Pybus-Koerber Home

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

Home of Koerber Products Company

Palacios Beacon October 19, 1939



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




Lifetime Of Community Service Ends With Death of J. L. Koerber, Sr.


A lifetime of community service and personal achievement came to an end here last Thursday with the death of James L. Koerber, Sr., a former mayor and civic leader of Palacios.


Koerber, 72, died in Bayview hospital after a short illness. He was buried Saturday at Palacios cemetery following 10 a. m. services at the First Presbyterian Church.


Owner and operator of the Koerber Sales Company, the well-known civic leader came here in 1919 at the age of 35. He was owner and operator of the Ford Motor Company at that time.


In 1925 Koerber was one of the most active community leaders in the Palacios Campsite Association, Inc., movement, which purchased and helped locate Camp Hulen in this area.


He was a member of the Board of Directors and Secretary-Treasurer of the non-profit corporation, which is credited with bringing hard surface roads to Palacios through the location of Camp Hulen in this area.


Koerber also served as alderman, and was both president and on the Board of Directors of the Chamber of Commerce.


He was chairman of the first Navigation District for the Palacios area and spearheaded construction of the first turning basin.


Elected Mayor of Palacios in 1948, Koerber was re-elected in 1950, serving as head of the local government until 1952, when he declined to run again for the office.


He was born in Houston in 1884. Survivors include his wife, Ina Mae Koerber, who moved here with him in 1919.


Also, two sons, James L. Koerber, Jr. of Palacios and Eugene Oliver Koerber, Atlanta, Ga.; two daughters, Mrs. Alvin Hunt, Pasadena, Texas, and Mrs. Sidney Katz of Cleveland, Ohio; and four grandchildren.


Palacios Beacon, June 21, 1956

Ina Mae Koerber


Funeral services for Ina Mae Koerber were held Dec. 1 at 2 p. m. at the First Presbyterian Church with Rev. Doug Blanton officiating. Interment followed at Palacios Cemetery.


Mrs. Koerber was born in Batson, Texas and died Nov. 28, 1985 at Pasadena General Hospital in Pasadena. She was the daughter of William and Azema West Perryman.


Mrs. Koerber was a member of the First Presbyterian Church where she sang with the choir for many years. She was a member of the Wednesday Club and the Chamber of Commerce. She had been a resident of the city since 1918.


Survivors include two daughters, Gertrude Hunt of Pasadena and Melba Katz of McAllen; two sons, James Louis Koerber, Jr. of Palacios and Gene Koerber of Houston; seven grandchildren and six great grandchildren.


She was preceded in death by her husband in 1956.


Pallbearers were Dr. Lee Hunt, Danny Slaven, Richard Bowe, Len Simon, Darres Slaven, Danny Katz, Randy Erekson and Troy Erekson.


Palacios Beacon, December 5, 1985

James L. Koerber Jr.


Palacios—James Louis Koerber Jr., 82, of Palacios, died Friday, Dec. 17, 1999.


He was born Feb. 4, 1917, in Houston to the late James Louis Sr. and Ina Mae Perryman Koerber. He was a retired sales manager of Koerber Furniture, a former sexton of the Palacios Cemetery and a member of the First Presbyterian Church in Palacios. He was a World War II veteran, having served in the United States Army Air Force.


Survivors: daughters, Katherine Mae Bowe of Houston and Jean Lee Koerber of Nashville, TN.; sister, Gertrude Hunt of Houston; brother, Eugene Oliver Koerber of Houston; and two grandchildren.


Preceded in death by: parents, wife, Melvina Heyser Koerber; sister, Melba Katz and grandchild, Randy Lee Erekson.


Services will be 11 a. m. Monday at First Presbyterian Church in Palacios, the Rev. Andy Blair, officiating.


Burial will be at Palacios Cemetery.


Taylor Brothers Funeral Home, Bay City, (409) 245-4613


Victoria Advocate, December 1999

Services Held Tuesday For Mel Koerber


Palacios suffered the loss of an active and leading member of the community over the weekend with the death of Melvina L. (Heyser) Koerber at the age of 67. She died Saturday, Oct. 1, 1988 at Matagorda General Hospital in Bay City following a heart attack.


Funeral services were held at 3 p. m. Tuesday at the First Presbyterian Church with the Rev. Doug Blanton officiating. Interment was in Palacios Cemetery.


Born the daughter of James V. Heyser, Sr. and Beulah K. (Lambert) Heyser on January 1, 1921 in Cisco, Tex., Mrs. Koerber moved to Palacios 43 years ago. She retired as tax assessor-collector recently after 25 years with the Palacios I. S. D. tax office. At the time of her death, she was also a commissioner on the Matagorda County/Palacios Seawall Commission.


Mel, as she was known by her many friends, is survived by her husband, James Louis Koerber of Palacios; two daughters, Jean Lee Koerber of Palacios and Katherine Mae Bowe (wife of Richard Bowe) of Houston; a brother, James V. Heyser of Cisco, Tex.; a brother-in-law Gene Koerber of Houston; two sisters-in-law Melba Katz of McAllen and Gertrude Hunt of Pasadena; three grandsons, Troy Erekson, Lance and Rex Bowe; and one granddaughter, Melissa Erekson.


Mrs. Koerber was a member and an Elder of the First Presbyterian Church where she was also on the board of directors of the Presbyterian Day School. Among her many other civic activities, she served on the Advisory Board of the Palacios Area Fund. In addition, she was secretary of the Palacios Cemetery Association and on the board of directors of the Palacios Friends of Elder Citizens.


Pallbearers were Bruce Herlin, Bruce Elliott, Abel “Bink” Pierce, Leonard Lamar, Jimmy Day and Bob Fiorini.


Palacios Beacon, October 5, 1988

Eugene O. “Gene” Koerber


Graveside funeral services for Gene Koerber, 75, of Pasadena, TX. were held Oct. 22, 2000 at the Palacios Cemetery in Palacios with Rev. Janell Blair officiating.

Mr. Koerber was born May 14, 1925 in Palacios to the late James Louis and Ina Mae Perryman Koerber, Sr. He died Oct. 18, 2000.


He was a resident of Pasadena for the past three years and a longtime resident and band leader in the Houston area. He was a member of the Presbyterian Church and a U. S. Navy veteran of World War II.


He is survived by a sister, Gertrude K. Hunt of Pasadena; and several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his sister, Melba Katz, and his brother, James Louis Koerber, Jr.


Palacios Beacon, October 2000

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