a photo of Ruben himself in one of their blog posts. You can find it here– the first and second photos (the second is an enlargement of a section of the first photo) in the blog post. The photo of Ruben is the last photo in the blog post.

And Now…Herman SCHREIBER, Jr.

This is not the only photo I’ve seen of Herman but it was the first one I saw. (And notice who the photographer was!!) My immediate thought was how much my grandson resembles his 2nd great grandfather, Herman! I even did a side-by-side comparison. The resemblance is strong!

Herman was a toll bridge collector and a farmer. The best I can tell from my research, there were two toll bridges in Brownsville, Cameron County, Texas in 1930- Brownsville & Matamoros International Bridge, and the Gateway International Bridge. The Brownsville & Matamoros International Bridge opened in December of 1910. The bridge accommodated vehicles and those traveling by foot as well as river traffic. The Gateway International Bridge opened in 1926. It initially accommodated vehicle traffic but in 1999 it was closed to vehicle traffic and now only accommodates foot traffic. You can find some great photos of Gateway International Bridge being built at the Bronsbil Estacion blog. You can find part 1 of the Gateway Bridge blog post here. The one linked in the previous sentence is actually part 2 of the Gateway Bridge post. If you’re interested in Brownsville, Texas history I highly recommend the Bronsbil Estacion blog. If you’re interested in learning more about the Brownsville & Matamoros International Bridge, you can check out Nomadic Border’s blog post. As it turns out, Herman’s World War II draft registration card confirms he worked at the Gateway Bridge.

World War II draft registration card for Herman Schreiber.

As I researched further, I found a story someone posted on Ancestry that confirmed Herman did work at the Gateway Bridge and why. Here’s the whole story. The photo online had the words going right to the edge so there isn’t anything I can do to fix that- sorry.

Story of how Herman came to work on/at the Gateway Bridge.

Just in case you needed one more proof that Herman worked at/on the Gateway Bridge rather than the Brownsville & Matamoros Bridge, here’s a short piece that appeared in the 13 September 1937 edition of The Brownsville Herald newspaper:

13 September 1937, The Brownsville Herald (TX) newspaper.

When was the last time you heard the word ‘terpischorean’?? I’m glad Herman had a sense of humor. I think my grandson may have inherited it. Herman was about more than just a little good humor, though. Service to his community and government also seemed to be important to him. Important enough that in 1909 he served in the National Guard and by 1930 he was an ex-officio GOP committee member.

5 March 1930, Brownsville Herald (TX) article.

Herman and his wife, Vera Anna Lamon (who went by Annie), were lifetime residents of Brownsville, Cameron County, Texas according to his obituary. His physical description on his World War I draft registration states he was tall, had a slender build, and had blue eyes and light brown hair. Sounds a lot like my son-in-law! My grandson certainly has the genes to be tall and slender. He already has the blue eyes and I’m guessing his now light-colored hair may turn more brown as he grows up.

Herman (now Herman Sr.) and Annie had six children together- Lucille Margaret, Herman Jr., Clifton Melton, Robert Lee, Arthur Raymond, and James R.. Herman Sr (the subject of this blog post) served in the National Guard and was once appointed to guard President Taft! All five of Herman and Annie’s sons served in the military as well. Below is a very nice article in the Brownsville Herald about Herman and his five sons and their combined service to their country. I’ve tried to enlarge it enough that you might be able to read it. If it’s still too hard to read, try going to this PDF link: file:///C:/Users/willi/OneDrive/Documents/Blog/Herman_S__Schreiber_and_his_5_sons__7_June_1945__The_Brownsville_Herald__TX_%20(1).pdf

17 June 1945, Brownsville Herald (TX) article about Herman Schreiber and his sons.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed getting to know Herman. I know I have. I also hope that one day my grandson becomes a man who exhibits the steadiness and loyalty that seemed to define his 2nd great grandfather Herman.

Until next time fellow patriots,

Lisa @ Days of Our Lives










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