TIMBERWOOD PARK, TX

David Barkalow
Timberwood Park Entrance Sign.
Timberwood Park, Texas, is a residential community in north-central Bexar County. Photograph by David Barkalow.

TIMBERWOOD PARK, TEXAS. Timberwood Park, also known as Timberwood, is a suburban residential community located west of U. S. Highway 281 and east of Blanco Road about twenty miles north of San Antonio in north-central Bexar County. Timberwood Park contains 3,263 lots with the majority being a half acre. The community includes a park that contains a seven-acre lake, six-hole golf course, swimming pool, along with sand volleyball, basketball, and tennis courts. The size of the development is 2,172 acres, making it the seventh largest subdivision in Bexar County in 2017. 

Lake at Timberwood Park.
Timberwood Park includes a seven-acre lake and park land that includes a golf course, swimming pool, and other recreational facilities. Photograph by Chris Martinez.

The land comprising Timberwood Park and the immediate surrounding area possesses a rich historical legacy. Human habitation of north-central Bexar County, like much of Texas, began with the appearance of Paleo-Indians (ca. 9,500–6,800 B.C.), characterized as hunters of megafauna who also utilized a combination of available resources (see PREHISTORY). By the late 1600s and early 1700s, the Spanish wished to solidify their control over the area as they moved northward from present-day Mexico. This movement allowed direct contact with numerous Indian groups in the Bexar County area, including the Payaya Indians, one group that made up the Coahuiltecans, The Payaya lived in north-central Bexar County, including the Timberwood Park area.  

The borders of today’s Timberwood Park contained two of the nine original Bexar County tracts of land set aside by an act approved by the Republic of Texas on January 30, 1841, which established Guadalupe College, an institution that was planned to be located in Gonzales, Texas. A subsequent state act, approved on February 16, 1852, dissolved Guadalupe College and transferred monies from the sale of the property to the construction of the Gonzales College in the city of Gonzales. 

Gerfers Home.
Gerfers Homestead, ca. 1886. German immigrant Johann Theodor Gerfers purchased the first land in the Timberwood area. His family operated a cattle and sheep ranch from the 1850s through the 1880s. Source: C. A. [Butch] Gerfers Family Album.

The large influx of German immigrants to Texas in the mid-1800s stimulated land sales in south-central Texas. Johann Theodor Gerfers, his wife Maria, and their four children arrived in Texas in 1848. Gerfers purchased the first land (160 acres) in the Timberwood area and began cattle and sheep ranching. From the early 1850s through the 1880s, the Gerfers family purchased adjoining tracts in the area to create a large cattle and sheep ranch encompassing nearly all of present-day Timberwood Park. In 1889 the Gerfers family sold more than 2,000 acres to rancher Richard A. Mecke, who used the property primarily as a sheep ranch and renamed it Mecke Ranch. In the 1920s the ranch was sold to the Pipes family. 

By 1930 the ranch was split in half, with the southern portion selling to O. L. Norsworthy, a nationally-known physician and radium specialist, who operated practices in Houston and San Antonio. He named his 1,280 acres the Hou-Santo Ranch after the cities in which he practiced medicine. Norsworthy passed away in 1935, and in 1937 the ranch was sold to Malcolm and Jocelyn Levi who had recently moved to San Antonio from the northeastern United States. Malcolm Levi was from a successful family in Pennsylvania who owned a silk manufacturing facility. The Levi family became cattle ranchers and breeders and called their San Antonio ranch, Paleface Ranch, after the white-face Hereford cattle. Malcolm and Jocelyn’s daughter, also named Jocelyn (Joci), became a prominent San Antonio civic leader and philanthropist along with her husband Joe Straus, Jr. Their son, Joe Straus III, was later elected to five terms as the speaker of the Texas House of Representatives. 

Aerial View of Timberwood Park.
Aerial view of the park at Timberwood Park. Drone photograph by Keith Whitehead.

The Timberwood Development Company managed by Glen Gregory “G.G.” Gale purchased the northern tract of what was the old Gerfers/Mecke Ranch in December 1976 from Nick McFadin and Paul Casseb. The southern tract was purchased from Jocelyn Levi in November 1979. The two large parcels of land became known collectively as Timberwood Park. The community showed steady growth, and by 1990 the population was 2,578. That figure increased significantly to 5,889 in 2000 and 13,447 in 2010.

Timberwood also boasts Gerfers Cemetery, designated a Texas Historic Cemetery by the Texas Historical Commission. There are twenty confirmed internments from early settlers of the area, including the Gerfers, Mecke, and Poss families and their relatives, with burials ranging from 1873 through 1922. 

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Gregg C. Cestaro, Martha Doty Freeman, Marie E. Blake, and Ann M. Scott, Cultural Resources Survey of Selected Maneuver Areas at Camp Bullis, Bexar and Comal Counties, Texas: The Archeology and History of 3,255 Acres Along Cibolo Creek (Fort Worth: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, 2001). “Paleface Ranch History,” Paleface Ranch (https://palefaceranch.org/paleface-ranch-history/), accessed July 2, 2017. San Antonio Daily Light, February 17, 1894. San Antonio Express, December 17, 1931. San Antonio Express-News, June 17, 2015. San Antonio Light, January 6, 1935.

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The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Handbook of Texas Online, David Barkalow , "Timberwood Park, TX," accessed February 18, 2018, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hft03.

Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Modified on December 19, 2017. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
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