BOERNE, TEXAS. Boerne, the county seat of Kendall County, is located on Cibolo Creek, Interstate Highway 10, and U.S. Highway 87 thirty miles northwest of San Antonio in the southern part of the county. In 1849 a group of German colonists from Bettina camped on the north side of Cibolo Creek, about a mile west of the site of present Boerne. They called their new community Tusculum, after Cicero's home in ancient Rome. In 1852 Gustav Theissen and John James laid out the townsite and changed the name to Boerne in honor of Ludwig Boerne, a German author and publicist. A post office was established in 1856 with August Staffell as postmaster. The community had only ten houses in 1859, but it was chosen as county seat by a margin of sixty-seven votes after the county was established in 1862. A courthouse was built in 1870 and was still in use in the 1990s; it was thus the second-oldest courthouse in the state. Boerne developed the reputation of having a very healthful environment and quickly became known as a health resort. By 1884 it had five hotels, assorted businesses, and 250 residents. Cotton, wool, and grain were the principal shipments, but timber, cedar posts, and building stone were also profitable commodities. The arrival of the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railway in 1887 brought increased economic opportunity, and by 1890 the population of Boerne had risen to 800.
Boerne residents voted to incorporate in 1909 and established a mayor-alderman form of city government. Also in that year they established the Boerne Independent School District. The population was reported at 950 in 1914, and the community prospered through the 1920s. The Great Depression of the 1930s, however, all but put an end to the tourism and cotton farming that had been staples of the local economy. The population fell from an estimated 2,000 in 1928 to 1,117 in 1931; it had risen to only 1,271 by the 1940s. In the 1950s, however, many residents turned to nearby San Antonio for employment, and Boerne became a bedroom community. The population grew at a slow but steady rate, reaching 2,169 in 1960. In the 1960s construction in neighboring Bexar County of the San Antonio Medical Center and the University of Texas at San Antonio, as well as the completion of Interstate Highway 10, made Boerne even more attractive as a town from which to commute. Its population rose to 2,400 by 1970, 3,254 by 1980, 4,274 by 1990, and 6,178 by 2000.
In spite of the influx of different ethnic groups, the German cultural tradition has dominated the community in many ways. The Boerne Gesangverein, or singing society, which was established in 1860, was an important social and recreational organization until it disbanded in 1977; German community organizations still active in 1990 included the Boerne Schuetzen Verein (shooting club), which was formed in 1864, and the Boerne Village Band, which was formed about the same time as the singing society. Boerne has also held an annual celebration, the Berges Fest, since 1967.
Kendall County Historical Commission, A History of Kendall County, Texas (Dallas: Taylor, 1984). Garland A. Perry, Historic Images of Boerne, Texas (Boerne: Perry Enterprises, 1982). Vertical Files, Dolph Briscoe Center for American History, University of Texas at Austin.
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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, Vivian Elizabeth Smyrl, "BOERNE, TX," accessed February 18, 2020, http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/hgb09.
Uploaded on June 12, 2010. Modified on April 22, 2019. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.