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A Look Back at the 1911 Battle of Flowers Parade

April 15, 2011

In honor of today’s Battle of Flowers Parade, this entry highlights some photographs of the 1911 parade. Contained within the Library’s collection of Beckmann family papers, the images show throngs of spectators in Alamo Plaza – some even perched on nearby rooftops, including that of the Alamo! – and the facade of the Alamo church decorated for the parade. Also shown is the float of twenty-one-year-old Helena Dorothea Guenther, the Queen of the Court of Carnival Flowers a century ago.

Helena Guenther on her float in Alamo Plaza during the 1911 Battle of Flowers Parade.

Helena Guenther on her float in Alamo Plaza during the 1911 Battle of Flowers Parade.

Helena Guenther in the 1911 Battle of Flowers Parade.

Helena Guenther in the 1911 Battle of Flowers Parade.

Spectators in an undated photograph, believed to show the 1911 Battle of Flowers Parade.

Spectators in an undated photograph, believed to show the 1911 Battle of Flowers Parade.

Born in San Antonio in 1889, Helena was the granddaughter of Carl Hilmar Guenther, builder the first flour mill in the city. She attended the German-English School and Miss Wasson’s School for Young Ladies. In 1909, she made her debut with her cousin Regina Augusta Beckmann at a party in the Guenther Home. Regina was the Princess of the Daffodils and Maid of Honor to her cousin the Queen in 1911; John O. Meusebach was Helena’s Prime Minister of the Realm, Robert Ayres and Franklin McIlhenny were pages to the Queen, and Atlee Ayres was court jester. In addition to being Queen in 1911, Helena was the Duchess of de Chataney in the Court of Roses (1910), Duchess of Sylvia in the Court of Lilies (1912), and Princess of the Lilies and Maid of Honor to the Queen in the Court of Spring (1913).

Helena Guenther, Queen of the Court of Carnival Flowers.

Helena Guenther, Queen of the Court of Carnival Flowers.

The Queen on her float in the 1911 parade.

The Queen on her float in the 1911 parade.

Helena Guenther married Arthur Hughes Muir (1884-1955) in 1917; the couple had one surviving son. Known as a gardener and gourmet cook, Helena was an active member in a number of San Antonio organizations, including St. Mark’s Episcopal Church and the Alamo Heights-Terrell Hills Garden Club, Junior League, Military-Civilian Club, Symphony Society, and San Antonio Conservation Society. She died in San Antonio in 1977.

References and Further Reading

The five-volume History of the Order of the Alamo, available at the DRT Library, contains information about each court between 1909 and 1989, including photographs of each queen, princess, and duchess and descriptions of each coronation ceremony during that period.

For more information about how the history of the Battle of Flowers Parade is documented in archival collections at the DRT Library, see earlier entries about the event on the “Inside the Gates” blog.

For additional information about Helena Guenther and her family, see The Family of Carl Hilmar Guenther and Dorothea Pape Guenther (2001), available at the DRT Library.

Click here for a full citation of the documents and images included in this entry.

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