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Colonel Bettie Edmonds has painted our past

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    Image from Bettie’s book, written and sketched, mid 1980s. This is currently the home of Capital Title of Texas.
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    Below: Betie Edmonds.

THE BOOKWORM

Quick editorial note: this article ran in a previous issue of the library’s historical newsletter, Echoes from the Archives, and was written by Ede Day. See us at the library if you would like to be added to the email list to receive this newsletter.

Folks interested in the historical aspects of Boerne can usually think no further than Bettie Edmonds, a long-time fixture with the Dietert Historical Archives at the Patrick Heath Public Library.

Colonel Bettie Edmonds retired as a nurse in the Air Force in 1974 and fell in love with Kendall County and its many historical buildings. As a pen and ink artist she took the first step in chronicling Boerne’s history and becoming a meticulous archivist. As she sketched her favorite buildings, she decided to research their history and that began 30 years of work with the library’s Archives.

She authored three books: “Along Country Roads” volumes I and II, plus the paperback booklet entitled “Journey to Boerne,” a concise early immigration history of Boerne. All three of these books are accessible for viewing at the University of North Texas’ Portal to Texas History.

Sketching literally hundreds and hundreds of Kendall County’s historic buildings led Bettie to be active in the painstaking research needed for buildings to attain designation as a Texas Historical Marker. Additionally, she did the research for the Dienger Building and the old Kendall County Courthouse to be on the National Register of Historic Places. She was honored by the Texas Legislature in 1987 for her significant contributions to her community and the state in the fields of history, art and leadership. All of her historical sketches are available in the library archives.

One of Bettie’s major projects involved Boerne’s rare 1614 Low German Bible. She spearheaded and organized the research into the history and significance of the Bible and then arranged for it to be repaired and rebound by a specialist in Canada. This whole process took about 10 years to complete and was accomplished through the dedication of the committed team of researchers and specialists.

“This was one of the longest, hardest, yet most joyful projects that I’ve been involved in....and certainly the most satisfying! I’m very proud of it,” she said.

“Bettie’s work was instrumental in moving historic preservation forward in Boerne,” former mayor Patrick Heath said, who worked with Bettie for many years and is the namesake of our library. “Her tireless efforts especially on the Bible research have provided Boerne a place on the history map for generations to come.”

Bettie served on the boards of the Boerne Area Historical Preservation Society, the Boerne Cemetery Foundation, the Kendall County Historical Commissions and Hill Country Women in Business. She was named Citizen of the Year in 1985 by the Boerne Chamber of Commerce.

On Oct. 23, join us at 5:45 p.m. at the Council Chambers at the Boerne Police Department, 124 Old San Antonio Road, as the City of Boerne at 6 p.m. honors Bettie with a proclamation declaring Nov. 10 Col. Bettie Edmonds History Day.

Then we hope you make plans to stroll, shop and dine along Boerne’s beautiful Hill Country Mile on Nov. 10 with our self-guided tour map showcasing the homes Bettie has sketched. Maps will be available at the library and other locations around town beginning Nov. 4. Give us a call with any questions.

A hopping two days at the library this week:

THURSDAY, OCT. 18:

10 a.m.: We’ll meet at the Visitor Center at Mission San Jose, 6701 San Jose Drive, San Antonio, for a tour of one of the most successful missions as San Antonio celebrates its 300th anniversary this year. This is a joint program of the Dietert Historical Archives/Magical History Tours and the library’s Soul Salon. For more information on either group, give us a call.

7 p.m.: Westward Ho! is at the amphitheater for Live! At the Library. Come for a toe-tappin’ journey through the authentic western experience in song. Bring lawn chairs, blankets and a picnic if you like. Details soon on the remaining Live! At the Library schedule.

SATURDAY, OCT. 20:

10:30 a.m.: A long lost study, at least to North American scholars, the notes and observations from German Geographer Heinrich Berghaus offered previously unknown insight into the interactions of German Settlers and Native Americans in the mid-1850s in Texas.

Join UTSA Professor Daniel Gelo and retired UTSA German Professor Chris Wickham as they discuss the findings, the wild Texas frontier and the common languages shared by those who sought to tame it. A partnership program with the Genealogical Society Kendall County.