In 1849, Boerne, Texas got its primitive start when a group of German colonists decided to camp just above Cibolo Creek. The weather was fair, and water was readily available, so they decided to make a settlement there. Even in modern times, it is easy to see that German culture still heavily influences the town. A German singing society existed there for over 100 years, and German organizations host annual cultural celebrations celebrating the first settlers and the town’s German roots.
These original settlers first named the settlement – not much more than a campsite, really – “Tusculum” in honor of the Roman town of the same name – said to be Cicero’s place of birth. In 1852, just three short years later, John James and Gustav Theissen surveyed and planned the area for a more formal city which they called Boerne, after the German writer Ludwig Börne.
The town grew quickly. By 1856, Boerne claimed a post office and a gristmill/sawmill operation. Within the next five years, a blacksmith, livery, butcher, general store and saloon were all founded in the growing town. Although there were fewer than a dozen homes in the town by 1859, there were enough children in the area to warrant a private school by the 1860s. Boerne was clearly growing.
In 1862, Kendall County was officially established, and, shortly after, Boerne was voted its county seat. Boerne is the home of the second courthouse ever built in the state of Texas. This courthouse has been standing since 1870, and it is still being used today.
About this time, Boerne’s environment became known for its healthful benefits, so the town capitalized on that, promoting itself as a health resort. Tourists came for the rejuvenating benefits that Boerne, Texas promised. The town boomed in the 1870s and 80s, not only because of tourism, but also because of its agricultural business. Boerne shipped out cotton and grain, wool, cedar posts and stone for building.
The railroad made transporting these goods even easier. Because of the San Antonio and Aranasas Pass Railway, the population again made a huge leap between 1887 (when the railroad first arrived) and 1890. In 1909, the town voted to incorporate, establishing a governing body and a school district. The now-city continued to grow until the Great Depression. After the 1930s, the population fell from around 2,000 to nearly half that in just a few years and only gradually rebuilt itself.
The 1950s saw an increase in employment in San Antonio, just 30 miles to the south, so commuters began building and buying homes in Boerne once again. In the 1960s, San Antonio Medical Center and the University of Texas at San Antonio were constructed in adjacent Bexar County, and Interstate Highway 10, which runs directly from San Antonio to Boerne, was completed, making the commute time between the two considerably shorter. This drew even more people to the quiet town, putting Boerne’s population at 5,000 in the 1990s.
At last census, the population had more than doubled to just over 10,000.