Thursday, March 29, 2018

Luter Branch of Atlee Family

Mrs. James H. French's "Texas Genealogy"

Mrs. James H. French, wife of famed San Antonio mayor, wrote a newspaper column called "Texas Genealogy". The genealogist's husband, James H. French, "the best mayor San Antonio ever had," moved to San Antonio in 1851, first working as a merchant before he was elected mayor in 1875, and he served in that position  through 1885. Because of political connections within the national Democratic Party, he was thereafter appointed Postmaster for the city and was also elected city councilman before his death in 1893. His widow (the former Sarah L. Webb), began writing a genealogy column about society-minded Texans for the Sunday San Antonio Light newspaper in July 1906.

In December of that year Mrs. French explained how those members of the branch from which Mary Parson Atlee sprang made their way to Texas. She had already written about the Maverick and Maury families into which Dr. Luter married almost a year earlier. Mrs. French may have been surprised that the child of a third-generation Pennsylvanian, Edwin Augustus Atlee, would find her husband in the wilds of Goliad, Texas. But that was where E.A. Atlee's third child, Anna, lived after her marriage to John Solomon McCampbell, a lawyer and later judge in Corpus Christi.

Edwin's  fourth child, Sarah Catherine, in 1856 married Giles Exum Luter, district clerk in Goliad County.

Catherine Atlee Luter had a son born in 1866, Dr. William Edwin Luter, who, in the late 1880s, had given his address simply as "Mexico". His brother, Henry Exum Luter, had a mail contract between Goliad and Cibolo in 1854, but later lived in Corpus Christi until his death in 1941.

Before moving to San Antonio, Dr. W. E. Luter was a pharmacist and assistant manager of John Sealy Hospital in Galveston. The census of 1900 records him at 119 N. Alamo, in San Antonio, which was still used as his office in 1910. Today this is the old Post Office at E. Houston and N. Alamo. By 1902 he was president of the West Texas Medical Association which met in that city.

He married Eleanor Stribling Maury in 1906, and became a member of the staff of the Santa Rosa Infirmary (Incarnate Word). He was also for a time physician and surgeon of the Mission Home and Training School for Girls in San Antonio. After their wedding, the Luters lived at 205 E. Pecan, at Navarro Street, next door to St. Mark's Episcopal Church on the north side of Travis Park Plaza.

St. Anthony Hotel, 1910
The lot on the south side of Travis Park (now 300 E. Travis Street) was in the process of being chosen as the site of the still standing St. Anthony Hotel, which was completed in 1909 by Brazilla Lafayette Naylor and his partner, A. H. Jones, Jr., the youngest child of a famous Texas hero, Augustus Harris Jones, and his third wife. Naylor died in 1910, leaving his estate to his wife and daughter, Zilla, wife of Arthur Hunter Morton, who managed Naylor's properties for many years. Gus Jones was elected San Antonio's mayor in June 1912, only months before he died the following April, attended by Dr. Luter and another physician.

117 E. French Place
Eleanor Maury's parents were Stephen Price and Eleanor Stribling (daughter of Benjamin Stribling) Maury. Her maternal grandmother, Mrs. Elizabeth Alexander Stribling, widow of Thomas Haile Stribling, had been born in 1836, the year Texas declared independence from Mexico. The 1900 census shows Mrs. E. A. Stribling living in a large residence at 117 E. French Place between N. Main and San Pedro in San Antonio, where she employed three live-in servants for herself, her son, Ben Stribling, and his nine-year-old daughter "Elinor." At some point the Luters began to live separately and were divorced. Dr. Luter died in 1930.

In that same block with Eleanor's grandmother lived John L. Luter, a Texas-born man whose parents had arrived from Tennessee before 1861. His wife was Mabel Moody. In 1924 this house was sold to become an Episcopal girls' school called St. Mary's Hall, which in 1968 became the home of San Antonio Academy, a boys' school, previously affiliated with the elite West Texas Military Academy and Texas Military Institute. One alumnus of San Antonio Academy, coincidentally, was Robert Moss Ayres, the architect son of Atlee B. Ayres, who also did work on St. Mary's Hall when it was sold to his alma mater. Atlee B. Ayres' eldest sister was David Atlee Phillips' grandmother, Gussie Ayres Young, both of whom grew up in Houston and San Antonio as children of Nathan Tandy and Mary Parson Atlee Ayres, who had moved to Texas from Highland County, Ohio.

Battle of Flowers Queen
Eleanor Maury Luter's paternal aunt, Ellen Maury, married James Luther Slayden, Congressman from San Antonio during 1897-1919. Ellen Slayden originated the Battle of Flowers, in 1891 "as an April 21 salute to the heroes of the battles of the Alamo and San Jacinto." The parade quickly became a week-long fiesta which culminated with the crowning of a queen, and eventually a king as well. The Battle of Flowers Association was set up to plan the event as part of Fiesta San Antonio, and the city's women in society all worked together to make it a success. It remains as one of San Antonio's biggest traditions.

The Maurys intermarried with the family of Texas hero Samuel Maverick, an 1825 Yale graduate and Virginia-trained attorney, who sought his fortune by moving to San Antonio in 1835. Ellen Maury Slayden kept diaries, which revealed how observant Mrs. Slayden had been during her husband's tenure within the Texas delegation in Washington, D. C. Much of her knowledge of Texas lore no doubt was passed to her sister, Jane L. Maury, who married Samuel Maverick and became the mother of  F. Maury Maverick, another Texas Congressman.

Cong. Maury Maverick's wife, Terrell Louise Dobbs, after his death in 1954, married Walter Prescott Webb, editor of the Slayden diaries. University of Texas professor Webb died in a one-car accident on March 8, 1963, at almost the same time the diaries were published.

Webb's historic property, Friday Mountain Ranch, was sold that same month to Rodney Kidd, long-time Texas University Interscholastic League director, who turned it into a camp for boys, which would later (1983) be sued when a counselor allegedly sexually abused a young male camper.

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