A Brief History

Our Part of NW & Hill Country


Known as a town filled with culture, heritage, and history, Boerne has its fair share of tall tales and exciting stories for current residents and visitors alike. Some of our favorites, from name changes to famous court cases, are explained here!

Boerne Named for a Fiery German Journalist

Boerne was platted in 1852, but settlers arrived a few years earlier, traveling west from New Braunfels to the banks of the Cibolo Creek. These highly educated men weren’t farmers, however, and their idealistic commune only lasted a few years before it was abandoned.  At one point, a journalist referred to the summer home of Dr. Ferdinand Herff as his “Tusculum among the hills,” and the romance of famed Roman philosopher Cicero’s villa was intricately linked to Boerne.  However, Boerne itself was always named for German poet Ludwig Börne, well known among our scholarly gentlemen for his passionate pleas in German that caused a wave of migration to a new world.

The Old Courthouse Holds Records

The Old Kendall County Courthouse is an easily recognizable Boerne landmark. An architectural gem built of limestone and located just off Main Street, the old courthouse is a beautiful beacon of the past. Many may be surprised to learn that, as of 2010, the courthouse was the second oldest in continuous use in Texas. Initially constructed in 1870, the courthouse has been expanded many times and once was host to both the jail and the court. As the county grew, the need to develop eventually became too great, and today a new, larger courthouse sits just across the street.

The Railroad Connected Boerne to San Antonio

One great aspect of Boerne is the convenience of being short distances from a central metropolitan area. However, at one time, a trip to San Antonio took nearly a full day. Then, in the 1880s, the railroad came to Boerne and shortened the trip to around 3 hours. Boerne saw a quick spike in tourism and traffic as many hotels popped up around town, and the area became more accessible. As with many Texas towns, introducing the railroad increased Boerne’s viability throughout the state and helped set the building blocks for the city that exists today.

A Place for Healing

It’s no secret that Boerne is home to a fantastic natural environment and beautiful surroundings. What may be surprising is that at one point, Boerne was a significant health destination. Beginning in the late 1800s, tourists flocked to Boerne as a health and wellness center, hoping to increase their chances of good health and healing respiratory ailments. After the railroad was introduced, the town became home to several hotels and sanitariums. Boerne was so well known for health-related tourism that the VA hospital for the area that resides in Kerrville was meant initially for Boerne!

Boerne’s Population Doubled From 1990-2010

Boerne has always been a quaint community...but between 1990 and 2010, the town and surrounding area became particularly popular. Due in large part to the beautiful land, a close-knit community, and great schools, Boerne experienced an influx of interest and growth. True to form, the town managed to capitalize on the positive aspects of growth while still maintaining the feel and culture that have made it a great place to live for over 100 years.


Comfort was founded in 1854 by German immigrants. Called Freethinkers, these German settlers advocated reason and democracy over religious and political autocracy. They valued equal rights for all people and respect for life and nature. On High Street, you will find a marker, inset in limestone, that recognizes their contribution to the area.

Take a walk down High Street to explore the architecture and history of Comfort.
The beautifully restored limestone storefronts date to the late 1800s and tell the history of Comfort and its German founders. Many of the descendants of these original families still live in Comfort. Each building has a Texas state historical marker, making it easy to do your own self-guided walking tour.

The Hotel Faust — now called Hotel Giles — was built in 1880 as a residence for Peter Ingenhuett, whose family was one of Comfort’s founders. Designed by renowned San Antonio architect Alfred Giles, today it is wholly remodeled but maintains the original carriage house and other property structures. A few doors down, you’ll find the original wooden Ingenhuett homestead.


The town was settled in the 1850s by immigrants from Germany and Mexico. The pioneer whose land encompassed what is now known as Old Town Helotes was Scottish immigrant and surgeon Dr. George F. Marnoch, who purchased the property in 1858 and built a two-and-a-half-story limestone house in 1859; the place was awarded a Texas Historic Landmark designation in 2010. His eldest son, Gabriel Wilson Marnoch, was a well-known naturalist who discovered two reptilian and two amphibian species in the Helotes hills.

The Spanish terms elotes and olotes, Americanized to Helotes, which means corn on the cob, has been used for the area since the early 1700s, when it was mentioned in a Spanish report to the governor of the region, describing the area where Apaches scalped a Spaniard who had been looking for stray horses. How the name was derived is unknown; however, it is believed that Lipans had cultivated corn along the creek for centuries before frequent raids of Comanche Indians made such agricultural activities impossible.

Leon Springs 

In 1846 it was the site of a stagecoach stop operated by George von Pleve, a German nobleman and immigrant. A post office was established in 1857, and by 1885 the town had a steam cotton gin, a general store, two hotels, and a population of fifty. During World War I Leon Springs was the site of an officers' training camp. The post office was closed in 1918, and by the mid-1930s the population had fallen to twenty-five. The town grew again during World War II due to activity at Camp Stanley and Camp Bullis in the nearby Leon Springs Reservation. 

Pipe Creek 
The town was founded about 1870 and was named for nearby Pipe Creek. The community's first settler, Francis Marion Hodges, arrived in the area in 1868, and another settler, Oliver S. Shirley, arrived in 1870. The first public school for Pipe Creek was built in 1881 near the Pipe Creek Cemetery. In 1886 the local First Baptist Church was organized, with Baptists and other religious denominations meeting in the schoolhouse.

During the early 1900s, the population of Pipe Creek remained at about 100. A Methodist church was founded there in 1904, and in 1908 the first telephone line was installed (in the general store). A second school, called the Deskin School, was formed in 1913. By the 1920s, the community population had declined to twenty-five, and in 1924 the Deskin and Pipe Creek schools consolidated. A Texas historical marker at Pipe Creek notes the English-Crist home, a lodging stop for travelers during the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Have you ever ended up in the Boerne Jail?  Well now is a great time to do so! Our beloved Kendall County Historic Jail Museum, that is.  The jail itself is historic and it’s not a museum about jail things but about great Texans, the unusual in Texas, and things in history that involved Texas or Texans.  The Boerne jail itself was built in 1887 and retired in 1987.  The jail cells upstairs are still there in case you want to book an event or someone in your group is being bad.  One of the most unusual exhibits is about the WWII Bat Bomb!  Never heard of it?  It was a real invention funded by President FDR using Texas bats.  You can see a full replica of the Bat Bomb upstairs and learn more about it.  The Bat Bomb actually worked very well in development as some of the bats escaped resulting in the destruction of the testing area.  The museum is overflowing with Texana. If you get there at the right time you can get a personal tour by either Dean Sprowl or Paul Barwick.  Many items on display are part of Dean and Paul‘s original collections so they can answer any questions you have.  Oh! Have them tell you about the ghosts here in the jail!  Open Saturdays from 10am to 4pm.  $5 per person, free for children under 10 and Law Enforcement.   

208 E. San Antonio Ave, Boerne, TX  78006  (830) 428-6191 and (210) 421-3700  warden@thejail.org and  www.thejail.org