Villa Fun Alley

Boo Boo’s King William
king philip vKing William: The Spanish Years!
Let me tell you a little bit about my neighborhood.  The land where all these great houses are today used to be farm land for the famous Alamo over 200 years ago!  Back then, all of Texas belonged to the country of Spain.  The Alamo’s farm lands were used to grow food for all the people of San Antonio.  These people were Native Americans and immigrants sent by the King of Spain from a place called the Canary Islands.  In the year 1731, the Spanish governor decided to stop using the Alamo as part of the Catholic Church.  This meant that the farm lands were no longer needed for the Alamo.  What did they do with all the land?
Native familyWell, it was decided to split the land evenly among all the people who were living in San Antonio.  That way families could build houses on their own land and grown their own food.  The governor chose a man named Pedro Huizar to measure plots of land for all the families.  Another man named Vicente Amador was chosen to hand out the plots to the people.  What a job!  As a reward, these two men were given their own land near the San Antonio River.  What a great reward!
Could you imagine what it would be like to hand out land to the people of San Antonio?  Here’s a fun little maze game for you to try.  See if you can help the Spanish governor pass out land to 19 people.  To see the answer, go to the “answer keys” section.  Have fun! 

Printable Activity (2nd – 3rd grade)

King William: The Germans Arrive
About 100 years after the people of San Antonio were given the Alamo’s farm lands, a new group of people arrived in Texas.  They were all the way from the country of Germany!  Why did they come to Texas?  They heard there was a lot of great land for everyone to have.  Texas had also just gained independence from the country of Mexico, and before that Mexico had gained independence from Spain!  Because the people of Texas fought Mexico themselves, Texas became its own country called the Republic of Texas.  Germans saw Texas as a great place to make a good life.
GermansMany German immigrants settled in San Antonio.  A large group of Germans began to build houses on the Alamo’s old farm lands.  One of these immigrants was a man named Ernst Altgelt.  He designed the neighborhood the way it still looks today.  He thought it would be great to have a small park at the center and three main streets.  Two of the streets he named after United States Presidents: Washington, the first president, and Madison, the fourth president.  But the main street he named after the first German Emperor, Kaiser Wilhelm or King William!
Soon there were many German people living in the King William neighborhood.  Everywhere you went there were German businesses, people speaking German, and yummy German food!  Have you ever had a German sausage called a bratwurst?  They are SO GOOD!  You know what else they had in King William?  A school called the German-English School.
Most of the kids living in King William went to the German-English School.  The school was important because kids were taught in both German and in English.  They were taught writing, history, geography, algebra, astronomy, poetry, and Spanish.  Kids also took singing lessons, art, and swimming.  Oh, and kids went to school SIX DAYS per week for eleven months out of the year!  Today, most schools are open only five days out of the week and eight months out of the year.  Life was sure different back then!
german boy
Would you like to play a game?  This is Fritz, he is a brand new student at the German-English School.  He will need your help finding his way to the school since he is new to King William.  Print out and finish the maze below to help Fritz get to school — it’s his first day! 

Click here:  HELP FRITZ MAZE
Printable Activity (3rd – 4th grade)

King William: From Bad Times to Good Times
Everything was great in the King William neighborhood for many years, but then things began to change.  People started building new houses on the hills just outside the city.  Soon, a lot of people began to move into the quiet hills and away from downtown San Antonio.  But something bad happened in the year 1921 that really changed things.  In September of 1921 it rained and rained and rained!  It rained so much in a small amount of time that the water in the San Antonio River spilled onto the streets of the city!  Can you believe some parts of downtown San Antonio were under 12 feet of water?  To get an idea of how bad it was, next time you go to a swimming pool ask how far down the deep end goes.
After the flood very few people wanted to live around the River.  Remember how I told you King William was right next to the River?  For many years after the flood, a lot of the grand houses in the neighborhood were forgotten or not taken care of.  A lot of them even were turned into apartments!  Well, things went on that way for a while until some people in the neighborhood began to realize that they needed to save the old houses.  Why?  Because they are an important part of King William’s story, a part of history that you can see, touch, and live in!
sold sign Soon, many people were buying the houses to return them to the way they used to be in the old days.  They also began to add modern things to the houses like new wires for electricity and air conditioning.  If you live in a hot area you know an air conditioner is very important!  As the houses and the neighborhood began to get better, so did the rest of the area.  New business like restaurants and art galleries began to open.  If you live near my neighborhood or ever visit, take a walk in this area and you will smell all the yummy food from the restaurants — I have my favorites!
So that’s the story of my neighborhood, good old King William.  If you visit, take a walk along some of the streets to see the old homes.  Many people are still buying the houses to fix them right up, isn’t that neat?  If you live in a different city, see if you can spot where the oldest homes are.  How do they look?  Could they use some help?  What could you do to save old buildings?
Make sure you keep checking my alley, Villa Fun Alley for more stories, pictures, and activities!
Here is one more for you … a crossword puzzle with some of the words I mentioned in my story!  Print it out and see how well you do.  Check the “Answer Keys” section after you finish.  I’m sure you’ll do fine — I can tell you’re smart, like me!

Printable Activity (3rd – 4th grade)



1 Comment so far
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Great play on words for the name and a good history lesson. Hope kids will find it!

Comment by Jessie Kardys

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