Eaton Chapel - Galveston
22 February 1908:
22-23 March 2019:
In the fall of 2000 I enrolled in a photography class at the Glassell School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. For several semesters I shot images pertaining to the weekly assignments, but eventually I graduated to an advanced status independent of the beginner curriculum. I began to look for a project around which to focus my photographic efforts. At the City Museum of New York, I had seen an exhibit of 1930’s photographs of Bernice Abbott paired with contemporary images taken with the same camera, and was intrigued by the power of these images to make history come alive. Since 2001 I had been collecting antique postcards of places that interested me, first Bisbee, Arizona, my natal city, a picturesque southern Arizona copper-mining town nestled between Brewery Gulch and School Hill, then Galveston, where I was spending every weekend visiting my boyfriend Ross who lived there.
Like most Houstonians, I had a long relationship with the Island City. In addition to many day trips to the beach and bay-side marshes, I had done laboratory work for my master’s thesis in the late 1970’s at the Texas A&M Coastal Research Center at Fort Crocket. I would travel there by public bus every Friday night and sleep on a couch in my professor’s office before waking early on Saturday to run my gels and return to Houston in the afternoon. In the 1990’s I had spent a few months infatuated with the charming son of the Episcopal Bishop at Trinity Church, and would come down and stay at the palatial rectory. The relation ended in a sting of disappointment, but by a curious twist of fate, I saw the retired bishop himself here in San Miguel de Allende, where I learned the family had owned a home since the 1930’s and visited nearly every summer for many years throughout the youth of my friend.
Galveston was of course, infamous as the site of the 1900 storm that resulted in 6,000 casualties and focused the attention of the nation for weeks as the dismal tragedy played itself out. The horror forced an economic retreat to a safer inland port of Houston, and Galveston was left behind, becoming a tourist destination with a fading relic grandeur. Among the treasures of Galveston was Eaton Chapel adjacent to Trinity Episcopal Church. The chapel was built in 1879 by Nicholas Clayton as an act of philanthropy by Henry Rosenberg to honor Reverend Benjamin Eaton, first rector of Texas’ oldest Episcopal parish [well described in Galveston Architecture Guidebook, by Ellen Beasley and Stephen Fox, Rice University Press, 1996; I met Ellen Beasley on one of my overnight stays at the rectory house in Galveston while she was working on the book].
For a small building, Eaton Capel has a commanding presence, and I had been photographing it even before I thought of the postcard re-photography project. The first floor of the building is devoted to classrooms, and the second floor is a lofty auditorium. The first postcard I purchased of Eaton Chapel [September 7, 2001] was unused and it was this postcard I used as a model for the first re-photograph [March 19, 2005]. Visible behind Eaton Chapel is a mansion across the street, once the home of Herman Marwitz, which I also began to collect [see images below], eventually finding one from a tenant of the boarding house, which should be the subject of a most interesting webpage. Alfred Muller Built the house in 1893 for his uncle Herman Marwitz (1831-1899), a Galveston banker and merchant. Building the house may have bankrupted his uncle, for after 1894 it became Goldbeck College, a private Music School, then after 1900 a series of boarding houses, and a Baptist Sunday School until it was demolished in 1969. Since then it has been a parking lot.
Eventually, I obtained several other postcards of Eaton Chapel, ones that had been mailed and teased at a hidden history that begged to be riddled out. The most intriguing one was written by “K E K” to Miss Henrietta Morgan, Taylor, TX on 22 February 1908. The author revealed a lot of personality in his message, which he scrawled across the face of the card in blatant disregard for the image. Certain details promised a portal into the history of the man even though he used only his initials.
"Society sure is doing in Taylor. You had better be glad that you are a society lady instead of a student who has to study Instead of running around having a good time. Exams are only two weeks off now and I have to get busy if I expect to pass them I know you will have a good time in Georgetown Danse one or two for me at the Mask Dance Tell Miss Stella hello for me. K. E. K. This is where I go Sunday? Mrs. Patric Campbell is billed to show here during exams isnt that a shame I think I will go see her in spite of the fact. Might never have the chance to see her again.”
Most importantly, he mentions that “Exams are only two weeks off,” and since he posted the card from Galveston, it seemed likely that he was a student. He seems a bit flirty with his correspondent, Miss Henrietta calling her a “society lady,” and contrasting himself as “a student who has to study.” He urges Henrietta to “Tell Miss Stella hello for me,” and speaks of “Georgetown Danse,” all of which suggests he is a college student, and not a secondary school pupil. As a student, he would be more transient than a resident might be, so a search within a narrow time range is essential. Galveston published a city directory for 1908, so an examination of the alphabetical K-section might turn up a student at the Galveston Medical School.
There are 11 pages of entries with about 80 persons per page, so only 880 possibilities to examine. K E K is probably male, nonetheless, females should also be noted:
Kelly, Kate, Miss h 1414 Postoffice
Killeen, Kate J. Miss r 2002 L.
Kovocavich, Kirto, lab Mrs 3827 B’dway
Krivokopich, Krist, r 1909 Mechanic 4.
Krug, Kenny E. pharmacy student Mrs 828 Market
The last seemed such a likely candidate that I looked no further, and focused on Kenny [See Galveston City Directory, 1908, below]. The name was quite adequate now for a census search, but that might be only circumstantial, even if compelling. The strongest confirmation of his identity would be a comparison of his signature, and since K E K left a good record of his handwriting, another document with his signature might be definitive. He wrote another card to Henrietta on April 20, 1908, this one of Trinity Episcopal Church, similarly scrawled across the front, which I purchased in the same lot as the same as the first, and this he also signed, K E K.
When WWI started for Americans in 1917, all males of a certain age were required to register, and that document bears their signature. Although the cards were written nine years earlier, the signature should be fairly stable. “Kenneth Edwin Krug” of Brenham is described as medium height and weight with blue eyes and brown hair. His date of birth is 2 December 1887 and is 29 years old on June 6, 1917 in Brenham, Washington County, TX. He is a druggist with a wife and child, “crippled” from meningitis. The signature is a very good match, so with this handwriting comparison in addition to the biographical details, it is not likely that K E K is a different person [See images below, WWI Draft record and signature comparisons].
Supporting this identification is all the usual genealogical records. In 1900 he is “Kenny Krug” an only child living with his father Adolph, a District Clerk, and mother E. D. in Brenham. Next door is C. J. Jensen, a druggist. In 1906 Kenny is listed on U. S. College Student Lists database, a druggist with Theo Schirmader, member of the Elks, living at 608 W. Alamo at Main in Brenham. The small family is there in 1910 also, at 608 West Alamo. In 1912 he married Myra Barnett, and had two sons, Kenneth Edwin, Jr. (1916), and Marion Estor (1919). He stayed in Brenham through 1940 at the same house. His son Kenny, Jr. was a Lieutenant in the Army Air Force in WWII, and died in service overseas on 29 February 1944.
How Kenneth met Henrietta Morgan is suggested by the postcard messages. Henrietta was the eldest child of Sally Leda Pennington and Henry Julius Morgan, manager of a cotton compress in Temple, Bell County, TX. Brenham and Temple are medium sized towns in Central Texas about X MILES apart. When Kenny wrote the postcards he was 20 years old. Henrietta was born 25 November 1890, so she was 17 when she received the cards. In February Kenneth mentions Georgetown Danse, which he says he will miss. Georgetown Is another mid-sized city in Central Texas, a college town about 40 miles south of Temple. From Brenham to Temple is only about 90 miles, and since trains then traveled mostly under 40 miles per hour, it was still only a couple of hours away. Of course, but carriage it was quite a trip, but that mode of transportation was mostly for local trips. Both seem to have been Episcopal, and they may have met through church groups, maybe especially those involving chaperoned dancing.
Henrietta married Eugene Cecil Seaman in 31 January 1912 and settled into the routine of the wife of an Episcopal Minister. Eugene was the son of Sophie Seaman, a widow running a boarding house in Galveston to support her four sons in 1900 at 2002 Church Street. Eugene was a graduate of Sewanee, University of the South, and in due course became Bishop of North Texas in Amarillo, Potter County, TX.
Kenny Krug died in 1950 of pulmonary embolus and was laid to rest in Prairie Lee Cemetery in Brenham. Three years later Myra died and is buried beside him; also in Prairie Lee are his father and mother, and son Kenny, Jr. Henrietta Morgan Seaman became a widow in 1950 with the death of her husband; she died 21 years later in Phoenix and she and her husband are buried in Llano Cemetery in Amarillo, as is their 5-year old son, Eugene Cecil Seaman, Jr. (1913-1918) and her father, Henry Julius Morgan (1863-1929).
In addition to the black and white rephotograph of Eaton Chapel, I returned to Galveston on March 22-23, 2019 and photographed Eaton Chapel again. The 14 years between the two rephotograph shows considerable growth of the palm trees, but no alterations of the chapel itself.