Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 10, Number 1, January, 2000 Page: 9
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Consider the Lily: The Ungilded History of Colorado County, Texas
In these years, portrait painting began to take a back seat to the relatively new
art of photography. Whereas the earliest photographs were quite small, making them unsuit-
able to frame and exhibit on a wall, by the 1870s improvements in technology had made it
possible to produce larger images. By October 1871, two men named Anderson and Bennett
had established a photographic studio in Columbus. They operated their business for nearly
three years, closing it on May 1, 1874 and moving to Galveston. That August, Fred S. Jones
attempted to fill the void left by their departure, moving into their old building. In September,
Jones expanded his business by hiring F. A. Ryan to paint portraits and teach art at the
studio; but nonetheless, it failed. He closed his gallery in early 1875. Later that year, the team
of Alonzo Newell Callaway and John (or Julius) Serdinko tried their hand at the Columbus
photography market, setting up a tent and declaring their intention to make photographs for
a month. Serdinko apparently adhered to the schedule, but Callaway remained in town,
replacing Serdinko with Conrad Peterson. Peterson departed in late 1876; Callaway moved
to Brenham in March 1877; and John H. Chapman took their place in town. Along the way
at least one Colorado County man was motivated to join their profession. Eugene Himley
announced his qualifications as a photographer in October 1875, and opened a gallery in
Comal County the next year.9
In the 1870s, music and other entertainment in the county flourished as never
before. Brass bands developed in Columbus, New Mainz, and the new town of Weimar.
Two German musicians, a pianist named Bottcher, who also took in students, and the violinist
Arnold Prause, performed at several venues around town, sometimes individually, some-
times jointly. The Columbus theater that had been established by the German Casino was
apparently taken over by Henry Ilse. In the late summer of 1874, Ilse, who also operated a
grocery store on the ground floor of the downtown building, thoroughly renovated the the-
ater. By the end of September, Ilse had installed not only a larger stage, but also new scenery
that was painted by the same artist who provided the scenery for the prestigious Tremont
Opera House in Galveston. If Ilse had hopes of attracting productions similar to those at the
Tremont, however, he was soon disappointed. The only known events at Ilse's Hall were
dances with music by the Columbus Brass Band on November 28 and on New Year's Eve.
The latter was the last event at Ilse's Hall. The next day, January 1, 1875, Ilse sold his
business to Reinhard Dick and his son-in-law, Charles William Rau. The new owners changed
the name to Dick's Hall and Grocery, and apparently hired Dick's son, Gustav Conrad Dick,
to manage it. Dick's stewardship got off to a rocky start. Around the time of the sale, Ilse's
9 Colorado Citizen, October 19, 1871, April 9, 1874, July 9, 1874, August 20, 1874, September
10, 1874, November 5, 1874, January 21, 1875, July 1, 1875, August 12, 1875, September 23, 1875,
October 7, 1875, October 21, 1875, January 27, 1876, February 17, 1876, November 9, 1876, March 8,
1877, March 22, 1877; David Haynes, Catching Shadows (Austin: Texas State Historical Association,
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Nesbitt Memorial Library. Nesbitt Memorial Library Journal, Volume 10, Number 1, January, 2000, periodical, January 2000; Columbus, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth151408/m1/9/?q=nesbitt%20memorial%20library%20journal: accessed November 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Nesbitt Memorial Library.