In 1849 a group of German colonists from Bettina camped on the north side of Cibolo Creek, about a mile west of present-day Boerne. They called their new community Tusculum, after Cicero’s home in ancient Rome. In 1852 Gustav Theissen and John James laid out the town’s site and changed the name to Boerne in honor of Ludwig Börne, a German poet and publicist. A post office was established in 1856. The community had only 10 houses in 1859, yet it was chosen to be the county seat by a margin of 67 votes after the county was established in 1862. A courthouse was built in 1870 and is still in use, making it the second-oldest courthouse in Texas.
Boerne developed the reputation of having a very healthful environment and quickly became known as a health resort. By 1884 it had five hotels, assorted businesses, and 250 residents. The arrival of the San Antonio and Aransas Pass Railway in 1887 brought increased economic opportunity, and by 1890 the population of Boerne had risen to 800. Boerne residents voted to incorporate in 1909; also, in that year they established the Boerne Independent School District. The population was reported at 950 in 1914, and the community grew and prospered through the 1920s; not surprisingly, the Great Depression of the 1930s negatively impacted the town’s continued growth.
In the 1950s, however, many residents turned to nearby San Antonio for employment. The population grew at a slow but steady rate, reaching 2,169 in 1960. In the 1960s construction San Antonio’s South Texas Medical Center and the University of Texas at San Antonio, as well as the completion of Interstate Highway 10, made Boerne even more attractive as a town from which to commute. In the 1990s the population exceeded 5,000 making Boerne eligible for Home Rule. This was voted in by its citizens in 1995. Accelerated growth in the late 1990s and early 2000s has increased the population to an estimated 16,056 according to the 2017 US census.
In spite of the influx of different ethnic groups, the German cultural tradition has dominated the community in many ways. Boerne German community organizations still active include the Boerne Schuetzen Verein (shooting club), which was formed in 1864, and the Boerne Village Band, which was formed about the same time as the singing society. Since 1967, Boerne’s annual Berges Fest celebration brings out the fun-loving best in this vibrant historic gateway to the Texas Hill Country.