Friday, June 10, 2011

Jaffes in Old San Antonio

Wolfe Jaffe
 John Delane Williams' statement, citing Madeleine Brown, that Sam R. Bloom was the father-in-law of Morris D. Jaffe of San Antonio, was erroneous. The proof is in a study of the Jaffe genealogy.

Jaffe's grandfather was a Russian Jew named Wolfe Jaffe who arrived in Galveston from Hamburg in 1883 and initially settled into a Mexican-Catholic neighborhood in downtown San Antonio one  block west of the river. He sold dry goods, and his store was listed in San Antonio's directory at 613 W. Commerce Street. In 1915 Wolfe's plan to construct an apartment building in San Antonio at 423 Oakland Street was announced with fanfare. A large fourplex on what was then called Oakland Street (now within the right of way of IH-35) near the intersection with McCullough Avenue would be built for himself and three tenants.

Only a few doors away from these apartments lived the wealthy Irish-born  attorney, Henry Patrick Drought, with a family of four sons and five servants. Mrs. Drought took pride in the heritage of her family, the Tunstalls, who claimed their first Tunstall forebears arrived in Virginia shortly after the death of Charles I. The old half-century old Tunstall homestead at 418 Oakland was sold in  1907 to be demolished and graves in its adjoining family burial ground moved to the city cemetery. When Mrs. Drought's mother died in 1911, the obituary reflected about her life that:
Mrs. Tunstall was born in Lexington, Ky., and was the daughter of Rev. Nathan Hall, pastor of the Presbyterian church there. She remembered with great distinctness the great men of that day, knowing Andrew Jackson, who was a friend of her father's and who attended his church in Lexington when he made his periodical visits to Kentucky looking after his democratic fences in the whig stronghold of Henry Clay. She early married Warrick Tunstall, a distinguished lawyer of St. Louis, one of the founders of the St. Louis Law society and library, who died some years ago. Mrs. Tunstall taught probably the first Presbyterian Sunday school in San Antonio, having among her pupils then many who have since become the leading men and women of San Antonio. She took a great interest in politics and, in fact, in all current issues. She was extremely charitable and her heart and hand were always open to the afflicted or needy. In the early days in San Antonio her house was a center of gayety where hospitality was generously dispensed.
Despite her mother's pride in her Presbyterianism, Mrs. Drought converted to Catholicism upon her marriage to the Irishman, and she took her role as a socialite very seriously, as revealed by her own obituary in 1943:

Apparently the rent from the other units was profitable, and by 1917 Wolfe Jaffe began construction of another apartment complex at 223 4th Street for $35,000, a tidy sum in those days. He sold it in 1920, only a year before his death. His widow, however, continued managing other rental properties until her own death in 1949.

Wolfe and his Polish wife, Anna Jaffe, had two sons, Louis and Morris, and four daughters. When their son Morris died in 1958, his funeral was held in St. Mary's Catholic Church. He had married  a Catholic woman named Irene, and their son, Morris D. Jaffe, was not born until 1922, several months after Wolfe Jaffe's death. He attended St. Mary's, a Catholic university in San Antonio, at about the same time as Mrs. Roger Zeller's brother, Edwin F. Dietzel, Jr., and entered the Army air corps at about the same time as well. A notice in the local paper in 1918 indicates Morris and Irene lived at 525 E. Elmira, one street west of Oakland, that year and that he ran a loan company that helped finance his father's real estate business, further confirmed by WWI draft registration papers.
1918 notice in San Antonio newspaper

The real estate market in San Antonio had begun to take off, and the Jaffe family benefited by being involved in both the construction and loan industries. Northerners had discovered the climate in the south to be favorable and were relocating to the warmer state. One of those transplanted northerners was Clara Augusta "Gussie" Ayres, born in Ohio shortly after the end of the civil war.

Miss Ayres married James Mills Young, son of a medical doctor, Dr. Charles Glidden Young, in San Antonio in 1890, the same year his brother, Vinkler Howard Young, had died in Palestine, Texas. Dr. Young, originally from New Hampshire, had come south prior to the war that erupted between the states to build short line railroads connecting cities in Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas.

One family researcher has shown that James was born in 1864 in Chappell Hill, just outside of Brenham, Texas, shortly after his father (who had married Henrietta Maria Louisa Chamberlain in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 1842) finished his railroad work in Louisiana and moved on to eastern Texas.

In 1910 James M. and Gussie Ayres Young lived in San Antonio (within the present bounds of Fort Sam Houston) with their three daughters and Gussie's father, Nathan Tandy Ayres. More will be said about these families later. Suffice to say that it was this area on the outskirts of the military reservation where the Jaffe land development projects were focused.

Morris D. Jaffe
When Morris married Jeanette Elaine Herrmann, a former student at the Catholic Incarnate Word college, in April 1947, he was described as having been "a captain in the air corps." He had trained at Blackland Field in Waco and was assigned to duty posts in Utah, El Paso and Kansas. His best man was Paul Herder, son of trucking line owner, Charlie J. Herder, from Weimar, Texas, located in San Antonio at 1311 S. Flores.

His new wife's family were established in San Antonio, and their names appeared often in trivial society blips such as this one in 1932:
Mrs. Albert Hermann entertained with a party Sunday afternoon in her home in West Mulberry Avenue, complimenting her small daughter, Jeanette Elaine, on her fifth birthday anniversary.
On the occasion of the fifth birthday of Jeanette's brother, Don Albert Herrmann II two years later, the guests at his birthday party included young Ann and Travis McCrory "Mac" Moursund (frequently spelled Moursand), son of Travis and Marion Moursund, who lived on E. Mistletoe a block or two from the Herrmanns. Ann McCrory Moursund would be crowned queen of the Victory Black and White ball in 1945, long after her parents' divorce, and in 1944 Mac began his studies in New York at West Point.

Their father, Travis B. Moursund, was the son of Anton N. Moursund, an attorney who practiced for a time in Mason County, not far from Blanco and Johnson City, Texas, where his brother Albert Wadel Moursund practiced law. Their father was known as "Judge Moursund," an attorney from Norway who had settled in the Texas Hill Country near Lyndon Johnson's birthplace. Travis entertained a brief fling with politics--elected in 1926 as a state representative from San Antonio--where he served only one term. He lost his primary bid for the Texas state senate race in 1928 and was thereafter content to spend his spare time acting in local "little theater" productions and serving as local bar association president. In August 1932 he married Norma Basse of San Antonio in Nueva Laredo, Mexico. The Moursund children's mother was the former Marion McCrory, daughter of criminal judge W.W. McCrory, who later married Charles Murphy, city license and dues collector, who then ran for tax commissioner.


Martin said...

This is a great investigation you've done besides it's a really interesting subject, thanks for the great post from my apartment for rent buenos aires

Anonymous said...

Theft, blackmail, and back-room dealings were not mentioned

Linda Minor said...

To Anonymous:
If you have actual documented evidence of blackmail and back-room dealings, please share. This blog does not deal in hearsay or guessing.