Bexar History

Welcome to my Bexar County history page. This is a work in progress, but a very worthy effort given the long and uniquely legendary role Bexar County has played in shaping the destiny of Texas and, dare I say, a goodly part of this great country. Please feel free to comment by e-mail or otherwise where you see fit as most of history is susceptible to not only gaps of information, but different perspectives.

- Tommy

  • Time Held in Public Offices by the Current Members of the Commissioners Court

    Nelson Wolff

    Dates Office Years
    1971 - 1973 State Representative 2 Years
    1973 - 1975 State Senator 2 Years
    1987 - 1991 City Council 4 Years
    1991 - 1995 Mayor 4 Years
    2001 - Present County Judge Years
      Total: Years

    Sergio “Chico” Rodriguez

    Dates Office Years
    2005 - Present County Commissioner Years
      Total: Years

    Paul Elizondo

    Dates Office Years
    1979 - 1983 State Representative 4 Years
    1983 - 1984;
    1987 - Present
    County Commissioner Years
      Total: Years

    Kevin Wolff

    Dates Office Years
    2005 - 2008 City Council 3 Years
    2009 - Present County Commissioner Years
      Total: Years

    Tommy Adkisson

    Dates Office Years
    1981 - 1983;
    1985 - 1987
    State Representative 4 Years
    1999 - Present County Commissioner Years
      Total: Years

    Grand Total of All Years in Public Serivces:   Years

  • Census Information

  • County History

    *The information in the listed pages within was gathered with the help of the Texana/Genealogy Department of the San Antonio Public Library.

  • City History

    *The information in the listed pages within was gathered with the help of the Texana/Genealogy Department of the San Antonio Public Library.

  • Regional History

  • State History

  • Federal History

    *The information in the listed pages within was gathered with the help of the Texana/Genealogy Department of the San Antonio Public Library.

  • Miscellaneous Bexar County History

    • Establishment of Commissioners Court*

      The county Commissioners Court or County Board was established by the Constitution of 1876 and is composed of the county judge, as presiding officer, and four commissioners elected from precincts for two year terms.  During the Republic of Texas, the county board was composed of the chief justice and the justices of the peace of the county; under the Constitutions of 1845, 1861, and 1866, it was composed of the chief justice and four elective commissioners; and under the Constitution of 1869, of any three of the five justices of the peace of the county.

      The Commissioners Court has none of the functions of a court but is the general governing body of the county.  It establishes a courthouse and jail, appoints numerous minor officials such as the county health officer, fills vacancies in the county offices, lets contracts in the name of the county, builds and maintains roads and bridges, administers the county's public welfare services, performs numerous duties in regard to elections, sets the county tax rate, issues bonds, adopts the county budget, and serves as a board of equalization for tax assessments.

      Information taken from:

      The Handbook of Texas  , The Texas State Historical Association,
      Elton Cude, The Wild and Free Dukedom of Bexar, and
      The Texana/Geneology Department of the San Antonio Public Library,
      as edited by Monica Martinez, Special Assistant to County Commissioner Tommy Adkisson

    • Origin of the Texas County*

      The origin of the Texas County is found in the "municipality" the unit of local government under Spanish and Mexican rule.  These municipalities were rather large districts embracing one or more settlements and the surrounding rural territory.  The government of the municipality was vested in an ayuntamiento  (council) composed of at least one alcalde (judge), varying number of regidores (alderman) a sindico procurador (attorney), and alguacil (sheriff), and an escribano (secretary).

      Under the Republic the municipalities became counties, but the Spanish-Mexican influence on their Government was negligible.  The new local Governments were based on the county as found in the southern part of the United States.  The chief governing body of the county during the Republic was a county board, composed of the Chief Justice (appointed by the Congress) and elective Justices of the Peace although in 1845 four elective commissioners were subsituted for the Justices of the Peace.

      (From the Handbook of Texas, The Texas State Historical Association)

    • Hays Street Bridge

      Hays Street Bridge ReOpening Ceremony
      Historical Points

      July 20, 2010
      San Antonio 1910
      • US President wasWilliam H. Taft
      • Governor of Texas was Thomas Mitchell-Campbell
      • Bexar County Judge was Phil H. Shook
      • County Commissioner, Pct. 4 was Frank Bosshardt
      • Mayor of San Antonio was Bryan Callaghan, Jr.
      • Bexar County Population: 119,676
      • San Antonio Population: 96,614

      The San Antonio City Council introduced its first ever set of written road rules in March 1910, at more or less the same time the police department acquired its first automobiles and motorbikes.  Rule No. 1 states: "Vehicles going in opposite direction shall pass each other on the right."

    • Historical Markers in Precinct 4

      Bueche Cemetery

      On Saturday, October 19, 2002, members of the Bueche Family and the Bexar County Community held an official dedication ceremony marking the Bueche Cemetary as a State Historical Cemetery. The dedication included the unveiling of the Historical Marker that was permanently placed on the Cemetery grounds located at 404 Crestway - Windcrest, Texas. The City of Windcrest, represented by Mayor Jack Leonhardt, also took part in the ceremony by unveiling the City of Windcrest Historical sign for the Bueche Cemetery.

      Press Release

      September 5, 2002
      Contact: Don Ackerman


      Windcrest, Texas - The Texas Historical Commission (THC) has designated The Bueche Cemetery as a Historic Texas Cemetery. The Cemetery is located at 404 Crestway, Windcrest, Bexar County, Texas, 78239.

      The designation, reserved for cemeteries that are at least 50 years old and deemed worthy of preservation for their historic associations, means an Affidavit of Designation for Cemetery Purposes has been issued to the Bueche Cemetery to and it has been recorded in the Bexar County Clerk´s office.

      "The designation is a tool that will increase public awareness of these important cultural resources. Such awareness and education are among the best ways to guarantee the preservation of a cemetery," said Larry Oaks, executive director of THC.

      Cemeteries hold valuable historical information. They are often the last reminders of early settlements´ historical events, religious beliefs, lifestyles, and genealogy.

      "Historic cemeteries serve as directories of early residents and reflect the cultural influences that helped shape our state´s communities," said Oaks. :The Historic Texas Cemetery designation program helps bring attention to these community treasures and the importance of their preservation."

      Bueche Cemetery Plaque

      Texas Historical Commisssion Staff (NRC), 4/19/02
      Historic Texas Cemetery Medallion and 16"X12"
      Interpretive Plaque on a post.
      Bexar County (Job #BX-CO5SP)
      Location: 404 Crestway, Windcrest, Texas 78239
      Subject codes: GY




    • Community Areans Board (formerly the Coliseum Advisory Board)

      February 1949 - August 1971

      Chairman - Joe Freeman

      Vice Chairman - None

      August 1971 - January 1985

      Chairman - Harry Freeman

      Vice Chairman - None

      March 1985 - September 1988

      Chairman - Joe Strauss

      Vice Chairman - Milton Guess

      September 1988 - September 1990

      Chairman - Milton Guess

      Vice Chairman - Frank Sepulveda

      September 1990 - January 1992

      Chairman - John Steen, Jr.

      Vice Chairman - George Hays

      January 1992 - March 1996

      Chairman - Johnny Guerra

      Vice Chairman - Dan Puckett (till July 1995)

      Vice Chairman - Edward Steves

      March 1996 - August 1997

      Chairman - Edward Steves

      Vice Chairman - Joe Bradberry

      August 1997 - July 1999

      Chairman - Joe Ernst

      Vice Chairman - Joe Bradberry

      July 1999 - July 2003

      Chairman - Joe Bradberry

      Vice Chairman - Jim Lunz (till July 2001)

      July 2003 - November 2005

      Chairman - Dan Puckett

      Vice Chairman - Johnny Guerra

      November 2005 - August 2006

      Chairman - Joe Bradberry

      Vice Chairman - Johnny Guerra

      November 2006 - Present

      Chairman - Edward Steves

      Vice Chairman - Johnny Guerra

    • Schools

      Precinct 4 Schools

      Stephen F. Austin Elementary School (1878)

      Austin Elementary School stands as San Antonio's oldest school in continuous operation. Named for the Texas pioneer, Stephen F. Austin Elementary School opened in 1878 with four rooms and a schoolyard. Since then, the classic limestone school had been on the forefront of many education trends. In 1912, Austin introduced a special education class, almost 40 years before the state legislature passed a special education law. In 1951, Austin inaugurated the Austin Opportunity School. The program, the first of its kind in the state, offered training to special education students ages 6 through 21. The program was disconnected in 1992.

      Artemisia Bowden Elementary School (1971) - 515 Willow St.

      The daughter of a freed slave, Artemisia Bowden was born in Albany, Georgia in 1879. In 1902, she began teaching at St. Phillip's School, which was at that time an Episcopal day school for African-American girls. During her 52-year tenure at the school, Ms. Bowden devoted herself to the institution´s advancement. Eventually named school president, she oversaw the school´s move from La Villita to San Antonio's east side and its achievement of junior college status. Upon her retirement in 1954, Ms. Bowden summed up her lifetime of work by stating, "My dream is reality".

      Atemisia Bowden Elementary School opened in 1971, two years after Ms. Bowden's death.

      Herman Hirsch Elementary School (1960) - 4826 Seabreeze

      Opened in 1960, Herman Hirsch Elementary School was named for a beloved educator who was born in Fredericksburg in 1870. The school was built to serve the families of the Dellcrest neighborhood.

      Eloise Japhet Elementary School (1945) - 314 Astor

      The School first opened as the Japhet Opportunity School for physically disabled children in 1945 at 305 Austin St. The school served students up to the 12th grade.

      It was named after Eloise Japhet, a community advocate who supported the education and well-being of physically disabled children.

      In 1964, Japhet was moved to a new building at its present location. Following a major project to redraw school attendance boundaries throughout the SAISD, Japhet enrolled its first non-disabled students in the fall of 1990 and became Eloise Japhet Elementary School.

      Dorie Miller Elementary School (1947) - 207 Lincolnshire Dr.

      Dorie Miller Elementary School opened as W.W. White School No. 2 in 1947 at its present location in a two-room frame building brought from Hondo, Texas. As part of the W.W. White School District, the school was opened to serve the African-American children who lived in the Lincolnshire community. It had two classrooms, 64 students and two teachers who taught grades first through seventh. At one of the first PTA meetings, the officers and members chose to name the school for naval hero Dorie Miller, who died in the line of duty during World War II. The Waco native's heroism earned him the distinction of being the first African-American recipient of the Navy Cross.

      In 1950, the W.W. White School District merged with the SAISD. The original brick building opened in 1952 and included 17 classrooms, a cafetorium, principal's office, secretary's office, a clinic, a book room and two lounges for teachers. In the 1950's the school also served physically and mentally disabled children. In 1960, eight more classrooms were added to the building.

      By the 1967-68 school year, pre-school classes and a library were established. Student enrollment was at 880. Today, the enrollment is at 332 students and is expected to increase soon when the nearby Spring View housing community re-opens.

      John J. Pershing Elementary School (1905) - 600 Sandmeyer

      Pershing, originally named William T. Harris School, and School No. 17, opened in 1905 at 1307 Van Ness St., now the site of the Southbound IH-35 service road between Walters St. and New Braunfels Ave. In its early years, the school was often called Government Hill School because of its proximity to Fort Sam Houston. The name was changed to John H. Pershing in 1939 to honor the World War I general who had been stationed at Fort Sam Houston. The school opened at its present site in 1959 when a portion of the original school's campus was used to construct IH-35.

      Smith Elementary School (1895)

      Smith Elementary School began in 1895 as South Heights School in a one-room building at Preston and New Braunfels Avenue. It also was called "Miss Preston´s School" after Emma M. Preston, the principal and only teacher.

      Because a larger facility was needed, students began the fall 1899 term in rented classroom space in a Presbyterian Church at the corner of Ferguson and Nebraska (now Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard).

      In 1903, a two-story, four-room red brick school building was constructed on the northwest corner of Iowa and S. Gevers. The school was named after two Texas patriots and participants in the Battle of San Jacinto. Smith was also called School No. 15.

      P.F. Stewart Elementary School (1922) - 1950 Rigsby

      The school opened as the Covington School in 1922 to children in the W.W. White School District who lived west of Salado Creek. Named after a nearby park, the school was at Sulphur Springs and Gonzales roads, now Roland and Rigsby avenues, about two blocks from the present school.

      By 1933 enrollment was so large that a new building had to be constructed. The new school, named after longtime Bexar County Superintendent P.F. Steward, opened at 1950 Rigsby Ave. and served grades two to ten. In 1948, grades nine and ten were moved from Stewart to Sam Houston High School. The first grade was then moved to Stewart and the Covington School was closed.

      The school joined the San Antonio Independent School District in 1950. Throughout the years, facilities have been added and renovated to meet the needs of a growing student population.

      William B. Travis Elementary School (1898) - 1915 N. Main

      Opened in 1898, William B. Travis Elementary School was named for the Texas commander of the Battle of the Alamo. The school opened at its current site as a four-room, two-story brick structure. A majority of the students transferred from Stephen F. Austin Elementary.

      Phillis Wheatley Elementary School (1932) - 415 Gabriel St.

      Wheatley, named for the 18th century African-American poet, opened as a high school in 1932-33 to serve African-American students. The campus closed at the end of the 1969-70 school year. In 1972, Emerson Middle School was relocated to the Wheatley site from Pine Street. The Wheatley name was transferred to a new school that opened in 1974, on the site of Brackenridge High School, located near the King William area.

      In 1988, the Emerson name was removed from the school and the Philis Wheatley name was restored to the East Side campus. At the same time, the Wheatley High School name was dropped from the King William area campus and that school again became Brackenridge High School.

      W.W. White Elementary School (late 1800s) - 545 S. W.W. White Road

      Classes at W.W. White Elementary School started under a large tree on the banks of Salado Creek in the late 1800´s. The first building was completed in 1880 as a two-room schoolhouse and was named after the owner of the land surrounding the school. In 1950, W.W. White joined SAISD and added seven new classrooms and a cafeteria. In 1958, 14 more classrooms were constructed to house the increading enrollment which had reached 1,161. Today the enrollment is at 615.

      Booker T. Washington Elementary School (1930) - 1823 Nolan Street

      The school opened at its present site in 1930 and is named for an educator, author and prominent African American leader Booker T. Washington, whose life continues to be a source of inspiration to all. Washington rose from slavery to found Alabama´s Tuskegee Institute, and also was an advisor on race relations to Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft.

      Highland Park Elementary School (1914) - 635 Rigsby Ave.

      Named after the community it serves, Highland Park Elementary School opened in the fall of 1914. At the time it was called, "the most complete and modern school in all San Antonio." At a cost of $38,000 to build, it was touted for having "all classrooms lightened from the left with one hundred windows...having the latest in adjustable shades." The "modern system of ventilating and thermometers in room to automatically adjust heating" were considered state-of-the-art.

      In 1914, the curriculum included two departments: "Domestic Science" and "Manual Training", which reflected the needs of the early 20th century society.

      David Crockett Elementary School (September 1894) - 2215 Morales

      Crockett Elementary originally opened as School #11 on Buena Vista Street in September 1894. In its early years, it was often referred to as the Prospect Hill School. In May 1902, it was named to honor one of the defenders of the Alamo. The school was moved to its present site, the former Irving Junior High School campus, in 1973.

      Benjamin Franklin Elementary School - 1915 W. Olmos Dr.

      The school began at the turn of the 20th century as Waite Academy at Neer Avenue and Olmos Drive. In 1915 it was moved to its present site and renamed Los Angeles Heights School for the school district in which it was located. The school included high school students from 1924 until 1929 when the upper grades were moved to the then new Los Angeles Heights High School (now Whittier Middle School). Students then voted unanimouslty to rename it Benjamin Franklin Elementary. In 1949 the school became part of SAISD.

      Other Schools

      Davy Crockett
      Benjamin Franklin
      W.B. Connell Middle School (1912) - 400 Hot Wells

      The school began in 1912 as Hot Wells School in a two-room framed building on Dullnig Court. In 1914, land was donated for a new facility and by 1915 a new building was completed. An auditorium was built in 1937 and the school was remodeled. Wilbur B. Connell joined the Hot Wells School District in 1934. In 1950, he became principal of the school when Hot Wells was annexed into SAISD. He served in that capacity until 1957. In April 1964, the SAISD School Board re-named the school to honor this well-respected educator.

      James Bowie Elementary School (late 1800s) - 439 Arbor Place

      Bowie opened as School #9 in 1893 at the corner of Colorado and Lopez, now Arbor Place. In May 1902, the school was named after James Bowie, a hero in the Texas Revolution and inventor of the knife that bears his name. Significant construction was completed in 1916, 1928, 1945, and 1966 to meet the needs of a growing enrollment.

      Woodrow Wilson Elementary School (early 1900s) - 1421 Clower Street

      Woodrow Wilson was part of the Los Angeles Heights School District when it opened. The original building was of stucco and included six classrooms. The school grew so rapidly that in 1936 and in 1947 more classrooms had to be added to the building.

      Wilson joined the San Antonio Independent School District in 1949. In 1951, more classroom space was added along with a bookroom, clinic, and cafeteria. Enrollment at that time was about 800. Over the years, two elementary schools were built to help relieve the enrollment.

      The school is named after the 28th president of the United States who served from 1913 to 1921.

      This information has been provided by SAISD.

    *The information in the listed pages within was gathered with the help of the Texana/Genealogy Department of the San Antonio Public Library.

  • Historical Organizations and Resources of Bexar County