‘Who Is King William?’: A Story About Community

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Courtesy of King William Fair

A participant in the King William Fair Parade gestures to people in the crowd.

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The 2019 King William Fair Parade will tell the story of the neighborhood by inviting entries to tell the audience their version of “Who is King William?” The stories will include the history of the land, the people who built and lived in the historic homes, the businesses that support our neighborhood, and most importantly, the people who have created the community we all have grown to love.

The history of the King William area begins well before the Germans settled here in the mid-1800s. In fact, the story begins 300 years ago when the Spaniards found our lush river land perfect for the expansion of their empire. Long story told short, the Spaniards settled in, built the Alamo, and converted the natives to join their community. These San Antonio pioneers used the King William area land for agriculture to provide food for the Alamo community.

Seventy-five years later, our Spanish governor secularized the Missions from the Catholic church. So the 14 Native American families who were dependent on the Alamo were granted a parcel of land plus a bushel of corn in the King William area. The Spanish governor then called upon Pedro Huízar – a Spanish architect, land surveyor, and craftsman who was loved by the natives – to survey the land, which is why the descendants of Pedro Huízar are being honored as the Grand Marshal of the Parade this year. In addition to Huizar’s long list of accomplishments, he is famous for sculpting the Rose Window at Mission San José. Our Grand Marshal will be presented by our local nonprofit bike share, SWell Cycle. Local artist Chris Tilton will create a replica of the Rose Window to accommodate the theme of the float.

The San Antonio Conservation Society will serve as this year’s honor guard. This group of preservationists plays a crucial role in San Antonio’s unique historic and cultural characteristics. Founded in 1924 by 13 women, the San Antonio Conservation Society has helped save our city’s Spanish Colonial missions, historic attractions, and homes. The “great flood” of 1921 encouraged this group to form a Conservation Society. In fact, the constant flooding forced the City to rethink our river. The winning solution was to pour cement in the river to solve the problem. We can’t thank those original 13 women enough for having the sense to fight that idea and support Robert H.H. Hugman’s idea to build a River Walk.

The parade’s story will end by highlighting the King William Association. The Association’s story begins in 1948, but picks up in 1967. The Association needed a fundraiser, so it settled on hosting an annual King William Fair on the last Saturday during Fiesta. The original fair in 1968 was a couple of blocks in the ‘hood featuring local artists, a few food and beverage booths, plus a cake walk. Thanks to the fair and its fairgoers, the King William Association has donated approximately $800,000 in grants and scholarships since 2001. In addition, the association has used the proceeds of the fair to help revive the once-decaying neighborhood.

Several factors including a shortage of housing, economic challenges, the flood of 1921, and San Antonio’s growth contributed to the original homeowners moving out of the neighborhood. Many grand houses were divided into apartments to address the housing shortage, and many properties fell by the wayside and slowly decayed. Once the association formed in the late 1960s, new pioneers began to resettle and restore the area.

The funds raised from vendor booths in the early years of the fair were used to beautify the neighborhood. Simple luxuries like planting trees, adding and repairing sidewalks and lights, and restoring and creating a park around the gazebo have helped to draw  tourists, locals, and entrepreneurs to our neighborhood.

This is the parade’s story in a nutshell. We, the parade entertainers, hope to live up to the saga of our ancestors who have paved the way for our neighborhood and community that we so enjoy.  ¡Viva Fiesta!

3 thoughts on “‘Who Is King William?’: A Story About Community

  1. Well, Alice, the history of King William neighborhood began long before 300 years ago. There is at least 11,500 years of prehistory buried along the banks of the San Antnio River. I have seen artifacts that date back to ca. 10,300 from the grounds of Conception Mission and 2,500 year old artifacts along Washington Street. In fact, the King William area was known as the “labores de los indios” or fields of the Indians that lived at the Alamo and along the river’s banks as you noted before Pedro developed it. So, lets don’t give the impression that settlements here began 300 years ago. Please give the forgotten American Indians their rightful place in history of the region and neighborhood.

  2. Poorly written and boring. If there was a specific identification of who King William was, I missed it. If there was no King William, there was still no explanation of how the moniker came about.
    I had always thought that the person who carved the Rose Window was hidden in the unsolved mystery of our history, but that idea probably dates back decades and has since been resolved. Perhaps someone more knowledgeable can weigh in on this fact. Sorry, but I do not trust what the marketing coordinator/amateur journalist says. And I question the Rivard Report for including this article.

  3. Enjoy the articles on San Antonio history, but still uncertain about source of the King William name. Next time…

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