Bulverde – Proud of the Past, Poised for the Future
The spirit and charm of Bulverde are bound to its history and the pioneers who crafted its character. Founded by immigrants and native settlers, Bulverde is defined by its distinctive cultural and natural landscape.
Europeans traversed the hills of Bulverde as early as 1850. In fact, the village was originally named Pieper Settlement, after Anton Pieper, an immigrant from Hanover, Germany. Pieper constructed a two-story house and rock barn on the Bexar County side of Cibolo Creek. Those buildings still stand today, preserved in the 1850 Settlement Event Center along Bulverde Road.
Many early immigrant settlements appeared following the annexation of Texas into the United States, initiating land grabs in the Bulverde Spring Branch area. Most were huge ranches, such as Ben Smithson’s land in the Smithson Valley area and Dietrich Knibbe’s settlement along the Guadalupe River.
As people headed west, a wave of German immigrants came to the Bulverde Spring Branch area. They comprised the majority of the population for several decades, and their cultural influence on the region made an indelible mark.
The first store in the village was built around 1873 on the site now occupied by the Old Hill Country Store and Exxon Station along Bulverde Road. Travelers and traders venturing from Boerne to New Braunfels stopped at the general store and post office, quickly forming a small community around the stopping point.
Changes to the community began when a new post office was constructed in 1880 bearing the name of an early landowner, Luciano Bulverdo. The name Pieper Settlement quickly faded into the past.
In the period between 1996 and 1999, five separate municipalities were incorporated and combined to stop the northern growth of San Antonio. Together they formed the City of Bulverde.
This process required vision and patience, taking 22 separate elections. Later, in 2015 Bulverde citizens voted to adopt a home rule charter to have additional control over development.
While situated in the second fastest growing county in the U.S., Bulverde officials are staying true to the community’s roots. The City’s Comprehensive Plan, a long-range guide for the future growth of the City and surrounding area, provides direction for strategic development. The plan addresses ways to preserve Bulverde’s heritage, including buildings, rock walls, windmills, and the beautiful landscape of creek beds, hills and valleys, wildflowers, live oak and other types of native trees. Key measures protect and enhance the natural environment, as well as the historical significance and atmosphere of the community.
It’s these efforts to maintain the City’s unique history that are shaping it into an attractive community distinct in its heritage. Combining the style and variety of historical elements, with state-of-the-art convenience, the city is well positioned for the future while protecting, maintaining and enhancing its unique quality of life. It is truly “The Front Porch” of the Hill Country.
Where Past and Present Merge
The rich history of Spring Branch begins with native tribes who farmed and hunted the hills and valleys of the region. The area’s first residents were Paleo-Indians who arrived in approximately 950 A.D. They lived off the land alongside the flowing Cibolo Creek, which provided abundant game, water and shelter for the inhabitants. These early residents were followed by others who saw the many benefits the bountiful land offered.
Later, immigrants from Germany and other Western European nations brought their customs, craft, traditions, culture and language with them. Rock fences were built, as were rustic homes fashioned from local timber and rock. Walls constructed of half timber and half stone, known as fachwerk, were also used to build homes, barns and other buildings.
In 1852, the village of Spring Branch was established by the D. Knibbe family and named for a spring that flows into the Guadalupe River. A post office opened in 1858, and Louis Wilke served as its first postmaster. Dr. Charles Porter constructed the first mill and acted as the settlement’s first store owner. Boasting a cotton gin, general store, mills, a school, and a blacksmith’s shop, the Spring Branch settlement owed much of its history to its founding families.
The original settlement of Spring Branch lies a few miles west of U.S. Route 281 north of Texas State Highway 46. When the construction of Hwy 281 aimed to bypass the settlement, Hermann J. Knibbe, Spring Branch’s seventh postmaster, moved the store and the post office to Hwy 281 and FM 311 in order to attract business flowing between Johnson City and San Antonio. The first store’s concrete foundation can still be seen from Spring Branch Road on Knibbe Ranch.
Additional hints of the area’s heritage remain today hidden among newer structures. To maintain that history, the Comal County Historical Commission and the Texas Historical Commission actively work to foster the retention, conservation and preservation of historic buildings and other significant sites, private collections of memorabilia, and other remarkable features within Spring Branch and greater Comal County.
Spring Branch became an official city on November 19, 2015, when the Comal County Commissioners Court confirmed a citizen vote for incorporation. The movement to create Spring Branch was created to preserve the community name and history. Supporters of incorporation also cited local control and preservation of the character of the community as further reasons to incorporate.
Spring Branch city limits cover just under two square miles. The perimeter primarily runs along Hwy 281 going north from Rodeo Drive to the Comal County Line with offshoots going east along FM 311 and west along Spring Branch Road.
Staying true to its colorful history, Spring Branch is strong in its diverse culture. As growth and progress move into the area, the community continues to stay connected to its roots and rich heritage, while moving residents into a new era.