Kendall County, Texas, (population 33,410) is located just northeast of San Antonio in the south-central part of the state. Early Native American inhabitants of the area included Kiowa, Comanche, and Lipan Apache. On June 9, 1844, a battle took place at Edwards Plateau near the Pinta Trail Crossing of the Guadalupe River which changed the culture of Texas Hill Country. In the Battle of Walker Creek, Texas Rangers introduced Samuel Colt’s repeating firearms, gaining the upper hand over the Comanche warriors.
In 1847, Bavarian emigrant Nicolaus Zink was the first to settle on Pinta Trail land in Kendall County. More German immigrants followed, bringing a strong desire for opportunity and freedom. Early communities included Sisterdale (1847) and Tusculum, later renamed Boerne, which was platted in 1852. In 1854, George Wilkins Kendall, an accomplished writer, publisher, and founder of the New Orleans Picayune, began raising sheep on a ranch near Boerne.
Kendall County was created on January 10, 1862. The county was named for Mr. Kendall, and Boerne became the county seat. Established during the Civil War in a Confederate state, Kendall County remained largely pro-Union, with a significant majority of its citizens voting not to secede.
Today, Kendall County retains and celebrates much of its bountiful natural and cultural heritage. Sixty-eight Texas Historical Landmarks are maintained by the Kendall County Historical Commission, and 12 sites are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. These include the Agricultural Heritage Museum at Boerne City Park, the Kuhlmann-King Historical House and Museum, and the oldest Civil War monument in Texas. The German-language Treue der Union Monument (loyalty to the Union), is located in the Kendall County community of Comfort and was dedicated on August 10, 1866, to commemorate those who died at the 1862 Nueces massacre.
Kendall County offers programs to engage the community, including a History Tour program, City of Boerne Interpretive Displays, a Preservation Month Poster Program, the Comfort Biennial Historic Home Tours, and tours of the Comfort Cemetery. Among the many offerings for heritage tourists are extensive trails and walking tours, and such festivities as Fruhlingfest (spring festival) celebrating wildflowers and the area’s German heritage.
Kendall County’s “Heritage Passport” program was a celebration for the Sesquicentennial in 2012, featuring 22 historic sites and events in the county. Sponsored by the Kendall County Historic Commission, it helped to promote heritage tourism. The year of celebration featured tours, re-enactments, a concert starring the oldest German band in the U.S., and a German luncheon. More than 1,400 “Heritage Passports” were issued and stamped visa-style at each event for prizes at the end of the year. Donations totaling $35,000 in cash and $10,000 in-kind gifts funded the Sesquicentennial celebrations, prizes, and KCHC-sponsored historical markers.
The Texas Historic Courthouse Preservation Program, a 2008 Preserve America Presidential Award winner, provided a $1.2 million grant to help restore Kendall County’s historic courthouse to the elegant design of its 1909 appearance in accordance with the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards. It is the second oldest Texas courthouse and is now open to visitors while continuing to serve the community.
Designated a Preserve America Community in July 2013.
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