is no delicate way to put this. Fredericksburg High School once had
an image problem. Many people outside Gillespie
County mistakenly thought the school's mascot was a Hillbilly,
not a Battlin' Billie. It took a little PR work and a legendary billy
goat named Alter Stolz to clear up the confusion.
In an article in the Fredericksburg Standard some years ago,
long-time Fredericksburg head football coach and athletic director
Carlin Wicker traced the origins of the FHS mascot controversy to
an early 20th century athletic contest between Fredericksburg High
School and Main Avenue High School in San
Antonio (later Fox Tech). Although Fredericksburg lost a close
game, a San Antonio sportswriter wrote "Those boys from up in the
hills" battled Main Avenue "like a bunch of billy goats."
The Fredericksburg athletes, students and fans liked what the sportswriter
had written and informally adopted the nickname "Hill Billies" (two
words) meaning "Billie Goats of the Hills."
As it turned out a billy goat was the ideal mascot for Fredericksburg
High School. Goats were very important to the economy of the
Hill Country. The Goat
King, Adolph Stieler, raised more goats on his ranch between Fredericksburg
than any rancher in the world.
The problem with the mascot was that the rest of the world didn't
get it. Outsiders, through ignorance or otherwise, thought the FHS
mascot was a "Hillbilly," (one word) - a person from a hilly or mountainous
region that is out of touch with the modern world. San Antonio newspapers
regularly called the Fredericksburg athletic teams the "Hillbillies."
The controversy raged for 30 years. FHS head football coach Ewell
Sessom made some progress when he began referring to his athletic
teams as the "Battlin' Billies," but outside Gillespie
County the new name was slow catching on.
Carlin Wicker arrived in Fredericksburg
in 1963 there was still confusion over whether or not FHS was the
"Battlin' Billies" or the Hillbillies. Then Alter Stolz made his historic
debut as FHS mascot at a pep rally on October 21, 1966, prior to the
The story goes that Billie Booster Glenn Quinn came up with the idea
of using a live goat as the team mascot. Quinn chose a magnificent
angora with a spectacular set of horns from Benno Eckert's herd in
Willow City. The animal was Benno's bell goat and family pet.
His name was Alter Stolz. It means "Old Pride."
That day at the pep rally, in front of a roaring crowd, Alter Stolz
pranced in, nose in the air - looking like he wanted to butt something.
He wore a flashy read and white blanket that read "Alter Stolz, FHS,
Battlin' Billies." It was a pivotal moment in the history Fredericksburg
High School athletics.
won the game against Uvalde
that night and went on to win the district championship. Whether he
deserved it or not Ol' Alter Stolz got a lion's share of the credit.
"Billie Pride, Uber Alles" became the battle cry that carried the
FHS Battlin' Billies to athletic glory.
Glenn Quinn and Sonny Bonn were the goat keepers, and they treated
Alter Stolz like a king. His majesty got a royal shearing each year
at the Pioneer Museum. Dr. Curtis Eckhardt gave him his yearly checkups.
And Alter Stolz, never camera shy, always got a wash and a rinse before
having his picture taken for the Mesa.
several years Alter Stolz traveled with the football team, and he
appeared at many special events. He became a part of the culture.
He logged close to 7,000 travel miles in his illustrious career. The
publicity he received cleared up the mascot question once and for
Alter Stolz died in 1973, but in a way he's still around. His mounted
head is on display at Fredericksburg High School. The rest of him
is buried on a hill overlooking the football stadium where people
say his spirit, like a foggy apparition, is sometimes seen, hanging
over the field, urging the Battlin' Billies on to victory.
Or maybe it's just smoke from the concession stand.
| Alter Stolz,
FHS Mascot, Tombstone
Barr, November 2020
| © Michael
18, 2020 Column
"Alter Stolz, School Mascot, Died Last Week," Fredericksburg Standard,
January 24, 1973
"FHS Campus Comet," Fredericksburg Standard, September 30, 1970.