Matagorda County Recorded Texas Historic Landmarks
 


Pybus-Koerber House

208 Main Street                    28°42’06.22”N      96°12’45.54”W


Joseph Pybus Family                                            John & Emma Crawford

 

Pybus-Koerber House

208 Main St
Palacios, Texas

 

In 1915, builder Joseph Pybus erected this home, designed by C.F. Emmons. James L. and Ina Mae (Perryman) Koerber bought it from the Pybus family in 1924. Owner of the Palacios Garage and Auto Co., J. L. also served as mayor, 1948-52. Other business interests included a canning operation and travel court on this site. The travel court, along with rooms in the house, provided space for military personnel and families from Camp Hulen. The bungalow cottage features a pyramidal roof, central hipped dormer, three-bay porch and textured concrete blocks with oyster shell aggregate.

Recorded Texas Historic Landmark - 2004

 



 


Pybus-Koerber House


Written by Kathy Nichols
 

The decade between 1910 and 1920 was a period of growth and prosperity for Palacios City, Texas, located in western Matagorda County. The Palacios Land and Investment  Company was promoting mild climate, excellent growing condition and sea breezes in its booklet, Try This Orange—It May Start You Going South. Immigrants were attracted by the railroad (first to arrive in 1903), by the fishing and oystering, and by the attraction of beginning fresh in a new land.


As the townsite of Palacios began to take form, changes were in store for a prominent piece of property on Cary Avenue (later Main Street). Lots 5 and 6 of the original townsite block 24 were sold by Miss Mary Elder to C. F. Emmons in 1914. Emmons was the architect for the structure, while Joseph Pybus was the builder. Pybus, with his sons Joseph E. and Fred, were credited with building the first store building in Palacios, and with building the Pybus-Koerber house at 208 Main Street, in 1915. Matagorda County abstract records show lots 5 and 6 in Block 24 valued at $500 in 1914. After construction of the house, in 1915, the property was valued at $1700.


The house was constructed using a concrete block, with molded coquina-based façade and oyster shell based mortar, for the exterior. The house is a neoclassical design, with a one story entry porch, which runs the width of the house and is eight feet deep. The homes south facing, allowed bay breezes to enter through the front door and four paned windows, located in the living room and front bedroom. The design is symmetrical, with four block posts supporting the front porch, centered front entry, with glass side panels at the front door.


The house was originally built for Pybus, who may have lived in it until his death in 1920. He was married to Sarah Jane Lacy, daughter of William D. Lacy, who was a signer of the Declaration of Independence of Texas, and Sarah Lacy, one of the three hundred of Austin’s first colony. It was part of his estate and remained in the Pybus family, until 1924, when it was purchased by James Louis Koerber (1884-1956).


J. L. Koerber moved to Palacios from Houston. In January, 1919, he purchased the Palacios Garage & Auto Company from G. W. Stanford. His wife, Ina Mae Perryman Koerber (____ - 1985) and one child joined him in the spring. Their other three children were born in the home: Gertrude Koerber Hunt (1919-____), Louis Jr. (1917-1999), Gene (1925-2000) and Melba Koerber Katz.


J. L. Koerber soon became one of the leading citizens of Palacios, through his auto and appliance businesses and civic involvement, serving as Mayor from 1948 to 1952. Mrs. Koerber was the first President of the Women’s Chamber of Commerce, 1955.


By 1933, he purchased the property on the west side of the home, (Lots 7 & 8) Block 24. A building was erected at the rear of the property for a canning business. From this building came “Ollie’s Tamales,” “Fargo Chili,” and “Uncle Ollie’s Syrup.” The children were enlisted alongside their mother and father in this canning operation.


With the financial aid of his mother, Mrs. O. S. (Isabelle) Koerber, he constructed “Belle Court,” in 1939, at the front of Lots 7 & 8. These bungalows were used as housing for officers’ wives and families during the active days of Camp Hulen. Also at this time, the Koerber family was moved to the upstairs of the main house, with mother and father getting the south sleeping alcove, brothers on the east and sisters on the west. The middle bedroom on the main floor was converted into two baths, outside entrances were put in and these two accommodations were also used as rentals for officers’ wives. This early “bed and breakfast” arrangement lasted until Camp Hulen was deactivated in the late 1940s.


Mr. Koerber was the licensee for the Red Air Freight Line during the war years and also had license for the Texas Oil Company Gas Station (Texaco). He owned property on Schicke Point, where the family had a house on Caranchua Bay.


After Mr. Koerber’s death in 1956, Mrs. Koerber stayed on in the main house. The canning business was closed and the building converted to apartment living quarters for Louis Jr. and his family. Belle Court served as rental units for many Palacios residents, including Tommie Tolleson, noted musician and songwriter.


With her death in 1985, Gene Koerber kept the property, renting even the main house to local residents. The home was eventually sold to Ms. Madonna Gann and Mr. David Kerr in 1994. Ms. Gann started the Main Bed and Breakfast in 1995, selling the home to Eddie D. “Nick” Nichols and Kathy O. Nichols in 1999.


The Main Bed and Breakfast Inn continues to welcome travelers and guests, as well as providing a warm and wonderful home for the current owners. Gertrude Koerber Hunt has returned to her birthplace many times—for the funerals of both brothers and for viewing the annual Valentine’s Day Parade from the front porch. It is because of her that we know of many of the interior changes made to the house: removing the balustrades, doorways and heavy curtains between front parlor, living room and dining room and replacing them with graceful arches (approx. 1929.), the addition of the greenhouse at the rear of the property (1927) and the enclosing of the rear porch and kitchen area.

 


Ollie S. Koerber


Ollie S. Koerber was born in Natchez, Mississippi, December 18, 1862; died at the home of his son, J. L. Koerber, in Palacios, Texas, Friday, October 7, 1921.
 

In early life Mr. Koerber came to Texas, and made Houston his home. He was one of the pioneer merchants of that city, a successful business man, and continued in active business up until a few years ago, when failing health compelled him to retire, since which he had spent much of his time in our city and made friends of all with whom he came in contact.
 

He was a man of high ideals and fine character, influential in any community where he resided. In his passing there is lost to his family a kind and loving husband and father, and a more than devoted grandfather to his three small grandchildren, and his friends a most worthy citizen and associate. He was a member of the Woodmen of the World, Post Oak Camp of Houston.
 

On December 14, 1882, he was married to Miss Isabella Mullane, of Houston, who with the one son, J. L. Koerber of this city and a half-sister, Mrs. A. C. Finn, of Houston, survive him.
 

The remains, accompanied by Mrs. Koerber and Mr. and Mrs. J. L. Koerber and children, were taken to Houston Friday night, where funeral services were held from the home of Mrs. Finn Sunday, at 3:30 p. m.
 

While nature smiled on this beautiful October day, all that was mortal of Ollie S. Koerber was consigned to Mother Earth to await the resurrection morn.
 

To the bereaved relatives and friends the Beacon extends heartfelt sympathy.
 

Palacios Beacon, October 14, 1921
 


“UNCLE OLLIE” BRAND GROWING IN POPULARITY

PALACIOS INDUSTRY STARTED AS SIDE LINE PROVES BIG SUCCESS
 

Palacios has one of the biggest little industries in the state of Texas. That may sound peculiar, but it is true.
 

Koerber Products Company producers and canners of the “Uncle Ollie” brand of tamales, chili and old fashioned stew, is really not a large business compared to some of the big national canneries but their products are spreading rapidly. At the present time “Uncle Ollie’s” cans can be found on the shelves of grocers from Brownsville to Houston and Beaumont and the fame of their flavor and richness is spreading daily.
 

What started as a side line industry for J. L. Koerber back in 1921 bids fair to become one of the major industries of this section of the state. Prepared under the special formula which is the private and personal property of Mr. Koerber, his products are meeting with a wide-spread success that is phenomenal, that is until one tastes some of his chili, tamales or stew, and then one ceases to wonder. It is just another case of a friend and customer won by a taste.
 

Although Mr. Koerber started this business in 1921 he sold it in 1923 after operating it for two years. He did this because of the press of his other business. After several exchanges if finally came back to its originator and Mr. Koerber has been operating the plant since 1933.
 

Mr. Koerber came to Palacios in 1919 and first became interested in the garage business at that time when he took the Ford agency for the Palacios district. This agency he has kept and is still operating. In 1921 he took the agency for the Texas Oil Company and is still the Texaco dealer there.
 

His plant has about 500 square feet of floor space and employs 11 people. His Ford agency requires five more and the Texaco dealership three.
 

His cannery products are sold only through jobbers who in turn spread them through the retail territory. This territory coincides very closely with that served by the “Hug-the-Cost” Highway, both actual and proposed. Business is increasing yearly, according to Mr. Koerber and it may not be such a long time before it will be necessary to increase the size of his plant to care for the orders. At the present time the plant has a capacity of 300 cans per day.
 

Matagorda County Tribune, Century of Progress Edition, Fifth Section, August 26, 1937
 


Labels for Uncle Ollie's Products Courtesy of Larry & Carol of Tru-Tex Antique Prints
 


 


 


 


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